Gamification is the process of engaging with community members through the use of game-based techniques. It is a mix of technobabble, common sense and sound theory. When used correctly it can increase user engagement.

 

Background

Niche social networks have effectively used gamification. Examples include FourSquare, Strava, Myfitnesspal. The global market for gamification is expected to reach $5.5 billion in 2018, representing an annualised growth rate of 67 percent from 2013 to 2018. Gamification works by introducing elements from the world of gaming into social networks. More often than not these elements reward users for interactions and allow community members to compete against each other.

 

Gamification Techniques

Two of the core gamification techniques used by many services are badges and trophy cabinets. Badges and trophies are awarded for achieving a goal or completing an activity. Over time, these awards are collected by individual community members and displayed in personal trophy cabinets. A paper by Gamification Research, a part of Yahoo! identified five key behaviours badges can satisfy:

  1. Goal Setting: Badges challenge members to meet goals laid out by the community, badges can benefit the system even if member never actually earn the badges.
  2. Reputation: Badges assist reputation assessments at several levels. At a general level, examining another member’s badges can provide a summary of interests and engagement levels, for example by indicating whether a member is a casual or fanatical community member.
  3. Status / Affirmation: Badges can be motivating as status symbols. Badges advertise one’s achievements and communicate one’s past accomplishments without explicit bragging.
  4. Instruction: Badges often embody the social norms of a system by exemplifying the types of activities and interactions that are highly valued, and in so doing provide a kind of social shaping of member activities. Badges also provide personal affirmation in that they serve as reminders of past achievements much like trophies on a mantelpiece.
  5. Group Identification: Badges communicate a set of shared activities that bind a group of members together around shared experience. Achieving badges can provide a sense of solidarity and increase positive group identification through the perception of similarity between an individual and the group.

 

Deployment

Gamification requires a sensitive touch. Inappropriate awards, unfair weighting and offering excessive advantage to those that build up points/trophies/awards can alienate the less engaged or new community member. However, when used correctly and tuned to the audience, gamification can enhance a community and bring members together.

Zipline has experience using gamification features within Custom Communities,  including badges and trophy cabinets. Zipline can customise these features to your specific needs and requirements.