Chapter 47. Gamification

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The difference between a game and a nongame has nothing to do with badges and points. It’s all about the psychology. Game design can be very nuanced, but let’s start with some fundamentals.

One of the trendiest things in UX over the past few years have been the idea of adding “game mechanics” to things that aren’t actually games. One thing that games do very well is structuring rewards and punishments in a way that leads users through a series of goals. If you want to do that, too, you came to the right place.

You will learn two major elements of game design:

  • Feedback Loops

  • Progressive Challenges

What Is a Feedback Loop?

A feedback loop has three ingredients: motivation, an action, and the feedback (emotion).

The user’s motivation might exist already, or it could be something you design for them, like beating Bowser in Mario Kart. That smug bastard.

Once the user is motivated, they need a way to act. This is when you start the race, or show them the problem to solve, or give them a place to type their comment, or whatever. Then, they need feedback: an evaluation, or score, or Likes, or real-time race positions, or something else that informs the user how effective they were/are.

Loop it

It’s called a feedback “loop” because the feedback should be something that motivates the user to do the action again. Maybe they will try to beat their old score, or maybe they didn’t ...

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