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I recently came across this post (SCN Points system - feels like a refresh might be needed?) posted in the discussion forum of the SCN Coffee Corner (Coffee Corner) and though I have to say something about it. I first planned to do this as a comment but reaching 2 pages of text I thought it might be better to create a blog.

Because I am a video gamer and I am familiar with associated point systems for quite a while. Yes, I am a gamer and I played 2000 video games (PC, mobile, consoles) in my life so far. Some details here (Blog it Forward - Hannes Kuehnemund). I don't remember the exact date when it happened but it might have been around 2005 when the major console vendors introduced an award system when playing games on their consoles. Microsoft has "Achievements and Gamerscore" for XBOX 360 (which continues with XBOX One) and Sony with "Trophies" for PlayStation 3. In the end all that probably originated from collecting discount stamps or airline miles decades ago.

Anyway, back to video gaming. Doing certain actions in video games nets the player a trophy or achievement. When you complete the game on "Easy" difficulty you get for example a bronze trophy or 10 Gamerscore. Completing the game on Medium you get for example a silver trophy or 20 Gamerscore. There are trophies/achievements which you gain when playing a game more than 100hours, or when you matched 1,000,000 numbers in a Sudoku like game, or when exploring a hidden dungeon, or when beating a game twice with 2 different characters (e.g. a knight and a sorcerer), or racing with all 12 cars in a racing simulation, or finding all secret items in all levels, or whatever action in a video game you want to count or let the gamer do. In the end the trophies/Gamerscore let the gamer know that although you may have finished the game, there is much more to explore. This could be seen as a tribute to the developers who have implemented hours of work into a hidden dungeon so better make sure that some gamers have an incentive to actually play it.

The latest example of these achievements/trophies was seen when games implemented their own system for incentives. Two examples of games are the GoW (Gears of War) series with "Medals and Ribbons" or Diablo 3 with "Achievements". Both games still have their trophies/achievements on the consoles too but now the companies make the incentives available on other platforms too because both games are sold on the PC as well and a PC does not provide an trophy/achievement infrastructure like the consoles.

To get all the in-game Medals in GoW3 you probably need to play the game for 2000 hours (this is just a rough guess). For Diablo 3 you need to spend at least 500 hours to get all of them. These are usually tasks which no ordinary gamer will do and from the statistics less than 0.1% of the gamers have gotten all of them.

What the console and game developers learned was the following. There must have been a learning in all these years, because these are all smart people:

  • Since introducing trophies/achievements new webpages spawned where communities formed. The main discussions are around the topic how to get the missions done most effectively (that could include cheating as well). This helps gamers who really want to complete games to find the appropriate resources.
  • Such communities provide a great source of feedback. One of the major XBOX achievement communities has 200k members. They have such a great power that today they work together with Microsoft to enhance the XBOX APIs to track achievement progress as well as giving them feedback from the hardcore gaming community back to Microsoft.
  • The gamer can track the progress of the Achievements/Trophies (that was introduced quite early but not all games adopt it). If you have to "do" something 100 times you always see how many times you did it already and how many times you have to do it until reaching the goal.

But most important:

  • Most of the achievements/trophies are now all connected with each other and "working" on one achievement allows you to work on other achievements too. For example, let us assume that there are two achievements: The first one is: break a total of 5,000 objects while playing. While this seems to be a very boring task - which might have nothing to do with the game and eventually there are only 3000 object in the game at all - they make it attractive by adding other achievements like: Beat the game as a Sorcerer, as a Knight, as a Bowman and as a Dwarf. So while working on these you gain progress you can track for the destroying objects in the game.

So even if a player does not want to get an achievement he works on it while playing the game and when they realize that they already cumulated 50% of the work of one achievement (e.g. breaking 2500 of 5000 objects in the game). This however does not mean that every gamer is now attracted by this fact and plays the game again - but there are some gamers who now continue playing the game again just for the sake of getting this achievement too.

And by binding gamers to a game/platform the game/console manufacturer ensure that they don't spend their time on other games or other consoles - they created stickiness. The gamer will eventually buy additional content for the game which could make getting achievements easier.

That is the bottom line: achievements/trophies create gamer stickiness and potential new revenue from selling add-ons, they allow tracking of progress for the gamer as well as provide information what still can be done in a game. Also, it provides feedback to the game developers who now know which parts of the game are played more frequently and maybe the hidden dungeon was hidden too well so they can change that in the next version.

So all of that does not apply 1:1 on the point system of SCN - I know that 😉

But I guess that there is much more that can be done in regards to the SCN missions than simply adjusting the points you get. Combining missions meaningfully could address the concerns of the authors of the coffee corner discussion. We also have to keep in mind, that missions/achievements/points only address and attract a fraction of people, maybe 10-20% - but if they are engaged they are the required momentum to keep a community alive.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts,


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