Gamification is a relatively new concept, but there are already several gamification principles for influencing behavior and increasing engagement. In Gamification 101, we defined what makes something a game and why people play games. Next, we will look at some principles for engaging end users.
Gamification principles are really principles of good game design. Games are very successful in engaging players and driving continued use. What specifically do game designers do to fuel player motivations and get them to keep playing? Many lessons can be learned from the world of game design when it comes to engaging end users. Here are a few gamification principles borrowed from game design:
- It’s about the story. A good narrative stimulates the creative side. There is a natural desire to see what happens next, which pulls the player along. Story gives direction and feeds into decision making. With an engaging story, players will make choices that push the story forward.
- Let players know how they are doing. People want to know that what they are doing is moving them closer to the goal. Provide visual indicators to show players how the actions they are taking are helping them to accomplish those goals, and how much more they need to do before they are done. When players can see progress, they are more motivated to continue.
- Reward players often. As players progress and complete the desired tasks, reward them. This could be as simple as a score that goes up as they complete each task. It could be visual enhancements, changes in gameplay, or advancing the story. Whatever it is, it should be something that the player wants.
- Aesthetics matter. Game designers know that while it may not be the most important factor in a successful game, how a game looks has a big impact on a player’s interest and engagement. Visual design is often the first impression that a game gives to potential players. This is true regardless of whether the game is played on a television, on a smartphone, or on a table top. It is the visuals that spark initial interest and drive engagement.
- Gotta catch them all. Collecting things and the drive to complete sets is a common motivation for people. By giving them something to aim for and collect, you give players the ability to create their own goals. This makes them engage more in order to complete those sets. Collecting things satisfies all three core motivations. It gives a sense of competence and mastery in achieving the full set. There is autonomy in how they collect the items, in what order, or even in whether they collect them at all. It also allows them to relate to others by sharing and comparing their collection with others.
- Gradually add complexity to keep things interesting. If the game always stays the same, players will eventually get bored. Start simple and build up their skills by introducing new rules one at a time. Allow players to adapt to the new systems before adding more new rules.
Gamification principles from game design
Gamification, therefore, is borrowing elements from game design and using them to improve the user experience of a product, service, or process. Using gamification principles from game design can improve ease of use and increase overall enjoyment for a better user experience. (Basically, it is making any experience more game-like.) This includes using game elements such as:
- Story or narrative. Create a story around what players are doing to give them a reason to care. Moving the story forward can be a strong motivation to continue.
- Enhanced visuals and interactivity. Aesthetics should be eye-catching and eye-pleasing to draw attention and maintain full immersion and engagement.
- Frequent feedback on progress. Show players how their actions are related to achieving the goal.
- Rewards. Give players something that they want as a reward for achieving goals.
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