Gamification Mechanic Monday: Risk

Gamification Mechanic Monday: Risk

If life was a game of chance every choice would entail a risk of potential gain, neutral return or loss. Game play is often built to set players up to take risk, from whether to appear from a dark corner in a multiple player online game to gambling away your potential winnings on a TV game show. The thrill of the win for a lot of people is what get’s them taking risks. For others the safety of calculated risks and playing to their strengths is what gives them confidence to move forward.

In gamification we are often asked to eliminate the risk as much as possible for players, because the fear is that negative consequences may push people away from a tool or system. I would often say that if there is no risk involved of hitting a consequence, we may actually lose the effectiveness of the gamification design. For example in Duolingo the language learning application, you earn daily streaks for logging in and doing exercises, because it is known that when you practise regularly you improve your language skills. If you skip a day you lose your running streaks.

In a corporate team I am working with this approach was hotly debated. The fear was that if people lost their efforts they wouldn’t want to come back to future learning. We decided to still include it and communicate openly that this would be the case , but we also set  a more generous return policy than once a day, because effectively it isn’t a requirement to log in daily for corporate learning.

How will you use risk in your gamification designs?

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