Game Design

Game Design is the process of creating the rules and content of a game, through the design and application of its Game Mechanics to create Gameplay.

Game Design is critical to successful Gamification, just like in Traditional Gaming.

For Gamification a new class of Game Designers will be required. They will know how to create fun and rewarding gamified experiences anywhere possible. The same as in social games, the design process only begins when the "game" launches. Constant monitoring of feedback and metrics will be required as you slowly make incremental improvements and add new Game Features and utilize new Game Mechanics.

Here are some questions to inspire creative Gamification Design and to ask yourself before you begin the Gamification Process as well as questions to ask yourself continually throughout the process. Keep in mind, these questions will not apply to every situation and should be taken in context to what you are gamifying.

For specific information about game design as it applies to a specific industry, check the Gamification Industry page. Also see the Game Design Books on our Books page for inspiration as well as our Game Mechanics and Game Features pages.

Contents

Before

Before you begin designing your game you should ask yourself the following:

  • What is your main reason for gamifying your product/service?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are the main benefits you expect to achieve?

Your reason for gamifying your product/service has a huge affect on how you should Gamify. If you just want people to spend more time on your website, major distractions from your core product might be fine. If not, you may want to tone down some aspects to ensure it doesn't take away from the pre-existing experience of your non-game.

First, actions and rewards are fundamental to Gamification. The simplest form of rewards are points. The very first thing you need to do is figure out what all activities you want to reward users for and what is most important to you. You need to do Value Weighting planning to determine what is most important so it's rewarded accordingly and in comparison to each other appropriately.

Next, you need to think of what rules your game may need to ensure you are getting the behavior you want. You may set time limits and other rules to limit Players from repetitively doing something over and over when you only want to reward for it once, etc. You really need to take Cheating into account to ensure Gameplay is fair.

You also need to see things from your Players point of view.

  • How does it benefit the user?
  • Do they enjoy it?

There are many other things to think about before you gamify, more content will be added here...

During

Achievements


Achievements are a great reward if implemented correctly that collectors or perfectionist type players will really love and keep them engaged as long as new Achievements are created.

  • Do you give Achievements often?
  • How long would it take for a player to get every Achievement?
  • Do you have Achievements a player would be proud of or share?
  • Do you allow them and others to see the coolness of the Achievement? Rarity?
  • Have you implemented a place for player's to collect and show their Achievements, such as a Trophy Case ?
  • Do you have a way for players to show off their favorite Achievements?
  • Do you have an Achievement Map to show you the Achievements you have, ones you could earn and when available info on how you can earn them?
  • Have you implemented Achievement Tiers such as the common ones like "Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane and Unknown?"
  • Do you use clever names and graphics on your Achievements to add Character? How about humor or wit not only in the names or graphics but also in how you obtain the Achievements?
  • Have you kept your players in mind and created Achievement styles that are catered towards them?
  • Do your names for Unknown Achievements(Achievements that you don't know how you earn them) inspire curiosity/envy in players without prematurely revealing how the player earned it?
  • Do you have Achievements with real depth that require a combo of actions / variables to Unlock?

Altruism


With great power comes great responsibility. Games can be used for good, bad and many shades of gray. Gamify Experts should take a moment to consider the health of their players as well as ways to use Gamification for Social Good.

  • Do you have methods to show the players how long they have been playing?
  • Do you warn them when they've been playing too long?
  • Do you give them substantial reasons to take a break such as a maximum on points per day, or a bonus for returning after a certain period of time?
  • Have you thought of ways to leverage your influence to have players do good in the real world through donations or other creative means?

Analysis


Constant Analysis of performance and player behavior has become the norm in the Iterative Game Design Process.

  • Do you have the right analytics tools and goals set in place to gauge your progress?
  • Do you know where players drop out of your game? Where they lose interest?
  • Do you know when and where players are having the most fun?
  • Are there new Game Features you can add or non-performing ones you can remove?

Anticipation


Anticipation is a strong psychological motivator that when used properly in your game can get players excited and allow them to endure longer play time at a higher level of enjoyment.

  • How can you use anticipation to motivate your players?
  • Do you "dangle a carrot" so players know what they are working towards?
  • Do players know the result of their next level, achievement, status title etc.?
  • Can you use chance to have players anticipate some random event or reward that might happen?
  • Can you use time to build anticipation?

Balance


Balance is important to any good game to insure the game is fun, has longevity and is fair.

  • How frequent are your rewards?
  • Will players get bored because your rewards are too easy to obtain?
  • How fast do players max out(max level, etc.)?
  • Will players obtain some benefit from being max that will be enough for them to continue to participate?
  • Is there a way to allow a player to "restart" while keeping what they earned? For example, players in WoW have multiple Level 70 Characters.

Challenge


Challenge is fundamental to creating Gameplay.

  • What are the challenges in your game?
  • Do they require skill or luck? or both?
  • Is there enough variety and depth in the challenges that players will stay engaged?
  • Do you have multiple types of challenges throughout?

Chance


Lotteries are popular for a reason, everyones loves chance, the unknown. Treasure Chests in games like World of Warcraft are a great example of chance on multiple levels because you have a chance to get a treasure chest when you kill a monster, then there is a chance of how rare of a chest you will get, then when you open it there is randomness on what item you will get.

  • How might you use the anticipation of a chance to increase fun and gameplay duration?
  • How can you implement multiple levels of chance such as the example with Treasure Chests?
  • Do you show players the likelihood of a chance happen or keep it a mystery?
  • Are chance %'s set in stone or variable based on actions or some other variable?
  • Do you have insanely rare, unique or personal rewards that can be won by chance?

Character


The game Earthworm Jim is a classic example of using humor in games to build Character. Having unique and weird quirks can cause players to talk about your Gamified Experience. Gamification enables some interesting possibilities to build Character that people will remember. In most current iterations of Gamification this concept has been entirely ignored.

  • Does your company's pre-existing brand and attitude shine through in the Gamified Experience?
  • Have you aligned your brand's character with the User Experience to insure consistency?
  • Can you use humor, satire, etc. to build character?
  • Have you created customized content such as Achievements, Avatars, Virtual Goods etc. to match your brand that players will remember?
  • Do you use feedback or other interactions to build character?
  • Have you created content unique to your brand that players will be surprised by, such as Easter Eggs?
  • Have you implemented any features or created content that is so outlandish or unique that players will talk about and want to share?

Cheating


Cheating goes hand and hand with Gameplay if you don't properly design against it. Before and during game design you must try to fathom how players could possibly cheat or exploit some flaw in your design. Like anything tho, if your anti-cheating measures are overdone you can hurt the User Experience. Players may employ many methods to cheat such as Bots, Multiple Accounts, their own personal time and in extreme situations where real cash or valuable real world rewards are at stake they may hire people for low wages.

  • Are there repetitive tasks that are rewarded with no restrictions that players might try to exploit?
  • If so, might you limit the task with per hour, per day maximums? Perhaps you could require a combination of activity before the player gets rewarded again to create an environment that bots couldn't exploit.
  • Have you thoroughly thought about your game design from a cheater's perspective to see possible exploits they would see?
  • Do you have tools and analytics in place to possibly detect unusual behavior?
  • Have you taken into account how excessive anti-cheating efforts might hurt your User Experience such as excessive captcha usage etc.?
  • Could you require players to use facebook or some other name verification method to verify their identity in the hopes that players wont cheat if people know who they really are?
  • Can you make player activity public so that players might worry others will notice unusual activity?
  • Can you enable the use of Web Reputation Systems and promote players to flag users who have unusual activity?
  • Can you create a system to reward players with points/badges etc. for catching a cheater? Do they lose a little bit of points if they're wrong to discourage excessive flagging?
  • Do you have legal protection in place to allow you to delete player's accounts or remove rewards if they have cheated?
  • Do you have social systems in place to reduce points dramatically if an activity was obviously done just for points without caring about quality? Such as if a player left a comment just for points and other players voted it down the player could receive no points or actually lose points.

Choices


Choices empower users, make them feel engaged and ownership over their choices.

  • Do you give players meaningful choices? Would you benefit from making them more or less frequent?
  • Do players get feedback on their choices? Do they see the effects of their choices?
  • Would your players benefit from more or less options when making choices?

Collector


Collectors will work persistently to collect everything in your game. If you give Collectors rare achievements and items to collect they will keep on until they have them all regardless of how difficult. Not everyone is such an extreme Collector, but most people still enjoy collecting to some degree.

  • Do you have a wide variety of things for players to collect?
  • Can you create collectible content that is very difficult that will take the players a long time to collect in order to increase longevity of gameplay?
  • Do you have "sets" such as item sets, achievement sets etc.?
  • Do you visibly show the player their progress in collecting? Perhaps what % they have completed of the set etc.?
  • Can you create limited edition items or other things that Collectors would go crazy for?

Community


Creating a strong bond between players, a Community is critical to long term success, virality and more.

  • Are you doing enough to promote community?
  • Do you use social network integration to leverage existing social graphs?
  • How can you give your players more ways to contact or interact with one another?
  • Have you properly implemented competition and/or cooperation so players have a need to band together and discuss?
  • Do players have a need to form groups to help each other on specific tasks or large quests, contests etc.?

Competition


Competition is the basis for most of humanity's progress and evolution. With that being said, different personality types have different feelings about competition and sometimes competition overdone can make players shy away or hurt cooperation.

  • Do your players want competition?
  • Is there a way you can allow players different options so if they don't want to compete, they don't have to?
  • Have you taken into account the balance between competition and cooperation?
  • Are there opportunities where players can be competitive and cooperative at the same time?
  • Do you have multiple ways for competitive players to compete, with both others and themselves?

Control


We all want to be in control of what we do. It makes us feel important, safe and most importantly free.

  • Can you give your players more control over their experience?
  • Are there things you currently dictate to your players that could be opened for them to control or vote on?
  • Can you give players more control or power as part of a reward or status?

Cooperation


Cooperation is paramount to building a strong community. Do you have Game Features enabled that will allow players to collaborate?

  • Do you have various methods of collaboration, both big and small?
  • Can players collaborate with both close friends and strangers?

Curiosity


Curiosity is one of the basic human emotions that should be heavily considered in the Game Design Process.

  • Are your players curious about anything that might be mysterious to them?
  • Are there any ways you could increase or create curiosity with mysterious locked items, treasure chests, or other Game Mechanics or Game Features?

Data


Data is king. In games players can become addicted to pouring over data about the game and their actions, achievements etc. Players love stats.

  • Are there stats you are invisibly collecting now that players would benefit from seeing?
  • Have you given players methods to see stats from the entire game, their personal stats and those of other players or groups?

Dazzle


It is important to Dazzle your players, take them on an experience and insure it's visually pleasant. Beauty and wowing a player keeps them engaged and makes them remember you.

  • Have you spent enough time on your User Interface and insuring players really enjoy the graphical elements of the Gamification?
  • Are there ways you could visually make things more exciting or interesting to increase engagement?

Discovery


People inherently love to explore. Consider giving more opportunities in your game for players to discover something new.

  • Do players currently benefit from exploring your game or content? Do they get bonuses for finding content for the first time, personally, globally or in their group?
  • Are there things players are already discovering for the first time and you're just not telling them?
  • Could you create new content just for the purpose of players "finding it"?
  • Can you create challenges, quests etc. that use discovery as an element?
  • Can you enable players to compete or collaborate on exploring?
  • Can you provide special recognition for a player to be the first who found something?
  • Do you take advantage of data to show a player how much they have discovered and what's still out there and undiscovered?

Economy


Economy in your Gamified Experience can add immense loyalty as players begin to care about their Virtual Currency. Just like in real life, your Economy can be difficult to balance. You must plan carefully and take many things into consideration or it will become worthless.

  • Do players value their virtual currency or goods?
  • If not, how can you make it feel more valuable?
  • Do you allow players to trade any non-merit based goods such as money, items etc.?
  • Do you have tools and analytics in place to watch for inflation and other problems in your economy?
  • Have you created enough Sinks to help curb inflation? Such as, paying for a right to do X, or to take a risk that net sum results in the loss of currency or items.

Engagement Curve


Engagement is one of the most important Gamification Benefits. You can expect Engagement to spike or fall off at different parts of the experience and the life of the player.

  • Do you monitor engagement so that you know the parts of your Gamified Experience that players enjoy the most?
  • If players are dropping off at a certain spot in the game, can you remove, replace or tweak that part of the experience?
  • If players get bored after X months, can you add content at that time to re-engage them?

Envy


Envy is not always bad. Players may aspire to do better due to envy of another player's status, possessions etc and other players might try harder because they want players to envy them.

  • How do you currently use envy to motivate players?
  • Do players have easy access to see information about other players?
  • What creative ways can you devise to leverage envy without making players dislike each other?
  • Have you taken into consideration the social implications of making players too envious of one another?
  • Do you give players something special or unique that would motivate other players to earn or find it?
  • Do you give players an easy way to compare themselves to others?
  • Do you have various depths of visible status, such as shallow at a glance(not much data) and in depth if you want to see?

Fairness


Fairness is important to the long term viability of your game. If players feel things aren't fair they will feel cheated and it could result in negative results instead of positive results. Gamify Experts should plan accordingly to create fairness and monitor player sentiment.

  • Do you have feedback mechanisms to see if your players feel treated fairly?
  • In competitions that require skill, can you insure players are matched or judged based on players with similar skill?
  • Do you try to sale any virtual goods that players might consider an unfair advantage such as XP Boosts, Special Items etc.?

Feedback


Feedback is your communication to a player of what they should do, what they did etc. Without proper feedback a player could feel lost and un-engaged.

  • Do players understand the game and it's rules?
  • Do they clearly know what to do next or if open ended understand the possibilities?
  • Do you properly communicate to players when they've accomplished something?
  • Do players see visible feedback on all of their actions that earn rewards?

Fun


Everyone likes to have fun, some say it's the reason we live. While not always required in Gamification ( see section on Invisibility ), fun is a critical aspect of Gamification Design and should be one of your metrics for success.

  • What might your players find fun?
  • Are you overlooking something simple? Simple can be fun sometimes.
  • Could you create more mini games, chances or games of skill to increase fun?

This part has less questions because it's so open ended, we just know it's something you should focus on. Get creative!

Global


The world is a big place. Gamification in many ways is a connector. Connecting the real and the digital, the local and global. Gamify Experts should take into consideration their audience and potentially untapped audience.

  • Is your content suitable for a global audience? If not, could some minor tweaks change that?
  • Do your rewards take into consideration global tastes?
  • Can you create personalized experiences for different countries while still keeping them connected at the global level?
  • Can you use Patriotism at a local or global level to inspire competition and collaboration?

Goals


Goals are fundamental to gameplay. Goals provide a reason to play and way to feel progression and accomplishment.

  • Do players understand the goal of the game and the purpose of it's existence?
  • Can you allow players the ability to set their own goals? Can you suggest goals to them to motivate them to excel?
  • Can you use goals at a global level that everyone can help work towards to inspire collaboration? Such as how some websites have raised money for charity by showing their goal to everyone and how close they are to reaching their goal.
  • Can you use goals to promote competition?

Grinding


Grinding, or doing a repetitive task to progress in game, is fundamental to most RPG Games and if done with the right frequency of intensity with needed breaks from Grinding, can result in dramatic increase in time spent. Grinding if too difficult can cause players to leave.

  • Are there repetitive tasks that might be appropriate for your Gamified Experience to encourage Grinding, such as viewing of content or other tasks?
  • Do you give something fun and rewarding to break the monotony of grinding?
  • Is this change induced based on time, chance or accomplishment? If only one way could you implement other ways?
  • Can players easily see their progress, short term objectives and long term objectives/progress?

Influence


Influence over actions is a major benefit of Gamification. Most of the time you want to do this subtly and carefully as not to be too pushy with players. Give them goals or challenges that require them to do something that is important to you or reward them more points for doing something that at that moment is of the most importance to you.

  • Can you influence actions of players through the use of Game Mechanics without it ruining the experience?
  • Can you tweak your User Interface to influence players?
  • Can you set rules to get players to do what you want?
  • Can you set goals to get players to do what you want?
  • Are there other creative means to influence players without them feeling you are controlling and interfering with their experience?

Imagination


Imagination captives and spires. We want to stimulate our player's imagination but also Gamify Experts will be able to use their imagination to create creative solutions to problems.

  • Are there ways you can stimulate your player's imagination?
  • Have you created unique and imaginative content that players will remember?
  • Does your Gamified Experience have toy like attributes that inspire child like joy and curiosity?

Instantaneous


We live in the age of instant, on demand and A.D.D. Assuming you have the technology , it's a powerful tool in your game design arsenal.

  • Are there aspects of your experience now that are delayed but could be more exciting if they were real-time?
  • Has your UI/UX taken into consideration the power of instant?
  • Could you create content in real-time that players would be surprised and engaged by?

Invisibility


Sometimes you've got to be Invisible. The beauty of Gamification is it can be weaved into every part of our lives. Some people will want to see every detail of the game while others will not want to be bothered and they just want to see the results and rewards.

  • Are there some aspects of your Gamification Design that could benefit from being less visible or entirely invisible?
  • Can you give players options to make things visible or invisible through settings or more temporarily and situational with modes so if I want no feedback today for a specific reason, I can switch modes?

Leveling Curve


Levels are an important method in game design to show progress and status. When designing you should take into account how fast players will level, will they reach max level and when and does the difficulty change per level?

  • Have you researched the various types of level curves such as wave, straight, progressive etc. and found the one that works best?
  • Are there rewards for levels you could give that would make the level meaningful?
  • Do you foreshadow to show players what they can earn the next level or future levels?
  • Can you create "Tiers" or milestones so that for example every 10 levels could have some major importance with a new status title, power or some other reward?

Longevity


Creating gameplay that has Longevity and long term appeal takes skill and persistence.

  • Do you have a plan to continue generating interesting content and rewards so players stay interested?
  • Have you made players feel ownership over their achievements and possessions so that they will not want to lose them if they left?
  • Do you have mini games and meta games outside the main game that will keep players busy?
  • Do you have some rewards that are insanely hard to obtain that can take a tremendous amount of time and effort?
  • Have you gave collectors content to keep them busy?
  • Are you properly monitoring how fast players progress so you will know when players need new content?

Mini Games


Mini Games are a great way to add character to gameplay and give a change of pace to break monotony. The classic Nintendo game Zelda is famous for having mini games including fishing, racing and more. Mini games can be obvious or sometimes are entirely hidden almost like an Easter Egg.

  • How might you create a simple mini game that adds value to your Gamified Experience?
  • Do you closely integrate the mini game into the experience or just have it be a stand alone way to earn more points etc.?
  • Can you use mini games to increase social interaction or virality?
  • Are mini games constantly available, time limited or unlockable?
  • Are there creative ways you could use your mini games such as "Events" , Competitions etc.?

Meta Games


Meta Games are games played above the "game". Meta Games can be a great way to make data interesting, to show progress and much more.

  • Do you have meta games that give the player an extra reason to participate in the main game?
  • Can you create a meta game that requires no extra effort but visually is an interesting way to see your progress?
  • Can players Unlock Meta Games?

Meta Games require a lot of imagination. The possibilities are wide open to how you can use all this Game Data and Life Data in interesting and possibly fun ways.

Micro-Transactions


Micro-Transactions have opened a lot of untapped potential in games by helping to support Freemium Business Models and allowing players to pay for uniqueness, status, boosts and more. Micro-Transactions like many things can be implemented poorly with harmful results. If over used or implemented too early or pushed too hard, players might become unhappy and feel the game is unfair or all about money. A Gamify Expert should first make sure that players care about the game and their rewards for an extended period of time before offering Micro-Transactions.

  • Have you created a clear set of goals to monitor the engagement etc. of your players to insure they already care about their points, status and other rewards before implementing micro-transactions?
  • Is there a way you can gradually roll out micro-transactions to ease players into it and monitor results closely?
  • Are there things that players have expressed a desire for that you could possibly charge for?

Playtesting


Playtesting in traditional gaming happens very early in the design process and is important not only for finding bugs, but for determining what is fun, if experiences inspire the feelings you thought they would etc. Playtesting is different in the context of Gamification , tho still very important.

  • Could you perhaps release to a limited set of top users to get feedback from your most trusted fans?
  • Do you play with potential new features privately before rolling them out to the public?

Progression


Progression drives games. Players want that next level, reward and to see how far they've come.

  • Do you constantly give players feedback on their progress via stats, progress bars or other means?
  • Is there more data you could surface to show players their progress for multiple things, in multiple views?
  • Could you use progress data in creative ways to entertain the player such as using the data to power a meta-game?

Punishment


Punishment has always been used in game design to keep players from doing something you don't want them to. In traditional gaming if you make a mistake, you might die. In Gamification Design, you should use punishment carefully as it could turn off some players.

  • Are you currently punishing your players for actions you don't want them to do?
  • Do the players feel it's fair?
  • Can you use decay in your game so that players must return or they begin to lose something?
  • Are you currently using any form of punishment that is excessive and players generally dislike that you could remove?

Quests


Quests lead players on a journey. In many games this really ends up being just a list of tasks you should complete, ordered or not, to receive X reward.

  • Can you create unique quests that help build character?
  • Can you create many quests of varying levels of difficult and time length requirements so that you have some that take only minutes and others that take months to complete?
  • Do you give difficult appropriate rewards for the completion of Quests or perhaps a unique reward for the most difficult ones?
  • If players have completed parts of a quest they don't know about, are they informed?
  • Can you create Quests that create competition and/or collaboration?

Rewards


Rewards are fundamental to Game Design. Having the right Rewards is key to making sure players feel their is value to their actions. Keep in mind rewards are not necessarily physical or even things like points, sometimes acknowledgment and status are the most important rewards.

  • Do players care about your rewards?
  • Do you have unique rewards that players will cherish?
  • Do your rewards seem to be appropriate for the level of difficulty it takes to acquire them?
  • Can you possibly give players a choice in what kind of rewards they get?

Risk


Risk stimulates our instincts and can make things seem more exciting when something is on the line.

  • Can you create more opportunities for players to take a risk?
  • Can you make the risks optional so they have meaning and players can chose to participate or not?
  • Can you use risk to simultaneously increase engagement and fun while also providing a Sink to help balance your Virtual Economy?
  • Do you have limits to risk set to protect against players losing too much and burning out?
  • Does risk add to your Gamified Experience or does it create a sense of unfairness to players if elements of chance are involved?

Rules


Rules make gameplay possible. As with many things, rules must be carefully planned to insure balanced and fun Gameplay.

  • Do players clearly understand the rules of the game?
  • Do you have some rules that are community policed?

Self-Expression


Self-Expression if properly done leads to a feeling of accomplishment and ownership which can result in loyalty.

  • How do you enable and encourage self-expression?
  • Do you allow players to make meaningful choices which might allow self expression?
  • Do your players have the ability to use a picture of themselves or character as an avatar?
  • If so, can they customize the avatar?

Skill


Skill is the core of most gameplay. A "game" requiring no skill will eventually become boring. Players love to feel they've became better or mastered a game. Some players love chance whereas others despise it and want everything to be based off of skill. The vast majority are perfectly fine with a nice balance of both.

  • How might you add more skill to your game?
  • Is Skill optional?
  • Do you accommodate beginners while still providing a deep challenge to experts?

Skill / Chance Balance


It is critical to balance skill/chance in your Gamified Experience. You may decide to have only one or the other but typically it's best to have both. The balance really depends on your Gamification Target and your goals.

Status


Status is of immense importance in Gamification. It separates "them" from "us" and gives loyal Players a feeling of belonging.

  • Does status give them anything of reward?
  • Do other players know this?
  • How do you show the change of status? Do you show it just to the player or to others?
  • How can you give a player the chance to indirectly flaunt their status?
  • Have you taken advantage of multiple forms of visible status, such as status titles, levels, tiers, rank?
  • Can you find a way to give players status not just globally but locally based on friends, geography or some other creative way?

Social Interactions


Social Interaction is important to build a community, increase virality and encourage competition and collaboration.

  • Are players rewarded for interacting with their friends?
  • Do you give players ways to compete or collaborate with one another?
  • Do players know how to contact each other and have open communication channels?
  • Do you have social interactions that take into account multiple "friend spheres" such as facebook, twitter, local users etc.?
  • Do you enable players to do light social interactions or "ping" one another through some action in the game? If so, is there some substance to how you enable this and various ways to achieve it?

Story


Story is one of the most important aspects of Game Design in Traditional Games. While typically not so important in Gamification, there are opportunities to have story elements in a Gamified Experience.

  • Can you produce episodic content that is unveiled as the player advances?
  • Can you generate a story based on the Achievements and Facts about a player?
  • Can a meta game be created that uses the data from the game to create a gameplay experience that has a story?
  • Can players create their own story content and share with others?

Surprise


Surprise seems simple, but it's very important. People love to be surprised with something they didn't expect and surprises are known to have an emotional impact on us that we remember.

  • What can you do to surprise players in a positive way?

Get creative, surprise is one of those areas that is so broad that you've really got to open your imagination.

Time


Time is our friend and enemy, a relentless and inevitable force.

  • How do you use time to your advantage?
  • Do you use scarcity of time to your advantage?
  • Do you use features such as countdowns, timers etc. to maximum effect?
  • Do you use cool downs so users will come back again and again when an ability, action or event is available again?
  • Do you use decay over time to insure players return?
  • Do you give bonuses based on time spent engaged or in any other creative way?
  • Games where your time is the score?

Unlockables


Unlockables are a great way to show progress in a cool way. Players can unlock areas, specials, levels, status, achievements etc.

  • How might you implement locked content and unlockables to make players excited when they've unlocked something?
  • How can you create artificial scarcity with locked content in order to enable unlocking?

User Experience


User Experience has become an art form and just like with other technology is very important to insure players have a pleasant experience. When Gamifying a non-game you must keep in mind the original user experience and how Gamification will affect that experience in a negative or positive way.

  • Do players clearly understand the Gameplay, it's purpose, Rules and how to participate?
  • Can you empower users to change how they use certain features?
  • Are you properly using your UI to influence players to take the actions you want them to?
  • Is any part of the experience painful for a player and reducing fun?

Vanity


Mirror, mirror... Many players love recognition and love to hear about themselves.

  • What features can you create to feed player's vanity?
  • Can you create a "Customer of the Week" or similar concept so players will want the chance to be recognized for their efforts?
  • Can you do something to make players most important Achievements known to their friends, or everyone?
  • Is there a way you can more personalize feedback and communications to target the specific player so they feel special?

Virality


Virality is important to growth of player base which if done right should enrich gameplay.

  • How can you increase virality?
  • How might you encourage players to "recruit" new players willingly?
  • Are your viral game mechanics fun and natural or do they interfere with the flow and experience?

Virtual Goods


Virtual Goods help to build community, economy and a sense of ownership.

  • Have you created virtual goods that players care about?
  • Could you create virtual goods that actually serve some function?
  • Can you use the power of "Vanity" to make items seem more special?
  • Can you create scarcity to drive demand for items?
  • Can virtual goods be traded, gifted etc. to help build a community?
  • Do you allow players to customize their virtual goods?

Zen


Zen teaches simplicity and balance. Sometimes in order to grow we must subtract.

  • Are there any Game Mechanics or Game Features that don't add to the experience? Would the experience benefit from removing it or replacing it?
  • When you add Game Features do you take into account balance to insure the experience remains fun?

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