Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Gamifying Games

The issue

After reading about gamification, watching a few TED videos, and reading Jane McGonigal‘s book, I was all ready to develop a gamification system myself. I had the perfect candidate too, my gaming club. The club had been going for a number of years and had an extensive library of board and card games. However membership was flat from year to year, and there was nothing to link games together. Gamification looked like a candidate solutions. That’s right, I decided to gamify playing games.

Games played at the club ha one thing in common – they are all tabletop games. Some are complete in their own box, such as Settlers of Catan or Through the Desert. Some are complete and have optional expansions, such as Dominion or Small World. Others, such as Magic the Gathering or War Machine, are entirely expansion based, as players are free to build decks or armies from whatever cards or miniatures they like, within a given framework.

Some games are strictly 2-player affairs, other might be playable by 3, 4 or 5 players or more, but have no set number.

There are games that are over and done within an hour, including set up and pack away. Other games can last a full day, such as Twilight Imperium.

Any system I developed had to take account of the different numbers of players per game, and the playing time. It also had to be compatible across any type of tabletop game, from the most casual card game to the most intricate board or miniatures game. Importantly, the system needed to take people through years of gaming.

The solutionesquire

And so A Game of Games was born. You can tell I’m a George RR Martin fan, can’t you? A Game of Games is a points-based system, where more points lead to a higher rank achievement.

For any game played, the winner receives a number of points equal to the players in the game. Second place received one points less, and so on, until every player has a point. For example a 5-player game of Small World might look like this:

First: 5 points

Second: 4 points

Third equal (two players): 3 points

Fifth: 1 point

After this a modifier is applied based on the length of the game. To keep things consistent, the game’s box is used as a guide. So a game taking up to one hour has a modifier of 1, up to two hours a modifier of 2, and so on. Where the game has a range, the higher end is used. Small World, to continue the example above, has a range of 40-80 minutes. The upper end of the range is used, giving a modifier of 2. With the modifier applied, the points awarded for the game are:

First place: 10

Second: 8

Third: 6

Fifth: 2

Players’ point are added to a running total. There is a rank system based around the ranks of the nobility, and each rank has a badge designed for it. Your first rank is reached at 20 points, your second at 50, your third at 100. The highest rank required 5,000 points to achieve, and I don’t expect anyone to reach it until the end of the decade. Seriously.

With a paper-based game record sheet for people to fill out (and get to know their fellow club members) we were ready to go. A Game of Games was launched in October 2011.

The resultgrand-duke

A Game of Games has just marked two years from its debut. Club membership has more than doubled in this time, and new members have enthusiastically taken up the system. The experiment has been a success to date, but could go further. The highest rank yet achieved is Grand Duke, needing 1,000 or more points to acquire. View the current ladder.

The future?

A Game of Games is limited by being paper-based. While this makes it easy to get started and running, there are downsides. Achievements would have to be manually tracked and that simply isn’t practical. Neither is there somewhere where any participant can look up the record of all games they have been involved in. Going online would make a huge difference, but that requires a different skill set to mine.  We shall see how A Game of Games develops in its third year.princess

One comment on “Gamifying Games

  1. Pingback: Jane McGonigal’s Massively Multiplayer Audience | Scent of a Gamer

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This entry was posted on November 3, 2013 by in cool stuff, Gamification, Tabletop and tagged , , , , , .
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