Deconstructing: Kort Game

by Chris F

I’ve recently been playing the first gamified application on my to-play list, the Zurich-made Kort. This is my attempt at deconstructing it in order to find out what makes it tick.

First, let’s see what the goal of this is: you need to verify a series of OSM data points around your GPS location. Each type of issue has a unique item. For example, buildings that need to be named have a blue building icon, places of worship that don’t yet have a religion assigned to them have a person praying on a green background, roads that don’t have a type of surface have a brown background and places whose languages haven’t been assigned have two dialogue bubbles on a dark green background. They’re easy to identify like this.

different icons for different types of missions

different icons for different types of missions

In terms of game flow, once the player signs in, he is presented with a map of the area that he is in, centered on his GPS position. You see two types of missions: the first one is the “add things that don’t exist yet” missions, and the second one is “verify what someone else said” missions. From there, you choose your missions and you complete them.

All the missions around Ipswich at the moment

All the missions around Ipswich at the moment

From what I’ve seen till now, there’s only two things that you can do: either you choose from a list of possible choices (i.e. choose religion of a place of worship) or input text (i.e. what’s the name of this pub?).

Input text

Input text

Choose from a list

Choose from a list

After each mission you are awarded a certain number of “Koins”(points), based on how hard/important the developers thought that mission would be.

Screenshot 05

You are also awarded badges based on the quantity of information that you put into Kort, with badges being awarded for your 1st, 10th, 100th and 1000th missions completed, respectively missions verified. There are also badges for being the 1st, 2nd and 3rd player worldwide. You are told immediately when you win a badge, in the same message in which you’re being told how many Koins you got from that mission.

Screenshot 06

And that’s, more or less, the game. I believe it’s quite good at giving you feedback about what you’re doing at any given time, with quite frequent dialogues Through the Profile tab, it allows you to see your stats: the number of missions/checks that you’ve completed, it shows you your global ranking and Koins, as well as all the badges in the game, with the ones that you’ve got being unlocked.

Look at all these badges I don't have

Look at all these badges I don’t have

Through the “Highscores” tab, you have access to the global leaderboard which shows you the top 10 players, followed immediately by you. As you scroll down, more and more of the top players get revealed, but your place is still immediately after them.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 383..Wait, what?

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 383..Wait, what?

You also have the option to see “My score”, which will show you the scores with you centered.

383 before me, 383 just after me...

383 before me, 383 just after me…

Analysis

The gamified app is good, but it could stand for some improvements.

I like the style of it, it’s really clean and it achieves its purpose. I believe that having different types of icons based on the type of task is really good, because it allows me, as a local, to think about or look for specific details.

It’s also good that it only shows you missions within a certain radius of your position, so you don’t get missions from another town or another country unless you’re actually there.

I’ve had a fiddle with ideas of not allowing you to resolve a mission unless you’re right next to it, in order to avoid cheating, but I guess you just have to take some chances. I did know one or two things on the map before I ever left the house (I went into town to actually check the things I completed), but I can’t help but think that I could just complete all the missions from my home and still get all the Koins. I would suggest you would have to be in a 100m radius of each of the missions in order to complete them.

Speaking of cheating, I don’t really understand the point of verifying missions before putting them in OpenStreetMap, with some of the missions having really high verify requirements (5 people need to verify this piece of road before it’s included in the OSM database). Although I understand you’re trying to prevent cheating, I don’t really see why I’d have to wait however much till 5 other people play this in Ipswich and verify my submissions when I can just get onto OSM and add the information there myself.

6 people needed to tell what a road is paved with. Sounds like Romanian bureaucracy

6 people needed to tell what a road is paved with. Sounds like Romanian bureaucracy

I would understand if you were trying to justify this as part of the game logic and make an important mechanic out of it, but the game only awards 5 Koins for each verified road. I wonder what would happen if they were to switch the importance of the missions, with checks being worth more Koins than missions. I believe it would be quite interesting, because people would know that they need to do checks to be high in the leaderboard, but in order to do checks, they need to complete missions. It sounds like a nice economic model.

One of the things that really irks me is that it does not have any location-based leaderboards. I’d be much more pleased to know that I’m the best Kort player in Ipswich than seeing that a random German user is on the first place world-wide.

Point related, I don’t know why they called their points Koins. I understand the need to call points something else than points in order to give the player a higher sense of immersion, but please don’t call anything Koins unless I’m actually allowed to use them as coins and exchange them for something else (maybe allow me to expand the radius around me in which I komplete missions or give me a nice avatar or I could choose a mission on the map on which to add a bonus for the person who kompletes it).

Now, let’s talk about the way this game plays with motivation.

It works really nice in giving me choices, as in I can choose to do whichever mission I want to do, be it a mission or a check, which is good: you’re not railroading me. It might seem a bit vast to a first-time player, but it’s straightforward enough to make it work. But.

When you finish a mission, it congratulates you and tells you that you’ve won Koins! Basically, it praises that you did something by telling you that you’ve won points, not that you have helped the world. I believe it encourages cheating by working off of extrinsic motivation (I get points), not on intrinsic motivation (I helped map the world!). Seeing as how it’s an OSM game, and as I’ve mentioned above, Koins are just over-glorified points, it seems a bit unnecessary to just tell me I got more points and it might work better if I knew I helped someone.

It also has no choices when it comes to player customization. I can use my Google/Facebook/OSM avatar, and that’s about it. What about letting me set an avatar in-game, maybe from a list? Maybe unlock more and more avatars as I complete more and more missions. Also, what about titles? It would be nice to know that I’m the Naming-King of Ipswich, because I named 100 buildings around town. If you are giving people choices about what missions to do, at least reward them differently based on those choices, with more than a different number of Koins.

I am generally against over-socializing an app, but when it comes to crowd-sourced efforts, I would add the option of allowing me to share my exploits around town on different social media websites, in order to maybe attract other users to the game and in the community.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s a nice gamified app, but it has a lot of fine-tuning to do, especially in giving the players more options and motivating them, keeping them in the game.

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