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20 Game Mechanics Used in Daily Challenge

Last Updated: Aug 01, 2012 09:59AM EDT


By Trapper Markelz, Head of Product

Through the gamification of life, we will do more and live better.

And through the gamification of health, we will finally unlock the secret to long term healthy behaviors. Maybe if we take the things that aren’t fun, like eating better, or walking more, and make them fun, people will finally do them?

Here are the 20 game mechanics we use in Daily Challenge -- 

1. Endless games -- The game is never won. Rather, maintaining a positive state is the end goal. This works well with health products because you can’t “beat” health, and well-being doesn’t have a start-stop experience. Daily Challenge gives users one small action to complete each day to advance their well-being forward. 

2. Behavioral momentum -- Borrowed from chemistry and the idea of Activation Energy, this illustrates how many health products actually complicate users’ lives and create a lower level of energy at the end state. Calorie tracking apps are good examples. Daily Challenge, however, delivers one small action to you daily, without any hefty requirements or cognitive load. 

3. Pacing -- Constraints can be a good thing, especially in terms of guiding a health product experience and controlling, for example, daily email delivery of the challenges so that learning is optimized. 

4. Appointments -- Utilizing a clear and predictable pattern of interaction can create the necessary triggers for people to engage with your product. When Daily Challenge users don’t get their emails, we hear about it. 

5. Countdown -- There’s a sense of urgency created due to the twenty-four hour timeframe in which Daily Challenge users have to complete each day’s challenge.

6. Reward schedules -- Actions that we value like completing a challenge or replying to others’ posts result in earning a certain number of points every day.

7. Progressive unlocks -- Users can gain -- or rather, earn through point accumulation -- access to premium content called Tracks that they can choose to unlock at their own discretion. 

8. Points -- This is a pretty standard and easy-to-understand process dynamic which offers a wide degree of flexibility for how positive behaviors can be communicated and rewarded. In Daily Challenge, points show a level of engagement and progress, as well as present users with progressive unlocks. 

9. Modifiers - These can be used to communicate when users are achieving something particularly special, like completing challenges on a weekend or having a streak bonus.

10. Levels -- Another progressive dynamic, levels communicate to users that they’ve achieved a milestone and important change in status.

11. Streaks -- Streaks introduce an element of loss aversion. Meaning, that the more consecutive challenges you complete in a row, the more invested you are in making sure you keep your streak going by completing challenges.

12. Leaderboards -- A very traditional mechanic, leaderboards are, for some, incentive to participate as competition is king. If you’re at the top, loss aversion kicks in and you’re more engaged because you want to stay at the top of the leaderboard. 

13. Status -- Tokens of pride, status in Daily Challenge is indicated by the number of trees users have “planted” through reaching certain Levels. 

14. Achievements -- In Daily Challenge, members earn Stamps. These are the achievement artifacts to signal opportunities for social celebration around a particularly specific and noteworthy event. 

15. Communal discovery -- Many of the Stamps are kept secret. It’s not clear how to get them. In this way, it’s a surprise and delight moment and a chance for the community to band together through conversation to figure out how to get these secret Stamps. 

16. Accountability -- Daily Challenge as a whole creates an accountable community where members support each other every day as they complete the challenges. Beyond that there are two direct forms of accountability: 5-day Pacts in which two members can agree to complete the next five days of challenges in a row for bonus points; and Encouragements, which allow a user to send a personal connection a nudge to complete his or her challenge.

17. Lottery -- The amount of points users receive after a successful pact completion varies. In this way, the lottery dynamic offers an unexpected aspect to Daily Challenge. If you got the same amount of points each time, the game dynamic thrill of completing a Pact would wear off quickly.

18. Virtual Currency -- The points earned in Daily Challenge can become the Tokens necessary to get a Key that unlocks access to premium content called Tracks. 

19. Missions -- Daily Challenge users can control their journey by unlocking access to Tracks. They get to decide which Track they want to unlock, and they can switch among open Tracks and repeat the Tracks they like. 

20. Gifting -- For healthplans and employers who purchase Daily Challenge for a workplace well-being solution, they can give out Keys so that participants can unlock access right away to available Tracks. 

So there it is! The twenty game mechanics of Daily Challenge!

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