This excerpt is from a guest blog post that Michael Flint wrote for MITX. Read the full article here.

The Game Asteroids

It’s hard work getting new visitors to your website, and it can be even harder to keep them coming back for more. The latest trend is “game mechanics,” an entertaining way to facilitate interaction with your audience.

What Is It?

Game mechanics is the art of turning customer interaction into a game. Customers are encouraged to take an action (such as comment or share information) and are then rewarded with intangible items such as badges on their profiles or listings in a website’s leaderboard. It’s much like when you used to get high scores in Asteroids; people like to see their name in lights.

Many Wesites Are Using It Now

Foursquare and SCVNGR award badges that appear on a user’s profile for everything from the number of checkins to rewards for specific activities. Groupon uses a visual sand dial countdown to show how much time is left, the total number of deals bought, and to encourage you to buy quickly and become one of the winning deal recipients. And companies like RunKeeper allow you to send progress updates to your Twitter and Facebook status every time you use their product. Free advertising for them, bragging rights for you.