There’s a post by Shane Snow and Phin Barnes on Mashable called How to Use Game Mechanics to Power Your Business that’s an excellent primer on a topic many first-time game design clients struggle to understand.

Whether you’re looking to leverage game mechanics to drive business or to make a product more compelling, this is the place to start.

Shane and Phin write, “Before Foursquare managed to storm social media, GPS friend finders and city guides did in fact exist. But, Foursquare quickly became a star, engaging hundreds of thousands of users in just a few months and turning them into evangelists for its product. It did this by taking the existing geo-social concept and turning it into a game. Video game-esque elements like “badges” and “mayorships” hook you long enough so that you discover the true utility of the app, and stick with it long-term.

Common game elements like points, badges, leaderboards, and levels are proven (and increasingly popular) ways to engage customers and encourage profit-driving consumer behavior. Foursquare is a great example of why these work. However, many proponents of this type of “funware” in product development and marketing miss the larger point: “How” you incorporate game mechanics is just as important as “Why” you should. A leaderboard alone does not make for a worthwhile or engaging game.” [Continue reading the compete article here…]

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