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Is it possible to use the concept of 'fun' to make a system more effective?

How can fun actually improve the functioning of a system? I am looking for clear, solid reasoning around how this might work.

  • This isn't really what this site is for. We're here to solve specific UX issues, not compile lists of patterns. That's what pattern libraries are for. – JonW Apr 20 '15 at 13:54
  • I've edited the question in an attempt to make it more answerable, as I think fun<->UX is an important topic in general. – tohster Apr 20 '15 at 14:17
  • @tohster the topic itself is useful for UX but the question itself isn't really. It's now too broad to answer correctly, it's more of a discussion topic. What sort of system? What 'fun' idea is looking to be implemented? Who is the target audience? – JonW Apr 20 '15 at 14:22
  • @tohster Yeah, I'm not too happy with that one either, to be honest, but the question was too far gone to close it off altogether so I did the best with it I could, I think. – JonW Apr 20 '15 at 14:29
  • @JonW i hear you. to clean up this thread i'll delete my previous comment, and then also this one after a while. – tohster Apr 20 '15 at 14:31
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This question is a bit vague but take a look at The concept of Gamification.

Gamification techniques strive to leverage people's natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure. Early gamification strategies use rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks or competition to engage players. Types of rewards include points,[17] achievement badges or levels,[18] the filling of a progress bar,[19] or providing the user with virtual currency.[18] Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players or providing leader boards are ways of encouraging players to compete. - From the Wikipedia I linked

If you want to dig deeper check out five-steps-to-enterprise-gamification or this awesome article on gamification by smashing magazine

In my opinion a lot of apps and sites get Gamification totally wrong.

Here what not to do Adding some sort of metric like coins or points to a boring experience and calling it a day. Or adding points or achievements to routine tasks expecting people to be drawn in and encourages to come back.

You need to try and make the experience something fun and enjoyable that doesnt seem like work.

Poor application of Gamification

For example would you be more likely to make more copies at work if every time you went there you scanned your badge and got a point for each copy made and it showed your point total? My guess is no.

Better application of Gamification

Would one might be encouraged to use a running app more frequently if they could see their routes as drawings and possibly try to copy other drawings in their city or have the top drawn running routes posted to a leaderboard? I think this is more possible than the copy example.

Heres some examples That i think use Gamification well

  • Pirates vs Ninjas Myspace Game (oldest example I remember)
  • Stack Exchange
  • YELP
  • Yahoo Answers (Q/A forum)
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy (programming / learning)
  • Code School (programming / learning)
  • Fitbits apps (health / fitness)
  • Aetna health insurance web portal
  • Waze (crowd sourced GPS navigation app)

When not to use gamification (from the smashing magazine article i linked)

  • websites shouldnt have difficulty levels (if its too hard they will leave)
  • Dont spam. Your twitter/facebook followers dont care if you checked into chipotle 7 times this week,
  • Dont force users to play (dont prolong the interaction if they want to get in and get out).
  • Sell the product not the experience. Gamification doesn't sell products, it can make the experience more fun but in reality the product drives sales & retention.
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This article is on the old side but can maybe point you in the right direction - http://pando.com/2013/10/18/smartphones-are-making-shopping-more-fun/

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