The Gamification of Beer

For me, the concepts of gamification and completism are inexorably linked. The first example I can recall for myself eerily similar to my dear friend haji20’s experience. I started collecting every Todd th.jpgHundley baseball card I could get my grubby mitts on as a kid. I sought them out tirelessly. I only started to lose interest when I realized it had become impossible to complete the collection due to the ever-increasing rare insert and variation cards (some of which were limited to one of one).

I did the same with acquiring every single live bootleg recording out there for my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac. The quality of audio for some of the recordings was pretty terrible, but it was just as much about the thrill of the hunt as it was about listening to another show.

Social media apps like Foursquare and Untappd have a more formalized  rewards system for achievement with the concept of unlocking badges. I had a long conversation with one of my friends recently about how we could design a wildly popular app that we would just call “Life.” Participants would be on the honor system, and it would consist of users verifying that they had completed tasks within the normal course of daily living. Get a promotion at work? Badge unlocked. Get engaged? Badge unlocked. We dabbled with the concept of badges being weighted on a points system and adding a Life Leaderboard, but that foolishly suggested all life achievements carry universally socially accepted standard values. The use of the app would conclude with a loved one unlocking the Death badge on their behalf. Of course, something approximating our idea already exists in the App Store, but if I still feel like we could put out a more compelling product.

Untappd’s badge system hits the sweet spot for me with regards to gamification and completism. I would love to embark on the quest to drink all commercially released beers. However, special and limited releases notwithstanding, the sheer numbers make it straight up impossible. BeerAdvocate’s database contains nearly 200,000 beers, with more than 800 being added weekly. Where Untappd has gamified drinking beer with badge rewards, it allows me to seek the far more achievable accomplishment of completing all attainable badges. The hardest one will undoubtedly be amassing 10,000 check-ins of unique beers, but hey, I can aspire to something.


Untappd badge: Apprentice

Badge criteria: Check in 25 unique beers

Beer that unlocked the badge: Belgian White – Shock Top Brewing Co.

I was tailgating for my alma mater’s football team, the James Madison University Dukes, and the beer was courtesy of a fellow tailgater. I’m rarely one to turn down a free beer. While I’m firmly not a fan of Shock Top, it’s an incremental step above Natural Light, so, sure, why not. I didn’t have much to say about the beer at the time: “It’s not…awful.”

Shock Top has always been a product of Anheuser-Busch, and has long served as a direct competitor for MillerCoors’ Blue Moon. I’ll admit that Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat is pretty good, but my fairly uniform avoidance of macrobrews and the wheat beer style steer me clear of Shock Top otherwise.


2 thoughts on “The Gamification of Beer

  1. Pingback: Fighting the Need to Chase Badges

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