Gamification is the use of game-desin elements to solve a specific objective in a non-game context. In this post, I will share 3 Gamification elements to make your app more engaging. Forget about points, badges and leaderboards - those game elements barely touch upon what makes a game truly addictive.
Even an "open world" game has a set of rules players must obey to. Undersanding those (more or less hidden) rules is the mindset in which users will epxlore your app for the first time. As evident those rules seem, they need to be correctly designed, implemented, communicated and understood. If the player does not understand the rules of the game - there will be no gameplay. Following the same chain of thought: if the user does not understand the "rules" of your app - there will be no engagement.
In Monopoly: each player must play in turns.
On Instagram: each user must add a name to create an account.
Following the same logic, even an "open world" game has an objective - or more precisely a victory condition mechanic. If this objective is not understood, there will also be no gameplay in the game of engagement on the app.
In Monopoly: territory control, victory points, goals and loss avoidance.
On Instagram: maximising likes / followers, picture feed building.
There are two game loops: the engagement loop and the progress loop. Your app should have both.
The engagement loop is the shortest one of both. The user is (1) motivated to do an action (2) the user does the action (3) the user receives immediate feedback on his action. And after (3) the loop starts again at (1). No matter how straightforward this endless loop seems, it can very quickly go wrong. For example: the feedback is too harsh and the user looses motivation - or the feedback is too shallow and the user looses gameplay purpose. Good feedback is key to user progress and ultimately increases app engagement.
In GTA: if you jump from too high, you will loose life points.
On a register screen: if you don't give a real e-mail address, you will be asked again.
The progression loop is the "greater purpose" of the game or the app. In a game, the user goes through 3 main stages: Beginner, Climber and Pathway to mastery. If your app has multiple objectives, it is essential to map them in a sequence that the user will understand and follow. If your app has a single objective, it must be clear for the user how to achieve this one objective (send a request, ask a question, post something,...) as fast as possible.
Quantification, quantification, quantification
Once the player enters the "game world" every action he or she takes is quantified. A game will not understand ambiguity: the "game world" will respond to the user's input in an automated way. In a similar fashion, the more you can collect and analyse usage data, the faster you can improve your app for it to better respond to specific user input. Once people start using apps or games, there is no more middleman to assist them: they are on their own. As app creators, we make sure your users feel the app responds to their needs, solves their problems and becomes an enjoyable experience.