We may not realize this but I believe that the majority of us tend to approach life as if they’re a video game, for better or for worse. Whenever I’m assigned to a considerably weighty task, I always break it down to several smaller and more manageable tasks as if they’re levels on a video game and when I’ve completed one of the smaller tasks, I always reward myself with a short break by reading something interesting online, trying to finish a crossword puzzle or to grab a snack. For me personally, this approach has worked wonders as it makes everything in life more manageable.
For the more imaginative members of the public, gamification also has a way of injecting some much-needed levity to the humdrum of everyday life. This line of thinking is also why we’re seeing more and more gamification features being implemented on other things, most prominently in the world of web development. Websites and digital user interfaces are after all, interactive, so adding gamification features on top of these interactions could help making websites in general more alluring to customers.
One of the most prominent examples of gamification in web development can be seen in Steam, the digital distribution platforms for video games from the American company Valve. Steam itself was following in the footsteps of both Microsoft and Sony, which introduced the concepts of Achievements and Trophies, respectively, within their own platforms. Inside Steam, each user has their own level, which they can raise by earning experiences in the way of badges.
Steam’s comprehensive gamification features
These badges can be earned by two ways, by collection trading cards you earn from playing video games through Steam and by completing a series of tasks inside the platform, such as by reviewing a game or adding a friend to your account’s friend list but it’s the trading cards that have a world of their own inside the platform. These trading cards are typically earned by playing video games that support them for a set period of time but you can never earn enough trading cards to craft a badge by simply playing the video game.
For example, a game might have 6 trading cards to earn and to craft a badge; you need to earn all 6 of these cards. However, you can only earn 3 by playing the game and there’s also the possibility that you get duplicates of the same card. To complete your collection, you’re going to have to trade with other users or partake in the community market, where you could buy or sell trading cards. This doesn’t stop there, Steam also regularly held events such as the Summer and Christmas sales that have their own trading cards which you can earn by partaking in polls, checking out games that are on sale and by actually buying things that are on sale.
As a result, the platform you use to buy video games could now be thought as a video game in of itself and in fact, I’ve known several people who spend as much time playing around on the platform as they do on the video games they bought. You might argue that these features are superficial and you’re not exactly wrong but what you have to understand is that we, as a people, like the superficial. We crave instant gratifications every now and then and adding gamification features is an easy shortcut to providing those instant gratifications.
Inspiring loyalty while adding some fun on the side
In a way, these gamification features are a natural extension on the numerous loyalty programs and membership rewards that retail businesses have used over the years. In Steam’s example, these features are mostly used for fun but there are other examples that are considerably more substantial. Still in keeping with the video game theme, take a look at what Nintendo is doing with their online platform. Nintendo’s features are less comprehensive but the rewards are actually more substantial.
In My Nintendo, you can win various points by completing ‘missions’ within the platform or within Nintendo’s line-up of video games and by making purchases from the platform. Completing ‘missions’ earn you Platinum points while making purchases earn you Gold points and they each have their own set of rewards, which ranges from discounts, digital contents such as desktop/mobile wallpapers, seasonal gifts such as printable father day’s cards and even some free games.
What’s great about Nintendo’s way of doing things isn’t just the interesting rewards, it’s because users are also given an incentive to play Nintendo’s video games to earn these points. Who knows, perhaps these users might fell in love with the video games in question, adding another convert to the brand along the way thanks to the incentive Nintendo gave out at the beginning? Done smartly and creatively, gamification features have considerably more potential than just making your websites more fun to interact, especially in e-commerce platforms.
Gamification as contents
If however your business isn’t well equipped to use these sorts of gamification features, you might want to consider using gamification as contents the akin to Buzzfeed quizzes but adapted to your industrial niche. Instead of trying to educate customers and potential customers via a simple blog post or infographic, why not use the help of a quiz? You can use these quizzes to see how the public sees your industry and help clarify some misconceptions around your business and industry in general. Learning doesn’t have to be boring.