Gamification Design Framework

Design Thinking 

Useful to think of when integrating gamification into a new product

  • What is the purpose? Focus on a goal
  • Human centered. What is the experience interacting with the product?
  • Balance of analytical and creative.
  • Iterative. Should include rough prototype that has basic fundamental skeleton, and playtest with real people. See what the experience and user impact is. Should get feedback that allows you to get closer and closer to what that ideal experience is going to be.

Gamification Design Framework – 6 D’s

Define business objectives – Goals you want gamified system to accomplish. Eg. gets customer to buy more product or gets customer to provide more feedback. Start by making a list of all business objectives you want to achieve, then rank them all. Figure out what tradeoffs are important. Eliminate the ones that are not true business objectives. Now justify why something remains on the list as a business objective.

Delineate target behaviors – What do you want customers to do? Be as specific as possible as to why you’re gamifying something. What are the success metrics? How will you know if you achieved your goal? What are the analytics? How do you measure the path to success metric (win state). Commonly used metrics are DAU/MAU, tells you how engaging your product is. Higher is better. Another metric is virality, which measures the rate of social sharing. Lastly is the volume of activity, such as how many points are given out each month, how many levels passed, badges earned. This gauges level of interest and patterns of usage.

Describe your players – What do you know about your players? Demographics, income level, psychographics (behavior, purchase patterns, hobbies). Richard Bartle provides good framework for player types. Caveat – players can move from one type of behavior to another very fluidly. Designers should keep in mind what type of behavior the player is exhibiting at a specific point in the game.

Devise activity loops – Broadly speaking, two types: engagement loops and progression loops. Engagement loop provides a cycle of motivation, action, feedback. Each loop will reinforce target behavior. Progression loops is a representation of the player journey, usually through rising and falling action. Onboarding and metaphorical climb as game gets more difficult, some rest period, then climb, rest, and climb until some obstacle such as boss fight. Progression lets user move through early stage easy-to-learn part of the game to very hard stage mastery-level of the game.

Don’t forget the fun – intent of gamification is still to have fun, which is important to remember. Fun can be found through use of messages, discussion among people, images. The type of fun or magnitude of fun should be considered in relation to the type of application, and leverage the types of fun that exist. Eg linkedin progress bar is a type of low level fun for this specific application. Foldit, the protein folding game, allows people to cure diseases while playing games, and it conveys a degree of serious fun that lets the user experience doing social good as they play.

Deploy appropriate tools – think of dynamics, mechanics, components found in game design elements post.

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