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Gamification and the Brain | Kyle Findlay
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Gamification and the Brain | Kyle Findlay

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This presentation looks at how gamification taps into how our brains work. It focus on the role of reward schedules and uncertainty in creating engagement. It also briefly discusses whether or not the …

This presentation looks at how gamification taps into how our brains work. It focus on the role of reward schedules and uncertainty in creating engagement. It also briefly discusses whether or not the term 'gamification' itself is a fad or not.

NOTE: Apologies for the low image quality of the slides. The only way I was able to upload the deck without producing visual artifacts during the SlideShare conversion process was to upload each slide as an image :(


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  • brilliant !
    Thank you very much...
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  • Great information in your presentation. I particularly like the dual shift in focus. The description of reward types and their effectiveness are also quite interesting. Intrinsic is definitely the way to go when available, but extrinsic seems to have a place when looking to simply change short term behavior.
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  • Examples of such mechanics might include: Achievement: People like to win and have a feeling of control or mastery over their actions. This is a very basic human drive that can be harnessedCommunal Discovery: “wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge. Immensely viral and very fun.” [Priebatsch, 2010]Appointment dynamic: “A dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take some action.” e.g. happy hour at your local pub [Priebatsch, 2010]
  • Video gamesIt is important to make the distinction upfront between what we traditionally mean by “games” (e.g. video games, board games, party games, etc.) and a “gamified” experience. Gamification does not entail the turning of a traditionally serious experience (such as filling out your tax return or a research survey) into a gaudy, frivolous entertainment experience. An experience does not need to look overtly like a game in order to be compelling and engaging. For example, Facebook is probably the most successful non-game game ever invented. It has implemented game mechanics and reward structures that keep a large portion of the world’s population coming back several times a day. Yet, Facebook has no mascot, complimentary colours, traditional level structures or anything else that we would usually associate with a game.
  • Badgification/pointsificationWe also don’t mean the simple addition of badges, points and bright colours – the mere inclusion of these things does not automatically make an experience fun and engaging. This type of shallow design is sometimes pejoratively referred to as “badgification” or “pointsification”.
  • Badgification/pointsificationWe also don’t mean the simple addition of badges, points and bright colours – the mere inclusion of these things does not automatically make an experience fun and engaging. This type of shallow design is sometimes pejoratively referred to as “badgification” or “pointsification”.
  • Rewards for effort (i.e. positive reinforcement) trigger releases of feel-good chemicals in our brain, which train us towards desired behaviour. For example, Foursquare rewards users with badges for checking in the most times at a specific venue (mayor badge).
  • Rewards for effort (i.e. positive reinforcement) trigger releases of feel-good chemicals in our brain, which train us towards desired behaviour. For example, Foursquare rewards users with badges for checking in the most times at a specific venue (mayor badge).
  • RewardsEffective rewards cost designers relatively little but are highly valued by users. Less effective rewards cost designers more for the same level of user valuation as a more effective reward. Reward types are listed below in order of decreasing effectiveness [CNET, 2010]:Status is probably the most effective reward. It costs designers next to nothing and is highly valued by users as it taps into our social natures. Zicherman [2010] suggests that status has replaced material rewards such as cash, and that the less status rewards a game doles out, the more material rewards it needs to hand out to keep users engaged.Access to restricted features, options and areas e.g. VIP room in a nightclub or member-only analytics on a website.Power is an effective incentive for some e.g. community moderators that can ban users, remove status or shift points around; voting to change contents of front page of a website; etc.Stuff, both material (e.g. cash prizes) and virtual (e.g. game weapons or FarmVille seeds). Material stuff is costly to provide, whereas virtual goods are often free.According to Day, “you can sculpt [a] psychological reward-scape to some degree, but ultimately the best rewards are the ones in the minds of your players”.