Gamify This: Seattle Web Experts Give Pointers on Using Game Mechanics for Good and Evil
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trying to become the go-to software platform to help companies add game mechanics to their websites. As I understand it, the main goal of this sort of gamification is to strengthen customer loyalty, not so much acquire new customers—though that might be a side benefit.
To that point, Neil Patel, the search engine marketing expert and angel investor, posted some interesting advice on his blog today about gamification. Essentially, he says game mechanics, if done properly, can improve a site’s optimization for search engines. In other words, you will rank higher on Google or Bing if you make your site more addictive. You can do that by adding scoreboards, rewarding people who comment and therefore add engaging content to your site, and giving heavy users certain privileges.
Any talk of addiction rings warning bells, of course. It also makes me think more about what Silicon Valley startup guru Dave McClure told us recently about appealing to consumers’ “reptilian psyche.” What he meant was that smart Internet entrepreneurs should engage with consumers by tapping into their primal urges for things like sex, money, and power. So add competition and games to the list of deep drivers of behavior. But with that comes the responsibility not to get carried away to the point where our children, and people in general, can’t do anything without being rewarded. (Sorry, my own editorializing here.)
Dodson, for his part, is well aware of the dangers of gamification. While he proudly says there’s nothing he can’t gamify, he sees efforts by Las Vegas casinos to install video screens as an extra layer on top of slot machines, for example, as falling into the “‘gamification for evil’ category.” When I caught up with him after his talk last week, he admitted that gamification in moderation is a wise philosophy. What’s more, he doesn’t see the game-mechanics trend as taking over the Web indefinitely.
“This is probably a 10-year trend,” he says. “Then it will morph into something else.”
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