It may seem that his is not really applicable to gamificaiton. In gamification we are usually trying to drive certain outcomes or encourage a particular set of behaviours. But why should that be all that we are doing? If you look at a gamified system, it contains a set of simple rules or mechanics that a use interacts with. In gamificaiton emergence is often considered cheating. Take the unintentional situation that can emerge when the rules allow for an unexpected behaviour. You assign points to people for inviting other people into the system. The intention of the design would be simple. They would expect people to behave in a way they would consider “acceptable”, so maybe inviting a 1 or 20 people. However, the rules and mechanics allow for much more than that. A user could invite hundreds of people. They could create a script that invites thousands people.
Is that cheating? If the rules never stated there was a limit to the number of people each user could invite and the mechanics of the system allow it to happen – then no. Really it is emergence. A user has taken the rules and the mechanics and done something unexpected, but totally allowed!
The real question is, how can we make use of this? Well, the guy who wrote a script to email thousands of people, showed some serious initiative an potentially some coding skills that may have been previously unknown to the company. As a designer we could allow a lack of rigidity in our rules to try and encourage people to come up with creative solutions to the problems we present them. We have to be a little careful that that creativity is not seen as cheating though – what is fair game for some is often seen as cheating by others. Where a player user type may feel paying for stuff to get further is fine, an achiever type my well feel that is cheating as an example.
Another good example is people creating social groups and trading votes, answers, ideas and the like. Again, some may see it as unethical – but if the rules allow it – it is fair game!
To encourage this sort of emergence, you need to create simple mechanics and rules – building blocks if you will – that allow users freedom to test the system and produce more creative solutions than you had originally considered. You have to make sure that people can’t push too far, but it can be really engaging and motivational to feel that you have enough autonomy to get imaginative.
Let them play, you may be surprised what comes of it!
Where does this mass hysteria over the NCAA come from? Its not just about a widespread love of basketball. Its popularity is the result of the tournament''s unique structure and gamified elements that make it highly addictive to watch and wager on.
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