I am planning to implement some game design techniques to make the user experience of my application more engaging.

The objective in the game are reached taking real life actions, like for example:

  • "walk to work instead of driving"
  • "eat vegetarian one day this week"

I don't see any way of enforcing these rules in the life of users, yet I feel that having some way of checking that the actions are really taken would greatly improve engagement, as opposed to just relying on people good faith.

For example I could ask people to post a picture of them walking to work, or a picture of their vegetarian meal... would that work? Can you suggest other techniques or a different approach?

  • I'd suggest that you just trust your users. :)
    – DA01
    Sep 7, 2015 at 17:01
  • @DA01 are you serious? Would you like to elaborate? Sep 7, 2015 at 17:04
  • 3
    Yes, I'm serious. If you don't trust your users, why would they trust the software? Who is a user cheating, really, if they decide lie about eating vegetarian? They'd only be cheating themselves. No need to add hurdles for everyone else to try and prevent the few that would cheat themselves from doing so (and they'd figure out a way anyways).
    – DA01
    Sep 7, 2015 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


Don't enforce, but allow confirmation

By giving an achievement for special actions, people will feel rewarded for what they have done on their own. Since this all works on a mental level, don't try to make up too tight rules, as people who want to break them, will break them anyways. Better: give them the opportunity to prove what they have done by letting them upload pictures or write comment on their achievement. It's all for social reassurance after all.

Make it fun

Gamification is all about playing a "game". So make some rules and a win condition, but make them "fun". You could make everything visually appealing or tie it to some storytelling. Group achievements together, give points, medals, imaginary tokes, etc. The possibilities are near endless, just keep in mind that the player should always be entertained.

  • Thanks for the suggestion of not enforcing the game rules. Personally I feel more engaged in a "competition" when I know that the score of my competitors/friends is "real". Your answer suggests that here it's probably about shifting the focus from competing with others to competing with yourself. The "make it fun" part of your answer is a good suggestion, but I don't think is relevant to my question. Sep 7, 2015 at 11:37
  • To add to J_rgen's answer, it would be fun to link accounts to their friends and have them upload images/videos. Especially for food, that could add some fun for friends to see what people have done in comparison to them.
    – UXerUIer
    Sep 14, 2015 at 15:08

If you actually want to enforce it, yes, "share a photo" is a good idea.

And I can't really see another approach. (Or, sure, it could be a short video instead of a photo.) It's utterly trivial to post photos these days (and to build that in to your system, whatever baas you are using - it's trivially done in Parse for instance).

You can further build on this by gaming that for example, furthermore having voting on "today's best walking-to-work shot", etc.

Note that like other commentors/answers, (i) i fucking hate gamification (ie, I hate working on it, hate when clients want to do it, hate it as part of society, and no, I'm not 3 years old, so I don't take part in 'gamified' web sites) {the 'gamification' on SE is completely annoying} (ii) i think you should just 'not do it', but, I believe "photo of" is the only workable answer here.

Note that you could conceivably use GPS tracks, for the specific "walking" example.

in certain contexts (ie, all users are together in a class or similar), you can use "golf card" like "verification": ie, another one of the players in the group verifies your meal, swim, or whatever the case is. But in the general sort of social media case, I don't think there's much out there other than "photo of" for gamification-verification.

  • I think you don't fully understand what gamification is, and the importance of games in everyday life, if you think it's something for children, but thanks anyway for sharing your point of view. Sep 14, 2015 at 15:07
  • @AndreaCasaccia I think Joe does understand what it is...and has a valid (though not universal) reaction to it. There's no doubt that gamification can be useful, but it can also be (and often is) just plain annoying.
    – DA01
    Sep 14, 2015 at 19:51
  • hi Andrea -- very sadly, I absolutely understand gamification. For example, we did the gamification project for a top-10 youtube property. I absolutely loathe it, I told them constantly it was hateful and a waste of time, and the whole thing was a failure. (In expressing my general hatred for gamiifcation, above, I did not get around to mentioning it is usually a total flop !)
    – Fattie
    Sep 14, 2015 at 20:14
  • I believe DA's comments are very astute.
    – Fattie
    Sep 14, 2015 at 20:15
  • by all means though, this is an excellent question for this site. in any event (as I express above) I rather dislike it when people answer questions about "X" by saying "oh, I don't like X, don't do it". So, I'm guilty of this myself, or bad enough.
    – Fattie
    Sep 14, 2015 at 20:16

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