Recognition is part of just about every type of competition on this planet. Recognition with reputations in gameplay for completing a task or accomplishing a goal not only feeds this basic human need, it also encourages player engagement and increases repetition in the gamification system — both of which are probably in your list of business objectives.

For some players, it’s all about reputation. Players want to be respected. Maybe one of your players is a highly regarded string theorist. Or maybe one of your players knows everything there is to know about, say, string cheese.

Regardless of the subject, rewarding these players for their expertise is key — assuming, of course, that their expertise relates to your area of business. That is, if you run a site about string theory, then rewarding the string-cheese expert probably wouldn’t make much sense.

By rewarding them for expertise, you enable a player to develop a reputation on your gamified site. This serves two purposes: It demonstrates to others who on the site really knows their stuff, and it enriches the experience of those players who develop a strong reputation on the site. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that he or she will continue to patronize the site.

A good reputation can elevate your status in a community — which can lead to a new job or other opportunities. So although reputation itself isn’t a monetary reward, it could lead to a monetary reward in the form of a higher salary.

The recognition of expertise or knowledge within a gameplay community is a critical element of any gamification program — and a natural byproduct of it. As you earn rewards, it automatically informs your reputation across the site.

Another great thing about reputation is it brings credibility to a gamified environment. Any jerk can leave a comment, but in a gamified system that emphasizes reputation, other players can assess how useful that comment is. So on the one hand, reputation is a reward; but on the other, it brings contextual meaning to a gamification program.