The 4th Core Drive of Gamification
Ownership and possession, the fourth core drive in my Gamification Framework Octalysis, is based on the principle that because you own something, you want to take care of it and improve it. In addition, you will also want to possess more of it.
Ownership and possession is position to the far left of Octalysis, and therefore represents the core drive which exhibits the strongest influence of Left Brain or analytical thinking. Here, decisions are based on more logical, calculating thought and the desire for possession as the primary motivating factors.
This is seen a lot in games that have virtual goods. In the Farmville example, you’re constantly striving to increase the value of your assets by developing the land, establishing higher crop yields, improving the quantity and quality of your livestock. You can further develop your property’s infrastructure and dwellings – establishing that country manor on your dream estate.
Because of that, you want to constantly invest more time and energy into expanding your farm by getting more cows, getting more fruits, but also buying items such as stables that you could put your horses in or grooming services to make them look “prettier.”
So, much of the time, when your user obtains this sense of ownership, it becomes very, very powerful. It’s theirs. And they now have a strong motivation to change it, to increase, and to improve it.
Ownership in the Workplace
A good example that a lot of people understand is ownership in their workplace. Many people in the workplace feel like they don’t have ownership of their work. They’re just doing what their boss wants them to do and they don’t really get to feel that it’s their own project.
However, when people take ownership of their own projects, that’s when they work until 1:00 AM in the morning. They become tireless. They keep thinking about their work. They make their spouses upset by ditching other responsibilities (interestingly, some spouses are very good at making their significant others feel that they have less ownership over their own households. Not mine of course – my wife is awesome). The project is now their baby and obviously that’s also why people work harder on their own companies compared to just having a “job.”
Ownership on the Web
Oftentimes, if you get people to invest time into build something, like an avatar, they will take a personal ownership in the effort. When they start customizing their avatar or their website profile, they obviously invest a lot of time and feel “this is my avatar, this is my profile.” Now they develop a stronger relationship to it and they now want other people to see it – but they want to spend money and spend more time to make it look snazzier, with a better picture, and a nicer background. That’s obviously a good thing for the game designer.
There are also things that you may want to implement, such as Protection (Game Technique #36). Protection is a concept based on the occurrence that people start to develop a relationship with something that they are protecting.
Consider a game where you might start with a flock of sheep that you have to protect from wolves and aliens. As the game starts, you have to get rid of all the wolves that are approaching and then get rid of all the aliens that are trying to kill the sheep.
Eventually you begin to feel an attachment and a connection to the sheep. Now it doesn’t have to be sheep. It could be a snails too. If you’re protecting the snails, which aren’t normally thought of as that friendly or likable, from the wolves and aliens, you may eventually start to care more about those snails that you worked so hard to protect.
One of the most common and effective ways to utilize the ownership and possession core drive is through Collection Sets (Game Technique #16). Say you give people a few items or characters or whatever, and you tell them that this is part of a collection set that follows a theme.
This creates a desire in these people to collect all the elements and complete their selection set. One example is in the game Geomon (recently stopped service as the team got absorbed into Yahoo). In Geomon, there’s the theme of the four-season deers. There’s a spring deer, a summer fire deer, and winter ice deer.
If you start off and capture the spring deer, it’s rather awkward to just stop only having one of the four season deers without having the other deer types. Now you’re willing to do a lot more work to get the other types. You may talk to people, negotiate, and even throwing in a few dollars just to finish that collection. Of coures, you may also want the whole dragon set, or the whole snake set.
On a website project, it would often be advantageous entice people into collecting badges. And then you tell your users that they have collected seven out of the ten “I’m Awesome” badges. They will then automatically think, “Hey, I take pride in the seven badges I have. How do I complete the set? How do I get to ten?” As such, you always want to get people to feel like they own something but they need more and give them a way to obtain more.
In gamification, we often talk a lot about rewards, giving people “stuff” to motivate them. There are a number of different types of rewards. Some things are freely given to users to make them feel special. We call these “Free Lunch” (#24) or “Beginner’s Luck” (#23). There’s also the Random Reward (#72) that you give randomly, so users are surprised and don’t lose interest.
Then there’s the earned lunch, which you have to work hard for. Typically users are told that in order to obtain something, they must perform certain tasks or meet a set of challenges. Once they have fulfilled the goals and received the reward, they feel like they have earned it, which gives them a strong feeling of ownership and possession.
An example that I like to use is the Kiip Reward Network. Kiip is based on the premise that when you work hard on something to obtain a reward (like a business coupon), you feel a greater sense of ownership. You value it more.
So, instead of just giving out free 20 percent discounts through a service, Kiip makes you play a game first or meet an app challenge to earn the reward. So you may have to beat your friend’s score, or improve your time before you are rewarded with that 20 percent discount from your favorite sandwich shop. Because you feel you’ve earned it, you are more likely to value it.
Build From Scatch
For your product, you always want to figure out how to get your users to increase their invested ownership and possession in the process. This is why it is often advantageous to have them involved in the development process from the very start – to “build from scratch” (#43).
Building from scratch means that instead of giving them the entire setup – giving them the fully furnished house and the character from the beginning, you want them to start off decorating the house from scratch. You want them to pick and place the beds in the house for themselves. You want them to choose a hair color and style for their character. You want them to select their preferred fashion statement. Like I said, when people are building something from scratch, they feel like, “I own this. This is my thing.”
But if you start off by giving them a perfectly enchanting character or a fully decorated home, they may not become as involved otherwise. Even if you tell them, “Hey, you can redecorate it or add things to it,” people will likely feel less ownership and be less engaged.
So it’s always good to appeal to your users by having them customize their own “thing,” build their own “thing,” and promote their personal feeling of ownership. Giving them more power, while also showing them what they can get more of in the things that they need, or can grab and get.
That is why introducing points is still valuable with many sites. Because now, there’s something that makes people feel like they’re continuously getting more of what they want, and we all understand that our needs are insatiable. We always want more. We always want to hit the next milestone and so it’s good to think about that and design that process into your product.
(Thanks to Jerry Fuqua for helping me tremendously on this post)