At its core, gaming is about competition — whether that’s against yourself or other people. It’s basically all about leveling up, trying to get a better score, finding the best loot, collecting the most badges, surviving the longest, and others more.
Games are popular not just because they allow players to escape into another world, but also because they tap into a fundamental human value, which is the desire to improve and challenge ourselves.
Now think about the apps you use on a daily basis and how they apply gamification in a non-gaming environment. In online communities, gamification is used to engage and excite members with playful user experiences that complement rewards systems. To draw you a better picture, here’s a list of how gamification enhances your community’s experience.
There are two main types of motivation — intrinsic and extrinsic. When you are intrinsically motivated, your behavior is driven by personal enjoyment or interest. On the other hand, extrinsic motivations are driven by external factors such as rewards and recognition from others.
Ranks, prizes, upvotes, and other gamification techniques are great ways to capture members who are extrinsically motivated. It empowers them to participate not only because it’s enjoyable and interesting for them, but also because they are incentivized for doing so in the form of rewards (i.e. item unlocks and badges) and social recognition (i.e. likes or upvotes).
Healthy competition is something every community will need, and incorporating badges and leaderboards is a great way to do this.
Badges are given when a member makes a significant contribution to the community. These are displayed on your profile together with other elements like member activity, statistics, rank, completed quests, and other member information. They’re aspirational, and they motivate members to work hard to get them. Leaderboards work in the same way. They are based on reputation scores that members receive when they participate in the community.
These two elements basically go hand-in-hand in giving your members that sense of achievement and competition. Not only do they increase member engagement, they also allow you to identify your biggest supporters who are instrumental in keeping your community active and vibrant.
Gamification is a great opportunity to engage community members by constantly introducing new challenges in the form of missions or quests. As they gain points and experience, users are able to progress with their objectives and claim rewards. Quests can also be a very useful way to introduce and gradually ease your members into the community.
Of course, quests should be simple enough to do, but at the same time well thought off. They shouldn’t be made just for the purpose of getting something done. Instead, they should act as short- and long-term goals that overall lead members to participate in the community and gain a sense of belongingness and pride.
The best benefit of gamification really is that it makes the community experience fun! I mean, what’s not to love? Games are incredibly appealing, and they help us feel positive emotions like curiosity, perseverance, and creativity. In online communities, gamification allows users to select avatars, customize their profiles, earn badges, level-up, complete quests, earn rewards, and so much more. It’s truly an addictive process.
In a nutshell, gamification is a great opportunity to effectively recognize and reward members who contribute to your community’s growth and overall success. But of course, it’s not only about adding icons or titles to your software; it needs to be part of a bigger engagement strategy. Learn more about this by checking out our Tips for Building Community Engagement.