The Science Behind Gamification

Why getting rewarded feels so good.

In the spirit of the Olympics, let’s dive into the science behind gamification, why it works, and how you can apply it to your online communities. Let’s pretend that you could be a part of a four-man Olympic swimmer relay team. Who would you pick to be your teammates? Chances are that you wouldn’t choose Johnny, who can barely make it to one side of the pool without having a cramp. No, you want three of Michael Phelps and Johnny can watch from the stands. You want to WIN. We all do – it’s human nature to want to succeed. And it’s all thanks to a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

Dopamine plays a number of key roles in our brain, including the desire to be rewarded and praised for our actions. When we are faced with a little healthy competition, we become more invested when there is a reward up for grabs. And, when we do achieve our goals, we remember how that felt and strive to do it again. In one word, motivation.

Why not leverage that desire to be rewarded in your online community? Transform power users into community Olympians by enticing them with rewards, such as badges, reputation points, and real-world incentives, for sharing knowledge. Add a leaderboard to your community so everyone can easily see the score and compete with others to share the most quality contributions.

Even though we all want the Michael Phelps’ of the world on our team, it’s important to remember the Johnny’s also play an important role in online communities.  Johnny represents your average user, someone who strives for greatness but needs some training and encouragement. Gamification can provide users with the incentives they need to actively participate in the community, ask questions, provide answers, and build expertise. With dedication – and a little dopamine – average users can evolve into your community experts, or the next Michael Phelps.

Learn more about AnswerHub and how gamification can help your community succeed.