Motivate With Game Mechanics

Motivate With Game Mechanics

Yep, I got it done.  Last night I voted and I even got a Foursquare badge!  I can’t say anyone I voted for did or did not get into office.  That wasn’t the point.  I just wanted to exercise my right to vote… and get that damn badge! All day I noticed people were checking in and getting an “I Voted 2010” badge.  Though a Foursquare badge won’t lower or raise my taxes, I found the idea of awarding the general public for voting a compelling idea.  How many geeks out there were more motivated by that badge than voting someone into office?  Well, the check-ins totaled 50,416.  I can’t speak for motivations.

It got me thinking, if you want to encourage your team (or the general public) to do something, do you just employ game mechanics (specifically victory condition mechanics) like in Foursquare?  Is it that simple?

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5 Replies to “Motivate With Game Mechanics”

  1. This reminds me of my first team, where someone had purchased an “incredible hulk” action figure. At the end of each sprint someone would be rewarded the hulk for outstanding commitment that sprint. Thankfully it was a silly toy, so no one took it too seriously, but it provided a nice avenue to recognize the efforts of others and have a friendly competition about who won the “hulk” the most.

    I personally believe that game design and the integration of serious play is incredibly powerful. Building systems that play to the human condition are incredibly powerful and something project managers should leverage to their advantage.

    The one key to remember is that games are frequently about pattern recognition. Once we see the pattern and can consistently recreate it, it becomes boring. Thus, a good game needs to be constantly refreshed (think of new achievements or a hierarchy of goals that is virtually infinite) or be open ended to the point of infinite outcomes (think chess).

    An interesting perspective on this topic – http://www.theoryoffun.com/theoryoffun.pdf

    1. Brian,
      I love the idea of the “token” award. It makes it more fun. I was on a small team (I was not leading it) where the award was more significant. After the same person won several months in a row, the lead felt bad and started awarding it a different person so they wouldn’t feel bad. The spirit of the award was lost and after everyone got the award once, she stopped giving it out.

      I recently saw a Tom Chatfield TED talk. 7 ways games reward the brain. He mentioned exactly what you’re saying. Perhaps we will see more game mechanics integrated into everyday activities.

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