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Gamification Will Eat Itself


Gamification talk I gave at LOGIN April 2011. Could also be titled: Doing Gamification the Right Way. …

Gamification talk I gave at LOGIN April 2011. Could also be titled: Doing Gamification the Right Way.
A couple months later, Gartner made it official and put gamifiaction on their hype cycle curve. They were a little more generous than I was.

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  • Lifelong GamerEngineering,Psychology & ArtChronic Entrepreneur Run my own business since 1994. Sold two of them.Raised $3 ½ mmAdvertising & Marketing Collectible card game that we launched free to play before anyone knew what that meantMMO RTSGamifying Finance @ Bobber Interactive MONTAGE!!!!
  • Highly motivating and successful, & a year ago I was excited!
  • Rewards not equal to happiness. Actually its satisfying work!
  • Ultimate Irony was watching Brian Reynolds & Jesse Schell @ DICE about the distinction between Social games and Gamification, and Bryan saying: "Gamification is where you use game elements to try to get people to do stuff they don't want to do. That's my working definition. Zynga is an entertainment company, and we try to create an experience that is fun and social, then get players to pay for it."
  • EducationTrainingFinanceFitness
  • Domain Experts and Asskickers on one side and Game Designers & Designer ?astronauts


  • 1. Gamification Will Eat Itself
    Scott DodsonCOO, Product Owner
    Bobber Interactive
  • 2. Me
  • 3. Me
    Chronic Entrepreneur
  • 4. Used a Game LayerLayer of Abstraction
    Playful Perception
    Mind numbing jobs
    Holding a conversation
    Sales – Cold Calling
    Raising Angel/VCMoney
    Game layers worked!
  • 5. Gamification
    Examples of
    *Not to scale
  • 6. What went wrong?
    Gamification seen as Manipulation
    Extrinsic & Skinnerian/Behavioralist
    Spawn of Marketing
    Cookie Cutter
    Broken & “Gameable”
  • 7. OMFG
  • 8. /Sigh…
    We are here
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12. Deep Breath
  • 13. How we get on the right road…
  • 14. Gamification is actually working
    Big Door & Bunchball report ~80 mm users
    Page views 2x
    Time on site 2x
    Unique monthlies +30%
    But still…
  • 15. To get to the Plateau of Productivity…
    Gamification is not about:
    Extrinsic rewards
    Outer “shell” of game: Points, Levels, Badges
    It’s about creating Sustained Engagement
  • 16. Apparent Challenge
    Great games are hard enough:
    Only 4% of games that go into production are profitable
    Add a “real world” activity and you multiply the difficulty of success
  • 17. Design for sustained engagement
  • 18. “Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles” – Bernard Suits
    A Goal
    A Feedback
  • 19. Designing for Sustained Engagement
    I. Establish a different user “contract”
    A game is voluntary framework for the user experience
    Obstacles desirable!
  • 20. Eustress / Satisfying Work
  • 21. Designing for Sustained Engagement
    II. Design for flow; segment the experience
    Amy Jo Kim
  • 22. “Domain Resonant” Implementation
    66% more people than normal chose
    the stairs over the escalator.
  • 23. Designing for Sustained Engagement
    III. Embrace the Domain; know the Audience
    Corollary: Build the right team
  • 24. Two Types of Motivation
    Extrinsic Motivation – Behavior that is motivated by contingencies (rewards, punishments) that are separate from the enjoyment of the activity itself
    Intrinsic Motivation – The activity itself is its own reward because it is inherently satisfying. In particular, humans have specific intrinsic needs that motivate.
  • 25. Framework/Context Critical
  • 26. Designing for Sustained Engagement
    IV. Motivational Psychology Critical
    Intrinsic needs satisfaction
  • 27. 3 Drivers of Intrinsic MotivationScott Rigby - Immersyve
    • Freedom and agency
    • 28. Exercising volition
    • 29. Choosing
    • 30. Many opportunities for action
    • 31. Feeling “good at”
    • 32. Expanding capability
    • 33. Learning
    • 34. Mastery
    • 35. You matter to others ,they matter to you
    • 36. Meaningful connections
    • 37. Competitive, cooperative,
    • 38. Even removed: characters in a book or movie, developers of an app.
  • Competence, Autonomy & Relatedness: most reliable predictors of engagement
    (PENS) Methodology: Personal Experience of Needs Satisfaction
    Approach uses statistical regression analysis to predict long-term engagement
    • Multiple longitudinal studies with 20,000+ subjects
    • 39. Underlying psychological causality vs. solely outcome metrics (e.g., “clicks” or “fun”)
    PENS predicts
    sustained engagement...
    “Fun” does not.
    Competence, Autonomy, Relatedness
    Predictive power with p values <.01
  • 40. PENS design: Competence
    Scaled challenges (flow)
    Clear & juicy feedback
    Level=expanded capabilities
  • 41. PENS design: Autonomy
    Mechanics of Choice and Opportunity
    Open Environment - Playground
    Progression choices (class, tree-structure)
    Sense of purpose/volition
  • 42. PENS design: Relatedness
    You matter to them, they matter to you
    Competitive cooperative
    Reciprocity awesome; synchronicity, meh
    Player to Player; P2NPCs; P2Dev; P2Brand
    “…Brave, brave Sir Robin…”
    Hey! It’s the Hero of Kvatch! I can’t believe it! Wow!”
  • 43. Summary
    I. Establish a user contract of “game”
    II. Design for flow; segment the experience
    III. Game designer must embrace the domain
    IV. Focus on satisfying Intrinsic needs
  • 44. Thank You!
    First Name at
  • 45.
  • 46. Gamification
    Foursquare: Bad --> Better!
  • 47.  Gamification = engagement through intrinsic needs satisfaction
    GreatWolfLodge / MagicQuest
    Slot Machines
    Playboy- Miss Social
  • 48. Credits
    Scott Rigby- CEO Immersyve, author, Glued to Games (with Richard Ryan)
    Jane McGonigal-Creative Director, Social Chocolate, author, Reality Is Broken, Ph.D. Berkeley
    Sebastian Deterding-PhD at the Research Center for Media and Communication at Hamburg University
    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Claremont Graduate University, former head of psychology at the University of Chicago
    Amy Jo Kim- designer of social gaming systems, PHD University of Washington
    Wanda Meloni, M2 Research:
    Dr. Byron Reeves of the Department of Communication at Stanford &
    J. Leighton Read, Executive Chairman, Seriosity, Inc., authors of Total Engagement
    David EderyPrincipal, Fuzbi co-author with Ethan Mollickof Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business
    Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder authors of Game Based Marketing
    James Currier of Ooga Labs who also credits Clay Shirkyand Bret Terrill
    David HelgasonCEO of Unity
    Jesse Schell, Professor of Entertainment Technology  CMU, CEO Schell Games. Jesse’s talk from DICE:
    Rajat Paharia Founder of Bunchball , building gamified, meta-game experiences for clients such as WB, Hasbro, NBC Universal, Victoria’s Secret, Comcast
    Keith Smith, CEO Big Door.
    My sincere apologies to anyone on this list or otherwise who feels they were not properly credited. Kindly point out my error and I will edit accordingly.
  • 49. More Domain Specificity