Achievement Badges: Not Just for Gamers

A friend of mine in the MeeGo community brought my attention to an interesting concept he calls MeeGoVerse, which translates common gaming elements to real-life work as a sort of “massive multiplayer” endeavor.  One important aspect is the use of achievements to reward people for attacking necessary community evils, like bug reporting.  I can envision Meegon badges for each achievement.  People love to contribute, and especially be recognized for it.

Badges can be found in unusual places and contexts.  While updating my LinkedIn profile recently I took stock of a couple of icons I had not really thought much about before.

Right there beside the YOU indicator you’ll note an in and, next to it, a circular array graphic.  The first indicates  a Premium account, meaning for one that you get to harass potential connections with InMails.  Very valuable when I was searching for a new job two years ago.  The circle of circles shows profile viewers that I’m a member of an OpenLink network and thus open to said harassment.  Fair, after all, is fair.  

Now, LinkedIn calls these badges, which strikes me as a little amusing.  I didn’t earn them; I paid for one and selected the other.   So I feel a bit like a fraud.

To be completely fair, Premium membership means a lot more than a small quota of outgoing spam potential each month– it also indicates that your profile can be fully browsed by those outside your network.  So it’s a useful icon to display, sure, but I still can’t quite call it a badge.

In my opinion a badge is earned.  So if LinkedIn wanted to go that route, your number of recommendations could be one.  Why not allow members to show that count up there with the other so-called badges?  Occasional boilerplate recommendations notwithstanding, it’s at least more legitimate than the other two examples.

Even more appropriate, though, would be badges based on actual, personal accomplishment.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a common protocol for such a thing, that meant the same thing to everyone and could be deployed in any context?

Mozilla has just such a concept in mind.  It’s called the Open Badges Project, and here’s a summary of the scope and intent:

We’re building an open platform that will enable anyone to issue, collect and display badges. Providing learners with new ways to get public recognition for their skills and achievements.

Their PDF draft paper shows they’ve put quite a bit of thought into this, and I think Mozilla is in a good place to push such an idea.  I imagine support will be built right into Firefox, and since the specification is open, I also expect Open Badge support to at least be made available to all browsers.  And this could possibly be extended to employment, providing a way for job applicants to quickly and easily demonstrate competencies.

I’m really intrigued by this, so I’m going to wriggle my way into the Mozilla community and learn more.  I also have some related thoughts on the dreaded subject of internet karma, so stay tuned and definitely browse the Mozilla materials.  I think they’re onto something!

8 responses to “Achievement Badges: Not Just for Gamers

  1. The Boy Scouts were doing this long before video games!

  2. Zappos’ VIP website has achievement badges. You can earn them by searching for certain products, browsing X number of products in a day, buying a basketball shoe, or whatever. It turns shopping there site into more of a game, where the best customers can show off and brag about their consumerism to each other. 🙂

  3. Jim Schmidt

    In order to subscribe to new posts I guess I need to leave a comment.

    So, have a comment.

  4. Pingback: Randall Arnold: Achievement Badges: Not Just for Gamers | MeeGo

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