I saw a wonderful presentation by my Belgian Sanoma Learning colleagues earlier this week. At Van In they offer a service called Bingel, which essentially is an online exercise platform for primary education, kids aged 6-11.
Normally Bingel has a beautiful user interface of an island floating in the clouds. However, on October 17th 2013, a story started to unfold. First a panel appeared counting down the days until November 7th. An then, the mountain on the island erupted as a volcano, spitting red lava in the sky.
Bingel users were then encouraged to collect sand in order to make the volcano to settle down. And how to collect sand? You guessed it, by completing exercises. As a result, during the following week Belgian children did three times more exercises than normally during that November week. By now the volcano has calmed down, but the story is still developing…
These little things are what build up gamification. You take your normal routine activities and bring in some extra spices. Think of Google Doodles. Although they have become more complex through the years, they are still somewhat small things bringing temporary delight to information searchers.
These small gamification elements have to tap into users’ emotions in order to work. The Bingel volcano eruption caused some suspense no doubt, as well as joy in the end when enough sand had been collected.