Gamification mechanic Monday: Unlock-able free play
Over the Easter break I was playing Candy Crush and hit one of the treasure chests with random prizes in it, some of them were boosters and one of the rewards was unlimited play for 2 hours. Not too long after succeeding with the first treasure chest, I unlocked another one this time with an additional four hours of unlimited play. So at that stage I had 6 hours of unlimited play. I have to admit I felt compelled to use it, even though lately I had been playing their other games more. I did make a great jump forward, so I did get the pay off for making the effort to play more, but I remarked to my partner that it felt like pressure to keep playing the same game for that length of time. I was in the end relieved to return to normal play where you have 5 lives and they renew over time.
What it told me is that the fun in achieving free play time was very short-lived by adding on more pressure, with the timer counting down and fear of missing out if I didn’t use it.
I can see this playing a role in business gamification, where we do want to include fun rewards that create a sense of achievement and at the same time we often have real time pressure from work pulling us in another way. As a gamification designer it is good to experience this in a game and then to come up with solutions of how you may prevent this from happening in a work scenario or how you could create this tension, because in some situations it may actually be beneficial.
I would suggest with random rewards to also have a rule built in that no accumulation of more than 2 hours of free play is achieved. Instead include other boosters, when the 2 hours are consumed then include this reward again. Or better allow the user to determine when their free play time starts.
What would you do to balance feelings of achievement and time pressure and fear of missing out tension in your gamification design?