Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

Summary: The best gamification ideas usually come from just outside the traditional game space (and typically not from gamification 'experts' who are too busy adding badges and points to everything under the sun). The latest blockbuster idea, which could easily be adapted for some really interesting game mechanics, is Pinterest.

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TOPICS: Browser
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The best gamification ideas usually come from just outside the traditional game space (and typically not from gamification 'experts' who are too busy adding badges and points to everything under the sun). The latest blockbuster idea, which could easily be adapted for some really interesting game mechanics, is Pinterest.

If you've heard the name, but haven't delved into it, it's a social media site/tool, allowing users to "pin" things they find online, usually images, to a themed collection, easily viewed and shared by others. The company describes itself as follows: "Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

Pinterest runs deep -- don't bother me, I'm pinningSounds like pretty much any other social networking tool or site, but somehow this particular one has exploded in popularity over the past few months, after launching quietly in 2010. I think this particular implementation works on two levels. One, it's primarily visual -- you're literally browsing scrapbooks of interesting things (a bit like a good Tumblr blog, in a way). Second, it appeals primarily to women, who make up the majority of social and casual game players (and should therefore be a key target for anyone interested in gamification).

Variations on the theme are already popping up. AllThingsD notes the recent launch of Mulu, which it describes as "a Pinterest-like e-commerce site that helps users generate money for their favorite causes." There's not a strong game element to that particular implementation, but it does have a points system, as well as a user-driven recommendation system.

The challenge is to develop a more game-centric version of this really interesting form of visual product communication. Could websurfers pin (or thumbtack, glue, etc.) their favorite products or uses from a brand or company to a shared virtual space, or perhaps their favorite scenes and characters from a film or television show?

If you've got other ideas for Pinterest-like game mechanics, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Topic: Browser

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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8 comments
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  • Did I miss something?

    Besides being visual and appealing to women, what game mechanics or gamification is being used? Just pinning and collecting?
    adamloving
    • RE: Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

      @adamloving I think that's the question/challenge -- how do you use this cool mechanic in a game-like way? Collecting or competing to build the best/most-liked collection perhaps?
      danackerman
  • RE: Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

    Put them all on a virtual cork board and throw a dart at them.
    Aerowind
  • I don't like gamification...

    I don't like gamification, why put more tension, expectations on You (and virtual ones, at that)
    Roque Mocan
  • RE: Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

    A great example of a "more game-centric version of this really interesting form of visual product communication" is Stylmee for the fashion enthusiast. Full disclosure, I'm involved in the company. It allows members the ability to curate their favorite fashion styles from the worlds best brands into their virtual 3D boutique which can be visited, viewed and judged by friends and other members of the community. Points and prizes are earned for getting love from the community on their taste in style and design.
    freshbas
  • RE: Why Pinterest is killing it, while your gamification lags

    I'm a little rusty on the actual terms, but game mechanics are a huge part of what makes Pinterest successful. Here are a few examples:

    1) Completion - rather than a progress bar, Pinterst measures completion visually - your board doesn't look complete until you have at least 9 pins on it.

    2) Re-Pins are a shell game - pinners think they are just putting together their own board, but in addition to creating their content, re-pinning gives Pinterest an easy way to crowd source curation and highlight the best content. Much more effective than a thumbs up.

    3) Signup Invitation - requiring an invite is an artificial way to create scarcity. Pinterest has no interest in keeping their site private. It's just a gamification tool to (a) onboard pinners with 1 social connection (b) create chatter on facebook/twitter about pinterest.
    Nathan P.
  • Wife's an addict.

    However, I do feel somewhat safe that (fact being) Pinterest is NOT COMMERCIALIZED. In other words - she can't pin and then buy! It's like endless (literally endless) window shopping. And -there are no cheesy hidden sales ploys or garbage of that nature. Nothing tries to get you to install a Yahoo internet usage tracker or frickin' Bing tool bar. (Yahoo is worse in my opinion).<br><br>So, I have no heart-burn over it. She loves it. Now, the laundry does pile up a little more...
    GuntherGump
  • General

    Nice one!!! consumers should be feel happy about this gamification,but they want to organize and share the good things on the web, which has inspiring to them by using pinterest theme only...They can discover new things in upcoming booming trend..
    <a href="http://www.apptha.com/category/theme/Wordpress/Pinterest-theme/">Pinterest Template</a>
    Augustin carlos