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A Leaderboard is an aggregate feedback component that tallies up granular feedback components.



Aggregate feedback components are tallying up granular feedback components such as points, currency, tokens etc. based on aggregate factors like overall count, periodical count, space count (points in that level), etc. They help to compare players to themselves (Personal best), other players, an ideal situation or goal, etc. and display status.

Leaderboards are used for competition. Leaderboards change over time, and today personalized rankings that are on a micro-level with the player displayed in the center are common.

Leaderboards come in multiple flavors, such as a

  • micro-leaderboard
  • macro-leaderboard
  • cross-situational leaderboard


Micro-leaderboards rank players within an area and/or social circle, are the most common.


Macro-leaderboards rank players across similar areas and/or social circles.

Cross-situational leaderboard

Cross-situational leaderboards, which take input from across multiple (often unequal and isolated) areas, compile those sources to an overall ranking. Players often perceive these latter types of leaderboards as unfair, as effort required or opportunities presented in each area may differ and set up players within a certain area to a lower rank.

Competency Score Sheet

Different forms of leaderboards have been imagined to overcome some inherent problems with leaderboards. The competency score leaderboard visualizes several statistical facts into one graphic, and compares the progress of the player against him/herself over time.


Feedback components like the leaderboard keep evolving. While those arcade games back in the 80s and 90s prominently displayed the all time top 10 players at the splash screen, today’s leaderboards tend to include not all players, but only the ones in your social circle. And you won’t even see the top ranked players, but only yourself in the middle. And the points may be what is called rolling points, which means that only the points from the current period are displayed.

The logic behind those changes is that it’s not very motivating for a player if the top contenders are so far ahead with their points that a player knows that she can never be on top of that list. By competing just against the player's social circle, and seeing the next placed player right beside them, encourages players to engage and surpass the friend.


Displaying leaderboards carries some risks. Players become acutely aware of how they fare in comparison to other players, and if they are compared to players they will never surpass, then they may disengage.

In the examples mentioned under Disneyland Leaderboard for House Keeping Staff, leaderboards led to negative, unintended consequences and a competitive situation and had to be discontinued.

In another example a leaderboard lead to another unintended consequence. When the first time a leader board was published ranking the compensation of American CEOs, it was intended to keep the CEO-salaries in check. But what happened was that the executives went to their supervisory boards and pointed out how much they are underpaid. Since then the gap between an employee’s average salary and the CEO’s compensation has skyrocketed.


Classic Leaderboard
Foursquare Leaderboard
Decommissioned Aircraft carrier USS Hornet - The sunk ships, shot down planes etc. displayed on a leaderboard.
Buzzboard from children toy retailer Step2
Competency model for a single user.
The qualitative group leaderboard over time.
Spiegel Online Medaillenspiegel Sotchi 2014
Leroy Merlin (animated)