A fairly new fitness-based social network called Fitocracy recently opened up its beta version to a wider audience. The service allows users to log workout routines and post comments and give “props” on other users’ progress, a la Facebook.
What caught my attention, however, is Fitocracy’s use of gamification.
For those unfamiliar with the term, gamification refers to the use of video game mechanics (leveling up/progress bars, achievements, quests, that sort of thing) to encourage a particular behavior in users. Think of the mobile app foursquare, for instance – it allows people to “check in” at their location, rewarding them for doing so by giving them points and occasionally badges for unique check-ins. Leave your mark at a particular place more often than someone else, and you earn the achievement of mayorship. None of these little perks actually provides any tangible reward, save for the occasional discount, but they drive the user to keep checking in to places, just to see what they’ll earn next. (more…)