In case the word is unfamiliar to you, gamification is when you apply typical elements of game playing to everyday activities. Fast food restaurants give you instant scratchers for rewards. Grocery stores give you points toward reduced gas prices. Airlines and credit cards give you points that can be redeemed for travel or merchandise.
The most addicting of these programs are the ones that offer instant gratification, like scratch off lottery tickets. Humans like instant reward as it stimulates the brain’s pleasure receptors.
So it’s not surprising that this concept has crept into dating. While I haven’t uncovered a dating site or app that gives you points for sending or responding to inquiries, Tinder appeals to our brain’s wiring by giving you instant gratification if you swipe to show interest in someone who’s already shown interest in you. This entices you to “keep playing” as the app encourages you to do.
I’d put off joining Tinder because I’d heard it was just a hook-up app. Then a midlife friend said she loved it because you got connected instantly with men who were mutual matches.
So I uploaded my pics from Facebook and swiped. I soon found myself matched with someone nearby. “How exciting,” I thought. I didn’t have to waste time emailing men who I liked and waiting interminability for a response, often never receiving one.
Here I could swipe and soon get a match. The only challenge is the “discovery settings” (matching criteria) are pretty lame. One is maximum distance — which doesn’t seem to work, as I’ve been matched with men way beyond my 30-mile range. The other two criteria are gender and age range. I have the slider as far as it will go and it starts at 46 and goes to 55+. There are no filters for education, height, income, marital status (I’ve seen married men who admit it, plus others in open relationships). Sadly, these criteria are important to me — and I’m guessing other midlife daters — but the app doesn’t provide them so your “matches” are missing important pieces.
The upside is, if someone has linked to Facebook, their occupation and college show up. As well as others who are friends, or even friends of your Facebook friends. Conceivably this would be useful if you wanted to check him out with others who know him.
Will this kind of app work for those dating after 40 who want more than a hookup? It remains to be seen. But the gamification element certainly encourages users to come back and see who’s shown up as a match. And it gives us something else to entertain us while standing in lines after checking our emails, texts, and Facebook updates.
Have you tried dating apps/sites with a gamification element? What is your experience?
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