Building Community While Letting Them Play: Gaming Dynamics For Community Building

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Building Community While Letting Them Play: Gaming Dynamics For Community Building

There are plenty of ways to build a viable and thriving online community.

Playing on the user's vanity is one of the most effective, as seen by the popularity of sites like Facebook. People are excited to see their status messages or posted content 'liked', and it fosters a new sense of community through a new form of communication.

Sites like Twitter, Pinterest and even the more socially connected versions of traditional blogs manage to exploit the same urges.

One method that is just starting to really gain traction is using game dynamics for community building. This is being applied to the same websites (think of social games in Facebook that can even be accessed through apps now). Adding a game element to the whole process just seems to better link people to that community, perhaps because of our competitive nature, or maybe just because it is fun.

Another example can be found on Reddit. They split posters into teams, with Team Periwinkle and Team Orangered. This was all themed to match Team Fortress 2. It was a simple concept that managed to foster an even greater sense of community than was already present. People still have their badges from the 'game'.

Using Gamification For Your Own Community

Whether it is online or in person, such as gamifiication for an office setting, there are a couple of ways you can start the process.

  • Set Teams – If you were just using gamification for the sake of motivation, I would say allow people to play as individuals. But for fostering a community, it is better to have teams of which they can relate. Set up the teams automatically – it will avoid any bad feelings stemming from being 'picked last' – then let them come up with their own names. This is, in and of itself, a team building and community strengthening exercise.
  • Establish Rewards – Don't use a reward system that is based around something they should have access to anyway. One of the worst mistakes a company can make is offer, for example, bonuses based on games. You should have other rewards and incentives, like gift cards, little items, free lunches, ect. Rewards that would be nice to have, but aren't necessary.
  • Create A Point System – Have a pre-established point system to base all of this on. You don't want there to be any confusion about how much things are worth, how they build, or what constitutes a reward.
  • Make Badges – Badges are just a lot of fun to see. Whether they are online or physical badges, having a cool little representation of something you have achieved is perfect for gaming strategies. Websites like SparkPeople are a good example of this. They have regular badges for things like being consistent with signing on, fitness minutes and things they do around the site. Having badges that are both passive and active is a good idea.
  • Put Up A Leaderboard – People should be able to see where they are at all the time. Have a leaderboard that is updated as needed. This should include both the placement of the teams or members, and the amount of points they currently hold.
  • Announce Challenges – You should have regular challenges as part of your gamification process. This doesn't have to make up all of the points made from the teams, which can passively or individually work on their scores. But it should be something structured for occasional use, perhaps once a day or week.


Game dynamics are a great way to establish a sense of community and fairness. It is also a fun way of getting tasks done, and improving morale. There are some great teachers on the principle you should check out, such as Sharlene Sy, Sebastian Deterding and Natron Baxter. They are living proof of the prevalence of gamification in the world today.

Do you have any examples of game dynamics being used in community building? Any ideas on how to do it yourself? We are always eager to hear from our readers, especially when it comes to personal experience. Let us know in the comments!

Category: Internet Business Blog |

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