How to Motivate Developers? Let Them Slash Monsters!

One of our graphic designers designed 7 new outfits for our monsters. We’ve already explained how our badges work and on this occasion, we’d like to present new looks and say a few words about our monsters and compulsion loop that can motivate developers.

Why Monsters Motivate Developers?

To answer this questions, we should first discuss the concept of the compulsion loop. It’s core to many games. The term was coined up in 2001 by John Hopson (a Head of User Research at Bungie). Since then, it’s found broad application in video games and in social gaming.

The idea of compulsion loop is all about gaining neurochemical reward that’s acquired after following a specific chain of activities. In other words, a person draws pleasure from completing some activities that result in a reward. Below you can see how the compulsion loop works in video games. The concept is partially based on B. F. Skinner’s behavioral studies, in particular on operant conditioning chamber, also known as Skinner’s Box. 

The very idea can be also implemented in the work environment. Similar chain, of course with different activities, can be used to drive employee engagement by the mean of gamification.

compulsion loop motivate developers

This is what GetBadges was designed for. For example, a developer pushes a successful build that damages the monster, gets XP (experience points) collects a badge and kills the monster, gets rewarded. Here’s how compulsion loop works in GetBadges:

compulsion loop gamification getbadges motivate developers

In the beginning of the game, the player’s main motivation are badges. However, this role is later taken over by monsters. Monsters in GetBadges, as an entity, represent a common obstacle and a motivating factor.

Generally, monsters and their parameters represent the project a team’s working on. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that fighting monsters is optional. Players don’t have to spawn them and can continue collecting badges. Spawning monsters becomes possible only after the player achieves a certain score and collects 5 badges.

Monster’s Parameters and Hit Points

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Monsters have various qualities, such as Name, Hit Points (HP), Strong against, Weak against, Absorbs and Reward. While some of these characteristics are self-explanatory, three of them may not be so obvious.

Hit Points

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They depend on the project’s character because each project does something else and uses different tools. They can be divided into five categories:

1. Project Management Tools (i. e. JIRA, Tello, etc.):

  • Issue closed 50XP + 10% XP for all activities until closing
  • Issue opened 50XP
  • Issue deleted 25XP
  • Issue reopened 25XP

2. Code Review Tools (i. e. Gerrit, GitHub):

  • Code review changes added 100XP
  • Code review changes merged 250XP

3. Code Repository Tools (i. e. Stash, GitLab, Heroku):

  • Commit added 50XP

4. Continuous Integration Tools (i. e. Travis, Circle CI):

  • 25XP for each successful build, but also there are penalties for the ones that fail

5. Customer Relationship Management Tools:

  • Pipedrive (more info soon)

Hit points vary depending also on a player’s level, type of event and a random chance. The more experienced player, the more he damages the monster.

Let’s consider two scenarios of a developer committing code to GitHub.

Successful attack
Monster is weak against the commits, but absorbs broken builds. If the player successfully commits to GitHub the monster takes a hit.

Failed attack
If the commit causes a build to fail, the monster is healed. Also, it gets a shield that protects him from incoming attacks.

Weak against

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This parameter determines the events that considerably damage the monster. In other words, these are events that the monster is the least resistant to.

Strong against

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Here are gathered all the events that cause little damage to the monster. The monster is resistant to all activities.

Through monsters, GetBadges promotes best programming practices. In the case of developers, the better code they push, the bigger damage receives the monster.

Bringing Monsters Into The Game

There are two ways of bringing monsters into the game – spawning a random monster or creating it in Monster Creator

Spawning a monster gives a monster of various qualities are randomly generated. It doesn’t require game master’s management.

Creating a monster via Monster Creator allows setting various parameters that depend on the character of a project, integrated tools and number of team members. In this case, game master sets all parameters

Monster’s Burndown Reflects Project’s Progress

Below you can see an example of a monster / a project. Remember that each completed task equals a drop in the monster’s HP.

project getbadges motivate developers

In the very beginning, you can see a rapid drop in the monster’s HP, followed by its increase caused by failed builds. Later, we can see a period of time without any progress. There are two possibilities here. Either the task was complicated and time-consuming, or project development was ceased.

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In the middle, you can see a sudden drop in the monster’s HP to around 350HP, followed by another period of stagnation within the project.

 motivate developers

Next, you can see a series of HP drops that eventually left the monster with 100 HP. This last third of the chart with sudden drops over a relatively short period of time reflects increased productivity, a series successful builds, and the increased progress of the project.

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And Finally – New Monster Looks

I’m glad you reached to the end of the article. We’re pleased to present our monsters in some new clothes!

monsters 2 motivate developers

All in all, you have to check yourself how they work and act in the game as you proceed on your project. The science behind gamification mechanisms speaks for itself – it is the neurochemical reward that drives and motivates employees. Play and work at the same time and feel more engaged and motivated!

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