Rewards for Gamification – Keywords for Intrinsic Motivation

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Rewards for Gamification – Keywords for Intrinsic Motivation

What comes to your mind when you think of a reward? Even, “What would happen if you rewarded yourself?” Generally, foods such as chocolate, baklava, and coffee, and experiences such as a vacation come to mind. These are actually all extrinsic rewards that can be bought with money. “Intrinsic rewards” which cannot be substituted with money such as rank among as the employee of the month in the board, joining the management meeting, deciding which game to be played that week, doing charity with the collected points are much more influential in gamification. Crucial increases in the performances of the winning employees were observed by hanging the pictures of the spouses of employees on the office walls.* For employees who succeeded in the game, eating with the management or joining a training program of their choice are rewarding methods that are much more effective.

American entrepreneur academician Michael Norton performed a small experiment about monetary rewards and happiness. He sent an envelope to two groups of similar people. One group was given a certain amount of money and was told that “You will spend this money for you until the end of today,”; the other group was told “You will spend it on another person,” with the same amount of money. While the first group was buying expensive things such as accessories, the ones who will share the money bought things like food, coffee, and gifts. After being asked their contentedness at the end of the day, it was seen that the people who shared the money were five times happier. Similarly, when a team was given money to be spent on themselves in an office and the other team was given a piñata to hit as a team, the latter team became happier.**

Yes, giving the materiality of the rewards directly as money is not the most correct method. Sharing this materiality and adding an experience is much more effective and elating. There are certain rewarding approaches in order to create intrinsic motivation. American gamification expert Gabe Zichermann suggests a model like “SAPS: Status, Access, Power, Stuff” for rewarding in gamification.*** For example, if we think about a reading gamification, searching and buying the first book to read, membership cards, reward badges, plates fall into the category of Stuff. Afterwards, helping other users read and presenting the summary of the finished book to other members are examples of Power on the user. The next step would be to give access areas such as accessing other books or deciding which book to read the next week. Then finally, the user gains all these rights for a while by earning status and getting in the Book Club management.

As one of the most important entrepreneurships in Turkey, Yemeksepeti developed a gamification project called Lezzet Muhtarlığı (Tasting Chief) in 2017. In this nice gamification where thousands of players race with points and badges, we can see the examples of the SAPS Intrinsic Motivation Model. Tasting Chiefs are given a profile and a certificate as Stuff; afterwards, they can see other users’ orders in their neighborhood, suggest foods, or they can give them discount vouchers once they become chiefs. As for Access, they can send messages to the restaurants, suggest menus, offer newly opened restaurants to Yemeksepeti, etc. Of course, while remaining a Tasting Chief, tasks such as doing questionnaires or bringing new members are assigned; as they carry these out, they earn discounts and share.

After specifying the types of rewards, it is necessary to consider giving these to players according to the scenario with parameters such as the number of rewards, the number of participants, and duration. Will the rewards be requestable by being chosen with reward points from a catalogue, or will certain available rewards be given according to the rankings? Can they win the reward with a behavior, or will they focus on getting the big reward by lot within a pool they joined? Designing lots of scenarios clearly such as this one is crucial in gamification. Here are the examples of criteria for winning a reward:

1 – ) Winning a reward with a fixed behavior: They win the reward immediately as a consequence of a behavior.

2 – ) Winning randomly: They win the reward from the list by spinning the wheel after the behavior.

3 – ) Winning a reward as a surprise: They win the reward involuntarily after the behavior as if getting it from a closed box.

4 – ) Winning a reward by chance: They get a chance to win the reward by getting the right to join the raffle when they aim at big and long-term behaviors.

5 – ) Winning a reward with a social sharing: They win the reward when they share it with another user such as eating à deux.

6 – ) Winning a reward after completing a collection: They win the actual, big reward after getting the complete collection pieces. It is like “Every achievement wins a star and for the big reward, every star is a chance for a raffle.”

While giving the reward, behaviors that will trivialize the reward must absolutely be avoided. Shipping a small cup that is won with the efforts of months by cargo is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made. Even a social reward such as food should be gifted representationally in an envelope; also, it should be announced to other players so that motivation can be created. Rewards that are passed over as “Okay, you won” lose their value.

Rewarding in gamification is not a goal, it is a tool, and extrinsic rewards should generally be given with correct player types at the end of the scenario. In the end, no one joins the Olympics to receive a medal, but to put their stamps on history. If you have a scenario like Olympics, extrinsic rewards in the form of a medal will be the nicest symbolic achievements of this process.

Game be with you.



E.Altuğ Yılmaz
Gamification Consultant

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