Gamification: board please!

The importance of boarding is hugely underestimated within Gamification. Seems that the focus is solely on the reward system. I have said it once and I will say it again: “without people boarding, everything else becomes useless.” Set your priorities straight. Time to be more specific about the boarding mechanism. Due to the immense competition, the game-industry has pushed this vital instrument to its limits. Especially within the Casual Games segment of the industry. An industry in which I learned the hard way, by making mistakes. Failure is an important part of every game, at a certain point players need to fail to make it exciting. It’s almost the same in real life, you don’t want to fail, but it happens. It’s not all bad, because that’s when you learn the most. Rise and do it right the second time, or learn from the experience of others to get it done properly at your first attempt. I hope I can help some people by sharing mine.

Boarding is the part of the game in which you don’t want people to make mistakes. At least not big ones. They need to master the first levels easily and at the same time experience a feeling that they really have accomplished something. “Hey, I am really good at this!”, is the reaction we want after a player ends the boarding phase.

With games we have a contradiction; the boarding phase has to be easy, but needs to feel tough. That’s a bigger challenge for game developers as it is for Gamifiers. For Gamification it’s often sufficient to make the online experience accessible, without the tough feel around it. Every given situation is different. It just isn’t an exact science. However, there are some important guidelines that we have learned from the boarding mechanism in games: 

  1. Make it appealing, interesting, fascinating, in short; inviting
  2. Barriers are forbidden! Keep it simple
  3. Apply fun elements, if possible
  4. Make it easy to understand
  5. Give positive feedback
  6. Make visitors feel they accomplished something
  7. Test your boarding mechanism, over and over again, and adapt
  8. Get your visitors in a flow towards your goal

A real life situation differs from a game. To be more specific, every situation is different and these guidelines are nothing more than guidelines. Allow yourself to think out of the box! As long as you get your visitors on board you are doing the right thing. In some cases it is fine to just make everything as simple as possible, in other situations it isn’t enough. Find you own way to reach your goal.

Again, you can have the best reward system, combined with great appealing mechanics and maybe some really cute surprises along the way…but…

All these efforts are in vain if your visitors don’t board!