Gamification Mechanic Monday: Belonging

Gamification Mechanic Monday: Belonging

Creating a sense of belonging seems a very appropriate topic given recent events in the UK. The wish to belong is often intrinsically stimulated by the new or left out party. Some mechanics can assist in giving the sense of being part of something. For example, inviting input from specific groups when you have an understanding that they feel left out, when you are organising votes ensure they also have the right to vote, when looking to implement customisations ensure they are represented in your pilot testing etc.

Feelings are very personal and often driven by the level of trust and evidence that you are serious about inviting people in. Your initial invitation to participate then needs to be backed up by evidence and action that you are taking their views seriously.

If there are winners, then by default there will also be losers. Having a strategy on how you will deal with both sides after the vote, game, tournament, etc is a vital part of your gamification design. In games you often receive a new life, so you can continue playing. In tournaments there is often a new chance to win again in a few years time. As soon as it starts to affect a persons day-to-day livelihood such as working and living, the vested interest in the outcome is also creating a higher stake in the ultimate game. So whatever you do ensure the plan is clear even before your game, so people can make an educated choice based on facts.

No loser, when they really expected or wanted to win, will feel happy to lose. Allowing them time to process feelings and also giving them an opportunity to come to terms with it is essential. The winners equally will have some adjusting to do either rising to their new level of notoriety, having to now implement what they wanted to achieve, etc.

In training I used to have a fine system, the rule was that if you wanted to be in the course you showed up on time or paid the price. In some leadership training sessions this was actively used for people to make a decision on whether to address a meeting in the breaks and pay up in advance or after. It was a cost benefit based decision. It was applied to all no matter what their level was and set out in advance, the group voted where the money went to.

In a democracy having full inclusion for voting for example is often not so easy when voting is voluntary and when it is left up to the voters to register. What has happened in a lot of countries, people feel so far removed from influencing politics that they feel their vote doesn’t matter anymore and it doesn’t include or represent their thoughts. In some countries, such as Belgium, voting is a duty and opting out a long laborious process. Education in my view needs to be at the base of voting structures to show and share how your vote actually matters, which is exactly what people in the UK found out the hard way on Friday. I learned a lot from playing SimCity for years, more than I ever learned in a politics class. I also learned a lot from visiting the various institutions that create our laws and to speak with opposing elected party people working in the government. I met passionate young politicians keen to influence and how it can be done at local, national and international level.

Inclusion for both sides is always a challenge. Collaboration and communication will be key as well as creating a dialogue where both sides give input, respectfully. In terms of gamification, creating understanding for both sides can be achieved through simulations and virtual reality and may over time give us the tools to let us experience life through the eyes of the other side. the more entrenched the views are, the more I would suggest this as an option. In any case creating a joint future where both sides can play together like in a Minecraft environment.

What else would you include to create a sense of belonging again after it was damaged through a loss or a win?

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