To drive user behavior two of the best gamification blogs and many others use a gamification platform offered by BeatUp (name changed for anonymity). Posts have been written by the owners’ of blogs on why they use a gamification platform, but I am writing this post from a player perspective, who actually competes in the rankings.
The first stage of onboarding was fun. As soon I permitted the platform, to use one of my social network it gave me a meaningful booster and welcomed me to the setup. It showed that I have taken the initial step towards desired learning which was to know more about gamification. During the newbie days of my visit to the blogs and interacting with the platform, I was some 200 or more rank below than the top player, i.e. top player might be having 1,500,000+ points, and I was having some 400+ points. But each point addition that I was having, was a meaningful addition to my score, as the points and badges were not for free but with gamification post/video/comment that I interacted with.
Slowly, I started to enjoy the system, and started to compete in small badge/point achievement missions, like to watch 10 videos back to back. So, ordinarily I may stop after 5 or 6, but since I was learning, and the badge progress bar showed me that I can get a badge for watching 4 more, I stayed glued to the system. Doing this I was gaining new gamification knowledge and on the other hand I was climbing up the leaderboard, which in my view point, showed other players that I am a regular visitor to the site (Game technique of Envy), and I am very active as well. Staying on top for a day was fun initially, then staying on top of the board for a week showed my achievement to others, all was good till this stage, I was playing fair till now and making progress gaining gamification content.
The game turned bad now, the moderator of the blogs linked the ranking to some meaningful reward hoping for increasing activity, at this point fun became obsession, and weekly top ranking was no more engaging monthly was needed, but all-time top spot was what I wanted. The new materials started to dry up, as I had no new activity to do, and still I was way behind the number one player. So, I dived in figuring out how the system actually gives points/badges, can it be gamed. And to my luck it was possible. I learnt for example by giving 50 unique visit to the site, I will get 10,000 points, so I simply opened 50 tabs and opened the website 50 times in 10 minutes, and boom 10,000 points or write 10 comments and get 5,000 points so I checked that whether writing random comment like “qweqw ere qew” is counted, and it did, so boom 10 random comments I got another 5,000 points and in no matter of time, I learned all the rules and became number one player, or atleast top 10 before I stopped playing across various sites.
Though I have stopped doing it now, but by this post, I hope the gamification platform designers will learn something and prevent further exploitation of their platform or do not make activities contingent upon points which promote players to do the same things that I did.