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Effective Game Mechanics in Business Gamification

Part of the Business Gamification For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Any good gamification guru will tell you: You’re only as good as the tools in your toolbox. When it comes to game mechanics, various tools are available to you — each designed to elicit a specific reaction in players. You can combine these tools in nearly infinite ways to create a broad spectrum of responses and experiences. These tools include the following:

  • Points: Unless a player receives points during gameplay, he or she may not even be aware that a game is afoot. Points help users know they’re in a gamified environment and that many of the small behaviors they take along the way are being recognized at a system level. Companies running gamification programs use points to spur desired behaviors. To really drive desired behaviors, game designers can weight points — that is, award more points for those behaviors deemed more valuable or that require more effort. Gamification efforts typically employ a few different types of points, including experience points, redeemable points, and karma points.

  • Leaderboards: The purpose of a leaderboard is to show players where they rank. Those at the top enjoy the notoriety it brings; as for everyone else, the leaderboard shows them where they stand relative to their peers. Often, the very presence of a leaderboard can elicit the desire to play. The simple goal of rising up the rankings serves as a powerful motivator to continue.

  • Levels: Levels serve two important roles in gamification systems: They indicate progress and they convey status. In a gamified system, a level is effectively a rank that corresponds to the player. It’s earned through accomplishments and represents additional privileges or abilities. The change in level occurs when the user reaches a set point threshold.

  • Missions, challenges, and quests: Missions, challenges, and quests are essentially different words for the same thing. They require users to perform a prescribed set of actions, following a guided path of your design. A mission, challenge, or quest might involve a single step (for example, creating an account on your website) or several steps — even as many as 20. Often, they are about discovery or education.

  • Feedback: One game mechanic that helps to encourage engagement is feedback, or the broadcast of well-written, helpful, engaging on-screen messaging in the form of real-time notifications within the game system and/or via e-mail when users perform a desired behavior, level up, unlock a reward, or need to complete an additional behavior in order to earn their next reward.

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Business Gamification For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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