What’s the Mission? Understanding Gamification Goals

Oct 14, 20216 min readBY Yozu Gamification

By Yozu

Yozu’s resident Gamification Expert, Kasia Pikula, shares the second article in her gamification series, exploring the importance of goal setting.

Yozu’s resident Gamification Expert, Kasia Pikula, shares the second article in her gamification series, exploring the importance of goal setting…

In my last article, I introduced the concept of gamification; a system that uses mechanisms and specific components typically reserved for game design, and leverages them in a non-game environment to achieve specific goals. I covered the core elements needed for gamification (goals, rules, feedback and voluntary participation), and also explored what it takes to create a well-balanced game. So now you know the theory, let’s get to the juicy bit and start designing a gamified experience!

Knowing your goals…

As obvious as it may seem, when designing a new tool, we can often forget about the basics. In gamification, these are the goals of the project. More specifically, the business/organisation goal and the gamification solution for it.

With gamification, you’re using the concept of fun and competition to achieve a business objective in a unique and engaging way. Though let’s be real here – however you do it, the main goal is still the same; to hit those KPIs and reach your targets (and there’s nothing wrong with that; you’re not here to simply make games, you have a business to run!). In order to achieve those targets, however – and do so with the support of gamification – you must create engaging tasks that you set for your user within your gamification project – whether that’s an app, online game or any other medium. These tasks should be:

  • Specific
  • Easily measurable
  • Within a set timeframe, and
  • Challenging

It also goes without saying that they should be fun! These user tasks will make up your the foundation of your gamification solution and will help you to achieve your business goal. Only by acknowledging the importance of these tasks – and giving them the attention they deserve – can you hope to smash your business goals through gamification.

So no you’re aware of the two core elements – the business goal and the gamification solution – let’s break those down further…

Defining your business goal…

When it comes to defining your business goal, think about the problem that you’re trying to solve, as well as the potential reasons for its occurrence in the first place. By understanding the challenge and its cause(s), you can use gamification more effectively to resolve it. .

Let’s have a look at an example below…

The Problem:

“Our users aren’t engaged with all of the functionality within our educational app. They become frustrated and decide to delete it from their phone.”

Now, consider the causes for that problem. (If you can, aim to conduct some user research that can validate your reasoning or give you other points to consider.)

The Causes:

  • Visitors aren’t aware of the app’s total functionality
  • They can’t find their way around the app
  • They’re not interested in learning more about the app and trying out its features
  • They’re not motivated to keep learning new skills via the app

Since gamification has the power to trigger human emotions, it’s a great way to motivate users to move forward with specific actions (and eradicate those pesky causes!). It also fosters competition and creates a sense of control.

So your business goal could be defined as:

The Business Goal:

“Our business goal is to improve user engagement with our educational app through gamification.

Now you’ve identified your problem, highlighted its causes, and defined your business goal, you can start to have some fun resolving it.

Building your gamification solution…

With your business goal now defined, it’s time to write a hypothesis for how you’re planning to solve it through gamification. Keeping with the example of an educational app as above, here’s an example of how the hypothesis might look…

The Hypothesis:

“In order to meet our business goal, we will gamify our educational app, which will motivate users to learn and use more functionality, give feedback on existing features and keep them on track with learning new skills via the app.” 

Once you’ve defined your hypothesis, it’s time to determine how you’re going to achieve it. Organise a brainstorming session with your team and create a list of all the ways you want to try and engage your users via gamified tasks that are specific, measurable, time framed and challenging.

At the start of the session, focus on quantity; assume that there are no good or bad ideas, try to think outside the box and build up on each other’s suggestions. Then analyse your list, identify those that you think will work best based on your user research, categorise them by difficulty and then prioritise them. Here’s an example of how your task list might look:

The Tasks:

  • (Easy) Users will learn about the full functionality of the app through an engaging onboarding guide.
  • (Easy) Users will then be encouraged to try out a new functionality, which will be game-based.
  • (Intermediate) Users will be encouraged to plan out their learning via calendar and will earn points for doing so.
  • (Intermediate) Users will be asked to give feedback about the app’s newest feature and will earn further points for doing so.
  • (Advanced) Users will be challenged to finish 5 lessons within the app before midday.
  • (Advanced) Users will be encouraged to invite friends to check on their learning progress.
  • (Advanced) Users will be encouraged to find a learning buddy on the app’s forum.

As you can see from the example above, by the end of the session, you’ll have an extensive list of well-considered, task-based ideas that will form the basis of your user’s gamified experience. As you move through your task list, be sure to check the items against your business goal and hypothesis. If the tasks help you to reach your goals through engaging the user, you’re on the right path.

So, what’s next?

Testing, testing, testing! Though you might be thrilled with your concept, your users might not always agree, which is why user testing is the critical next step. Be sure to take their feedback on board – even if you don’t always like what they have to say! Be prepared to make any necessary changes, and remember that the game is for your users, not you! As with any other design challenge, users should be your primary focus. In the next article, I’ll be exploring player-centred design and what makes a game fun for players – stay tuned!

Ready to get started with gamification? Want to create an engaging user experience or gamified product?

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