Game Mechanics!

Game Mechanics!

I recently came across some poor implementations of gamification.  In my day job at the David Consulting Group, we license a knowledge management tool that uses game mechanics as a training tool.  IFPUG uses a different knowledge management tool that uses challenges and badges. In both cases, no one pays attention to the game mechanics in the tool because they are not useful or engaging.  These are cases of poorly implemented game mechanics where someone paid a development team to create functionality that does not seem to add value and makes the product feel unplanned.

There are five general areas that impact whether gamification will help or hinder when implementing a process or an application. The five are:

  • Goals/objectives
  • Community
  • Motivation
  • Culture
  • Design

We will discuss the first four today, and design later in the week.

The first step to implementing gamification is to have an explicit set of goals and objectives for the game mechanics you are using.  For example, take a board game that you like (I like Monopoly, but my wife beats me every time), and find the rules. Usually you find the object of the game prominently printed so that the player knows objective before they start thinking about the game or the rules.  In Classic Monopoly: “the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property”.  In the Monopoly example, understanding the object of the game helps the player’s learn and absorb the rules and then create their own goals for playing.  In our overview of gamification in  The What and Why of Gamification, I used an example in which the process team implemented a set of challenge goals to support the implementation of peer reviews. The implementation of peer reviews was tied to a broader goal of improving quality and overall efficiency.  By understanding the broader goal, the development teams understood both how the process changes benefited the organization as well as how the challenges related.

Most of the game mechanics that are used when deploying IT applications or processes require either interaction (group challenges) or competition (leader boards).  Players that know each other or are connected as a community are more apt to work together to attain goals and to compete on a healthy basis. Therefore gamification will be more effective to improve adoption of the process or application.

If the users of the process or application do not have a reason to play, then they aren’t going to or, if they do, they will lose interest quickly.  People are motivated in the workplace for many reasons.  Rewards, team esprit de corps, and career advancement are just some.  Reward systems based on a publicly observed tracking mechanism hits the most buttons.  Rewards must be viewed as interesting and useful to players.  The example in The What and Why of Gamification used a trip to the company’s technology conference, company recognition for being selected and the inferred impact on an awardees career as a set of rewards for participation.  The use of leader boards showed how players were tracking toward completing challenges and attaining the reward created a competitive environment.  Sales people that compete to be the top sales person of the month are responding to game mechanics and a reward structure. We use gamification techniques to increase adoption and learning.  Without motivation to participate in the “game” the use of game mechanics is a waste and can derail implementations.

Daily Process Thoughts:  Gamification Theme

The What and Why of Gamification

How Can We Implement Gamification?

Gamification: Game Mechanics

What Does Gamification Look Like?

Gamification and the Bartle Test