High School is a strange season in life. Your body is changing physically, you have no idea who you are as a person, and you're always being hounded by parents, teachers, and guidance counselors to decide what you'd like to be when you go up.
I just wanted to fit in. Alas, with so many of my socially-awkward brethren, high school was less a season of parties and prom queens and more a time of comic books, computers, and video games.
I still have vivid memories of firing up my 56k modem and logging into Gamestorm to play Aliens Online with my best friend Chris. The game was a laggy, buggy mess. I could never tell what I was doing and died regularly. Still, I kept coming back for more.
Why did I pay $10 a month to play a shoddy game I didn’t even enjoy?
Because it gave me a place to achieve status.
My buddy and I were part of a squadron—a community of Aliens Online players who would go on missions together and challenge rival swarms of Aliens. I couldn’t tell you the name of the group. I’m sure it sounded fierce by our teenage standards.
Every mission we went on increased our social standing with the other guys in the squadron. Eventually, we’d move up in rank and take on new responsibilities. We didn’t have to be all that good at the game; we just had to keep playing. Eventually, we’d rise to the top of the heap.
In one way or another, human beings are all status-seeking creatures. Even the shiest person couldn’t relate to that warm rush that accompanies the accolades of friends, family, and even complete strangers. We all want people to look at us and say, “Wow.”
For as long as there have been video games, game develops have exploited this basic feature of human psychology in one way or another. In the earliest arcade games, it was the coveted High Score listing. Today, things have gotten considerably more sophisticated.
Beyond high school, my tastes in gaming evolved significantly. I eventually lost myself in World of Warcraft. While the game itself was infinitely more exciting than Aliens Online, all of the same elements were there:
- the mindless, yet rewarding slog of grinding for higher levels
- the camaraderie of clan membership
- the thrill of climbing the ranks
- the fulfillment of being celebrated by other players
Gamify Your Gaming Forums
For years, community forums have adapted this element of gameplay to fit their own communicative environment. In virtually every forum, posts are accompanied by a profile of their poster including various stats about them and their forum activity.
Some forums will keep this to simple stats like membership length and number of posts. Others take it further with points, badges, and a leaderboard. When done right, a gamified forum will use all of these features to generate and promote great content for the community.
So here’s my crazy meta-idea – gamify your gaming forum.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, the biggest video game community forums haven’t added a lick of gamification to their community forums.
Ironically, the AAA publishers haven't realized that the very thing that makes people use their forums—the drive not only to play video games but to go online and talk about them—is itself capable of being gamified.
So, here’s your opportunity to be different. Turn your video game forum into a game itself. It just might inspire new gamers to flock to your site, offer great content, and breathe new life into your gaming community.