How apps like Fitbit, Waze, and Duolingo use gamification in their design

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It has 5 essential components

Authors that wrote extensively about gamification, like Karl Kapp, Kai Erenli, or Darina Dicheva, mention several components when creating a gamification system. I find that 5 of them are absolutely essential for the system to be successful, two others are nice to have.

Goals — Set goals for users as they give a sense of purpose to the system. They make us feel pleased when we succeed and empower us with a feeling of accomplishment when we achieve them — an essential component of fun.

Rules — Agree on the rules of the “game”. Limitations actually help us become more creative and allow us to appreciate the fun. Rules are repetitive and continuous actions users need to do and they are tightly integrated with the main offering of the product.

The best type of rules are simple to understand and to execute and require minimal or no input from users. Every small thing you ask of them will be followed by a conversion, so keep it simple.

Feedback — Give feedback to users, specifically progress feedback. Users need to see how well they are doing in the context of the goals you set for them and the rules that they’ve agreed upon. It comes in different visual forms like progress bars, levels, encouragement messages, animations etc.

Rewards — Offer rewards to users. These are things we give them for the time and effort they put in and can be anything from virtual badges, points, trophies, coins, leaderboards, stickers, avatars, to actual material gains like money.

A common rewards setup includes a points system that quantifies the performance or the users, badges that are awarded for special achievements, and leaderboards that rank users based on the previous two.

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This mix is commonly referred to as “BPL” (Badges, Points and Leaderboards) and is often wrongly understood as the definition of gamification itself.

Motivation — Offer motivation for users to act. There are 2 types: intrinsic motivation, that comes from within us like curiosity, pride or a sense of achievement and extrinsic motivation, that comes from outside us like money, grades or praises.

Research showed that intrinsic motivation is a lot more powerful than extrinsic motivation. And Fiero, the feeling of rush right after we win something, is considered to be the ultimate intrinsic motivator.

Fiero in action

Freedom of choice — A system will be fun only when users choose to voluntarily participate in it, and follow the goals and rules. Not when they’re forced or tricked into it.

Freedom to fail — Failing without consequences keeps users more engaged than when they’re getting punished because they can try again. Denying them that, hinders their involvement.

Source: The Next Web

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