Understanding Gamification – What Are Game Mechanics and How They Can Improve Your Game

Game Mechanics

This is a follow-up in our series on Understanding Gamification. You can click here to read the part 1.

As Jesse Schell mentions in The art of Game Design, A Book of Lenses:

These [Game Mechanics] are the procedures and rules of your game. Mechanics describe the goal of your game, how players can try to achieve it, and what happens when they do try.

Like any other game, gamification too has certain mechanics to it that determine the outcome/result of the same. I’ve written about a few below. Enjoy!

Points

We all know that there has to be some quantitative aspect attached to a game so as to ascertain the position of a player, that’s where score keeping/points come into play.

Points are something which are given when an activity is performed by the player in the game.

Points motivate the individual to perform a particular activity/task. These can be performance related like completion of an activity, sharing on Social Networking Sites, sharing feedback etc.

Points are essential so as to make the player realize that the game is on, otherwise how else would he/she know the progress of the game?

Badges

Based on the points a player has managed to attain, one gets badges added to their kitty! Badges in gamification represent the progress/status of the player in the game.

Most of the time, badges motivate the player to perform a certain activity which he/she wouldn’t have performed in the first place had it not been for the result(badge).

Moreover, people like collecting things especially the bragging ones, therefore the players in gamification get motivated to complete a particular task in order to collect ‘THE’ Badge.

Levels

Levels define the status of the player in the game. A user completes one level and goes to another. Levels are what differentiate one player from another and they are attained once a point of threshold is achieved by the player.

It represents ranks of the players in the game. The game will shoot challenges/missions to the player based on the level he/she is at!

Challenges/Missions/Tasks

Missions/challenges are the backbone of the game mechanics in gamfication. Because, if it weren’t for these challenges, the player wouldn’t have earned points/rewards or levels for that matter.

Challenges vary from level to level, they can vary from a single click to several.

For example, say MakeMyTrip does a gamification for its customers, whereby just by logging onto their website (task/challenge), the player will get one point; as against if he/she recommends the site to a friend – he/she get 4 points.

Challenges help the player to keep moving ahead in the game, therefore they can’t be boring, otherwise the game will lose it’s charm and the player will not return to play again!

Virtual property/goods/space

Tell me honestly if you didn’t like customizing your character in CityVille (from old days) to Bitstrips (nowadays).

Who doesn’t like to have a personal identity with the virtual character a player is representing in the game? That is just one aspect of the virtual space in the gamification.

From a revenue model, companies tend to motivate/prompt the player to buy virtual goods via real money just so they don’t have to wait for hours to have their farm harvested. Farmville is the best example I can cite here!

Leader board

Who doesn’t want fame and name? That’s what a leader board helps with in gamification. Leader board ignites competitive spirit among peers.

It states the rank a player is at, thus motivating players to work harder towards the completion of tasks. In return they get points/ranks and hence move up the ladder!

There are multiple ways you can integrate mechanics in your game and it entirely depends on your objective and the gameplay. Stay tuned for the next part in the Understanding Gamification series. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below.

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