Gamification Mechanic Monday: Go to jail

Gamification Mechanic Monday: Go to jail cards

If you have played Monopoly, then you will be aware of the ‘go to jail’ card, which usually means you have to skips one round of play. You can also post bail and pay your way out, which according to my 5 year old niece the preferred way of dealign with this kind of set-back. It is one of the cards in the game everyone hates to draw and at the same time everyone has the same potential to draw, if you land on a draw a card setting or land on the go to jail spot on the board.

The anticipation is probably a mix of fear of landing on it and hope of avoiding the worst. It also depends how the rest of the game is going for you whether sitting out a round is a negative or a blessing.

In gamification design, mechanics like these were people sit out a round are often avoided in favour of the positive encouragement type of mechanics. However there are situations where a sit out a round may be beneficial for example in a community or social sharing setting where you behaviour that is negative for engagement, such as being disrespectful, aggressive and threatening. In the heat of the moment anyone can respond a bit more fiery than they wanted to be, so to work from this perspective the first time someone takes a post to a negative realm, the curator of the community or even peers can attribute a sit out a round card. The amount of time someone can’t participate needs to be decided upfront and needs to be meaningful. In a very active community missing one day may be a big loss, however on a less active community maybe a week may seem more appropriate. I would then also suggest if you earn this card 3 times that your account may be suspended for a longer time, but that as the curator you also verify that this is for real negative behaviour and not peers getting together and locking someone out.

In soccer you have the yellow and red card system, which has similar consequences. In an enterprise gamification setting having some things in place that employees will want to avoid is often a good thing to self-regulate communities and behaviour.

Where else have you seen or would you use this kind of mechanic?

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