|January 4th, 2011|
Not familiar with game mechanics or game theory? Ralph Koster, author of Theory of Fun for Game Design, says game mechanics are “rule-based systems / simulations that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.”
In conventional terms, think earning rewards for swiping your credit or debit card or staying at a particular hotel or flying a certain airline. Unconventionally – and this is where my prediction comes into play – think affording your customers and prospects accumulating rewards in exchange for engaging via your website (i.e., points, badges, leaderboards, awards, etc.).
I feel bad picking on this article given that it surely is selling copies of my book. Except that the above example does not include “exploring and learning the properties of a possibility space.” So it’s wrong. To be more blunt, the second paragraph misses the point of the first.
Just giving feedback is not game design, and it will be lousy “gamification.”
When we train game designers, when we critique projects, and when we discuss what makes games compelling, we certainly do discuss feedback. But what we dwell on is the game systems, the core loop.
If you really want to gamify something, you need to make the core loop be something to explore and master. Buying an airplane ticket or staying at a hotel isn’t something you “master.” Piling up points is not good gamification.
The feedback exists to give cues to the user that they are learning something. It isn’t food pellets for rats to reward them for pushing a lever. Good gamification will be less Skinnerian and more like getting an A in class as a recognition of how well you mastered the subject.
Oh, and hi everybody, I’m back blogging, I hope.