Brain Farts

Badges? We Don’t Need No….Okay, Maybe We Do

We humans love being rewarded.

When I was in Kindergarten, the top prize was the gold star. I did everything I could to earn one: putting toys away when play-time was over, helping pass out copy paper and crayons for coloring time, flipping the chairs and placing them on the table, etc… When my Kindergarten teacher pressed that beautiful piece of shiny gold next to my name, I felt awesome and proud of myself because I earned it.

It was the same way when I was in Girl Scouts. My green sash was cluttered with badges, like an over-decorated Christmas tree. None of these badges were earned without some type of work, from volunteering at a nursing home to fundraising. I let the badges speak for how awesome I was as a Girl Scout.

Speaking of badges, Generation Y loved our childhood rewards system so much that many years back, it was adapted into the digital world. I remember when Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console perks included that all games would have a total of 1,000 unlock-able achievement points per game.

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This created a new classification of players many call “achievement whores.”

Wanting to reap in on the popularity of the achievement system, Sony launched their own reward program into their PlayStation 3 consoles. Players could unlock Trophies, ranging from Bronze to Platinum, that can be achieved through playing console games or through the PlayStation network.

Some PC games, like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, have also joined in on the achievement system. Another several million caught unto the achievement epidemic.

People love achievements so much that game developers designed unlock-able badges or trophies inside the game itself. Double the reason to keep playing the same game. Earning these achievements now have added bonuses like acquiring items for your Xbox 360 avatar or pets and weapons for your WoW character. Players thirst for rewards and will spend hours to unlock the badges, trophies, and stamps, you name it. The mentioned companies are geniuses for pushing this addicting reward program into their games.

Now, there are some companies who have, but shouldn’t have, joined the Kindergarten Reward System Revolution. For example, Starbucks is pushing a rewards program for coffee-holics, like myself. To register, purchase a gift card with however much you want, head to their rewards website, create an account, and tada! You have confirmed yourself as an official Starbucks regular. In order to gain stars and level up, you make purchases with your gift/rewards card or purchase grocery items with Star Codes.

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Now, here is my issue with Starbucks. Whoever developed this program must have been a former game developer because there are badges to unlock. Yes, Starbucks have badges you can unlock. The way you achieve the badges is completely stupid. Sign up. Boom! Here’s a badge. Use the store locator. Boom! Here’s another badge. Reload your card online. Boom! Here’s another stupid badge.

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It’s bad enough that I have to make a total of 30 purchases to reach the Gold Level to begin receiving full benefits, but I find the badges irritating. These intangible “rewards” serve no purpose but to annoy me because the ten purchases I’ve made have yet to award me a free drink.

Hey Starbucks, how about you give a free drink for unlocking certain badges? Not just give your customers a virtual pat on the back. But because I love Starbucks coffee so much, I will set the differences aside so I may continue to enjoy my White Chocolate Mocha.

Other companies, like Nokia have also joined in on the KRSR with their Windows Phone. You can read more about it by clicking this link: Nokia launches DVLUP, a game and reward program for developers.

I wonder how many more companies will adapt this type of reward program. Only time will tell as the Digital Era continues to grow.

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