How long does gamification engage users?
A blank sheet of paper has little to no value. The same sheet of paper, emblazoned in gold showing that I went to an Ivy League school has tremendous value. Same piece of paper, but now it carries status & reputation with it. I did something of value. I accomplished something. I’m elite.
The concept of recognizing and rewarding people for positive behavior has been around forever. I don’t think that is going anywhere soon, either. Human beings generally tend to be more carrot driven than stick driven so the value of recognizing and rewarding these types of positive behaviors, even for small tasks, is enormous.
Some examples of rewards for positive behaviors that are were applied well before the internet age:
- S&H Green Stamps
- Total Rewards
- BurgerKing started offering collectible Star Wars Glasses in 1977 — What is a low cost, high value collectible glass that you received for behaving in a way that is valuable to someone? A badge.
- Premiums started in 1793 — “This practice caught on and was used by many merchants throughout the 19th Century. Sweet Home laundry soap, a product of the B. A. Babbit Company, came with certificates that could be collected and redeemed for color lithographs.”
Again, the lithograph is a *badge* that the participant received for behaving in a way valuable to the business owner.
In the Roman Army ‘Civilians could also be rewarded for their assistance to the Roman Legions. In return for outstanding service, a citizen was given an arrow without a head. This was considered a great honour and would bring the recipient much prestige.’
In other words, 2,000 years ago, if I had done something to risk my life for the Army that I wasn’t part of, I got a stick (an arrow without a head). Low cost, immensely high value, huge on reputation.
Again, I think that this concept will be around for a very long time.
The challenge that you face, as a designer, is how do you make the experience compelling to your customers? How do you ensure that you don’t end up with an experience that is either too easy to complete (and users don’t come back) or too difficult (and users don’t come back).
Anyone can give out a simple badge for a simple behavior. A 1:1 relationship is fairly simple, but it isn’t compelling. It isn’t sticky. It is very boring. It is an online degree vs. Stanford.
The question you want to ask yourself is how do you make your customers want to do one more thing? How do you create an experience of ‘almost there’? How do you make your rewards, levels, recognition much more valuable than just another badge on their phone?
That is hard work, but my experience is that the payoff is significant.