In this final article I will circle back to the original question: What to do about declining voter turnout. How to reinvigorate the interest in voting — especially for a new generation, trained on instant gratification and stuck in constant feedback loops. Working on this from the angle of a game designer won’t deliver a cure-all solution. It probably won’t even make a dent in the graphs. …


In this article I will dissect the popular language learning app “Duolingo”. I will take a look at the different gamification elements in play, the UI design and UX of the app and analyse them. Disclaimer: I won’t go into the monetization efforts of this app — as this would be enough to justify a blog article on its own.

Duolingo uses implicit game mechanics: it is a learning app that uses game mechanics, instead of being a game with learning elements attached to it. This means that we will see the full potential…


Of course, filling an XP bar and collecting badges is not why people play a game Those are merely mechanics to engage the player on a deeper level, using human psychology. Gamification mechanics are tools, not the actual goal of a gamified app. So, in order to craft an experience the player actually enjoys, designers have to design for player motivation, not for mechanics. The Octalysis helps in this regard, as it divides player motivation in distinct categories, that are easy to design for.

Obviously player motivation isn’t this fix, unchanging constant. It changes…


The last chapter introduced us to different ways to encourage player behaviour, by exploiting their desire for gratification. These techniques are short cycle loops, that repeat often and foreseeably, to reinforce the player’s desire to engage with the game mechanics. They do not, however, drive the player’s desire to play the game! Feedback loops (to be detailed in a later chapter) are not the reason why someone will pick up the game again and again.

In order to keep the users returning to the game, there must be some higher form of motivation. Something…


Gratification is one of the most powerful experiences of the psyche. It is often said, that patience is a virtue. Seeking gratification is the direct opposite: it is the satisfaction gained by successful short-term tactics and emotional impulses, rather than planned, deferred gratification which is obtained by achieving long-term goals. While the latter is a cornerstone in Strategy games — creating a game winning strategy from the very beginning, often times foregoing short-term gains — most other game genres pander to short-term achievements and instant rewards.

The famous marshmallow-experiment from the late 1960s by…


“Gamification is the use of features and concepts (e.g. points, levels, leader boards) from games in non-game environments, such as websites and applications, in order to attract users to engage with the product.”

-Macmillan Dictionary

So, what are those “features and concepts from games”? How do they work and with what purpose? While these features are present in basically every game there is (after all, they are what makes them a game) there are variations in their use. Some games focus on one or two specific game mechanics, other games go all out and…


Electoral turnout has been in steady decline over the past several decades. Neither the numerous motivational incentives, nor the lowering of the voting age, nor the pandering to electoral fringe groups could spur voters to take their voices to the ballots. While here in Austria there were 500.000 more voters eligible for the general election (Nationalratswahl) in 2018 than 13 years ago, the percentage of voter participation dropped more than 7% — from 86% in 1995 to 78.8% in 2018. The same pattern can be witnessed in the Austrian presidential elections. From a “high…

Sebastian Benjamin Reichl

UX, Graphic Designer and Illustrator based in Graz, Austria. Currently studying at Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

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