I'm going to open with a quick shout out because if you read nothing else then at least you'll hopefully read this part. What you're about to witness would not be possible without the creative genius of born4this who contributed to this project more than I have. His herculean effort to provide the content I needed was a true testament to his commitment to the GIO community. Read on and enjoy!

Next point is - this is just the introduction. Stay tuned for more details in the days to come.

If you were to use the Game Informer Online search function and entered the word "gamification" you would probably get the same results that I got - 1 positive hit. And that one hit wouldn't be in the news or the discussions. And it wouldn't be in the reviews or previews. You're probably not going to find it in the user section either. Nobody going by the name "Gamification" running around the community that I recall. That one hit comes up in the blog section and that one blog was something I posted way back in February of this year. For those that don't know, gamification is defined as:

Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, and by encouraging desired behaviors, taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. The technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading web sites. It's also known as funware.

A few times since this post I've stumbled upon websites that have nothing to with video games, yet they employ gamification techniques for the very reasons mentioned above. For example (listen up my fellow bloggers who might be interested in blogging opportunities outside of video game content), CNN has this iReporter section that allows freelance bloggers to post and discuss news stories and what not. You can actually earn achievements for various accomplishments. When I saw this, a light bulb went off about the same time I said to myself, "You idiot, why haven't you already done this at Game Informer?!?"

(A random iReporter from CNN who hasn't received very many achievements)

Well, the reason I haven't done this yet is I have the artistic talent of a 4 year old with one of those big fat crayons. There is no way I could've created some badges that anyone would want to proudly display on their profile. And that my friends, is where born4this came in. I gave him some ideas; he proposed some of his own...and then created badges for all of them.

What I present to you now are 55 exclusive achievements that in time will be explained. Fifteen of the achievements have different levels of achievement (for example, the number of comments you've made) while the other 40 are for specific and somewhat unique accomplishments. For now, I'm just going to show off the badges (the unearned grayed out version of 54 of them - one is a surprise) and let you all speculate on what they represent. I think some will be fairly easy to figure out while others there is no way you'll know until I post the next blog.

Okay...now maybe you're thinking, "How are you going to implement this at Game Informer?"

A fair question.

In fairy tale land, Andy McNamara or one of his associates would stumble upon this blog and be so blown away with what we have proposed that they would beg us to let them officially incorporate it into the website and then pay us royalties each month because it's an overwhelming success.

But that's fairy tale land.

My vision is far more humble and down to earth. I figure realistically there are about...hmm...maybe 30 to 40 people who are active and supportive of the blogging community - and by that I mean members who read the blogs and comment; or post their own blogs and read/comment. Of those, I'm guessing a handful or maybe two handfuls will be interested and want their very own achievement rack to post in their profile. Then a handful of those people who frequent the forums and have other friends that don't hang out in the bloggers lounge might see the achievement rack and inquire about it and then want their own...which we'll create and provide them.

So, reading between the lines...it's going to all be handled manually by yours truly, although I am exploring some interesting online alternatives that handle it for you. If on the off chance it explodes and becomes so overwhelming popular, then I'll cry for help and I'm sure some of the loyal supporters of the community will bail me out. Even if it doesn't get to that point, there are going to be some support positions that I plan to offer (beg) some of you to take to basically be impartial referees (so no one accuses me of screwing them out of an achievement).

Okay, so the mechanics behind this is I've created a wham o' dyne (I'm sure that's not even close to how you spell that) Excel form that explains the requirements for each award (which will also be posted in the next blog). It will track each user that requests an achievement rack. I basically go through each one, verify the requirements are met, flip a couple switches, turn a couple dials, pull a few levers and will output a .jpg or .png that you can post in your profile.  Too easy. Or so I hope.

I will say this...

The Achievements are not limited to blogging. They are for the entire community (real world and virtual) - forum participation, content submission, all sorts of activities and events. Many of them have even been inspired by some of you - survive being temporarily banned and return a positive and productive member of the community and you might just earn an achievement; participate in a Frag Fest event and you might just earn an achievement.

Anyone care to guess what the Golden Donkey Achievement is for!

I know born4this is fairly excited about this - he emailed me from the hospital moments before his wife delivered their baby asking me when I was going to post this blog. Well, I'm even more excited than that. I really hope this succeeds and becomes a popular feature at Game Informer.

But I'm going to need your help to get it there. Stay tuned, more to follow...

(This is still a work in progress - a beta version if you will. Some achievements and icons may change with the final version.)