Badges, Points, and Leaderboards: the new black?
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” -William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Welcome back players! As we discussed in the previous blog post, each player plays their game of choice for different reasons and game designers develop qualities to the games to make them addictive. Designers want you to play the game and when you are not playing the game, they want you to think about playing the game so that you return to playing the game as soon as possible. They use different game elements to make it so.
Basic Game Feedback Types
POINTS: You play pinball and you try to get your personal best high score. You continue to play the game based on points feedback. You’re the pinball king (or queen)!
- LEADERBOARD: Oh no! You’re not in #1 place anymore, player ZED has bumped you. Time to get playing to regain your bragging rights! This is related to points, of course.
- BADGES: We’re going to talk a lot about badges later (they are the new black). So let’s say you set up your account in a game and linked your Facebook account, so they awarded you a badge. You’re like “Cool, that was easy! What other badges can I get and what do I need to do?” Badges are related to activities or tasks. You look at the badges, see the activity requirements and start badge collecting like a rockin’ badger would. You want them all. Who doesn’t want bling on their trophy shelf? It’s a sign of success and accomplishment.
Scaffolding in Games
So how do you get from looking at a game, to playing, and then to becoming engaged. There’s a lot that goes into game design. From a player’s perspective once you start playing a game, the game’s scaffolding helps to “hook you” into the game. You could read this very academic paper on “The Scaffolding Mechanism in Serious Games,” but it might be simpler for me to break down what scaffolding is and how it is used through an excellent example of a never-ending game: Farmville.
When we begin playing Farmville, we are given a set of simple directives: 1) Grow crops, 2) Raise animals and 3) Play with friends in a box with a button that says “Let’s Play” so we know what we will be doing. It covers the middle of the screen so instinctively we know ( or most people know) to click on “Let’s play” to get started. We are represented by an avatar in the middle of the screen with 3 plots of dirt- some with crops already growing and some ready to harvest. A bouncing yellow arrow points to a button on the toolbar. This let’s us know in the tutorial what we should do next. Once we click on the appropriate button, a tool tip/message appears telling what’s next. Things we need to click upon are highlighted or have arrows pointing to them, introducing one feature at a time.
As we complete different functions within the tutorial, we are rewarded with gifts to use within the game, points and within a short amount of time, we level up. Game designers make leveling up easy at the beginning as we are learning, so that we feel successful early in the game. We have a good feeling associated with the game, we’re encouraged to go on and maybe that dopamine kicks in. Once they take us through the basic functions of the game, the tutorial is usually completed. This is scaffolding- the gentle guidance through short term tasks to complete a larger or more complex activity. Other games use storytelling narrative to develop their scaffolding structure. Can you have a game without scaffolding? Of course, but good scaffolding improves game play- the overall experience of playing the game.
Remember in using gamification, we want to apply these game elements to other activities. Drop me a comment if you can think of other activities besides games where scaffolding takes place. Until next time, go get your game on! Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/tech2games .
- Gamification: Designing for Motivation by Sebastian Deterding (garrettmglass.wordpress.com)
- Game Thinking – Breaking it Down (business2community.com)
- Apple Finally Gives Developers the Ability to Manage Game Center Leaderboards (toucharcade.com)
Posted on October 7, 2013, in Gamification and tagged badges, dopamine, Game, Game design, game designers, game elements, gamification, leaderboards, points, scaffolding, Score (game). Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.