How to Give Privileges in a Gamification System
Although some users prefer to be rewarded in a gamification system with reputation or status, others will be more motivated by receiving privileges. These might include the following: early/VIP access, moderation powers, and stronger votes.
Early/VIP access privileges in gamification
Suppose your gamified site is of the e-commerce variety, and every so often you have sales — big ones, involving giant discounts. What if you were to reward your top customers with the privilege of accessing those sales early — say, with a 30-minute head start?
Think about it: Giving your best customers dibs on sale items not only makes them feel important, it increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you again. At the same time, it doesn’t have the same costly effect on your bottom line has giving stuff away for free or at aggressively discounted prices.
Other examples of access-based rewards in gamified systems include the following:
Early access to new products
Access to premium content
Earlier appointments for services needed
Access to key personnel in your company (say, lunch with the chairman of the board)
Moderation powers in gameplay
One way to reward users is to empower them. For example, on a forum site, you might endow your top thread starters with the power to moderate the gamified site. This is doubly excellent, because the user is typically thrilled to take on this responsibility, and you essentially receive free labor.
Giving users powers over the general riff-raff is also a way of conferring status.
Stronger votes in the gamified system
To quote George Orwell: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. Which is why you might decide to give some of your users stronger votes — on a site in which content is voted up or down, for example, or on a gamified site that involves rating products.