Web Trend: Gamification

PacMan eats pellets; Mario jumps for coins; Customers return again and again.

A new web trend called gamification has hit the virtual ground running. Applying game-design concepts to non-game applications, gamification has its roots in a staple of late-twentieth century childhoods worldwide. For the generations that grew up on Atari, Nintendo, and Playstation, web architects and marketing gurus are redesigning site concepts just for you.

Gamification Most consumers are already familiar with gamification, even if they don’t know the term. When credit card companies and airlines started offering points toward prizes and cash rewards, they were using the same strategies as Super Mario Brothers and countless other games. Collect enough coins, you can gain a new life. Collect a leaf, you have the ability to fly.

Implementation of gamification techniques varies from the simple to complex, but all are designed to engage. Badges show status and achievements; leaderboards fuel competition; virtual currency can purchase tangible rewards; and team-collaboration becomes fun again. From avatars to quests, these strategies are stolen from game environments. They are familiar yet addictive, perfect for web browsers with often short attention spans.

Interested in incorporating gamification techniques into your website? Check out these examples of this trend at its best:

  • Tumblr’s Leaderboard – A competitive landing page showing users new content across thousands of categories.
  • Nike+ – A site encouraging users to exercise, socialize, and share achievements.
  • Treehouse – A web design and development training site utilizing a reward system to make learning fun.
  • MeTycoon – A site built for young teenagers to explore career opportunities, where viewing interviews with professionals and engaging in activities unlocks virtual money and more.

The challenge of every business is to hold their customers’ attention. Gamification is one more tool in the toolbox. Game on.