The Goal of the Anti-Goal
How does all of this work with and help with gamification?
Well, much of gamification is about creating or determining a goal or objective for something. Usually a business goal or a learning objective, and then artfully renaming and redevising it into something that looks and sounds gameful and fun.
But this practice of rebranding and reskinning a goal often leads to the first failure point for a gamified experience. Players may not be motived by it or become less motivated over time to achieve the goal or objective. This may be because it is not the goal they wanted to achieve, or it is such a faraway point or concept that it has no value to them in the short-term, or they can’t see a way to get from here, to all the way over there.
Therefore, to avoid this happening when utilizing the concept of an anti-goal within gamification, we need to understand what it is and what it isn’t. An anti-goal isn’t a substitution for a goal. Unlike what it was in its original form, or simply a renaming of the goal in its reversed form. No, rather the idea and form of an anti-goal should be a supplement to the goal. Much like the anti-hero that embodies both the good and bad qualities of us all, the anti-goal should combine both goal and reverse goal.
A good methodology for how to approach this new form of anti-goal thinking and the process of developing an anti-goal is to consider it with the methodology of First Principles Thinking, which essentially breaks down large problems into its smaller component parts. The anti-goal then is a way of reverse-engineering the goal so that you can better understand all its inherent parts and allow your players to better tackle it.
What you’re doing then is breaking the goal down into individual parts that illustrate how to and how not to achieve the ultimate goal. This method can then be used in conjunction with creating a player journey within your gamified experience. It allows you the creator to discover the various pathways that a player could follow, fail, retry and succeed. And it will also illustrate the pain points and areas of distraction that your players may come across while pursuing the goal. These are all areas that enable you to help them avoid bad experiences and target better experiences, for learning purposes or business purposes, or more.
Thus, knowing these aspects of the goal and anti-goal and combining them together will allow you to create a better overall and more holistic gamified experience for your players. The method of the anti-goal lets you reveal the reality of the activity, what actions are required and grant you the ability to develop a better understanding of what the win and fail conditions are for the goals and your players. Or rather what will cause them to fail and what will allow them to achieve eventual success.