The power of one badge gamification

After yesterdays great debate (which I’m pretty sure we won) at the Social Gaming and Virtual Goods World Forum in London, I’ve uploaded my slides to slideshare.

It’s slightly tricky to pull out highlights from your own presentation and discussion but I wanted to focus on one “epiphany” moment for me yesterday when I was putting the case for gamification – the power of one badge gamification.

Gamification is often derided as being “pointsification” – accumulation of points without consequent reward and “badgification” – accumulation of badges which don’t really mean anything. While Foursquare clearly falls into the latter trap, it’s a bit tricky to find examples of points without prizes.

I believe that this is often down to lazy campaign / product design. We can and should do better.

The best way to do this is to focus on just one badge.

Ask your campaign team the question:

“What is the single most interesting badge any member of our community would like to win each week that also furthers our objectives?”

Then, focus the campaign and messaging around that one badge. After a sufficient period of time it will either die (in which case you got the badge wrong, ditch it and move on) or it will gain resonance, importance, a history of its own and the all important meaning for your community.

Let’s this in action.

Fan of the week on Domino's Pizza UK

  • My local Costa Coffee awards “Employee of the Month”
  • There is only one, number one Gamification Guru, each month on Top 20 Gamification Gurus
  • OFSTED (the UK school inspectors) awards schools a single score between 1 and 4 after the five yearly inspection. 1 (Outstanding), 2 (Good), 3 (Satisfactory) and 4 (Inadequate)

Of course, once you have a badge that has gained currency and meaning in your community then it’s relatively easy to riff on the theme. Blue Peter Badges, from the popular UK children’s TV show, come in various colors for different achievements. In Blue Peter the  presenters all wear their badges proudly in each program.

This is important to a badge becoming meaningful – if the “heroes” of our community are wearing the badge then I will want the badge so I can be “like them”. If you have too many badges then you overload your community hero’s wall with badges, how will their followers know which badge matters?

So, if you’re badging up right now, then stop take a deep breath and cull your badges. One is better than many, especially when you’re just starting off.

Toby Beresford

Toby is CEO of the scoreboard platform to track, compare and share scores Rise. He was the 2013 founding chair of - the International Gamification Confederation and organises the UK Gamifiers meetup. As a gamification thought leader, he speaks at conferences and hosts workshops. Follow him on twitter @tobyberesford and Subscribe to this blog at Gamification Of Work blog feed

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5 thoughts on “The power of one badge gamification

  1. “…I believe that this is often down to lazy campaign / product design. We can and should do better….”

    That’s well said. But unfortunately I believe that there will be an inflation of badges- and point-systems in the next few years. On the one hand that’s troubling because this will put the serious approach of gamification at risk – on the other hand that’s often the normal way of new approaches and innovations.
    So, I believe that in the longterm the purpose of gamification (like a lot of great people are presenting it: Jane McGonigal, Gabe Zichermann, Michael Wu) will “survive” and will change the way we are interacting.

    We will fight for the value of ervery single badge 😉

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