“You can’t design a gamified experience only by adding points, badges, and leaderboards to it. Gamification is an art. And every gamified adventure is unique. So you won’t be able to find a repetitive pattern to make every experience engaging over and over again.”
— Ali Akhtari
Mechanics are the core drivers of Gamification and the aspect that must be paid attention to the most when starting a new project.
An effective application of game mechanics requires creativity and depends on a robust gamification strategy built with the player, the mission, and human motivation in mind.
Let’s not forget that many areas can use gamification such as healthcare, banking, Fintech, the food & beverage industry, education, iGaming…
In this article, we will look at the 15 most effective game mechanics, which, when used in unison with a solid strategic vision, can make your gamified program or software stand out from the crowd.
Point systems are quantifiable indicators of improvement and achievement.
In the realm of Gamification, points serve two key functions – they help players keep track of their progress and establish their status within the game.
Players win points when completing certain activities, contributing, or sharing.
Points can serve as a constant flow of motivation and are the cornerstone of gamification mechanics.
When users collect points, they receive a dopamine kick that pushes them to see how many they can acquire.
Levels are used to show the exact stage of a player’s progress. A new level is reached only after the player has completed a specific mission or if they have a strong participation record, indicating status and access to better content.
In terms of player satisfaction, levels stand higher than points as the achievement is grander and means much more to players. A new level represents a new and improved player.
Levels give players two great reasons to be excited about: how far they have progressed and where they are headed next.
Players can receive badges after earning a certain amount of points. Their shiny look is a virtual testament to the player’s skill and talent and a powerful motivator to keep coming back for more exciting action.
Badges are awarded to players to celebrate their achievements. They address basic human motivations to collect items that are assigned great emotional value.
Badges also have social value, as people have an innate craving for recognition, admiration, and appreciation by others for their achievements. The psychological driver in this mechanic is used to make the most out of the player’s experience.
Relationships are game mechanics based on emotional connection. Humans need social connections, and relationships play a vital role in our emotional well-being.
People tend to mimic each other and engage in behavior they would not otherwise engage in on their own time, so forming close bonds within a gamified experience can bring immense engagement to players.
Relationships also reduce stress and can be drivers for many positive behaviors. For example, people trying to get off drugs or deal with tragic news fairs are much better when surrounded by people who care about them.
Relationships address the motivational driver of deep and meaningful connection.
5. Loss Aversion
Losing something of value is always painful, which is why loss aversion can be a powerful motivator for players to be better and keep on going toward the next stage. Furthermore, we fear losing something we already have much more than not winning something new.
Within the context of a virtual game, you may be given a package of free content to start with or have earned a precious item at a distant point in your journey. You will likely fight tooth and nail to do everything you can not to lose it and remain empty-handed.
Challenges are the force without which points, badges, and levels cannot function. They keep players engaged and give them a purpose to play.
Gamified challenges are a highly effective motivational mechanic that keeps people active within the game. And if a good story gives players a sense of purpose, challenges provide a sense of direction.
Challenges keep players hooked when they may feel like they have achieved everything possible.
Conquering challenges makes players take pride in their accomplishments and feel they have rightfully earned their new status.
Also, gamified challenges make the experience much less repetitive and push people to get out of their comfort zone to dig deeper into their abilities.
7. Feedback Systems
When players engage in a gamified experience, they are regularly notified of goals and achievements. This allows them to keep track of their progress, encouraging them to strive for better performances.
Progress bars and other feedback mechanisms provide greater status visibility and are positive motivators that increase engagement with gamified experiences.
Other examples include onscreen text, notifications, and emails. Feedback mechanics can also congratulate a player for completing a task and motivate them to proceed onwards.
A gripping story can do wonders for the success of a gamified experience. This mechanic is injected into tasks and challenges guided by narrative events.
In unison with other engaging mechanics, stories are highly effective tools to guide people to the goals they are fighting to achieve.
People gravitate to what they cannot have or hardly can get their hands on. Scarcity within a game comes in the form of limited resources. For example, it could be a limitation of unique items or rare levels that can only be unlocked by gaining a certain amount of points.
10. Friendly Competition
Going head to head with co-workers or co-students can be highly motivational if done in a controlled and friendly way. When one of the competitors moves up the leaderboard or earns a special badge, others will feel motivated to improve their game. However, competitions need to be set up carefully.
Teamwork and individual tournaments intertwined with daily tasks help foster an atmosphere of positivity. Interactive gamified tournaments and competitions where people have real-time access to progress scores and leaderboards can work as a strong motivator for people to perform at their best.
11. Hidden Elements
The hidden elements mechanic entails hiding some game elements from plain sight and then revealing them at particular moments. Hidden elements can include rewards, tasks, badges, items that can be used in-game, and others.
12. In-game Items
Items that can help the player are usually spread throughout the game. They are resources that can be used to access special rewards or exchanged for other goods. For example, players can gain access to a mission shortcut, receive the ability to see hidden badges and other treasures and find items that can help them solve a particular mission more efficiently.
13. Flow State
If an activity is tedious, you will get bored before you know it. On the other hand, if it is too difficult, you will get irritated and throw stop engaging.
A gamified experience must be balanced; challenging, yet not too hard to pass.
If you can achieve that balance, players will enter something that psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow state.’
14. Time-Limited Action
Time-limited action is your go-to mechanic when it comes to player stimulation and quick thinking to complete a specific task. Game activities/tasks should run on a strict timer. This will push people’s urgency buttons to take the situation more seriously, focus harder, and do the best they can to solve the challenge promptly.
15. Social Factors
Social factors can spice up a gamified experience and motivate people to keep coming back for more. They are a fundamental aspect of every successful system containing Gamification elements. Social factors can be injected into games to allow people to share their achievements and motivate each other as a community. They include social media pages connected to the game, chats, forums, comment sections, liking, sharing, reporting, and so on.
At the end of the day, if you have set your mind on creating a gamified experience for your business, you can rest assured that if you implement the abovementioned core gamification mechanics, you will succeed in gathering a large and loyal base of users.
There are plenty of potent mechanics to choose from, and you must carefully consider which ones would work best for your particular needs.
Gamification mechanics can be used to drive motivation, improve player retention, create a deep sense of community, and ultimately increase your revenue.