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Finally. The First Full-Day Octalysis Gamification Design Workshop

Yu kai Chou Workshop Finally. The First Full Day Octalysis Gamification Design Workshop

The most comprehensive Gamification Workshop on Octalysis yet

If you have been frustrated that all my talks, my videos, and my blogposts are all cover the same basic foundations of Octalysis, and really want to learn more about deeper level Octalysis and Gamification Design, this is your opportunity.

This is the first public full-day workshop dedicated for Octalysis and is meant to really get attendees to be able to design sophisticated motivation and engagement systems in the realms of product design, marketing, culture design, healthcare, and education.

This workshop will also be the first time ever I will be teaching how to design an experience using Level 4 Octalysis, something that is powerful and ensures that each component of the experience is optimized through motivation.

 Finally. The First Full Day Octalysis Gamification Design Workshop

Both Online and In-Person Workshop

This workshop will be in dual mode. It will have a small and limited in-person workshop in San Francisco, accompanied with an Online Live version that is concurrent with the In-Person. It is obviously much more interactive in-person, but we will utilize tools to allow online attendees to watch both me and the slides, ask questions, and possible voice in questions for everyone to hear.

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Gamified Training in the Corporate Workplace

Gamified Training Gamified Training in the Corporate Workplace

Gamified Training in the Corporate Workplace

The corporate workplace is a harsh place. Well, harsh as in very few employees wake up every morning excited to go to work. More often than not, employees simply attempt to survive through the dreadful week of deliverables, reports, and politics, so they can finally have fun on the weekends.

In most environments, there is hardly any incentive for employees to work harder or learn new skills beyond what it takes to keep their paychecks. As a result, employees often only work hard enough to earn their paychecks and to not lose their jobs.

In fact, Gallup’s 142-country study shows that only 13% of employees are categorized as “engaged” with their work. In comparison, 24% of the workforce categorized as “Actively Disengaged,” which means they are so unhappy with their work that they minimize their productivity, spread negativity, and even sabotage productive efforts that require them to do more work to “keep their jobs.”

If you think about it, this means that a quarter of your company is poisonous! How can any organization be competitive at anything if 24% of the workforce is undermining itself? Of course, it’s actually not the employees’ fault they are disengaged. Companies like Zappos and Google are known to get their employees motivated, driven, and excited about work on a daily basis. From my own experiences as a Gamification Designer, I firmly believe that everyone has the capacity and the longing to become motivated and driven for something that is worth their cause. It’s bad environmental and cultural design that turns good employees into toxic cells.

Of course, you don’t need a Gallup study to know how disengaged employees are at work. Just think about how often people close to you complain about their work or their bosses. Think about how the movie Office Space is such a great hit because people can actually relate to the frustration and disengagement of the characters in the movie.

Why does all this matter? Because research has shown that the companies with disengaged and unmotivated employees on average only produce 50% of the profits and only 40% of revenue growth compared to companies with engaged and motivated employees.

If you knew you could double your profits and improve your revenue growth by 250%, without opening new markets and without introducing new breakthrough technologies, but simply making your workplace more engaging and motivating, would you do it? Of course you would.

What if I told you this would require your employees to “play” at work? I can immediately see many people shaking their heads and responding with, “But we don’t want our employees to play games and get distracted at work!”

Somehow, they forgot about the 250% revenue growth that comes along with this “distraction.”

Gamified Training: Playing is Learning

Developing competence, or ‘learning’ in other words, is one of three basic innate needs of human beings, along with creating autonomy and striving for relatedness. This “intrinsic motivation” for developing competence is what makes humans (and other primates) curious and makes us want to develop skills.

Self Determiniation Theory Gamified Training in the Corporate Workplace

However, much of the prevailing educational and training system gets in the way of our innate desire to learn. Training often damages our intrinsic motivation to learn because of the dominance of extrinsic motivation (reward-dependent motivation) for results such as scores and passing rates.

Sir Ken Robinson, who has made the study of creativity in learning his life’s work, has observed that instead of fueling creativity through play, education systems actually kill it: “We have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies. Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement”.

Our economy is gradually shifting towards a creativity-based economy where, increasingly, added value is created by non-linear problem-solving activities. Many non-linear activities like accounting are slowly being outsourced to low-income countries or are being taken over by computers. Education and training need to prepare for that new economy where problem-solving, innovation, and creativity is key. And through many time-tested studies, we learn that extrinsic rewards actually wipe out creativity. We are built to function at our best when autonomy and purpose are ingrained in our activities.

This is where a gamified workplace can motivate employees to do tasks in fun and engaging, while maximizing their learning and retention.

Gamified Training: Wired to Learn 

As mentioned above, our brains are wired to learn. Even games stop becoming fun when there is nothing left to learn. But we are also wired to learn in certain ways.

Our brains are not designed to be motivated towards reading long pieces of text, sitting through lectures, or going through a large deck and taking quizzes.

Rather, our brains like to learn by doing, trial and error, watching other people do it, and through stories. The part of our brain that dictates motivation came way before the invention of written text, but tribal villages were fully engaged in trying new methods and listening to their tribal elders share stories of their past.

Unfortunately, the things we needed to learn in a corporate environment in the last century became exponentially more complex and abstract – operations, management, accounting, HR, and systems; but the technology and medium of learning did not catch up to the learning materials. We were always stuck with text, pages, and slides.

This finally changed when we saw the invention of modern games. With advanced gaming platforms and Big Data methodologies, this is the first opportunity where we can revolutionize training by delivering immensely complex materials and subjects through immersive environments where people can learn by doing, by observing others, and learning through interactive storylines.

Gamification makes grunt work fun

One of the most interesting things about games that people don’t realize, is that they often consist of repetitive actions.

In Role-Playing Games (RPG), leveling up often involves killing the same monsters in the same stage over and over again for hours or weeks.

Gamers call this ‘grinding’ and it is fun and addicting. Children wake up behind their parents’ back at 3 am in the morning to level up (which demonstrates amazing “work ethics” for these children who commonly are referred to as having “No discipline and no persistence”). In the real world, similar repetitive workload is called grunt work – doing the same activities over and over again for hours upon hours. Grunt work is perceived as boring and torturous.

Even mobile-social games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush involve extremely repetitive movements: match 3 gems; match 3 gems; match 3 gems; fling out the bird; fling out the bird; fling out the bird. It’s almost a wonder how people can literally spend four hours a day on that for months. 

If games can get kids to voluntarily do hours of repetitive work, it can likely get anyone engaged to anything. But it has to be designed well in order to work. Unfortunately, Gartner Research predicts that 80% of the gamified products now under development will fail due to bad design. Why is that?

A lot of failed Gamification design starts with adding what we called the “PBLs” – Points, Badges & Leaderboards to their work processes. On a bigger scale, people just think about how adding game elements into the system will automatically make it successful. This is when you see people believing that calling a task a “quest” would make it fun and engaging.

It’s important to note that, a game can have all the right “game elements” but still be boring or not motivational. In fact, every single game in the market has “game elements” and “game mechanics” in them, but most are still not engaging or successful. It’s fairly naive to think that once you plug game mechanics into your company or product, it will be successful. Good Gamification does not start with game elements but starts with our Core Drives.

Enterprise Gamification in Training

Many educators and policy makers still strongly believe that there is a lot of Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment in current training and education systems. However, if that were the case, students and employees would feel extremely excited when there would be an assessment, because that would be a new opportunity to feel developed and accomplished!

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. People (even good students!) abhor tests and do it just because they have to (Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance). Very few people look forward to assessments.

Luckily there has been quite an increase in interest in applying Gamification in education and training.

There have been a number of excellent attempts to introduce compelling gamified education products on the market that millions of individuals now use to bring FUN back into learning!

As mentioned above, the modern training challenge involves engaging employees, stimulating their interests, retaining their attention, and maintaining a positive attitude in a nurturing environment.

Key to these goals is the effort to maintain a rich communications environment that encourages feedback and reinforcement, not only between the training environment and employees, but also between the employees themselves.  These socially interactive mechanisms, with the proper level of control for encouragement and discipline, can be designed in effective ways to create “fun” learning situations.

Example in Gamified Corporate Training

One great example of Gamified corporate training is done by one of my clients, Morf Media. Morf Media sets out to gamify various training activities for financial institutions such as SEC Compliance training, Fixed-Income Derivatives, and new Dodd-Frank regulations.

As imagined, this material is extremely dull, yet important. As a result, Morf Media created a immersive learning platform that makes sure customer employees are learning by going through a variety of scenarios, utilizing their creativity and seeing feedback, as well as accumulating points and scores towards meaningful stats that the employees can feel proud of.

Adhering to the intrinsic motivations explaining in the article, the platform prevents the employees from reading long pieces of text, but has the employee become a rising star in a simulated company and utilizing interactive onboarding tutorials to teach them the skills to help all their coworkers resolve the most pressing issues that will determine the company’s fate.

It is this type of game-play that allows children to memorize more details than the periodic table, gamers to resolve 15-year HIV virus protein structure problems in 10 days, and employees to accumulate competitive skills and stay engaged in the workplace.

Training Gamified Correctly can make all the difference

If we successfully gamify education and training, then “assessments” will be seen as an exciting opportunity for employees to unlock new materials and skill-sets instead of always being a distraction from their work.

Not only will training be more fun, engaging and interactive, it will also prepare our firms for a new economy where creativity and problem-solving will become the competitive advantage over factual knowledge.

Gamification Theories in Parenting: Epic Meaning & Calling

Parenting Gamification Gamification Theories in Parenting: Epic Meaning & Calling

 (Below is an unedited manuscript snippet of my upcoming book: Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Please subscribe to the mailing list on the right to order the book when it becomes available. This post may be removed after a certain period of time).

Parenting Gamification: Your Parents are Bigger Than You!

Parenting is generally motivated by two Core Drives in my Gamification Framework Octalysis: Core Drive #2, Development & Accomplishment (reward when the child behaves), as well as Core Drive #8, Loss & Avoidance (punish/ground when the child does not behave).

However, the Chinese culture, along with many other Asian cultures, has figured out how to implement Epic Meaning & Calling into Parenting.

In the Chinese language, there is a word termed “Xiao,” pronounced “Sheeow,” which has no sound English translation, but is a concept that elicits: since your birth, you are in debt to your parents and you own your life and existence to them. As a result, you need to do everything possible to honor them and lift them up.

Many sources translate the word “Xiao” to the term “Filial Piety” – “a virtue of respect for one’s parents and ancestors.”

But it goes way beyond the word “respect.”

Once Chinese children start to comprehend the world, parents will tell them or play them stories where well-known children of “Xiao” in Ancient China fight tigers to protect their parents, warm up their parents mattresses before bedtime, or cut off their own flesh in order to feed their hungry parents. In one story, a 60-year-old man of “Xiao” pretends to play on the ground in a humorous way in order to entertain his 80-year-old parents. (Note: regardless of the tactics to educate such Epic Meaning & Calling, “Xiao” is truly a great virtue that is being lost in a new flat-world of instant gratification and self-centeredness).


Other examples of ? in the “24 Paragons of Filial Piety” include (thanks to Robbert Penner for additional research):

  • -a man sells himself into slavery to pay for father’s funeral
  • a man tastes his sick father’s stool
  • a woman cooks part of her own liver to feed her mother
  • an eight-year-old boy attracts mosquitoes to suck his blood so they won’t bother his parents
  • a father decides to bury his three-year-old son so he can afford to care for his mother. While digging the hole, he finds treasure and doesn’t have to kill his son.

While some of these true stories are disturbing, it illustrates how important Xiao is as a value within the culture. Of course, parents aren’t just hypocritically manipulation their children. Children see the exact same attitude of their parents towards their grandparents. The children who see their parents treat the grandparents poorly will most likely not buy into the Epic Meaning of Xiao.

In Traditional Ancient Chinese Culture, when one’s parents pass away, he needs to dress in a mourning dress, abstain from all entertainment and sometimes meat, as well as exclude social relationships for three entire years to express his sadness for his parents. This act is called “Shouxiao”, which literally means “guarding Xiao” and was traditionally set to be three years because Confucius stated that it takes three years for us to leave our parents’ arms, and hence it is proper to spend three years mourning for them.

Of course, in today’s modern society, much of the three-year mourning is lost and reduced to days or weeks as a symbolic gesture to honor one’s parents.

And because of this culture of “Xiao,” Asian children grow up feeling that they have to do a lot for their parents – they have to study hard; they have to find get into a good school that their parents can be proud of; they have to support their parents throughout life; they should live with their parents to always be available, and make sure everything is taken care of for their parents throughout life.

In contrast, in Western societies where the concept of “Xiao” is not as prevalent, people still respect their parents immensely, but often once they form their own families, they generally become a lot more disconnected and simply bring their children to grandpa and grandma once or twice a year, instead of constantly making life decisions that are tailored to their parents.

There’s even popular Chinese literature and idioms such as “Bu Xiao Zhi Zi, Tian Di Bu Rong,” which means, “For a son without ‘Xiao,’ there is no space/tolerance for him in heaven or earth.” This means that if you do not have “Xiao,” you are such an epic scumbag you don’t deserve to have ever existed, and both the heaven and the earth are so disgusted by your existence they are spitting you out of their presence.

It is this type of Epic Meaning & Calling that motivates people beyond their self-interest, regardless of what they want for themselves or whether they feel good or not about it.

Even today, if my parents told me I don’t have Xiao because of any behavior, it would crush me emotionally and motivate me towards almost anything to amend it. Just because I understand the nature of the motivation does not mean I am exempt from it. It is something deeply ingrained within me and my values. In similar faith, my parents have never made that statement to me in my entire life, because that would be one of the greatest insults a parent can give. It is that serious and tangible when it comes to this type of motivation.

The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (19 of 90): White Hat vs Black Hat Gamification

The Mysteries of White Hat vs Black Hat Gamification

Up to this point, I have mostly been covering the foundation of my Octalysis framework, through blogposts, videos, and talks. I have finally covered enough that I am charting into new territories.

This is the first piece of work I’m sharing with the public that is specifically honed in on the topic of White Hat vs Black Hat Gamification.

Expect more to come, especially in my upcoming book Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards.

Guest Post: Octalysis Analysis of “Momentum”

 Guest Post: Octalysis Analysis of Momentum

An Octalysis Analysis of Momentum – The Journey

Today’s Octalysis Analysis is brought to you by our very own Octalysis Explorer, Mike Finney! 

Note-taking can be boring. Many times one starts a personal journal and then stops because it is not fun and thus not sustainable. Momentum takes a boring note-taking task and turns it into something meaningful, beautiful and fun!

Core Drive #1: Epic Meaning & Calling

Octalysis Score: 3

As part of the Onboarding phase, a screen launch image introduces the vision. The vision is “Your positive life experiences, moving you forward!”

A player’s quest is to “Ride the wave of your positive life experiences” by collecting them. The hot-air balloon soaring through the sky is fueled by his positive moments. Since the vision of the app is to help the player see himself in “… a more positive light…”, the player is on board with the vision of long-term happiness and is motivated to enter in a few notes.

The developer, Mindbloom, wants the player to have a long-term relationship with this intrinsic value app. To kick off the relationship, they want the player to enter in an uplifting note that is happy, reflective or something similar. In Hook Model terms, the developer wants the player to take action by entering in a note which also serves as an investment in the product. This will load the next external trigger which is a notification. The notification will fire when the balloon runs out of fuel and lands on the ground.

What follows the launch image are three introductory screens which says how to use the app and succeed. See “How To Use Momentum” figures below:

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Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

6959831753 051358c382 Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Moments of downtime or dead time are an inevitable part of daily life but they don’t necessarily have to be dreadfully boring, especially with all of today’s awesome game apps.

You probably know how surprisingly fun these can be; according to a recent article in Forbes, games apps constitute the highest source of revenue on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

There are many great apps available and even more being developed to help pass the time. Here are 10 popular favorites in no particular order:

Angry Birds

Angry birds logo Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Angry birds is practically a household name and yet if I explained the game on paper (catapulting birds like weapons + destroying forts = fun), it may not sound ingenious nor very exciting. But many of you know that the game experience is very different; it is super easy to get addicted. Here are a few reasons:

  • It is simple and because it is simple, players feel accomplished and empowered early on- Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment).
  • The game develops in a way that allows the players to feel a clear sense of progress which further ingrains their sense of achievement.
  • Players can compete with their friends. There is a strong drive to beat the other person and score higher (even if they are your girlfriend or boyfriend)- Core Drive #5 (Social Influence & Relatedness).

Temple Run

Temple Run Logo Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Temple run is an adventure game. Players interact as an explorer character who steals an ancient mask and must must escape the wrath of demon monkeys. The touch screen controls allow the explorer to run as fast as possible, trying to avoid dangerous traps and obstacles such as trees and roots- Core Drive #8 (Loss & Avoidance). Players can move left or right. They can also duck, turn or jump as well.

There is now a Temple Run 2 which is based off the movie, Brave. The objective is to use archery to hit a target and collect coins. By the fourth day of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times!

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope Logo 300x163 Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Cut the rope is a puzzle game that utilizes mechanical physics. This is another example where the story and concept are lackluster compared to actual gameplay experience. Players are required to cut pieces of rope which are affixed to candy. The goal is to get the edibles into the mouth of a little round creature by solving puzzle challenges.

Sometimes the rope has to be cut at the right time. The candy might be attached to several pieces of rope which need to be cut in a certain order. Players are driven to keep overcoming past failures until they succeed. This is a great example of Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment) and Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) which together instill a sense of empowerment and awesomeness.

The Room

The Room Logo 300x240 Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

The immediate appeal of the Room is the graphics which convey a sense of mystery and a supernatural air. Players are presented with a series of ornate looking objects that turn out to be individual puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. As the player solves puzzles, they learn more about a stranger named A.S.- Talk about Core Drive #7 (Unpredictability & Curiosity)!

As puzzle levels are solved, players occasionally glimpse into a different dimensions beyond their physical reality. Many people feel that the story line is not as compelling as the actual puzzle-solving which fosters a strong sense of Core Drive #2 (Development and Accomplishment) as well as Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

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