It can drive employee motivation & performance
Just add points & rewards (cash, tchotchke‟s, whatever)
You can get employees to engage in not-so-fun exercises
Make it look like a game so they do it!
But as with any new idea, carefully
separate what works from what doesn‟t.
“Gamification is an inadvertent con. It tricks
people into believing that there‟s a simple way to
imbue their thing ... with the psychological,
emotional and social power of a great game.”
Game Designer & Consultant to EA, Sony
Gamification is badges & points
“Most gamification is just „pointsification.‟ …too
much gamification is about zero sum games:
often, for me to win, you‟ve got to lose.”
Co-founder, Natron Baxter Applied Gaming, Co-founder, Gameful
(real) Games are about intrinsic rewards
Research show that fun in gaming is from intrinsic factors –
experiences of competence, self-efficacy, and mastery
Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2004)
Economists developed the theory of games to
mathematically capture human behavior in strategic
situations. It has been used to develop war
strategies, nuclear weapon strategy, and more.
Classic game theory: The Prisoners‟ Dilemma
Games arise when multiple actors with differing
objectives compete or cooperate for scarce resources.
Does that sound like your workplace?
Games are not appropriate at work
Work is already filled with
games & game-elements
Example: the Career Game
“We compete for jobs: the more desirable the
job, the tougher the competition. Most people
readily understand this. But, fewer people
recognize that the pursuit of an open job can
be framed as one „move‟ in a multifaceted
game called „a career.”
Vice Chairman, Heidrick & Struggles
Author, Your Career Game
The real question then is:
How should we better design games we will
inevitably play in the workplace?
So we don‟t end up with
badly designed games.
And unintended consequences.
The Cover-Your-Ass game
“When credit and blame are mismanaged and
unfair, people shut down, become demotivated,
and focus more on covering their rears rather
than moving forward.
When credit and blame are managed properly,
people are willing and able to experiment, learn
Professor of Industrial & Organizational Psychology, NYU
Author, The Blame Game
The Bonus Game
“…when the tasks involve higher levels of
cognition or creativity, the monetary incentives
actually stifle performance rather than drive it. In
addition, people undertake activities for reasons
of mastery, purpose, etc. rather than specifically
for monetary reward.”
And our favorite, the performance review game
Formal with very infrequent feedback.
But, seriously a ritual game with billions spent in wasted enterprise effort.
Lessons learnt in designing good games at work*
*So far. This is a WIP
It‟s not about features you can bolt on.
It‟s about a careful design process.
Gamification: “One of Many Design tools for
Economics / FLOW
Copy / Tone
Typography / Color
Principal Design Architect, salesforce.com
Rypple lead designer
Co-founder IMVU (50m users)
You can‟t save a crappy
by bolting on game mechanics.
What‟s challenging or meaningful
about leaving the house?
Doing work that makes a difference?
Now that‟s difficult yet meaningful
You have to design the right game
And that happens slowly, carefully & iteratively
Another critical ingredient:
Do we need this slide anymore?
UX Designer, Rypple
Previously, co-founder, imvu
Product Designer, Rypple
Creator of KDice & GPokr
* Alert: Be wary of software companies claiming
their products are gameified…when they don‟t
have game designers on staff!
“Game elements are like an amplifier: There has to be
a genuine sound first – a value, an interest, a
motivation – for the amplifier to do any good.”
Gamification & UX designer and researcher
Badges can be silly
Badges devoid of meaning can be silly.
For many, the badge is the only benefit
of playing the game. And that‟s okay in
Or they can be meaningful
Military badges are meaningful because
the underlying activity is meaningful.
The badges are filled with shared
Not just a piece of metal
Symbol of meaningful impact
"Let it be known that he who wears the military
order of the purple heart has given of his blood
in the defense of his homeland and shall
forever be revered by his fellow countrymen."
George Washington, August 7, 1782
Identity at work
Badges as reputation
You reputation at work is important for a
host of reasons. Managing this identity is
a powerful intrinsic driver.
Badges created by peers for meaningful
achievements lets people share successes
and manage their reputation. Badges thus
have a shared meaning that leads to them
becoming trusted indicators of meaningful
Amplify positive behaviors that already exist.
Make it easy. Make it Social.
Thanks for the awesome L&L! I learnt a
People like giving others a thanks for
meaningful achievements, help, etc.
Recognition is tremendously
Make it crazy simple to give people
thanks, and for others to see it.
Easy and social.
In games and at work, people like to
embark on Epic Quests. They like to
pick their quests, gather the troops
and take on challenges head on.
Make it easy for people to define their
own Epic Quests, enlist contributors &
share real-time progress on their quests.
And to collect badges representing their
Do it slowly and very carefully
Games elements have real
& sometimes unintended consequences
Scoreboards are a
common game element.
Harmless in the virtual
world of games.
“Depending on [work context],
leaderboards can feel like yet another
form of control and pressure, or as
merely informational and supportive”
*Sebastian Deterding, Meaningful Gamification
% of new users that invite coworkers
Monetary incentives should
drive activity right? After all,
people like rewards, and
money‟s a great reward!
with "invite your "invite your team"
team to join you"
+ reasons why
Wrong! Users emailed us saying
getting paid for invitations in a work
context was inappropriate. They
preferred to invite others to simply
join them on Work.com.
"Perfection is achieved, not when there
is nothing more to add, but when there
is nothing left to take away."
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
French author and aviator
We all know that getting regular feedback
is good for your performance at work.
But its hard (& scary) to get constructive
feedback from people you work with!
Simplicity in design
The easier we made it to ask for
feedback, the more people used it.
The more complicated the process
(unnecessary fields, ratings,
options…choices), the less people do it.
Helpful lessons on Enterprise Gamification
Work is already filled with games. They‟re mostly poorly
Get people on the team with experience in building games.
Design, build, learn, design, ... repeat.
Leverage intrinsic motivators at work. Amplify positive
Watch for unintended consequences of game elements in
the social context of work.
Want to learn more?