Introducing the lightweight gamification model

I am introducing a new model called ‘lightweight gamification’ which is targeted at individuals and SMEs who want to run gamified programs but don’t have the time and resources needed to think through, build and roll out a heavyweight gamification program.

Lightweight Gamification focuses attention on the following 4 key rules:

  1. Design for Feedback not reward
  2. Focus on the Player’s Personal journey
  3. Prioritize implicitly tracked metrics
  4. Throttle the feedback to sustain engagement

It is accompanied by a diagram which gamifiers can use to plan their program – what is the player’s existing journey and epic goal, which existing activities can we track and feed back their progress on (via a leaderboard) and how often do we feedback in a throttled manner (weekly or monthly work well).


In lightweight gamification we are not trying to drive massive engagement, only retention – if a player comes back every week to check their score and optimise their performance then we have achieved our objectives. The focus is on intrinsic reward and existing behaviours – we are simply adding some useful, contextual feedback. Another way to describe it is ‘crowd coaching’.

I’ve written in more detail about lightweight gamification on the leaderboarded blog.

Leaderboarded is the ideal tool to implement lightweight gamification – you can even start with a single leaderboard!

I’d appreciate your comments and feedback!

Toby Beresford

Toby is founder and CEO of Rise the success tracking network to track, publish and share success. He was the 2013 chair of - the International Gamification Confederation and organises the UK Gamifiers meetup. As a gamification 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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  • Abhinav


    Your definitions of lightweight and heavyweight gamification is highly unclear. Can you please provide some examples of heavyweight gamification. Based on how you describe them it seems to be very similar, almost the same.

    Also, what is Prioritize implicitly tracked metrics?? I have no idea what it means.

    I see no reason to classify gamification into lightweight or heavyweight. Can you please elaborate on the need for classification and what benefit this might bring to anyone. I feel it only confuses people even more, as if there weren’t enough confusing classifications and definitions as it is.


    • HI Abhinav

      Thanks for a great comment.

      1. Heavyweight examples include some of the classics we use in gamification – Foursquare is heavyweight (all the engagement and feedback is given while you are using the foursquare app), Farmville is heavyweight (multiple currencies, several missions and goals), Samsung Nation is heavyweight (instant feedback on the activity stream, requires me to fully engage with the Samsung Nation experience itself)

      2. Prioritize Implicitly tracked metrics – by this I mean focus your attention on using metrics that people are already doing and don’t expect them to do something new. i.e. you give them points because they tweet about your brand in their day to day life, not because you ask them to go and tweet about it in order to win points. In lightweight the onus is placed on the manager to track the right behaviours not on the player to do the behaviours that get points. It’s a shift of focus.

      3. Good point. I initiated the classification because I noticed that many gamification designers were trying to do too much too early. There is no point in building an Aircraft Carrier if all you need is a Canoe. When you design a game you launch with 20% of the functionality – for me the same should be true of gamification – launch lightweight and add functionality later.

      Overall, calling gamification lightweight its a short hand way of describing a shift in focus – specifically respecting a player’s time and not expecting too much of them. Weekly feedback rather than real time all the time feedback reduces the drain on their attention. Tracking their existing activity, rather than trying to drive many new activities, reduces their cost of engagement with you.