Google Badges – The Gamification of News
By Christopher Weaver

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Some people may find news gathering to be a chore, while others can’t get enough. Google’s new offering Google Badges is designed to help both those groups of people. If you visit Google News you will see a window welcoming you to Google Badges — it will also invite you to start your first badge(Google of course).

There are 5 badge levels: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and ultimate. There are badges which are earned according to the number of stories you read in a certain topic. Badges include things like politics, basketball, world news, and even Harry Potter. It is also intended that while building your badges, you will by default create a better news experience for yourself as the service reacts to your interests.

This idea of incorporating gamification functionality into a product is not a new one, services like Foursquare have been using the badge system for sometime to make a seemingly unimportant or uninteresting task into a fun experience that rewards you for being active. The same things are happening here, the badges are a way to make users feel accomplished with what they’ve read and thus differentiate Google News from other news sites.

If you’re a privacy nut, rest at ease — these badges are private by defualt. If you’d love to brag about your news assimilating capabilities you can of course choose to share your badges by hovering over the badge and selecting that option.

We of course wonder the obvious, does anyone care about this? We all have a current news ritual whether it involves Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs, RSS feeds, Google News, or other and this we predict will not change that. However if you already use Google News, this might just be a fun feature to play around with and increase your self-esteem at the same time.


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