Learning from games

First a short recap, in case you haven’t read my previous posts: we are awarding the students in our #chikul13 course with badges in the same way achievements are awarded on Xbox360, Playstation3 and Steam. Our first results do indicate certain facets of this gamification are appreciated by our students and have a positive impact on their work. Badges in learning are quite new but maybe we can learn something from the years of experience all of you have with achievements, be it in games.

I remember not everyone was excited when Microsoft decided to introduce achievements 8 years ago. The overal Gamerscore, a total sum of all achievement points, would become the main focus for some. While it did boost sales, it didn’t always reward good game design, just easy achievements. Soon Sony would follow, as would PC games and even Apple with its Game Center. Achievements aren’t going anywhere soon it seems…

So I look at you, game developers, journalists and gamers. What do you think of achievements today. Please do post your comments and while you’re at it, could you answer a couple of the following questions?

  1. Do you check your own achievements?
  2. Do you compare your achievements with friends?
  3. Does knowing your friends’ achievements change the way you play your game?
  4. Do achievements cause you to play more/explore more than you would without them?
  5. Would you still play all the games you play today without the achievements?
  6. Do you check achievements on other devices? (mobile, websites,…)
  7. [for the designers] When designing achievements, what is it you want to achieve? (Replay, exploration, sales,…)

Happy Easter!

6 thoughts on “Learning from games

  1. Greg says:

    Hey Sven!

    The first few times I encountered achievements I remember really enjoying them. In both Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 and Team Fortress 2 I had a great time unlocking new gear through achievements.

    But lately I don’t check mine or my friends achievements. But it still feels like every game should have them, since everyone knows achievements are great, right? I recently realized that I only thought they were great because of Team Fortress 2, and my default opinion of achievements wasn’t up to date.

    When your game needs to have achievements to check that off the feature list, and you have to sit and try to come up with a bunch of achievements, and a bunch of clever titles for them, you start to realize that if your achievements are an afterthought, you probably aren’t really adding anything to your game.

    So lately I kind of prefer not to see achievements in game. But that’s also because I’m not into the game reminding me that it is a game all the time.

    • svencharleer says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Garrahan! I guess the trick is to make them part of the design. If it’s an afterthought, it’s probably going to be obvious to the player (or even student) and distract them from the real experience. Something to consider with our next course design ;)

  2. Willems Denis says:

    Do you check your own achievements?
    For games where I spend lots of time on it (BF3 For example) I will check my achievement and how much time/score is still needed to reach it. In other games I don’t really check that as I know I will never get them all (if achievements were Pokemon’s, I’d try to catch them all)

    Do you compare your achievements with friends?
    same as first question. I also need to have several friends playing the same game to get the interest to check their achievements

    Does knowing your friends’ achievements change the way you play your game?
    No, but will maybe make me play the game longer to reach their level of achievements or let them far from me in the number of achievements done or be the one to reach full achievements

    Do achievements cause you to play more/explore more than you would without them?
    No, it is more trying to have more achievements done than my friends (note that against you it is quite easy … )

    Would you still play all the games you play today without the achievements?
    Yes because the game is not achievements, it’s the fun you get in the play. If the fun is gone, you don’t really care of achievements then.

    Do you check achievements on other devices? (mobile, websites,…)
    It depends of the game.

    [for the designers] When designing achievements, what is it you want to achieve? (Replay, exploration, sales,…) Not concerned :)

  3. oana.sipos says:

    I came across gamification elements while learning Ruby and Ruby on Rails on Codeschool and Codecademy. I must admit that it felt good when at times I was rewarded with a new badge or the counter was telling me I reached 200 exercises for examples.

    Yet, the coolest feature that made it really intriguing and made me feel like I compete with myself, was one on Codeschool. You had to do exercises, but you also had hints you could check in case you didn’t know how to solve it.

    The interesting part is that the hints was actually a three-step hint system: you could access the first 2 for “free”, but then if you checked the third one you would get -75 points. Thus, that was a motivation to think again, give it another try, do whatever but not go on minus points :P So that was challenging and it made me realize that not only rewarding is good, but also motivating by charging for “mistakes”.

    Hope this helps! :)

    • svencharleer says:

      That does promote exploration, I like that trick. Although it’s comparable to our negative badges, it has less of a negative ring to it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.