What Gets Measured Gets Done

if you display each user’s post count under their username, then people are going to start posting a lot. If you implement a karma score, then people will try and do things that maximize karma. Not only [is] exposing information about valued work important, not exposing information can also be an important design strategy.
Xianhang Zhang

If players have achievements they can see, many will go out of their way to get them, and a subset has gotta catch them all. If you let other players see what achievements they have finished, you will see more achievement-seeking. If you only (or more easily) show how many achievements people have completed, they will tend to get the easy ones to drive up that count. If you add varying points for each achievement, you will see min-maxing based on the difficulty-reward of achievements, with forum posts on how achievement x is too easy/difficult for its reward.

In The Lord of the Rings Online™, you cannot see how many deeds someone has finished, only their equipped traits. You should expect to see people polishing the virtues they equip and ignoring the ones they do not, because both function and style reinforce that. You cannot see someone’s crafting ranks, but when they added auto-generated forum signatures, crafting ranks were listed on there. I don’t suppose that anyone has the data, but I would expect to see a bit more crafting done after that point, particularly for people more active on the forums (and using the character signatures).

We will also expect some counter-culture blowback: people who do no crafting or avoid achievements specifically so that they have 0s. They just need some way to signal “I am a conscientious objector” rather than “I am a scrub.”

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “What Gets Measured Gets Done”

  1. It isn’t just this way in online games – life works pretty much the same way. Status, in the way of cars, computers, or income, meets that same human need to quantify ourselves against some benchmark.

    This is why I think exposing data is a good thing for companies to do. Even if they don’t setup achievements, if they would just show some underlying statistics, on a regular basis, I think players would engage their games more deeply.

  2. …and if we’re angling for transparency, why not dig a little into the financials? I’m probably not the only one who wonders exactly what my money goes to.

    Tangentially, this intersects strangely with the real world, and our reticence to discuss things like salaries. We want the *appearance* of success more than the reality, far too often, and will even sacrifice the reality for the appearance. (Welcome to the U.S. economy…)

    Conscientious objection is just another manifestation of the same impulse to seek validation from the *other*. Those who are truly happy with their own life or playstyle don’t care about the judgment of others, whether it’s a vapid race to the top or a counterculture slouch on the fringes.

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