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Good Examples of Gamification … And Bad

A Euchre app and Lyft have both tried to motivate people with badges. There are some lessons in here for L&D professionals to heed.

Last month I reviewed a book called For the Win, which is a great (and quick!!) read on the broad array of elements that should go into a gamified solution. The book offered a number of examples of gamification in business that can easily be adapted for learning and development projects.

Recently, two examples of gamification popped up in the flow of my daily routine. One example is from a card game app on my iPhone, the other example is from the ride-sharing app Lyft. One is a great example of motivating people with badges. One is a terrible use of badges. There are lessons for L&D professionals in both of these examples.  

Good Examples of Gamification: Euchre 3D app

When I have a little downtime or when I’m on an airplane and want some mindless entertainment, I like to open up my Euchre card game app. I’ve played Euchre since I was in high school, it’s a game I enjoy. A little while back, I was clicking around in the app and realized that I could track certain achievements.

I could monitor certain statistics like this:

Euchre Stats

When I realized the app was keeping track of my wins and losses, I started taking the game a little more seriously.

For some reason, when I saw that the app also began to award badges like this, I wanted to keep playing until I achieved it:

good example of gamification - 10 consecutive games

I don’t get anything in exchange for these badges, but the app creators set a series of milestones that are challenging to hit. These challenges keep me coming back. I still haven’t won 10 games in a row (I blame my partner… for a computer-generated artificial intelligence entity, it doesn’t play very intelligently!!), but I will keep at it.

Bad Examples of Gamification: Lyft app

When I need to get to the airport, I take Lyft. It’s less expensive than a cab and the driver doesn’t roll his eyes when I ask if he takes a credit card (in fact, I don’t need to bother taking out any form of payment, the app takes care of all those transactions).

Lyft emails me my receipts, which is a handy way to track my expenses. Then the other day, Lyft emailed something else to me.

I received an email with some usage statistics:

Lyft - Stats

It’s nice to know that, after each of my rides my drivers rated me a “5”. That rating system definitely keeps me conscious of how I act toward the driver – even when I’m in a hurry or having a bad day or just don’t feel like talking, I make sure I’m polite toward the driver.

As I kept scrolling, I noticed that Lyft was handing out badges:

Lyft - Badge Overview

Lyft - Friday Badge

These just seemed weird. I received a badge for taking Lyft on a Friday.

I don’t really feel motivated to take rides on Fridays. If I need a ride, I’m going to take Lyft. I’m not planning to change my business travel schedule to accrue more Lyft badges (“Uh, would you mind if we schedule that meeting for a Friday… I really was hoping that I could get a Lyft badge out of the deal!”).

This particular badge is one that I really don’t want to “earn”:

Lyft - Early Riser Badge

It seems like Lyft is attempting to use gamification to keep people engaged, but this badge system doesn’t seem to motivate me to take rides on certain days or at odd hours.

Implications for L&D: Finding Good Examples of Gamification

Gamification is more than points and badges and leaderboards and statistics. In the case of the Euchre 3D app, I do think these badges motivate me to continue to play and strive to improve. In the Lyft app, the presence of badges doesn’t motivate me to stay engaged at all.

When it comes to learning and development initiatives, finding ways for learners to continue to strive to improve and continue to use new skills is an age-old challenge and the idea of badges or points or leaderboards can be part of a larger motivational system.

For everyday tasks that people will perform, badges and points don’t really help with motivation or the fun factor… it can actually seem contrived and a waste – both for the learner as well as the designer.

Do you have good examples of gamification that you have seen in everyday life that you think have transferable lessons for L&D professionals? Let’s hear about them in the comment section.

Want another example of gamification in a real-world setting? Check out Car2Go’s efforts to improve driving habits.

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