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How News Sites Are Using Gaming Mechanics To Help Build Audience Engagement

Launched just six months ago in September 2010 at the tech conference TechCrunch Disrupt, social rewards and analytics platform Badgeville has already caused quite a stir among Web publishers. The start-up aims to apply gaming mechanics to the news process, creating white label badges and rewards for active community members that encourage engagement on news platforms. Much like Foursquare, Badgeville offers customizable badges, trophies, points and other digital incentives that allow news organizations to define and reward important audience behaviors like commenting on stories.

Powerhouse Publishers Reward their Readers

Some big-name publishers like The Philadelphia Media Network and BUZZMEDIA have already jumped on board with Badgeville, integrating the rewards system into their sites. Philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s online news site, offers registered users badges like “Contributor,” for when they make their first comment, or “Reviewer,” for when they read 25 articles or more.

The Rise of Gamification

Applying lessons from the success of video games and social networking sites to the news business is called “gamification,” and so far the practice is still in its infancy. By harnessing the successful practices behind social games like Zynga’s Farmville, news organizations are hoping to increase—and augment the value of—user participation on their websites. Businesses like Badgeville, BigDoor and Gameful are leading the charge in providing easily-integrated solutions for news organizations interested in engaging with their readers in exciting new ways.

For more information on gamification in journalism, check out Newstopiaville, a blog run by 2007 Knight News Challenge winner Chris O’Brien, that tracks the growth and evolution of gaming mechanics as they relate to news.

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