The below article from TNW has some very valuable advice for those looking to employ gamification. As many of you know, if done right, gamification can drive a wealth of positive behaviours, but if done wrong, can patronise, demotivate and disengage the very individuals you're seeking to help.
The attached article cites four pitfalls to avoid when gamifying. I found the two most compelling to be:
- The (ab)use of points/badges/league tables. Be mindful when using points. Worst case scenario being that you risk overjustifying the desired behaviour with something that has no real value. Same goes for virtual currencies - as your games evolve, virtual currencies can in/deflate, and there's nothing like a devalued virtual currency to add complexity and noise to something that is meant to be simple. As for league tables, remember that the competitors within your game are real people with real interpersonal relationships - don't foster genuine conflict for the sake of the game!
- Condescending tone. Just because your gamified system is simple, doesn't mean your competitors are too! Avoid adopting patronising treatment with the competitiors, and be wary of coming across as over-congratulatory. Praise is a powerful currency and I recommend thriftiness!
(Ab)use of points, badges and leaderboards. This is the most visible and annoying aspect of gamification. Product designers started to attach virtual currencies to anything, under the silly premise that if you offer people something to collect, they will try to collect it no matter what. But virtual economies add cognitive noise, introducing unwanted distortions both when they are worth too much and when they are worth nothing.