Points, badges and leaderboards

Let’s start with the most common triad, used in most gamified experiences or products: Points, Badges and Leaderboards. Those are very common game elements because they are very effective and easy to apply, but those are just basic gamification elements and we will show you in this section more complex and efficient game mechanics.  

Points

Points are the simplest way to reward a player for completing an action or a series of actions. This game technique is helpful to motivate people who like to achieve points or to have a sense of progress.

They are used to encourage people to take action and to do things in exchange of achievement. They can be used to unlock content and even spend as currency to obtain some goods (virtual or even physical).

How to use points

Every mission or action that you want to include on your gamified design can be rewarded by a specific number of points. You need to choose carefully the number of points depending on the difficulty of a mission or action. If a player receive more points for a easy mission he will be demotivated. Also, if a player puts in a lot of effort for a mission and gets the same amount of points he again will be discouraged. After that, you can create a system of points where you can include all the missions and decide how many points they need to achieve in order to level up.

Points can contribute to other game mechanics, such as leader boards, levels or virtual economies.   

Leaderboards

The accumulation of points are usually displayed on leaderboard. Leaderboards makes the performance of every player available to others and are useful to maintain competition among players.

How to use leader boards

If they are used in the right situation, leader board can be powerful motivators. There are more than one way to make a leader board. If you have a large number of players you could chose to show just certain parts of the leader board. For example, if you don’t want to encourage a strong competitive behavior, or you have players with different abilities, you could display just 2 people above and beneath the player to show him where he is and to encourage him to keep playing. If you want them to be very competitive, you could chose to show just the top 10 people in the game. This lets the players know that if they are not in the first 10 they don’t matter.

Badges

Badges are a visual representation of some achievement. They are used to encourage and recognize certain behaviors. Also, they can be used to reward reaching a milestone or even reward someone who is far behind.. These badges are permanent and are added to a Hall of Fame. Users with the same badges can feel connected and other players can see what behaviors are recognized in that gamified process. There are two types of Badges: invisible and visible. If a badge is visible then the players will know what sort of behavior or action they need to take so they obtain it. If the badge is invisible it’s a surprise and it only rewards those who naturally have a certain behavior or take a specific action.

How to use badges

You can start designing the badges after you know what behaviors you want to acknowledge. It’s better when you use a limited number of badges because in this way they will be more appreciated and valued. Badges can be accompanied by points. It’s important to create interesting visuals for these badges, correlated with the story of the gamified experience.Also badges can have levels. You can have several badges on the same behavior. For example if you have a badge for learning you could give a Start Learning Badge; Progressing Nicely Badge; Advanced Learner Badge; Expert Learner Badge and so on.

We have  a lot of examples of gamified services that use these three elements, a few examples are in e-learning – Dualingo and in fitness – Nike +

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