While there's more to gamification than points, badges, and leaderboards such as storytelling, feedback loops, and mystery. Those elements are important for helping to motivate and engage learners. Points help a player identify how far she's progressed through a gamification experience. Points can be used for a variety of purposes within gamification. They can be used to reward progress and correct answers. They can be a way of achieving social status by displaying them to others, and in some cases, they can be used to unlock content and even spend as currency to obtain virtual or even physical goods.
The accumulation of points is often displayed in a leaderboard. A leaderboard is a list of top scorers in a game. So whoever played the game, could see all the players names or initials and scores. Its a simple device but can be a powerful motivator to play again and again. Leaderboard provide players a chance to socially interact in discussions around the game and around the high scores. It also provides bragging rights and social capital to the individuals who achieved the high scores.
When designing a leaderboard for gamification, there are a number of considerations for creating the most effective leaderboard. If the organization is large, having an unedited list of everyone in the organization in order from best score to worst, may not be as motivating as you had hoped. For example, if you like to run and run on the weekends, as a weekend warrior, being on the list with the world's fastest man would not be motivational. In fact, it might be de-motivational because there's no way an average person could catch the world's fastest man.
However, being on a leaderboard with a group of friends might be highly motivational, because those are people you are able to compete against. In addition to leaderboards, games also provide players with instant reward in the form of badges. Badges are typically awarded for nonlinear accomplishments within a game. This can be a scoring streak, or it can be for collecting items within the game that aren't essential to winning, but a side mission or an extra adventure in the game.
Badges can encourage players to explore the game environment. There are two views on badges. One is to make them as easy to get as possible early in the game, so players are hooked and want to continue playing. The other school of thought is to avoid easy badges that are not related to activities that are rewarding in and of themselves. However in general, it is better to link activities within the game to a reward than to have random rewards. Giving a few badges early is okay, but too many and they become meaningless.
As you are implementing gamification within your learning environment, consider the following when integrating points badges and leaderboards. Allow learners to choose their own friends to place on a personalized leaderboard. Structure the leaderboard by territory or department to allow individual contributions to a larger goal. Don't overwhelm your learners with complicated point systems, keep it simple. Provide points for everything you want to manage. For example, if you need to manage correct answers and speed, give points for both, so one doesn't overshadow the other.
Aim for balance. Use points as currency to give learners more autonomy over how they're rewarded for their efforts. Making earned achievements viewable to other learners is a powerful incentive. Let learners display a few achievements that they're proud of to increase motivation. Badges are good for showing non-linear progress through content. Levels are good for showing linear progress. Points badges and leaderboards can play key roles within gamification if they're applied carefully and thoughtfully to the learning process.
- Exploring games, gamification, and simulations
- Content gamification vs. structural gamification
- Seeing gamification in action
- Capitalizing on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
- Collecting, acquiring, and allocating resources
- Constructing and creating
- Setting up rules
- Providing feedback
- Telling a story
- Thinking like a game designer