Play on these 5 psychological motivators for your gamification and competitions marketing strategy

Brands love competitions because they are a fantastic tool to engage communities. Using gaming mechanisms, whether they are sophisticated or not, they are able to create engagement with their consumers, gain their audience’s loyalty, grow their community and collect important data on their target audience.

The 5 psychological motivators:

  1. Share a social experience and participate in a collective effort

There are many scientific theories which help us understand why competitions work so well for people. With these 5 psychological motivators as the foundation, you will learn what really happens when participants try to win your competition and how to use this knowledge when designing your next competition.

1. Share a social experience and participate in a collective effort

Two men playing video games who just won a game

Players enjoy social interaction and want to share a real experience with other players. Humans are inherently social beings, individuals want and need to feel linked and “connected” to others, to receive attention and also to be part of a group. We are constantly trying to impress others, be part of a group and then show that we belong there. We also want to know what others think of us, and how they perceive us.

These player communities get a sense of belonging with a common goal for everyone, as well as having a support system when things get complicated. Players like to share their game experience, both their scores and success and their defeats alike, particularly on social media. When they can participate in something, they feel like they are part of something bigger and that their opinion matters.

Furthermore, research has shown that people tend to be happier when they participate in a common cause or collective effort. Games promote teamwork and create a shared goal rather than an individual goal; they are perfect for drawing attention to fundraisers or prevention campaigns.

2. Explore and discover a new world

Man holding the helm of a boat at sea and looking at the horizon

Adding an element of chance in a game stimulates our brains. Firstly, it is curiosity evoked by a title or image which makes us want to play a game. Then, within the game itself, continue to pique the player’s curiosity and keep them from getting fed up. A game full of surprises is an invitation to discover the evolving world in which the game takes place.

Human beings are naturally curious creatures, always on a quest for exploration, wanting to know more, discover more and we hate not understanding something. When players discover a game which they have never heard about before, they usually can’t wait to try it. If the game isn’t their cup of tea, it doesn’t bother them as much as you might imagine because they are simply happy that they were able to explore and discover a new world.

Play is an important part in discovery and players want to explore as many worlds as possible. They want to have fun, but also become invested and have an adventure. So, when designing a competition or gamification project for your company, you should focus on creating an online community of players who want to learn more about you. Create a full world that is unique to you and will put your brand, projects and values in the spotlight.

3. Desire to overcome challenges

Young woman excited about new challenges

People not only like challenges, they love them. In fact, it has been proven that challenges — difficult challenges in particular — are essential in helping someone reach their full potential. Psychologists call it the optimal level of ambition or OLA. If you never overcome challenges, you will never test your limits and you will never reach your full potential because you won’t know what you are capable of.

Psychologists talk about “ intrinsic motivation”. This term describes choices and behaviours adopted by individuals without any external factors or interference. The origins of these choices are linked to the satisfaction they provide once completed. In other words, it is what drives us to accomplish or complete a simple task for the pleasure of completing it.

The term “challenge” refers to the feeling a player experiences when they are challenged, the idea of difficulty that “challenges” the user and a specific task that the player can choose to take on. When putting in place a competition or any type of gamification project, it is important to consider all aspects of the term “challenge”. Games must also have the right number of challenges at the right level of difficulty, meaning games that are not too difficult yet not too easy for the player. These achievements should provide satisfaction and pride. The challenge reflects the motivation to engage in the activity, clarity as to what it entails and the belief that the task is achievable.

4. Take risks and break the rules

Young man with curly hair, wearing a blue t-shirt and shushing with a finger in front of his mouth

Although some players like to follow the rules and play by the rules, others prefer to take risks and break the rules. For some, it is simply a thrill-seeking mindset. They enjoy the excitement and adrenaline rush of breaking the rules. For others, it is a way to stand out from the crowd and attract attention.

Games often provide an escape from the worries of the real world, which can be a powerful motivator to play. For example, you may have noticed that when playing a game, you are more likely to take risks and try new things, even if your actions have consequences. A large number of players enjoy the adrenaline that taking risks provides and the satisfaction of narrowly succeeding, just before the timer runs out.

When it comes to taking risks in a fictional universe, many players believe that’s what makes the game exciting. They love to overcome the challenge of proving they are smarter than their opponents and believe that breaking the rules helps them to achieve that.

5. Motivation to earn rewards

Happy man lifting a trophy in front of a green background

Intrinsic motivation is the thing that pushes us to succeed or complete a task in order to win a reward when we complete the game. It can be physical rewards such as gift cards and products, even cash rewards, but it can also be the simple pride of succeeding in accomplishing a goal. In some cases, the prize can be something the participant really desires, while in other cases it can be something the participant thinks they need.

Offering the prospect of rewards can be an effective way to motivate people to participate in your game campaign. However, it is important to note that the rewards should be desirable and achievable. People who participate in competitions are driven by the prospect of winning something, so the reward has to meet their expectations. If it doesn’t, then players may feel they have been deceived and will doubtlessly not want to continue playing or come back to your brand for future events.

The success of competitions and gamification relies heavily on this final motivator. There is something addictive about not knowing if you can win a prize or not, or what you are going to win and the power of that incentive will vary for each individual.

Using Drimify, the go-to gamification platform, you can easily create games and interactive experiences for your competitions. Try out our demos and feel free to contact us to take advantage of our advice and expertise here on the DrimTeam.

Photos by Andrea Piacquadio, RODNAE Productions, Daniel Xavier and SHVETS production on Pexels

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