Gamification: The rewards have got to be worth something

23-reward.jpgInteresting words from gaming expert Kam of Playgen about the recent craze for gamification that is sweeping start-ups and the tech-press.

Kam warned at a recent Silicon Roundabout meeting in London that gamification can be done in a gimmicky way that adds little to the whole experience and can actually take away from it. You don’t want to be given a gold star on your facebook page for paying your council tax, but you might like a prompt payment discount.

If you’re new to the term – it means what it sounds like: adding game-like elements to a task or web-service. Games can be compelling and rewarding experiences so the idea is that adding one into your product or website makes it all more fun!

Your tax return – FUN!
Your maths homework – FUN!
Putting rubbish in the bin – fun etc.

Usually making something more like a game means working in some kind of goal, some kind of measure of progression, and some kind of reward.

It’s the reward bit that often goes wrong when people try to gamify.

Erm – he wasn’t telling us The Answer (because, obviously, there isn’t a catch-all one) but he did say:

“Games need points. The point has to be meaningful. Getting a point for something you were going to do anyway which cannot be exchanged for anything, is not a good reward system.

“Ideally it has to be useful back in the real world too.”

Another gem of wisdom from his speech: good games are “10% game design, 90% psychology”.

Think about it guys, think about it.

Anna Leach