Two topics I’ve written about recently, gamification, and the need to focus on creating (or leveraging) emotion, got me thinking. How can these two concepts be used in concert? Is there a way to combine elements of the former with the latter? Before I go down this road, a brief disclaimer: I’m not a fan of the term ‘gamification‘ (and I’m not alone). However, for the purposes of this post I’ll use it just to keep things simple.
If the point of gamification (good gamification) is to drive certain behaviours or maintain motivations then the important question becomes what behaviors or motivations are we trying to drive and maintain? Right now I think a lot of gamification is centered around button clicking. Keep clicking to earn points, win badges or gain levels. On many levels this works. As a marketer and someone who is interested in and aware of gamification it works on me. Check out my badge haul on Osnapz. But as the practice of gamification matures, badge fatigue is sure to set in. How many (virtual, mostly worthless) stickers, pins and badges can one person earn before they say, “Aw, to hell with it.”? I feel like I’m getting very close to reaching that threshold.
That brings me to the second part of the puzzle – emotion. How can marketers tap into emotion as a way to bring stronger ties to gamification? How can we create a sub-genre called emofication?*
If I was building a new social platform/tool/service the first thing I would do is allow users to login via Facebook connect. With access to that incredibly rich treasure trove of information I’d look to create rewards that have personal meaning for the user. Photos, jobs, schools, friends, interests (sports, movies, books, music…), birthdays – all of these could be used within a game model that would have a unique and personal connection for the user. Instead of a random music badge with an icon of a music note or instrument, what if the badge was a picture of your favorite band? Sites often ask you to share with friends – why couldn’t that badge have a picture of one of your friends on it? Two small, simple ideas, but you see where I’m heading. Rather than get the exact same badge as 10,000 other people, make them (semi-)customized.
I’ve just scratched the surface here, but I think it’s a concept worth exploring further. Maybe someone already has. If so, please let me know in the comments below.
*Yes, I’m sickened by that portmanteau as well. Let’s just call it a placeholder name for the concept and move on, ok?