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I'm developing a website called Fablelane which allows you to write your own stories and have others contribute outcomes or "chunks" to that story.

Right now (if you go to the website), there's an experience bar that advances as the user progresses and stays active. (It works for anonymous users too, don't worry.)

As this bar raises, the header rumbles and shakes. Depending on the level you have reached, the shake, rotation, and rumble is more heavy.

Is this appropriate? or will I have to find other ways to engage my users through gamification?

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  • I went to look and I found that it doesn't just shake the header but rather the entire page.
    – Dan D.
    May 4, 2013 at 5:10
  • Interesting. Thanks. Which browser? It shouldn't. May 4, 2013 at 6:25
  • Chrome Version 25.0.1364.160
    – Dan D.
    May 4, 2013 at 14:59

4 Answers 4

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Is the shaking and rumbling a direct co-relation to the user's progress? If yes, the that is instant feedback for the user and can be considered a game element leading to a gamified site.

Mark LeBlanc's MDA framework (Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics) is something you should take a look at for getting an idea of good elements for a gamified site.

Dynamics: (high level, conceptual elements. grammar of game. NOT rules. implicit structure) 
    - Constraints
    - Emotions
    - Narrative
    - Progression
    - Relationships

Mechanics: (process that drives the action forward. verbs)
    - challenges
    - chance
    - competition
    - cooperation
    - feedback
    - resource acquisition
    - rewards
    - transactions
    - turns
    - win states

Aesthetics/Components: (specific ways to do things. nouns.)
    - achievements          - leaderboards
    - avatars               - levels
    - badges                - points
    - boss fights           - quests
    - collections           - social graph
    - combat                - teams
    - content unlocking     - virtual goods
    - gifting

The progress bar is a very good indicator, but does it have breakpoints or levels which can lead to unlocking of features or such? That can add a level of engagement.

Even though PBLs (points, badges, leaderboards) are a cliche, this is a good site for such a system. You can get badges for the stories you complete. The definition of badges will depend on the core direction you want to push your audience towards: competition, co-operation, generic fun, or something else.

Also, if you can make it a social experience, it would add a lot of value for the players. Make the objective of the site such that you need to co-operate to 'win'. Something what Stackexchanges do quite well.

And lastly, whatever you do, the system should always have instant feedback for the user's actions. I have explained a briefly how user behavior changes can be achieved using gamification in my other answer: How does Gamification change User Behavior?

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Why?

If you're going for gamification, consider something that adds more social value. Something that gives some cred within the community of the site. Or possibly greater privileges within the community. Passing out something like Editor status could answer both of those angles.

But don't offer more irritating site chrome.

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  • The site already has privileges. Did you find the vibration annoying? The thing about gamification is that "constant feedback" is a very important element. What can I do to substitute this shake-effect then? May 4, 2013 at 6:24
  • @Mathias: constant feedback does not equal constant intrusion and that is what shaking a page or part thereof feels to me. And I suspect I am not alone in that considering it is in the same league as all the animated banners, gifs and the like that people tend to tune out. May 4, 2013 at 10:03
  • If only the header shook, would it be better? It's supposed to be like that, but something is malfunctioning. May 4, 2013 at 10:05
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    @Mathias: possibly (but none-at-all would still be my preference). Btw, I just happened to spot your comment because I had this page still open in my browser. Please use the @someone when responding so someone gets notified. Only post owners (you for the question, plainclothes for this answer) will get notified automatically. May 4, 2013 at 13:02
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Yes, "shaking the website" shapes the user experience and could be considered gameful. However, every gamification measure should ask the question if it is useful (or only "fancy): which activity are you trying to support? (See S. Deterding: "Don’t Play Games With Me!", Fol. 70–73 / 22:04–23:40)

In your case, the only way to know if your method provokes the desired results is to ask the users. In this case, I suspect it's too distracting, esp. as you animate so many things during the writing process. But it really depends on your target user base, if they are children they may even enjoy the immediate gratification because for them, typing a word is hard work.

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First, I tried to enter an contribution, and when I clicked "Submit" it cleaned the textbox with no apparent action. After spending several minutes writing that contribution, that was very, very frustrating.

Second, the site is heavy with animations, which I found a little disturbing. It felt unstable. Animations are attention grabbers. Take that attention very carefully, and only for a justified reason ("general fun" is not one of them).

Regarding specifically the animation of the bar, I would suggest to animate it immediately after points are earned, and only at that precise moment. This is just when you want to grab the user's attention to that fact. It would enhance both the understanding and the excitement of earning points, which is a most important part of the gamified experience.

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  • Thank you so much. What happened with the site after you clicked submit? May 6, 2013 at 19:54
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    It seems that nothing happened, except the textbox was cleared. The scroll did not move, and I didn't notice anything else happening.
    – Dvir Adler
    May 7, 2013 at 5:15

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