The 10 “DON’Ts” of Gamification

The power of Gamification is tremendous, it can influence behavior and make boring things fun again, as long as you DO it the right way of course. There are many resources out there on what you should be doing, but not too much on what you should NOT. Personally I believe that learning what NOT to do is as important as learning what to do (perhaps more important), and that’s why today we are going to take a short look at the 10 “DON’Ts” of Gamification!


Don’t #1: Thou Shalt Not Punish

First thing first, never punish your customers!

In video games there are many different types of punishment that can happen to a player, they are designed to compensate the award system, and make things a little more challenging so the reward will be sweeter. However the punishment in Gamification should simply be giving them “Less Reward”, and stay away with anything that can potentially discourage them. You are dealing with the “casual players”, and all they care about is an easy fun time, some fancy graphics…and some badges that they can show off to their friends. Don’t punish them, give them candy, lots of it.


Don’t #2: Thou Shalt Not Kill Exclusivity

Keep it exclusive, and they will want it!

When everyone is powerful and influential then no one is. Think about money, when everyone is rich then everyone is equally poor. The whole point of getting reward, points, tittles and badges is to make the user feel unique. Over doing it can kill the Exclusivity of those elements, making your reward system pointless.

Reward often, reward everything but still keeping the exclusivity is key to maintaining the value of your rewards. There should always be some exclusivity in your reward system, something that only the few can get, and always push the level exclusivity. Example? South Park 506 Cartmanland.


Don’t #3: Thou Shalt Not Be Repetitive

Doing the same thing over and over again is boring!

Many social games ask player to do daily tasks and quests that are exactly the same thing, and doing repetitive things is most likely to be boring. Designing unique tasks and quests is hard, and that’s why the player ends up doing the same thing over and over again. The trick here is to create some random elements in to the repetitive loop, such as the outcome, drops, rewards…etc, and this will keep the interest up and keep them coming back. Surprise them!


Don’t #4: Thou Shalt Not Be Greedy

When you try to get everything at once, you get nothing!

Keep in mind that you can only do so much at a time, and you would rather do fewer things that are “great” than doing lots of things that are just “okay”. Focus on Gamification elements that are unique and necessary for you, instead of trying to apply everything that is out there.


Don’t #5: Thou Shalt Not Make it Too Easy

Be dynamic, that’s how you engage them!

The key to creating a good challenge is to always be a little harder than the user can handle, push them a little but keep in mind that Gamification applies to the “Casual Player”, not the “Hardcore”. This means if you make it too difficult no one will even try. Making it too easy will take away people’s interest, and the reward they get in the end will be meaningless.

Keep in mind you are challenging your users, not punishing them. The difference between a good challenge and punishment is based on the end reward. Give them something even if they fail the challenge, and remember “Reward often, reward everything!”


Don’t #6: Thou Shalt Not Tell Them Everything

Let them imagine, create and fill in the blanks for you!

This mainly focuses on the storytelling aspect, but it can also apply to things like tutorials or how to complete a task. Storytelling is important because nothing builds engagement and brand loyalty as fast as telling a good story.

By taking away some of the key story elements, you allows the user to fill it in with their imagination, and the story become partially their creation, engaged! A great game designer once said “Story telling isn’t about providing information, is about taking them away”.


Don’t #7: Thou Shalt Not Stop Changing

Don’t be afraid of mistakes, that’s the path to improvement!

Change is always needed, and that’s how you keep up with the world. As nothing is perfect, there is and always will be room for improvement. Be aware of the trend and your competition, and always brainstorm about how you can enhance your engagement and make it more fun. Keep your feet moving  all the time, as you never know when you will need to make a leap.


Don’t #8: Thou Shalt Not Force It

Think about it, before you apply it!

Is Gamification for every type of businesses? Perhaps, but is Gamification for your business? Maybe not. Depends on your brand and needs, Gamification may not be the best way to go. In fact, mindlessly applying Gamification can confuse your customers, and create unnecessary steps for them to go through. You really need to think about your needs first, and read some posts like “Should You Gamify Your Business” & “7 Types of Gamification-ees” before you apply Gamification to your brand.


Don’t #9: Thou Shalt Not Be Identical

For obvious reasons.

Even if you’re in an industry that has already been gamified by your competition, do not accept the way gamification has been applied as the “standard”. Look for ways to be unique; be creative and have fun! Your customer will notice and appreciate the difference!


Don’t #10: Thou Shalt Not Doubt Its Power

Why do it, if you don’t even believe it?!

Having doubts about Gamification while applying it isn’t going to do you any good. If you are seriously going to use Gamification to influence behavior and increase loyalty, then don’t doubts its power. Believe it, as it has already show its power on multiple brands and products. The level of effectiveness is great, and if for some reason Gamification isn’t working well with you, just think about these “DON’Ts” and maybe you will find the reason.


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