Game on! How Gamification Can Work in Government


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Gamification is a hot topic right now. But what is it? How does it work, and why should you care? Tune in to this webinar to learn how to apply game mechanics to engage citizens and solve agency problems. Gamification can integrate the most engaging, exciting, and addictive aspects of game play into your agency’s business processes.
We will discuss the newly formed Federal Games Guild. Led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the group was established in November 2011. We will also highlight projects created by a variety of agencies and collaborators. Finally, you will learn how to become involved with the group.
A recording of the talk can be found at:

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  • We are creating a powerful new interactive medium. How can it help?Gamification isn’t necessarily about the power of the game medium or video games in the workplace. It’s about using the mechanics of gaming – which has been around since the dawn of time within our products and workplace to increase engagement.
  • Thought I would try to gamify the presentation a little bit by adding some trivia questions.
  • Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery, by helping to solve problems and not being a distraction, and by taking advantage of humans' psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.’s main purpose is to help people get from point A topoint B in their lives — whether that’s viewed through the lens ofpersonal growth, societal improvement or marketing engagement. Weall have the intrinsic desire to be the best possible people we canbe, and to make the world in our image its maximum potential.However, most of us lack the disciplinerequired to get to that goal. What games do well is expose complex,learnable systems that users can engage with to achieve personalmastery — and accomplish something aspirational.
  • Same amount of time humans have stood upright – enormous amount of time and energy being put into these systems. What if it was put towards something productive in the real world?12 million subscribers paying $15 a month generating 1.8 billion in revenuePays for the entire cost of development every month
  • $150K to develop last year angry birds had generated over $73 million in revenue and countingMajor movie deal – Rio in theaters last yearOver 200 million players16 years of gameplay every hour
  • Leveling – levels indicate progress. Levels serve as a marker for players to know where they stand in a gaming experience over time. Educational system is an example. Level difficulty is not linear.Leaderboards – serve to make simple comparisons. Klout is an example.Badges – sometimes called achievements. Badges can perform a number of functions for gamified design, but mostly they are used to demonstrate consumer status and progress. Foursquare is an example.
  • Levels serve as a marker for players to know where they stand in a gaming experience over time. Levels are a system, or "ramp", by which players are rewarded an increasing value for a cumulation of points. Often features or abilities are unlocked as players progress to higher levels.Ex: ebay seller levels, powerseller program has tiers, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, titanium ranging from 100 to 180,000 transactions per yearEx: American Express cards, green gold, platinum, and black.Ex: hotel loyalty programsLeveling goes hand in hand with progress bars. Used to encourage new players to add personal information. The fact I’m at 100% is potentially bad. The best progress bars never reach 100%
  • Leaderboards serve to make simple comparisons.Leaderboards nowadays are social showing where you stack up compared to your friends in your network.Uses could be for top commenters or top givers in a charitable donation.No-disincentive leaderboard – doesn’t matter where a player falls in the ranking, they will see themselves in the middle. (ex: angry birds)Infinite leaderboard – sliced locally, socially, and globally. Displayed with a limited view which is important for applications that have millions of players.Ex: Combined federal campaign
  • Badges are a virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something. Achievements can be easy, difficult, surprising, funny, accomplished alone or as a group. Achievements are a way to give players a way to brag about what they've done indirectly as well as add challenge and character to a game. Achievements are often considered "locked" until you have met the series of tasks that are required to "unlock" the Achievement.Ex: Two of the most enduring badging systems are the Boy Scouts and the military.Combine surprise with predictability, it’s ok if some badges are not expected – it encourages exploration
  • Foursquare has an both expected and unexpected badges. Badges like douchebag are dolled out seemingly at random. If you check in at locations tagged as being popular for a certain kind of clientele you’ll earn that badge. It promotes exploration and engages user curiosity.
  • At the heart of the success of games is an idea called flow. Achieving flow or being “in the zone” indicates a player’s state between anxiety and boredom meeting his own motivational level in that experience. Giving the player choice and control allows them to choose a level appropriate to their comfort levelEx: filling out taxes, learning to drive, the model of the perfect education system
  • The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology is a series of questions and an accompanying scoring formula that classifies players of gamesAs of October 2011, the test had been taken over 700,000 times.Most people are socialites, everyone is a mix. The more you know about your players the better game you can design. You can take Bartle’s test online.
  • The timeframe and delivery mechanisms through which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered.Reward schedules, skinner box You have a rat in a box with a lever. The target behavior for reinforcing is lever pressing, and the reinforcement reward is a food pellet.Fixed interval schedules provide a reward after a fixed amount of time, say 30 minutes.Variable interval reward schedules provide a reward after a roughly consistent amount of time. Ratio schedules provide a reward after a number of actionsFixed interval: Reward players every X minutes/secondsVariable interval: Randomly reward players, but with an average interval of X minutes/secondsFixed ratio: Reward players after every X responsesVariable ratio: Randomly reward players, but with an average trigger of X responses
  • Killers are not necessarily bad people. Many competitive sports fall into this category including the Olympics.
  • Nike plus is a social running game.Nike’s goal was to generate brand loyalty and ultimately sell more sporting equipmentHowever, you do not get points for buying Nike products. Instead it sought to make running more fun.Core application is a handy tool for runners to track time and distance. Through game mechanics they make running social.A runner is onboarded quickly and given a first task – start a new run.Players are encouraged to post information on their runs to facebook, when a friend “likes” the post it will offer encouragement in the application.Advanced features include a game of tag where you can challenge friends to race. Once you’re “it” other players can trash talk on your wall.User created challenges to go along with Nike’s challenges.Wii Fit has mechanics and goals.
  • Peg Steffan from NOAA’s National Ocean Service has teamed up with 3D GameLab at Boise State University to create ‘Planet Stewards,’ a personalized high school competency-basedcurricular experience. This effort is part of the ‘Digital Media and Learning Competition:  Badges for Lifelong Learning,’ Using NOAA’s content and 3D GameLab’s game-based learning platform, students will be able to choose among web-based quests, earning experience points, levels, and badges to demonstrate achievements in weather, climate, coastal, and ocean science—all aligned to national science standards. A team from NOAA will join instructional designers and the Boise State team to flesh out a matrix of experiences and opportunities in 15 career pathways.  The quests will be piloted in the next school year with educators in high school classrooms. 15 career choices that will have ~15 badges each. Badges are earned by completing quests
  • FGG started in Nov 2011
  • The White House is interested in gaming?The federal games guild was started in November of 201170+ people in attendance
  • She is currently at the Olympics
  • If you want to build gamified systems it helps to actually play games. Consider trying a couple out, find out what type of gamer you are see what works. Your kids will love you for it.
  • Game on! How Gamification Can Work in Government

    1. 1. Game on! How Gamification CanWork in Government Eric Hackathorn, DigitalGov University, GSA
    2. 2. Fragile Earth Studios
    3. 3. Gamification integrates game dynamics into yoursite, service, community, content or campaign, in order to drive participation.
    4. 4. But first…some questions about games
    5. 5. What is the combined usage time of allthe people playing World of Warcraft? A. 25 years B. 2,000 years Answer with GotoMeeting C. 400,000 years Poll D. 6,000,000 years
    6. 6. Answer:6,000,000 Years
    7. 7. In total, how many pigs have been“popped” in the game Angry Birds?A. 20 trillionB. 3 trillion Answer with GotoMeetingC. 5 billion PollD. 40 million
    8. 8. Answer:3 Trillion Pigs
    9. 9. Major points to cover:• Learn how to use gamification to engage your customers• How and why gamification motivates user behavior• Examples of how other organizations are using games to help with their mission• How to become involved with the Federal Games Guild
    10. 10. Focusing on gamification…
    11. 11. Types of game mechanics:• Leveling• Leaderboards• Badges
    12. 12. Leveling
    13. 13. Without using metals or gems, imagine aninteresting leveling system for your product.Essay question!(examples: Answer with GotoMeetingbronze, silver, gold or Pollbachelors, masters, Ph.D.)
    14. 14. Leaderboards
    15. 15. Badges • Balance delight with predictable achievement • Design for visual appeal • Leverage scarcity principles • Integrate tightly with a larger system
    16. 16. Which of the following is NOT a badge on Foursquare?A. NewbieB. Bender Answer with GotoMeetingC. Douchebag PollD. Overachiever
    17. 17. Answer:Overachiever
    18. 18. Focusing on motivation…
    19. 19. Flow
    20. 20. Reinforcement
    21. 21. What reward schedule offers the highest level of engagement?A. Variable RatioB. Fixed Ratio Answer with GotoMeetingC. Variable Interval PollD. Fixed Interval
    22. 22. Answer:Variable Ratio
    23. 23. Which player type focuses on direct peer to peer competition?A. KillersB. Achievers Answer with GotoMeetingC. Socialites PollD. Explorers
    24. 24. Answer:Killers
    25. 25. Focusing on examples…
    26. 26. NIKE Plus
    27. 27. According to the CDC more than ___percent of Americans are overweight.A. 15%B. 50% Answer with GotoMeetingC. 66% PollD. 80%
    28. 28. Answer:66%
    29. 29. “The integration of human visual problem-solving and strategy development capabilities with traditional computational algorithms through interactive multiplayer games is a powerful new approach to solving computationally-limited scientific problems.”
    30. 30. Planet Stewards
    31. 31. Focusing on gamification in government…
    32. 32. Games to AddressNational Challenges Constance Steinkuehler SquireWhite House Office of Science & Technology Policy presented by Eric Hackathorn
    33. 33. Games for Learning “I’m calling for investments in... educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” Barak Obama TechBoston March 8, 2011
    34. 34. Games for Health “I can attest to Dance, Dance Revolution. We got it at Camp David, and it will make you sweat. And it is addictive in a very good way. The President still cant do it.” Michelle Obama Feb 20, 2010
    35. 35. Games the First Family plays. This is a game.Barak ObamaHoliday ShoppingDec 2011
    36. 36. Research on Games• FPS gameplay improves visual acuity & attention.• Good games aid systems understanding in history & geography.• Fandom discussion boards evidence scientific reasoning.• FoldIt crowd sources scientific discovery.• Online gameplay aids literacy (digital and print).• Health games improve health behavior patterns.• Casual games decrease stress and depression.
    37. 37. 1st Federal Games Guild conveningin November: 70+ attendees, 23 agencies. (current count: 186, 33+4)
    39. 39. What video game was Obama checking out in the store?A. Call of DutyB. Super Mario Kart Answer with GotoMeetingC. Just Dance PollD. Pacman
    40. 40. Answer: Just Dance
    41. 41. Additional Resources: Gamification by Design, O’Reilly