For the Win – Gamification


We have decided to launch our first app for mobiles. So I have been researching about gamification. I found a Coursera course about it, by Kevin Werbach (next course will start in January 2014, more info here). The teacher wrote a book too,  For the Win, I found the course more interesting that book, more complete and more entertaining.

Gamification is nothing new, only one name for some stuffs, which companies already did (rankings, prizes, badgets…), but Gamification try to collect and explain  in proven ways to apply them successfully. In resume, with gamification, we will try to apply game elements in ordinary or boring task to make them more entertaining and get more productivity from your “players” (clients, employees, partners… ).

I took lot of notes and memos from book and course, at the end there is some references and examples of gamification.


1. What is gamification.
The use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.
– Game Elements: Points, Level and Progression, Resources Collection, Quests, Avatars, Social Graph.
– Game Design Techniques:
– Non-game Context: Some objective other than success in the game: Business, school, social impact, personal improvement, running…
Gamification can motivate, it can be apply to many domains: external, internal, behavior change and Gamification encompasses many techniques.

2. Why it might be valuable.
3. Ho to do it effectively.
4. Specific applications.

Takeaways for Gamification (takeaway = key fact, point, idea to be remembered):
– Voluntariness.
– Learning or problem solving.
– Balance of structure and exploration.

Real World Building Blocks:
– E-business 2.0: analytics, cloud, mobiles, etc.
– Social network and media.
– Loyalty programs.
– Management and marketing research.

Case Studio:
DodgeBall/Foursquare situation.:
– Needed “Engagement Gap”.
– Didn’t have many “Choices”.
– Didn’t have any “Progression”.
– It was very “Social”.
– They want to convert this in an “Habit”.
DodgeBall/Foursquare Solutions:
– Badgets for checkin.
– Top Users.
– Differnet Level inside badgets.

Think like a game designer.
– The component that you have to put together to create that experience (experience: what the players feel when play the game).
– “I am a game designer” (Different than being a game designer).
– Differnet than thinking like a gamer.
– Think on your participants as Players (customers, employees, community, target population).
* Players are the center of a game.
* Players feel a sense of autonomy/control.
* Players paly.
– Goal: Get your players playing, and keep them playing.

Design Rules:
– The Player Journey:
* Onboarding (how to get the player into the game as quickly and easyly as possible).
* Scaffolding (ways to overcome difficult aspect of the game or help the player figure out how to play).
– Guides, Highlighting, Feedback (well done!), Limited options, Limited monsters Impossible to fail.
* Pathways to mastery.
– Balance: Not to easy not to difficult.
– Create an Experience: People particpate in something that mean something (like Turntable, people pick music and form part of the crowd).

Tapping the Emotions:
– Games become engagement because the are fun.
– What things are Fun ?
– Winning.
– Problem-solving.
– Emploring.
– Chilling.
– Teamwork.
– Recognition.
– Triumphing.
– Collecting.
– Surprise.
– Imagination.
– Sharing.
– Role Playing.
– Customization.
– Goofing off.

Anatomy of Fun:
Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys:
– Easy Fun (goffing off, chilling, go out with your friend…)
– Hard Fun (challenge, problem-solving, mastery…)
– People Fun (working together as a team, socializing…)
– Serious Fun (giving to other, good for your family, )
Marc LeBlanc’s 8 Kinds of Fun:
– Sensation
– Fantasy
– Narrative
– Challenge
– Fellowship
– Discovery
– Expression
– Submission
– Fun can (and should) be designed.
– Fun can be challenging!
– Appeal to differnet kinds of fun.

Finding the Fun:
-progress bar to complite your profile: feedback, progression, completion.

Game Elements (tools for gamification).
– Tic Tac Toe elements: Board, Tokens, 2 players, competitive, turns, win and draw states. No progression or scoring.
– The Pyramid of Gamification Elements:
* Dinaymics: Big-picture aspects; “grammar” (constraints, emotions, narrative, progression, relationships).
* Mechanics: Processes that drive action forward; “verbs” (challenges, chance, competition, cooperation, feedback (very important), resource acquisition, rewards, transactions, turns, win states).
* Components: Specific instantiantions of mechanics and dynamics; “nouns” (achivements, avatars, badges, boss fights, collections, combat, content unlocking, gifting leaderboards, levels, points, quests, social graph, teams, virtual goods).
– The PBL Triad:
* Points: keep score, determine win states, connect to rewards, provide feedback, display of progress, data for the game designer, fungible.
* Badges: Representations of achievement, flexibility, style, signaling of importance, credentials, collections, social display (status symbols).
* Levelboard: Ranking, Personalized leaderboards (don’t show your position relative to first, it could be your: 555 and leader: 127.000.242. You can show the middle ranking, with you with 555, and some people above you with 834, 999… and others under you: 453, 322… Or shoy only the levelboard with your friends.).
– The Elements are not the game!
– Not all reewards are fun / Not all fun is rewarding.

Bing Gordon Interview:
– Scoring is demotivation.
– People like more cooperation than competition.

– Influence behavior through stimulus.
– Consequences.
– Behavioral Economics:
* Loss aversion.
* Power of defaults.
* Confirmation bias.
– Takeaways:
* Observation.
* Feedback loops.
* Reinforcement.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory (Rewards):
– Tangible / Intangible
– Expected / Unexpected
– Contingency:
* Task non-contigent.
* Engagement-contigent.
* Completion-contigent.
* Performance-contigent.

Reward Schedules:
– Continuous. (the less interesting).
– Fixed Ratio.
– Fixed Interval.
– Variable. (The more interesting, because it is surprise).

Intrinsic Motivation: You do the thing because you want to do. Just for doing the thing.
– Reward could substitute the motivation (Over-Justification Effect).
– Reward types do matter: unexpected, performance-contigent.
Extrinsic Motivation: You are doing something for the reward.
– Status: You are in the top of the leaderboard.
– Access: You get access to somewhere where other people cant.
– Power: You can do something that other cant.
– Stuff: Things that you get.
Give rewards in this order: stuff, power, access and status.
Kind of Extrinsic motivations:
* External regulation: You have to do it because your boss said it.
* Introjection: You do it because other people will think you are cool.
* Identification: I’ll do it because it is important for me.
* Integration: I really want to do exercise, but I don’t.

Self Determination Theory
– Competence: people do it because they can do it.
– Autonomy: The people feel they have the control.
– Relatedness: The activity is related to you in something.

Design Thinking:
– Purposive.
– Human centered.
– Balance of analytical & creative
– Iterative: Prototyping and playtesting.

Gamification Design Framework (D6):
– 1. Define business objectives.
* 1. List and rank possible objectives.
* 2. Eliminate means to ends.
* 3. Justify objectives.
– 2. Delineate target behaviours (the things you want the user to do).
* Specific
* Success metrics (“win states”).
* Analytics (DAU/MAU (Daily Average Users/Monthly Average Users), Virality, Volume of activity).
– 3. Describe your players.
* Demography, Age groups, what kind of thing the want to buy, do…
* Type of players (WoW):
– Achievers: They want to get points and do missions.
– Explorer: They want to investigate the world.
– Socializers: They want help and interactue with others players.
– Killers: They want to win over other players. Compete.
– 4. Devise activity loops.
* Engagement Loops: Motivation -> Action -> Feedback -> Motivation…
* Progression Loops: small steps to achieve a big one.
– 5. Don’t forget the fun!
– 6. Deploy the appropiate tools.

Playbor -> play + labor

Beyond the Basics:
– Inducement Prizes (Competitive).
* A contest to motivate a result.
* SDT: Competence, Autonomy, Relatedness.
* Attributes:
– Multiple individuals/teams capable of competing.
– Costs sufficiently small.
– Balance scale vs. incentives (Karim Lakhani).
– Opportunities to leverage results.
– Collective Action (Collaborative).
– Virtual Economies.
* Balance: Economic dynamics driven by scarcity, not money.

Gamification Resources:

Gamification Examples

  • Keas
  • “club psych”
  • “Windows 7 Language Quality Game”
  • dodgeball (foursquare)
  • Open Badges
  • Google News Badges
  • MLB
  • stackoverflow
  • LiveOps
  • Zamzee (health)
  • SuperBetter (health)
  • Opower (energy)
  • RecycleBank (energy)
  • StanfordCapri
  • Inducement Prize Initiatives: X Prize Foundation, Innocentive, Kaggle, TopCoder.
  • Fold it
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • Bogost



  • In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game. — Mary Poppins.