47 game mechanics - gamification technologies

In this article, we'll be delving into a diverse array of game design elements that have found their way into non-gaming contexts, transforming how businesses, educators, and many others engage with their audiences.

Each mechanic we discuss will be accompanied by concrete examples, providing a clear understanding of how these mechanisms function in real-world scenarios. We will dissect the essence of each mechanic, offering insight into how and why they effectively increase user engagement, motivation, and satisfaction.

  1. Achievements
    Definition: A virtual or material expression of the result of performing an action. Achievements are often seen as a reward, or in and of themselves.
    Example: Medal, level, reward, points... the reward will be anything that can be considered as such
  2. Appointment Mechanics
    Definition: A mechanic in which, in order to succeed, you need to return to the game at a certain time to perform some action. The appointment mechanic is often closely related to the interval reward schedule or the avoidance mechanic (read below).
    Example: Cafe World and Farmville, where you have to come back at the appointed time to do something good, and if you don't, something bad will happen.
  3. Avoidance
    Definition: The act of incentivizing a player not by rewarding, but by avoiding punishment. Helps to maintain a constant level of activity according to the schedule conceived by the developer.
    Example: Press the lever every 30 seconds to avoid shock
  4. Behavioral contrast
    Definition: A theory that defines how abruptly behavior can change in response to new expectations.
    Example: The monkey presses the lever and gets a banana. The monkey is happy and continues to press the lever. But one day she gets grapes. The monkey is delighted. Continuing to press the lever, one day she gets a banana again. Instead of rejoicing as before, the monkey throws a banana at the experimenter. (In some experiments, a second monkey was placed in a cage, tied to a rope and not having access to bananas or a lever. After the grape reward disappears, the first monkey beats the second, despite the fact that the latter had nothing to do with the disappearance. Anger is truly irrational)
  5. Behavioral impulse
    Definition: The tendency of a player to keep doing what they were doing.
    Example: In one of his speeches, Jesse Schell wrote: “I lost ten hours at Farmville. I'm a smart person and wouldn't waste 10 hours on something useless. So it's useful and I can keep playing."
  6. Effort Reward
    Definition: The idea is that during the game we feel happier working than resting. In fact, the whole of humanity has evolved in the course of doing work for rewards.
    Example: Jane McGonical, speaking at a TED conference, noted that World of Warcraft players play an average of 22 hours a week, often after a full day, and concluded that they are ready to work hard, perhaps even harder than in real life , to reward efforts in the game world
  7. The theory of gradual information supply
    Definition: The theory that in order to fully understand the game, information must be given to the player in minimal doses.
    Example: Demonstrating, first of all, basic actions, and then opening access to other, more complex ones.
  8. Event chains
    Definition: A method of using a reward as a link in a chain of related events. Players often tend to view such events as separate elements. Unlocking one of the links in the chain is often viewed by the player simply as a reward for action.
    Example: Kill ten orcs to get into the dragon's cave, where the dragon himself appears every thirty minutes
  9. Joint study
    Definition: A game mechanism in which the entire community comes together to jointly find solutions to puzzles, overcome obstacles and challenges thrown by the game. Has a pronounced "viral" effect
  10. Cross-platform games
    Definition: Games that can be played on different platforms.
    Example: Games that can be played on iphone, facebook, xbox without changing the gameplay
  11. Random event
    Definition: The problem that the player must overcome within the framework of the reward scenario (consisting of three parts: “Random event”, “Gain” (item 36), “Event reaction” (item 37)).
    Example: 10 orcs are blocking your path
  12. Countdown
    Definition: A situation for which the players are given a limited amount of time to resolve. This method allows you to dramatically increase the player's activity level, compared to his initial activity (but only for a certain period of time).
    Example: In Bejeweled Blitz, the player is given 30 seconds to earn as many points as possible. This mechanic also includes: bonus levels, levels for a while
  13. Collective ranking of winners
    Definition: This occurs when multiple (non-homogeneous and unrelated) game scenarios use the same rating engine. Players often find this ranking scheme unfair, as not everyone was placed on an equal footing on their path to victory.
    Example: Players are randomly assigned one of three paths. The winner is determined by the highest number of points scored in general (that is, during the passage of the game, regardless of the features and complexity of the scenario). Since players can only go one way (without the right to reselect), they will feel unfair in the game scenario and get upset
  14. Restraining factors
    Definition: An element of the game that uses a penalty (or change of situation) to change the behavior of a player.
    Example: loss of health; increasing traps; simplification of the payment scheme for services
  15. Endless Games
    Definition: Games without an ending. Most commonly found in social and casual games that can take forever to evolve, or games where a static (but positive) state is itself a reward.
    Example: Farmville (victory in the permanence of things), SCVNGR (puzzles and puzzles are continuously created by the community, so the game is constantly updated and has no ending)
  16. Envy
    Definition: Desire to possess what other players possess. For this mechanism to work, it is necessary to give players the opportunity to see what a friend / neighbor has (an individual's craving for voyeurism is exploited).
    Example: my friend has this item and I want it
  17. Epic value
    Definition: Players will be highly motivated if they believe that they are creating something great, impressive, something much more important than themselves.
    Example: From Jane McGonical's TED talk in which she mentions the world of WoW. Wikipedia is the largest wiki in the world, while the second largest wiki is the World of Warcraft article database, which has over 80,000 player-written articles and over 5 million monthly visitors who read, add to, and proofread the content.
  18. Non-award
    Definition: A term that refers to the termination of an award. The purpose of this method is to provoke anger in the players. Feelings of resentment due to the lack of the expected reward are used as a motivating motive. This method reduces overall user activity.
    Example: Killing 10 orcs no longer grants a new level
  19. Rewards at fixed intervals
    Definition: The reward is issued continuously, after a certain period of time, say 30 minutes. A distinctive feature of this mechanism is a decrease in the level of activity after the player receives a reward, and then to a gradually increasing activity for the duration of the reward, followed by another pause in the player's activity.
    Example: Farmville, wait 30 minutes and sprouts will appear
  20. Reward for a specific chain of actions
    Definition: A mechanism whereby a player receives a reward after completing a certain chain of actions. The use of this mechanic initially reduces the player's activity (since the first action does not give a reward), however, then the player's activity increases as the reward gets closer and closer.
    Example: Destroy 20 cruisers and get a level, visit 5 locations and earn a medal
  21. Free lunch
    Definition: A scenario in which the player feels they are getting something for free because someone else has done their job. It is very important that the work is perceived as done (just not by the player), in order to avoid losing credibility to the script. The player should feel like they are "lucky" with something.
    Example: groupon. Because 100 other people made the deal, you get it cheap. There is no incompleteness, because you know that the work was done (100 people spent money), but you yourself did not have to do it
  22. Fun once, fun always
    Definition: The concept that an action gives the player pleasure, regardless of the number of times it is repeated. Typically, this refers to simple actions.
    Example: According to this concept, tasks are created for players, consisting of searching and “visiting” certain locations, launching game mechanisms
  23. Scheduled reward
    Definition: Rewards issued after a certain amount of time. There are two varieties: variables and constants.
    Example: Wait N minutes - and collect the rent
  24. Lottery
    Definition: A game dynamic in which the winner is determined at random. Creates a high interest of players in the "ball" reward. The validity of this technique is somewhat questionable: the winners tend to continue playing indefinitely, while the losers, in a huff, quickly leave the game, despite the random nature of the distribution of prizes.
    Example: Many types of gambling, lottery tickets
  25. Loyalty
    Definition: A mechanism for creating a loyal audience by establishing a spiritual connection between the player and the game world. It is achieved by instilling in the player a sense of belonging to the game world (for example, by owning personal property in the game). Often supported by special visual images that are visible to other players; statuses or special awards.
    Example: Vassal loyalty in WoW. In the real world: the special status of the client in the institution (portrait on the stand "favorite clients of the institution"
  26. Meta game
    Definition: A game embedded inside a base game. Such games are usually found randomly by the players, and are not advertised by the developers (so as not to cause confusion) and, as a rule, they are played by about ~ 2% of the main audience. They are dangerous because they can cause confusion (if they are easily detected), but are of interest to developers in that players get great satisfaction finding such surprises
    Example: Hidden quests/achievements in the world of Warcraft that require you to perform special (non-obvious) actions as you progress through other quests
  27. Microcompetition
    Definition: Separate ratings for mini-games. Good for games with multiple different game mechanics if you want to run a lot of mini-competitions. Also, such a diversified reward system helps to increase player loyalty (more opportunities to receive rewards).
    Example: Be the best player at Joe's bar this week and get a free snack
  28. Modifiers
    Definition: An artifact that, when used, affects the outcome of other actions. As a rule, modifiers are earned after completing a series of tasks or key actions.
    Example: An X2 modifier that doubles the score on the next action taken
  29. Risk of loss
    Definition: The risk that by forcibly giving out rewards to players, you erase the "pleasure of doing the action" and replace it with the "pleasure of receiving the game reward." Providing too many incentives to take action can destroy the player's sense of pleasure in making decisions. As a consequence, if all points and rewards are taken away, the player will lose motivation to perform an (initially exciting in itself) action.
    Example: To paraphrase Jesse Schell, “If I give you bonuses every time you brush your teeth, you will eventually stop brushing your teeth because it is healthy and only do it for the bonuses. And if there are no bonuses, your teeth will fall apart.”
  30. Private property
    Definition: The process of controlling something, and the process of making a game object the player's personal property.
    Example: Possession of property can be expressed in many forms, ranging from capturing territory and controlling cells to leadership in popularity ratings (measured by the number of virtual friends)
  31. Pride
    Definition: A sense of possession and joy for one's accomplishment.
    Example: I collected 10 medals. They are mine. There are many such medals, but these are mine. Hooray. Achievement Halls of Fame.
  32. Personal life
    Definition: The idea is that the player always has information not for strangers. The condition to share this information can be both a demotivator (I won't do the action because I don't want to share it) or a motivator (by sharing it, I strengthen my position).
    Example: A Libra posting your weight daily on Twitter (this is a real life example and a proven diet motivator). Or publicly broadcasting your location every time you do something (this is an invasion of privacy and should ideally be avoided)
  33. User progress
    Definition: A mechanism that displays the growth of the player in the process of completing game tasks.
    Example: An indicator that marks the user's progress from paladin level 1 to level 60
  34. Action reward
    Definition: A reward is given after completing a series of actions. There are two varieties: variable and constant.
    Example: Kill 10 orcs - get a strength boost
  35. Award by time
    Definition: In the "here and now" mode, information about received bonuses is issued immediately. When using the mechanism with a delay in the issuance of a reward in time, the player is notified of the receipt of a reward for an action some time after its completion.
    Example: Real-time bonuses lead to an instant player reaction (satisfaction or demotivation). Timed reward notification introduces ambiguity that encourages more action due to the player's lack of confidence in their effort to get the desired bonus/reward
  36. Gain
    Definition: A reward given when an expected action occurs within a reward scenario (consisting of three parts: "chance event", "reaction to event" and "reinforcement").
    Example: Gaining a level after killing 10 orcs
  37. Reaction to events
    Definition: A reward given for a player's action within a reward scenario (consisting of three parts: "random event", "reaction to event" and "boost").
    Example: The player takes an action to kill 10 orcs
  38. Restraining factors
    Definition: The timing and mechanisms by which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered to the player. The Reward Scenario consists of three main parts: "random event", "reaction to event" and "amplification".
    Example: Getting a level for killing 10 orcs, clearing a row in Tetris, getting new sprouts in Farmville
  39. Distribution of real prizes
    Definition: A real prize (of real value) that can be won by any player if they meet certain requirements.
    Example: Being first at something
  40. Illusion game
    Definition: A game in which the player is presented with the illusion of a choice, when in reality they are in a situation where every decision they make will lead to the same ending (intended by the developer).
    Example: thimbles, lotteries, gambling
  41. The social component of games
    Definition: The idea is that people like each other more after playing together, they start to trust each other more and bond.
    Example: Jane McGonicgal said at a TED conference that playing together requires a high degree of trust between people because players spend a lot of time together, play by the same rules, pursue common goals
  42. Status
    Definition: The rank or level of a player. Players can be successfully motivated by higher levels or statuses.
    Example: A level 20 white paladin in WoW (i.e. not just a level 20 paladin, but a level 20 _white_ paladin)
  43. Unstoppable optimism
    Definition: An extreme degree of self-motivation. The desire to act urgently to remove the obstacle, combined with the belief in one's success.
    Example: The idea is that in the right games, "epic wins" or just "wins" are achievable and therefore worth fighting for.
  44. Reward without a clearly defined deadline
    Definition: rewards that are not given at a clearly defined hour, but within a certain period. This mechanism allows you to create a fairly high level of user activity, while the surge in activity does not occur explosively, but measured and drawn out, since the player can receive a reward at any time, but does not know when exactly. This mechanism is protected from a sharp decline in player activity, but it cannot give maximum performance due to the lack of a clear deadline for issuing rewards.
    Example: Wait about 30 minutes and a new weapon will appear. Come back as often as you like, but it won't speed up the process. As a rule, players do not understand this idea.
  45. Reward for an implicit chain of actions
    Definition: Rewards that are given as a reward for completing an implicit chain of actions. This mechanism increases the number of consecutive actions performed by the player (since each new action can always be followed by a reward), but never generates explosive activity of sequentially performed chains, as is the case with the “reward for completing a certain chain of actions” mechanism, due to the non-obvious action for obtaining awards. Of the obvious advantages of using it, the user’s activity after performing a number of “standard” actions and receiving a prize for them does not decrease so rapidly (the player hopes to earn something more).
    Example: Sink about 20 ships and get a level. Visit several locations (about 5) and get a medal
  46. Viral mechanics
    Definition: Parts of a game that can only be played by inviting a large number of people (or that are better and more fun to play with other people).
    Example: Farmville. You will become more successful if you attract new people to the game
  47. Virtual Goods
    Definition: Digital gifts, rewards, objects found or taken during the course of the game. Often these goods can be sold or donated.
    Example: Goods in Gowalla, gifts in Facebook, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, 5k, medals