Studies show that up to half of dating app users report depressive symptoms triggered by online dating. At the same time, the vast majority of people have used online dating. As a result, millions of people experience unneeded psychological stress.
Online dating has changed over the past decade, but most people still use it in much the same way that they’ve always used it. They check their options on a dating app, they go on dates with people they find attractive, and then when the chemistry isn’t there - they move on to the next option, and wonder why it never pans out.
Fortunately, this is a problem that technology, and more particularly, gamification can solve.
Dating is one of those things that has evolved into this monotonous task of swiping someone based on their profile picture. The process of finding love online thus often becomes little more than a series of quick judgments made by our lizard brains.
This is where gamification comes in. By adding game mechanics to online dating, we can change this experience around and make it more interesting. And because gaming is so popular right now, people are already very accustomed to the idea.
Research shows that gamification can increase your motivation and engagement. In fact, one study showed that 88% of respondents said that gamification made them happier at work. After all, games are about fun.
One project taking this approach is called XOXO, an inclusive dating app for open-minded people meant as a safe space for all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and appearances. It’s a venue where identities are not used as a label to judge people, and the experience of getting to know others is gamified.
They're tackling the issue of "dating fatigue" with things like an onboarding quiz, avatars (or “Totems”), Totem-based group chats, tasks, XP, badges, and more.
You'll recognize a lot of those words from the gamification playbook used by the likes of Facebook (now Meta). We all know how Facebook keeps us coming back every day with their gamification playbook. The human mind naturally seeks out newness, so when we have something new to engage in every day - it's hard not to stick around.
With an onboarding quiz, XOXO differentiates itself from the likes of Tinder and Bumble. By making you take an active role in determining your "type" (aka the type of person you are) - they're trying to remove some of that mystery from online dating for people who might find it easier to identify with activities, interests, and teams instead of just a picture.
Want to build your own gamified app? The benefits are clear, but getting started can seem overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are ways to get started very easily. Tools like Gametize let you build a gamified application in just a few minutes, and users have even used no-code apps like Glide to make gamified apps. In practice, building gamified apps largely comes down to features like keeping track of points and rewards, which are variables that can be created in many no-code apps, from Bubble to Webflow.
Traditional dating apps are plagued by users looking solely for the "end game" - whether that be a hookup or a relationship. But to truly understand someone, you have to get to know them over the course of many conversations, and dating apps are often built around getting you from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
But what if we could create an app that actually encouraged users to build relationships, instead of just stringing people along for quick dalliances? What if we could develop an app that encourages people not only to meet new people, but also to invest themselves in those relationships?
This is the goal behind gamification. It takes the focus from the end goal to the journey, which is what dating is ultimately all about. It's about taking the time to get to know someone, and it's about finding meaning along the way - not just in the outcome.
The idea of the metaverse has been around for many years now, with films like "Ready Player One" and books like "Snow Crash" inspiring us to explore the idea of living inside a virtual world.
Naturally, dating will eventually make the leap to the metaverse as well. The social aspect of meeting new people and investing in those relationships will be as attractive as any other modern day feature that we now take for granted with online dating.
We'll become so accustomed to our avatars having these digital relationships that we'll feel a bit weird when we can't turn on the TV and chat with our favorite characters from shows like "Stranger Things" or "The OA". And with virtual reality (VR) technology getting better every year, we may not have too long to wait until this becomes a reality.