Ten tips to gamify anything (Part 2 of 5)

The 10 attributes of highly effective and engaging games is the focus of this blog series - a series of five blog posts exploring five sets of game attribute pairs. In sharing these 10 attributes my aim is to highlight how anyone can gamify any experience to make that experience more enjoyable and rewarding.

the first blog post in this series explored the first two attributes of high effective and engaging games - Goals and Rules. This next blog-post will outline the game attributes of Risk and Reward.

Game Attribute #3: Risk

To foster greater player attention and commitment when playing the game a player needs to include an element of risk. The greater the perceived risk the greater the player’s engagement during game play.

  • There are many ways of including an element of risk into the dynamics of a game with one foundational mechanism being  to introduce the possibility of failure - failure with real consequences. 
  • If a player recognises that the possibility of failure exists in playing the game it:
    • facilitates greater planning or preparation for game play (therefore improving the player’s performance in game play); and
    • it encouraged greater focus during game play

Adding the possibility of failure also makes achieving the goals of the game more meaningful - victory is so much sweeter if victory is not a certainty.

There are many mechanisms for introducing a level of risk and the potential for failure into a game with two primary examples being:

    • the introduction of chance (such as throwing of a dice, tossing coin or the shuffling of a card deck); or 
    • the introduction of a spontaneity dynamic between players of the game (we have all experienced how highly unpredictable human beings can be in how they respond to unfamiliar conditions)
  • A key consideration when introducing a ‘risk’ mechanism into a game is the level of risk:
    • too much risk and the number of players willing to play reduce, but the quality of the performance of those players that do play increases dramatically. 
    • Conversely, low risk games can often result in lower levels of game playing skill.

How to ...

Applying the game attribute of Risk to the game, Creating & Taking A New Product To Market, I might include the following dynamics:
  • decide to conduct my first user test of my MVP earlier rather than later
  • invite potential users to pre-order the product earlier in the new product design process
  • take the potential new product prototype to an appropriate trade fair or conference and shop it around with experts

Game Attribute #4: Reward 

In playing a game - and winning - there must be a reward. A player must get something for being the best - the ‘trophy’ winning. Rewards can also be used when a player accomplishes  a key progress milestone towards achieving the game’s ultimate goal.

  • The mechanism of reward plays an important role in:
    • enticing a player to commence play the game; and
    • encouraging a player to remain engaged in the game. 
  • For the game attribute of reward to be effective the reward given for achieving a goal of the game must be equivalent to the effort required to achieve the goal. For example:
    • getting a pay bonus for staying late at work to finish an important task may be too excessive; or 
    • receiving a well-earned “Well Done” for delivering upon your annual sales targets my be a little too low key.
    • But, receiving an authentic "Well Done" for finish that project on time or receiving a pay bonus for hitting your annual sales targets is equivalent.

How to ...

Applying the game attribute of Reward to the game, Creating & Taking A New Product To Market, I might:
  • establish a ‘badge of honour’ board when I achieve key milestones in bringing the new product to market. For example:
    • first user-test of the product MVP
    • first measurable failure in gaining market awareness of the new product 
    • reaching 100 points in my points system
    • First pre-order
    • reaching 20, 50 and 100 pre-orders for the new product

Have you identified the experience of change you would like to gamify? if so, what are the goals of your game - and what are the rules of gameplay you have decided upon?

What are the risks that are either inherent to your game, or you can build into your game, that foster greater attention and commitment when playing the game?

What rewards have you put in place to acknowledge and celebrate your successes in overcoming the game's risks and achieving the sub-goals of your game? 

My next blog post in this series will explore the game attributes of Feedback and Social (Sharing) - to critically important game attributes for supporting a player to track their progress through a game and improve their game performance, and for engaging others to be a cheer-squad.

Read the next blog post in this series.