Serious Games: Trophies, Badges and Game Mechanics

Trophies, Badges and Gamification Excitement

Video games have an incredible ability to keep people engaged, focused, determined and motivated for long periods of time. They also provide a platform for users to build their own online communities of trusted co-players and teams and exercise their own creativity.

Playing Games for Motivation?
The link between video games and the motivation level of the user has always been a subject of great interest for gaming companies, learning institutions and gamers alike. In today’s world, we often find kids, teenagers and adults who complain they lose focus and get distracted easily. Be it their studies or office chores, routine work is boring and very few people remain focused during lengthy class and/or office hours.
However, when it comes to playing games, one often finds a reverse situation. The same person who is unengaged at work would keep playing Temple Run or Subway Surfer over and over again to gather more coins, enable power ups and get a new high score. Similarly, other games require defeating a boss character for leveling up. Consequently, the players will continue to play with the same level of dedication and motivation at each successive attempt.

How Do Games Motivate?
So what is it that makes routine and repetitive tasks in games more engaging? What is so boring about the everyday routine tasks in real life, but not in games? The answer lies in the game mechanics that evoke excitement and enthusiasm for the game itself. Various game mechanics spring into action within the game; motivating and enticing gamers to keep playing and moving ahead. The challenges put forward by these game mechanics, as well as the motivation to see their name in the top ranks of the scoreboard, keeps gamers glued to their gaming screens.

Badges, trophies and medals are game mechanics that represent the achievement of certain meta-goals outside the perimeter of the game. Often, these meta-goals are designed to reward the gamer with some additional tools, gadgets or special items (within the game) that assist them in completing it. The attainment of badges and trophies also offer a feeling of achievement to the gamer.

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Other Excitements
Points, Badges and Leadership boards (PBLs) should not be taken as the sole reason for playing a particular game. Video games offer online connectivity with friends, as well as a chance to challenge one’s own achievements and previous high scores. Points and badges only act as an added bonus.

Video games involve both, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The former comes where the user is playing the game to achieve a goal or a reward and can be seen through PBL. The latter, however, is the feeling of joy from playing the game itself, overcoming challenges and conquering roadblocks. Game mechanics and video game designing plays an essential role in creating and maintaining intrinsic motivation.

To explain how game mechanics, such as trophies, motivate gamers, motivate gamers; consider the following example. At an organizational level, mere salary is not enough. Employees want more than just money and extrinsic benefits to work harder. Games work the same way.
Having levels is not enough. Game designers need to offer intrinsic motivation and a sense of achievement for the gamers so that they will want to continue playing the game.

The use of game mechanics in serious games is becoming a trend now. Organizations and educational centers are now resorting to serious games as a way to motivate employees and educate them, while keeping them engaged in an innovative learning environment. An understanding of the impact of badges and trophies on motivation is, therefore, essential.