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Gamification: The Three Levels of Design Abstraction 03 – Components4 min read

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This post is part of a series.

In Part 1 and Part 2, we introduced the three levels of design, and went into detail regarding the first and second levels. The last, most concrete and specific level of choices we have to make in designing a game or gamified software is which components we will use to accomplish our goals.

3 Components

Just as we must fulfill the goals of dynamics with mechanics, we must then meet our mechanics goals with specific components in our software and/or process, listed below: 1

I have included the names of one of Bartle’s Four Player types (BPT) after each component so we know who we are mainly appealing to:

  1. Achievements (defined objectives): This ubiquitous component is a powerful way to give the sense of progress (or as author Jason Fox repeatedly intones in his book The Game Changer, “make progress visible”), and meets the first of the three intrinsic motivators that we want to feed in the user (competence, autonomy, relatedness)2 BPT: Achiever 
  2. Avatars (visual representations of a player’s character): Don’t forget that buying bling for avatars is one of the top two moneymakers in games! 3 BPT: Socializer 
  3. Badges (visual representations of achievements): Badges are part of the holy trinity of basic gamification (PBL – points, badges, leaderboards). Love ’em. BPT: Achiever
  4. Boss Fights (especially hard challenges at the culmination of a level): Boss fights are part of an engaging rhythm of difficulty that follows onboarding and increasingly difficult tasks, as I described in Gamification: The 6D Development ProcessBPT: Killer

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  5. Collections (sets of items or badges to accumulate): Collections are cool. Why? Dunno. Human nature is funny. BPT: Explorer
  6. Competition (a defined battle or race, typically short-lived): Admittedly, this mainly appeals to the Killer gamer type (one of Bartle’s Four Player Types), but us killers are out there. BPT: Killer
  7. Content Unlocking (aspects available only when players reach objectives): Unlocking secrets? Yes please! BPT: Explorer
  8. Gifting (opportunities to share resources with others): Giving makes me feel good about myself. Let me do it. BPT: Socializer
  9. Leaderboards (visual displays of player progression and achievement) BPT: Achiever
  10. Levels (defined steps in player progression): Moving on up! BPT: Achiever
  11. Points (numerical representations of game progression): Another member of the holy trinity of gamification (BPLs), points are a necessity for making progress visible. Plus, if you have different types of points, including currencies, you can make money for those who want to pay to win (the other major money maker in games besides buying avatar bling!) 3 BPT: Achiever
  12. Quests (predefined challenges with objectives and rewards): Quests give narrative context to goals, and add a layer of experience that goes beyond adrenaline. The story matters! BPT: Everyone!
  13. Social Graphs (representation of players’ social network within the game): Social networks make everything more “sticky,” from games to leadership teams!4 BPT: Socializer
  14. Teams (defined groups of players working together for a common goal): More social can often mean more involvement and fun, but don’t skimp out on the solo player experience! Many of us are not so social ;). BPT: Socializer
  15. Virtual Goods (game assets with perceived or real-money value): Calculated scarcity for the right items and a meaningful in game currency system(s). Point and currency architecture is just one of the many systems you will have to balance and tweak to keep players engaged, but not discouraged (if it’s too hard or too expensive). BPT: Achiever

So there’s a nice list of components to use in your gamified software (or game).

  1. Werbach, Kevin; Hunter, Dan (2012-10-30). For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business (Kindle Locations 1144-1158). Wharton Digital Press. Kindle Edition.[]
  2. Gamification: The Three Intrinsic Motivations ([]
  3. The Top Two Sources of Revenue in Games ([][]
  4. Sticky Leaders: The Secret to Lasting Change and Innovation by Larry Osborne[]