I'm working on an e-learning application that uses game dynamics, which include points (like Stack Exchange). There are two aspects to the application that we want to encourage. Actions that benefit you personally, and actions which benefit the community.

In our initial designs we had these aggregated into one points count. In a site like Stack Exchange, all interaction is essentially community interaction so this doesn't present a problem. However, it has become clear that some customers will use the application regularly for their own benefit without ever interacting with the community, while others will primarily interact with the community.

For this reason, we are seriously considering changing to two types of points. One for personal use, and another for actions that benefit the community. Similarly to how many games have gold and mana.

A large part of the reason for this is based on what people use points for. If I am not active in the community but want to compare how I am doing in my learning against a friend who is active in the community, one counter for points just won't work. Hence the competition aspect of having points will suffer.

I'd appreciate feedback on this, whether it is based on experience or understanding, as well as any links to applications / sites which use a dual points system.

  • Do you mean "game mechanics" rather than "game dynamics"? Because I'm unfamiliar with the latter.
    – Rahul
    Oct 28, 2011 at 16:21
  • Game dynamics is usually used as a synonym for (and has been used longer than) gamification. Game mechanics refers more to how the game works rather than the dynamics that having the game creates in the first place. It's not a universal definition though, so I'm sure lots of people will disagree.
    – JohnGB
    Oct 28, 2011 at 17:14
  • I did some homework and it turns out that game dynamics are "patterns of loops that turns them into a large sequence of play.", according to Tadhg Kelly of What Games Are. In another post, he explains that game dynamics are basically game mechanics but applied to video games rather than tabletop games. So I guess game dynamics are game mechanics, they're just more specifically related to video games.
    – Rahul
    Oct 29, 2011 at 1:54
  • You might find this interesting background reading if you've not come across it before: The Prisoner's Dilemma en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma
    – PhillipW
    Oct 29, 2011 at 10:00
  • Wording is important here: gold shouldn't be confused with mana. For example, if there is a high score, which type of points does it track?
    – giraff
    Oct 29, 2011 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


Penny Arcade's Extra Credits show on Gamifying Education has some interesting ideas.

One of them is to reward community achievements by giving bonus points to the entire community. For example, when a student or five students reach a certain threshold, give 100 bonus points to every community member.

I think that makes sense for your problem. Actions that benefit you personally get you points. Actions that benefit the community get everyone points.

  • The show also emphasizes how points should translate to something of value (e.g. new powers once certain thresholds are reached), so that people will be motivated to earn more points even when those points don't change their ranking relative to everyone else. Oct 28, 2011 at 19:09

It makes sense to have two different "points". It seems that one relates to your personal performance (I guess this indicator is a bit like score?) and another is more relating to how engaged you are in the community.

I can think of a lot of games that have two systems that work independently like this, but cant think of any applications that do this.

Stackexchange has this in a way: it has points and badged, these two are related but not the same?

There may be some info hidden away in here: http://gamification.org/ - I haven't investigated it myself.

  • True. Badges are a type of points system. We plan on using them anyway, but it is possible to use some as a sort of points proxy for one of them.
    – JohnGB
    Oct 28, 2011 at 15:18

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