Monday, January 24, 2011

Heuristics for Gamification

Theoretically speaking, a game designer is someone who could help you with gamification. A game designer should have a good grasp on how to devise game mechanics, play mechanics and game-play experience. So in other words, a game designer should have more than points, leader boards and achievements up his (her) sleeve. If certain game mechanics are over exploited (e.g. points, achievements, leader-boards, etc.), then gamification could be heading towards a crash (remember the 1980s?). The point being a wider range of approaches towards developing new game-like motivations can be achieved through game design when gamifying an artifact.

Qua game design, I learned a few things from my students and their projects. First, design of gamifiaction is not too different from game design and its processes (development is another issue). Second, current game design tools (e.g. prototyping, brainstorming, mock-ups, player models, design processes and generative research) are very applicable to gamification design. Furthermore, I came across a few lessons learned that I would use as heuristics for future gamification projects:

-        Gamification Design: Gamification does not equal a game.
-        Gamification vs. Communities: Building a community is not game. Building a community is not gamification. (If you need a community to play your game or use product look for existing ones, e.g. facebook).
-        Gamified Competition for Everyone:
1.      Players should feel that they have chance to win.
2.      Players should feel like they are competing against like players.
3.      Holding first place needs to feel like a challenge
-        Achievements and Points: Be careful that these elements retain their value. Too many points or poorly scheduled achievements will undermine their value.
-        One-Game-to-Rule-Them-All: Create a plan for a gamifaction overhaul after a certain amount of time. The game needs to remain fresh to keep old players, which are needed to attract the new players.
-        Let the Players have all the fun: Gamification can even take advantage of user created content.