Balancing systems is a time consuming but highly important part of any gamified design. Getting the points per action right, knowing how to reward each activity. Ensuring the narrative is well rounded and keeps the pace going. Testing and retesting the team dynamics.
Missing out this crucial phase can mean the difference between success and crushing failure.
Recently I was involved in a simple competition that revolved around voting. It had a mechanic I had never come across used in quite this way before and pray to God I never do again.
Usually voting mechanics work in one of three ways.
1. One vote per person for their preferred recipient.
2. Multiple votes per person to be given to their preferred recipients. This is normally in the form of a fixed number of votes that they can assign to their top few choices.
3. As many votes as you want for as many recipients as you want.
To set the scene a little for our voting example.
The people involved were authors. They had anywhere between 1 and 10 thousand followers and the stories between 1 and, in one instance, 150,000 reads.
The vote was to decide the most popular story. Of course, the immediate issue is, the person with the most readers is almost guaranteed the win, especially against people with 100 times fewer fans. To balance this out, the organiser set the voting mechanics so anyone could vote as many times as they wanted.
What ensued was chaos. The smaller authors, with fewer followers were unable to keep up the near 24 hour a day voting pace of the larger authors. By the end the winner had some 150,000 voted, whilst the smallest was around 25!
The largest author had fans organising around the clock voting for nearly two months. All the happened was, they crushed everyone and most were left demoralised and disillusioned.
How to Balance Voting.
As I see it, voting should be one vote per person, just like an election. If the person has more followers, they are going to win, it’s as simple as that. If you are just going to run a totally quantative competition, then that is to be expected.
If you want to give some balance, you could normalise the vote a little.
If you have 1 follower, 1 vote = 1 vote.
If you have 10 followers, 1 vote = 1/10 of a vote
100 = 1/100 and so on.
Then everyone has a chance. It also forces the larger followings to prove their followers are engaged. I have 10,000 followers in Twitter and I can assure you only about 20 are fully engaged with me!
Balancing any system is hard and voting systems are no different. Chose the right mechanic for your needs and don’t be apologetic for it, just make sure it is fair to all.