The points shared were great, but it seems a lot of bloggers who cover these topics never emphasize how hard it can be to 'get it right', let alone actually develop the system. A lot of thought and work needs to go into making sure you're rewarding people for the right actions and for the right reasons. People will do exactly what you reward them to do.
Also, with achievements, points, leaderboards, etc comes the baggage of needing to manage it and report on it. That's one of the bigger points we try to make when talking about the services we offer at http://www.IActionable.com
You can't just say "we'll give an achievement when they click this button, done!" What happens when you want more complex requirements in order to earn that achievement? Most implementations today require a developer to be always available to alter the code/logic which drives the reward system.
Of course my perspective is different than most since I'm very passionate about this stuff and have a startup trying to solve these problems. :)
I hate to be a skeptic, but I've seen a lot of bs around "game mechanics" ever since Foursquare hit, but I've yet to see real results.
Here's a great overview over game mechanics.
Instead of completely retooling your software, perhaps instead you can add a meta-game on top: Office Hero was a game added atop Microsoft Word by Lost Garden writer danc: http://www.officelabs.com/ribbonhero && http://www.lostgarden.com/2010/01/ribbon-hero-turns-learning...
You'll never be able to "let's just add badges!" just like you can't "let's use gradients and glossy buttons!" to move the needle.
There's even the notion that video games and traditional UI interaction design are incompatible: IxD is about making things easy, but video games are about intentionally challenging the user. If your users aren't expecting a game, they may end up incredibly frustrated instead.
I did a workshop on adding game mechanics to an existing product (a calendar/dayplanner) and the results varied wildly. One group (Ray and Nicole) integrated social game mechanics into the application really well. Another group (Cecy and Brody) treated each mechanic as a feature, and by the end of the discussion I felt like it was "missing something." You can read the write-up of the workshop here: http://vi.to/workshop/20100426/
My notes include a lot of references, as well as images of the handouts and my own distillation of these principles: http://vi.to/gmnotes
> Make the virtual real. Feinleib recommends adding sound and visual effects to make the virtual experience more "real."
Also there's no way in hell I'm about to add sound effects to my website.
And you're right, there is just something taboo and wrong about websites making unexpected noise.