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Leaderboards: the quickest way to implement gamification

How to improve engagement with team and personal goals using gamification and specifically leaderboards


"Gamification" is everywhere. You will find it in toddler day-care centers, in high-impact sales teams, in the classroom, in corporate training centers and of course in the games on your phone.

Why? Because gamification works.

Players in a fantasy world that are very busy collecting points, scores and XP. An example of gamification.

What is gamification?

Gamification is the use of game-design elements (such as points and badges) in contexts that are not traditionally associated with games. The topic has received a lot of attention beginning around 2010 and is now deeply integrated into many fields, products and initiatives. The key concept in gamification is to turn tasks into game-playing.

The goal is to enhance participants’ intrinsic motivation and engagement with the task and increases the likelihood of it being completed successfully.

What are the core elements of gamification?

By common consensus, common elements of gamification are:

  • Points and scores
  • Leaderboards
  • Progress bars and ranks
  • Rewards and incentives

Sometimes the following are also present:

  • Some kind of story-telling or narrative
  • Visible and rapid feedback
  • Freedom of choice and freedom to fail

Some of these mechanisms require more work to implement than others. Badges and rewards, for instance, will require a sustained effort to keep producing new content.

Example: let's say you're a fitness center that wants to introduce gamification for its members. If badges are part of your plan, then you will need to create around 10-20 badges which will usually include giving each badge a name and an icon or image. Once your members have achieved the first batch of badges, you will be under pressure to come up with a new set to keep your members interested. And then repeat.

Four isometric treasure chests that contain loot in the form of gems and jewels. They represent rewards that can be achieved by engaging in gamification.

A quicker mechanism to implement is leaderboards, because most of the effort is up-front. This means you can "test the water" and implement further gamification mechanisms once you start seeing some success.

What are leaderboards?

A leaderboard is basically a high score list. It ranks players or participants according to their relative success compared to the others. Put simply, a leaderboard can be used to identify the best performer of a certain activity.

Your job is to pick the activity that you want to gamify and decide on how you will measure it.

  • If you are running a fitness center, you could measure how many workouts a member does per week.
  • If you are running a sales team, you could measure the number of leads that a sales rep moves to the next part of the pipeline.
  • If you are a teacher, you could measure how often a pupil completes their homework on time.

By picking a behaviour and gamifying it with a leaderboard, you are increasing the chances that people will engage with that behaviour.

Recommended leaderboard tools

Once you have picked an activity to gamify and how you want to measure it, it's time to actually create your leaderboard.

You could try the following tools and methods:

  • A flip-board / blackboard. If speed is critical and all your players or participants are on site, then don't overlook this low-tech and effective option. If things work out positively, you can become more sophisticated.
  • Google Sheets. You can always move onto something better once your experiment was a success.
  • Ambition. This tool is a very comprehensive software tool for enterprise sales team gamification. They pretty much cover the gamut when it comes to things you could even remotely hope to cover in regard to sales gamification, sales leaderboards, and motivation. We would recommend using this after your initial experiment.