Why my Follow150 Quest stopped being fun: Discovering Gamification


I skid down one of rocky paths that lie between the mountainous ranges of Webland onto a wide ridge. A few blossom trees are dotted along the ridge, their roots gripping the shallow earth and branches splayed across the face of the mountain. The smell of fresh blossoms reaches me and I look down at the small pink garland twisted around my wrist. The thirty hand-picked blossoms are connected together by a thin silver strand and when I bring it to my nose, I still smell the fainter musky sweetness coming from it.

On each of the blossoms is the name of someone, a stranger in Webland whose words made me want to reach out and follow them. But in my 2nd week on the follow 150 quest, I have not been so successful.

The excitement and drive I felt whilst discovering those first people follow has fizzled out. I know those inspiring and interesting writers, bloggers and speakers are still out there, so why has it become so boring to seek them out when just a week ago it was invigorating.

I decided to to delve deeper into why this may have changed and my searches led me to the field of gamification.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems.

Definition: Wikipedia

Below were two slides about the setting of incremental goals in games. Its taken from the excellent Meaningful Play. Getting »Gamification« Right presentation and Google Talk from Sebastian Deterding.

slide-84-728       slide-86-728

I compare this to the weekly goals I set on Follow 150 and you can spot the problem straight away.

Week 1: 30 Follows –> Week 2: 36 Follows –> Week 3: 42 Follows –> Week 4: 42 Follows

Not much depth, variety or complexity. So I’ve attempted to apply these and revise the Follow 150 quest:

  • Goal 1: Total 30 Follows
  • Goal 2: Total 80 Follows, follow 40 of the most influential people in one chosen area
  • Goal 3: Total 115 Follows, follow 35 based only on new recommendations of existing follows
  • Goal 4: Sort all followed people into categories, Total 150 Follows

If you’re inspired to take up this digital quest too, I’d love to know to what you think of these revised goals. Feel free to start this with your own timetable and let me know how you get on in the comments.

*      *       *

On the ridge of the mountain, I walk to the shade of the nearest tree with its trunk and branches curving out over the edge. I pull myself up into its arms and when I lean my body into the rough bark a small flurry of blossoms begin to fall. I reach out a hand to catch one, but then between the swaying branches, I see it.

A dense forest fills the valley so there is no ground in sight, but there at its centre looms four white towers and walls. The gleaming fortress holds within it the secrets and masters for the area I’ve picked to follow; Gamification.

I jump down from the tree and start to skip my way down towards the forest. The image of the fortress still fresh in my mind, I know with growing certainty that I must try to reach it. I do not know how I will do it, but I feel the impatience of my thoughts stirred by the beginnings of another quest.

To compete in Gammify 2013:  The World’s Largest Gamification Challenge.


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