D&T Special Edition #12

Visual delights’ importance in the world of gamification

Hi there!
This is the twelfth edition of D&T Special, a more in-depth view of topics that interest the Canvs team. Today’s topic: Visual delights’ importance in the world of gamification. We hope you enjoy this.

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✍️ From the Canvs Research & Editorial Desk

A common misnomer that’s thoroughly used (and abused) in the business world, with regard to product design, is ‘gamification’, however, that may not even be the desired outcome – sometimes, gamification can also lead you down paths you really didn’t want to be.

This week the Canvs R&E team has spent some time pondering this concept, let’s dive into some details.


You are in a product meeting that has been going on for the entire day, and now all the discussions are almost loopy. The meeting is crucial as it will set the direction going forward. All the major shareholders from business, marketing and product are scratching their heads to generate enough static to light up any idea. Then suddenly, someone utters the word that is the cause of many nightmares for designers, “Gamification”. And the crowd goes wild.

These discussions are so common that they have become a parody of the trade. A lot of the time, stakeholders straight up ignore the massive undertaking a project like this could be. Not realising these considerations can lead a team down a rabbit hole that might not even achieve the business goals. If you spend more time breaking down these games, your team can achieve the same goals while minimising the efforts.

Breaking down the games:

1. Visual delight and why it’s important

Before we get into the full breakdown of how to look at this decision, it’s important to know one thing: Visual delight is in itself a crucial part of gamification — without it, gamification can feel watered down. Just some food for thought. Often when a business executive suggests gamification, they are bundling a bunch of expectations like generating higher user interaction, increasing user retention and overall making it “fun.”

It is, therefore, important to look at these goals and identify better mechanisms to achieve them rather than following trends like sheep and ending up with a toy instead of a product.

2. Micro interactions can save the day

The first thing that pops up when someone mentions gamification is games. Although the two share similar mechanics, gamification in the current product space has taken a form of its own. The hope is to replicate the immersive and tight experiences games provide inside the product landscape. Games often do this using a combination of animations and sounds. Many apps that want fluid game-like interactivity can get away with a polish of micro-animation design and a bit of sound engineering. This is not just to create a game-like environment but a vibe that aligns with product goals.

3. Gamification doesn’t always equal value

The problem with a lot of gamified systems is longevity. More often than not, these mechanisms become stale and boring. They also tend to become less attractive — great cashbacks slowly turn into boring coupons as the business costs keep increasing. Over time these scratch cards and offers collect in the product building up clutter, like the leftover ketchup sachets in your pantry.

📚 What we were reading this week

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A look at the ten usability heuristics and some interesting examples of applying or deliberately breaking these rules in both computer games and boardgames.

Exploring the unique challenges of making changes within an open-source, volunteer-led environment. Plus: the importance of prototyping.

Bloomberg’s 50-billion parameter large language model, purpose-built from scratch for finance.

On the surface, NTC Vulkan looks like a run-of-the-mill cybersecurity consultancy. However, a leak of secret files from the company has exposed its work bolstering Vladimir Putin’s cyberwarfare capabilities.

Generative AI can outperform human UX professionals by eliminating bias, spotting usability opportunities, and predicting user behavior.

These makeshift motorbikes pollute 100 times more than cars and are poisoning cities across Latin America.

Some highlights from the past month of D&T

And that’s the lot! Thanks for checking out what we had to share with you this week, we shall catch up with you next Wednesday. Incase you aren’t subscribed to the newsletter, you could subscribe here.

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