There’s been a lot of talk recently about gamification, that is, the application of game-like principles to a non-game activity. There’s no argument that gamification is a compelling way to increase retention, add another aspect to a seemingly routine activity, and encourage certain types of play. The first thing that pops into my head when thinking about gamification is achievements. It’s probably the simplest and most prolific example of gamification. There’s even the phrase “achievement whore” given to those people that get so wrapped up in Xbox achievements that they play games based solely on their ease of achievement gathering (I’m talking to you achievements ontop of an app. Here are a couple of key examples of where I think gamification has been done right:
At its core, Health Month is a site dedicated to helping you make small, incremental monthly changes to your life to increase your health. From a gamification standpoint, there’s some strong elements running through it. Every day you check in and log how you’re doing against your commitments for that month. If that day, you successfully followed them all, you get a piece of fruit and no life is lost. If you falter, you do not get a piece of fruit and you lose a life.
When you’ve lost a life, you can ask others for help – stating your case as to why you missed a day or gave in to your cravings. Others can then see your plea, and offer up their fruit to heal you. Every month the game resets and you start out with a clean slate.
The gamification in Health Month allows a player to easily see how well they’re doing (life points and fruit) yet allows for the occasional mistake by offering community healing. Not only that, it gives the player the feeling that they’re not in this alone and that there is a community established that is going through the same thing and will help you out when needed.
Turntable.fm is best described as a crowd-sourcing DJ system. Users can create and join rooms where there are 5 DJs taking turns playing whichever music they desire. Listeners in each room can then mark the currently played song as “awesome” or “lame”. For every “awesome” vote, the DJ gets an extra point towards a new avatar. There’s no negative effects to a “lame” vote, but if the community in the room gives a DJ enough “lame” votes then the song is automatically skipped.
Turntable is a fantastic twist on both leveling systems and community moderated systems. Avatars (and therefore levels) are more unique and extravagant as a player gets more points. This in itself encourages users to DJ so they can look different from the crowd which in turn encourages the creation of new, not crowded rooms. In addition, listeners never feel out of control as they can moderate the rooms as a community.
None of the gamification techniques implemented in Health Month or Turntable are particularly unique, but they do employ them smartly and appropriately. They encourage ways of participating and interacting that not only enhance but become an integral part of the activity.
Are there any other examples that you think represents good gamification? Let me know in the comments!