Examples for Functionality, Gamification, and Feedback Loops

July 19, 2011 — 3 Comments

I noticed an article on bokardo, Joshua Porter’s blog, about Functionality, Gamification, and Feedback Loops. He has some insightful comments on the Wired magazine article Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops.

I saw a great example of gamification and feedback loops in the iPad app Kobo. Kobo is an alternative to iBook. Unlike iBook, Kobo has integrated a concept called “Reading Life” that offers awards, statistics, and images to share in my social networks

Kobo tablet screenshots- from OhGizmo

I immediately called my friend and asked her to get Kobo on her iPad so we could both use it and see who reads the fastest (a little competitive spirit going on). Then I sent a link to another friend- encouraging her to use it too. Then I bought some books and will shortly post my Bookcover on Facebook.

Compare this to Audible’s Stats (timer, achievement awards and badges), which leave me feeling undermotivated. I mean, I’ll use the app and all, but I’ll never intentionally open the Stats screens again.

Kobo and Audible are both using gamification techniques to encourage specific behaviors (buy more books). So why is Kobo getting me to change my behavior and Audible isn’t?

  1. Audible has a bug and isn’t pulling in any of my hundred of stories I’ve bought over the past few years. So the feedback loop that might encourage me to “level up” isn’t working because the data is bad (I’m not an AppNewbie).
  2. Kobo started me off with some badges already earned (good for me!), Audible has me at 0 out of 15 (lame-o).
  3. The stats in both apps stay up to date to reflect my reading/listening patterns. Audbile only has one stat, listening time, whereas Kobo offers lots of interesting information.
  4. Most importantly: Kobo tapped into not only how I read (pages per hour), but how reading is a part of my life. I’m in a book club, I share my favorite titles and authors with friends, I read out loud to my kids, my mom and I bond over books. With Kobo’s “Reading Life” I can now easily share what I’m reading with my circle of friends and family.

Please share other example of apps using gamification and feedback loops effectively, or examples of ones that failed.

3 responses to Examples for Functionality, Gamification, and Feedback Loops


    Quite interestingly, I was having a very similar discussion with a friend last night on why social media integration and sharing did “not” work for our GRE Word List app, i.e.

    To be blunt, we were a total flop in generating any traction with facebook integration. It is hard to pint point one reason, but one aspect we wondered about is how “share worthy” something is, and maybe our stats are not that share worth. Generally speaking, there is a greater level of “secrecy” among GRE-preparing-folks, and some make a total secret out of it because they don’t want to have to share their scores if they miss the mark!

    Your post today, however, triggered a lot of new ideas. I guess we can be creative and put a positive spin to the stats that we generate. For instance, there could be a way for someone to share a word that they really loved – and it does not have to say anything about GRE! We will be certainly giving this a lot more thought.

    Good post, by the way!


    Interesting observations.

    BTW: there may have been a Freudian slip when you typed “Audbile” above 😉

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Kobo « Thoughts in My Head - June 24, 2012

    […] After using Stanza app to read ebooks, I discovered the Kobo app for my iPhone. The interesting part about it is the user engagement while using the app to read books. It has gamification elements put into it. You earn badges as you read your books. There’s social interactivity where you can read notes written by other readers of a book. For instance, I’ve just finished reading Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis and the insights from other readers made it a pleasant experience getting through the subtleties and meanings underpin by the author. You have to click on the margins of the ebook if there’s any note available. Another thing that I really like about it is the statistics of your reading habits presented in such a neat way. Here’s a link showing what I meant https://theresaneil.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/gamification_kobo_vs_audible/ […]

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