Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The art of Collecting

One of the game mechanics that is used both in games and gamification is collecting. Collecting has such a nostalgic feeling, between the ages of 9 and 12 my collecting behavior exploded. I grabbed whatever I could get and arranged it in a hundred different ways (arranging is important). I still have coins, pottery, gems, minerals and hundreds of stamps lying around from that period. Even games I play now want me to collect, for example in Skyrim (I've played a bit to much lately) I collect books with ingame lore, within the game.

Flickr: What What
However every forum seems to spawn badges to collect. Mostly they are so uninspiring, that I wonder why they bother to put them there in the first place. Badges used to mean something, like military medals or boyscout awards. Basically they have to be really cool (why only make a picture badge on the internet if you can make them interactive?).

Interestingly collecting behavior gets triggered from the age of 9 or a bit before. It's an emerging form of behavior in the concrete operational stage of human development.The brain is developing rapidly around this age. Collecting fits the demand for stimuli very well. First of all it stimulates memory strategies of organizing, kids can rearrange their marbles in hundreds of different categories. The ability of selectivity developing, by discerning one collection piece from others. Collecting certain tokens also increases control of cognitive processes by training to ignore distractions. It's quite a feat to select a blue cat eye marble from a pile of mixed ones. Even at later stages of life this may be quite interesting, Lego-holics seem to keep selecting and rearranging the cubes. What about the hoby clock-maker? Collecting parts of machines just add layers of complexity to overcome.

So collecting badges can be much more than just collecting dull pictures, they can stimulate development of several kinds of behavior.

Bukatko, D. (2007). Child and adolescent development: A chronological approach. Houghton Mifflin College Div.

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