Whether you’re a level 100 coding wizard or a level 10 coding newbie (such as myself), there will come a time when you step back, open your final version of
index.html on a browser, and realize…
“huh…this page seems kinda bland【・_・?】”
Creating your code is done through your perspective as a developer, but as soon as you go test the final product of your page, it’s easy to neglect the perspective of a user who has no appreciation for your knowledge of HTTP verbs. A slick interface can only take us so far when dealing with users who look at tons of web pages per day. By using the concept of Gamification, developers can reap the rewards it has to offer to overcome this issue.
Gamification Has Entered The Chat
Now you might ask, what exactly is gamification? The concept was originally introduced by Nick Pelling who defined the term as “applying game-like accelerated user interface design to make electronic transactions both enjoyable and fast”. This definition is specific towards digital technology so lets dive deeper. Gamification is not strictly for technological use, but can also be seen in everyday activities. The assumption of Gamification is taking the process of learning a subject and turning it into a game. Gamification is easily mistaken for e-learning platforms because the a concept like math or a language is giving a gaming environment to live in instead of a traditional text. This is a PRODUCT of Gamification, but not it at it’s core.
“The craft of deriving all the fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities.” — Yu-Kai Chou, gamification pioneer and author of Actionable Gamification
Gamification is not simply turning content into a game using game mechanics, but it adds value to a user’s experience that they can only get through the representation of your hard work. Let’s take a look at some examples:
What does it mean for Tech Developers?
I’m not suggesting turning your entire code into the next Legend Of Zelda. We can achieve the same results of a fun experience by choosing game mechanics that will serve a purpose of maintaining user engagement AND help achieve the purpose of our code. Here are some examples of game mechanics:
If you’re familiar with social media platforms, you are guaranteed to have encountered at least 8 of these mechanics. Don’t believe me? On any social platform, you have a system where a user is able to post content and that content has the ability to accumulate POINTS that can increase or decrease at the will of other users. Linkedin is notorious for showing profile PROGRESS bars, FaceBook now has a top fan BADGE feature. You can now even partake and let your users participate in QUIZes on your Instagram stories. Each mechanic will help achieve a certain result that will give your code the spice that it’s missing.
Being able to return information a user request is a feat in itself, but for a user who is used to accessibility, they need an extra layer of interactivity from developers. Thinking about how to apply one of these mechanics into an aspect of one of your features requires us to tap into the psychological implementations of what we put on our page. Take Medium’s claps for example:
The more claps we get, the prouder we will feel about our work. As this number increases, the author has a positive association not only about their content, but also about the site which is where their content lives in. The idea of a counter falls under the category POINTS in our game mechanics. This can be easily implemented by some form of a joiner table in your database named ‘favorites’ added to your domain model.
Progress bars for forms, rewards for the most frequent users, incentives to finish a task, animations that signify a completion by the server, the list of what you can build around Gamification goes on and on. In order to make Gamification work, it needs to have a purpose on your site. If it’s just to fulfill a game-like atmosphere and contributes nothing to enhance a feature on your site, the user will know. Gamification is not only about giving a user a “fun” experience, but also about using it to a developer’s advantage to help strengthen the impact of your code.
Going back to our previous example of our disgruntle level 100 and level 10 coder, these moments will always happen. Gamification can help solve user related issues. As developers, we have to use these criticisms to help drive and lead us to our next area of improvement so that we can level up our skills.