Featured post

An Advanced Octalysis Gamification Workshop For Europe and the US

Tedx Small An Advanced Octalysis Gamification Workshop For Europe and the USAfter a Tremendously Successful Full-Day Octalysis Workshop, over 40 gamification enthusiasts became equipped and excited to implement great gamification design into their own world-changing projects. However, we have received feedback that the intensive 9-hour workshop was not only too short (shock!), but the time-zone made it extremely difficult for enthusiasts from other continents to participate in the full workshop (many attendees from Europe or India/Australia stayed up all night into the morning for the workshop). We also weren’t able to explore everyone’s personal projects in detail due to the tight timeline and the amount of information that was covered.

For this reason, we are launching a new set of workshops that are specifically catered to audience members from different continents, which are broken down into three 4-hour sessions in consecutive days, and options for people who want to just attend one over another. This event is specifically designed to cater to Europe time zones (works for US timezones as well).

(The 60% Off Really Early Bird Discount expires 8/20/2014!)

For Asia/Australia friendly time-zone workshops, click here

Testimonials from our last workshop’s awesome attendees

Overview of the Gamification Workshop

Set for October 7th-9th, this gamification workshop will focus on implementing great gamification design that drives numbers through using the Octalysis Framework.

I will focus on how to use the Octalysis Framework to design motivating experiences that bring out our 8 Core Drives to completely meet your business objectives, whether it would be to close quick sales, motivate employees, create obsessive users, or motivate yourself towards good habits. 

Click here to sign up!

Why Should I Sign Up For this Workshop?

You should take the workshop if you:

  1. Want to reduce your product-market-fit runway by half (very tangible for any company with a burn-rate)
  2. Have problems with retaining users at the onboarding process
  3. Are managing people that are not excited about doing their work
  4. Have customers who are not engaged in marketing materials
  5. Feel like you could use some extra motivation in your own personal improvement
  6. Want to incentivize veteran users to contribute to your ecosystem instead of leaving
  7. Want to be more persuasive in all types of communications


The Octalysis gamification workshop is broken down into three sections:

Continue reading

Guest Blog: The Employee Rewards That Really Count

Intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation image of Employee Rewards Guest Blog Guest Blog: The Employee Rewards That Really Count

An internship at Google- examples of extrinsic employee rewards. Image by frakkin from Reddit

Guest Blog Author Bio

TechnologyAdvice is a market leader in business technology recommendations. The company provides free and unbiased research and analysis of IT options to help businesses of all sizes find the solutions that best fit their specific technology needs.

Employee Rewards That Really Count

One of the biggest issues when it comes to designing a reward program for sales teams is that everyone is motivated differently.

Some people prefer extrinsic rewards – physical things such as vacations, bonuses, salary raises, trophies, or swag like the image above. Others would rather receive intrinsic motivation through recognition and public attention. Studies have been conflicted as to whether an extrinsic rewards system or an intrinsic motivational system is more effective. So how do you decide what to offer? How do you find out what your employees really want?

According to a report issued by the Incentive Research Foundation, the key to successful employee motivation is to have a well-designed program that equally emphasizes both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.

In other words, offering raises, bonuses, and other forms of compensation is a great starting point, but a successful sales incentive program should go beyond that point.

The key to your employees finding value in the program might have nothing to do with the actual reward at all.

Continue reading

How Games Compel You to Pay them Obsessively

Game Monetization How Games Compel You to Pay them Obsessively (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).

Dangling and Anchor Juxtaposition: Monetization in Social Games

Many social games on the market also use Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience (one of the Black Hat Core Drives) to monetize heavily. Often times it’s a combination of Anchore Juxtaposition (Game Technique #69) and Dangling (Game Technique #44).

For instance, when you go on a game like Farmville, you initially may think, “This game is somewhat intriguing, but I would never pay real money for a stupid game like this.”

Then, Farmville implements Dangling and regularly shows you a mansion that you want, but can’t have. The first few times, you just dismiss it, as you inherently know it wouldn’t be resource-efficient to get it.

But eventually, you start to develop some desire of the mansion that’s constantly dangling there. Just from a tad of curiosity, you do a little research and see that the game requires 20 more hours of play before you can afford to get the mansion through game currency.

Wow, that’s a lot of farming! But then, you see that you could just spend $5.00 and get that very mansion immediately.

$5 to save 20 hours of my time? That’s a no-brainer!

Now the user is no longer paying $5 to buy some pixels on her screen. She is spending $5 to save her time, which becomes a phenomenal deal. You see how game design can mess around with peoples’ value systems?

The very strange phenomenon here, is that most of these games can be played for free; however, people are spending money so they could play less of the game. That’s the odd nature of Scarcity & Impatience.

Scarce but not Screwed

An important factor to consider when using Dangling is the pathway to obtaining the reward.  You have to allow the user to know that it’s very challenging to get the reward, but not impossible.

If it is perceived as impossible, then people turn on their Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance modes and go into self-denial. “It’s probably for losers anyway.”

For example, if you see an exclusive organization dangled in front of you, but then you see the prerequisite to join is that you have to be a Prince or Princess through royal blood, you might not even look at what the organization does, but may just think, “Who cares about a bunch of stuck up, spoiled brats?”

There is no motivation, and in fact, it activates Core Drive 8 as an Anti-Core Drive – the drive to NOT participate.

However, if the sign said, “Only Princes/Princess OR people who have previously ran a marathon can join.” Now you are motivated, and might even ponder in your head the work required to run a marathon.

As long as there is a realistic chance, the Scarcity and exclusivity itself is enough to engage your mind. The interesting thing is, you still haven’t even figured out what the organization actually does! Without any information on the function-focused, the human-focused motivation of Scarcity is motivating you towards running a marathon.

The Powers of Anchor Juxtaposition

This leads to a game technique I call Anchor Juxtaposition, where you place two options side by side: one that costs money, and the other that requires a great amount of effort towards the Desired Actions that benefit the system.

For example, a site could say, “You have two options to get this reward: 1. Pay us $20 right now, or 2. Commit a ridiculous amount of Desired Actions such as “Invite your friends,” “Upload photos,” “stay on the site for 30 days in a row.”

When that happens, you will see many users irrationally engaging in the Desired Actions, because they feel like doing the Desired Actions is like earning money. You’ll see users slaving away for dozens or even hundreds of hours, just so they could save the $20. At one point, many of them would realize that it’s a lot of time and work, and at that point, the $20 purchase option becomes more appealing and they end up purchasing that. Now your users have done both: paid you money, and committed a great deal of Desired Actions. It is worth reminding here again that rewards can be physical, emotional, or intellectual.

Rewards don’t have to be a financial reward, nor does it need to be a badge (people hardly pay for those). In fact, based on Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback principles, the most effective rewards are often times Boosters that allow the user to go back into the ecosystem and play more effectively, which becomes a streamlined activity loop. With Anchor Juxtaposition, you must have two options for the user. If you simply put a price on the reward and say, “Pay now, or go away.” Many users will go back to the CD8 Denial mode and think, “I’m never gonna pay those greedy bastards a single dollar!” and leave.

However, if you just put on your site, “Hey! Please do all these Desired Actions, such as invite your friends and complete your profile!” users often don’t feel any motivation to do those activities because they clearly recognize it as being beneficial for the system, but not for themselves (“Yes, but what do I get from it?”).

Only when you put those two options together (hence Juxtaposition), do people become more open to both options, and often times commit to doing both consecutively. But does this work in the real world, outside of games? You bet.

Dropbox is a File Hosting Service company based in San Francisco that has obtained extraordinary popularity and success.

When you first sign-up to Dropbox, it tells you that you could either 1. Pay to get a lot of storage space, or 2. Invite your friends to get more space. At the beginning, most people started inviting their friends (as well as complete a small list of Desired Actions). Dropbox gamification How Games Compel You to Pay them Obsessively Eventually, many of those users who are committing the Desired Actions decide that inviting/harassing their friends is a lot of work, but they still need a lot of space, and they end up paying. Again, because of the Anchor Juxtaposition, users commit both the Desired Action, and pay for the full product, just like I did.

Dropbox’s viral design, along with a great seamless product, accelerated the company to reportedly raise over $300 Million with a valuation that is around $10 Billion and revenues above $200 Million in 2013. Not too shabby for a company that didn’t exist seven years prior.

The Value of Rare Pixels

Continue reading

The 8 Core Drives of Gamification (#6): Scarcity & Impatience

scarcity and impatience The 8 Core Drives of Gamification (#6): Scarcity & Impatience

Driving Obsessive Behavior with Scarcity & Impatience

Scarcity and Impatience is the sixth core drive of the Octalysis Framework, and is the drive that motivates us simply because we are either unable to obtain something immediately, or because there is great difficulty in obtaining it.

We have a naturally tendency to want things we can’t have. If a bowl of grapes were plainly on the table, you may not care about those grapes; but if they were on a shelf just beyond your reach, you will likely be thinking about the grapes regularly: “Are they sweet? Can I have them? When I can I have them?”

Personally, Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience is the Core Drive that intrigues me the most, and is also the last Core Drive I learned about. Its fascination lies in the fact that it is completely unintuitive, irrational and emotionally difficult to utilize.

This post is to explore this Black Hat/Left Brain Core Drive, understand its powers, and some game techniques that harness it towards behavioral change.

The Lure of being Exclusively Pointless

South Park, a popular American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, has many lessons to teach us about human behavior, especially the irrational ones (once you get pass the potty-mouth cussing and unnecessary gory scenes).

In one of the episodes, Cartman joins NAMBLA, the controversial main character Eric Cartman decided that he was too mature for his other fourth grade friends, and went online to find adult friends that are more mature. He ends up being recruited to the organization called NAMBLA, short for North American Man/Boy Love Association (which in fact, is a real organization). The “mature” members of NAMBLA then asked Cartman to bring all his friends to a party they are hosting in his honor.

Not knowing the true nature of what he is getting himself into, he sent out invitations to all his classmates besides his usual close friends, Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski. He then starts to brag to them about how he is going to his mature grown-up friends party but he’s not inviting them. The below conversation is a classic that speaks to our Core Drives.

Stan: We don’t want to go to some stupid adult meeting anyway!
Cartman: Well that’s nice, cause you can’t go!
Kyle: We don’t want to go!
Cartman: You can’t go!
Kyle: We don’t want to go!
Cartman No. You can’t go! Hey, Clyde, Butters, check this out! [Leaves]
Stan: Dude, maybe we do need to start being more mature.
Kyle: yea, I guess we need try to get into that club too.

What you see here is a classic example of scarcity through exclusivity. Even though Stan and Kyle were genuine when they said they weren’t interested in joining some adult party, when reinforced in the face that they don’t qualify for the party, they developed a natural sense of motivation towards the party, even though nothing about the party itself became more appealing.

The concept of exclusivity was taken to a whole new level in another episode titled Cartmanland, In this episode, Cartman inherits $1 Millions from his deceased grandmother, and decides to use almost all of it to buy a struggling theme park just to entertain himself without being stuck in lines.

Instead of trying to improve its business, Cartman makes a full 38-second TV commercial to show how amazingly fun “Cartmanland” is and emphasizes that no one besides him can enjoy it. “So much fun in Cartmanland, but you can’t come!” is the catchy slogan.


After realizing he needs more money to hire a security guard to keep his friends out, Cartman starts to accept two customers a day to pay the security guard. Then he starts to realize that he needs pay for more things such as maintenance, utilities, and other operations, so he started to open it up to three, four, tens, and then hundreds of people everyday.

Since people all saw how they couldn’t get into Cartmanland, when they learned that it is starting to accept more people, they rushed to get in.

Eventually, everyone wanted to go to Cartmanland and it went from a near-bankrupted theme park into one of the most popular ones ever. Experts within the episode even called the “You Can’t Come!” campaign to be a brilliant marketing ploy by the genius millionaire Eric Cartman.

Unfortunately, with more people in his precious park, Eric Cartman became miserable and eventually sold the park back to the original owners, and then lost his money afterwards.

Even though these are exaggerated examples, in this post, you will see that our brains naturally have a tendency to pursue things just because they are exclusive.

To seem more South Park Gamification examples , check out Top 10 Gamification Lessons learned from South Park.

On the other side of popular media, in the movie Up in the Air, Protagonist Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is a corporate “downsizer” that flies all over the place to help companies lay off employees. In a conversation with the young and ambitious status-quo disruptor Natalie Keene, played by Anna Kendrick, Bingham gives us a lesson about the value of scarcity, status, rewards, and exclusivity, as he talks about his obsession with airline miles.

Ryan Bingham: I don’t spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account.
Natalie Keener: So, what are you saving up for? Hawaii? South of France?
Ryan Bingham: It’s not like that. The miles are the goal.
Natalie Keener: That’s it? You’re saving just to save?
Ryan Bingham: Let’s just say that I have a number in mind and I haven’t hit it yet.
Natalie Keener: That’s a little abstract. What’s the target?
Ryan Bingham: I’d rather not…
Natalie Keener: Is it a secret target?
Ryan Bingham: It’s ten million miles.
Natalie Keener: Okay. Isn’t ten million just a number?
Ryan Bingham: Pi’s just a number.
Natalie Keener: Well, we all need a hobby. No, I- I- I don’t mean to belittle your collection. I get it. It sounds cool.
Ryan Bingham: I’d be the seventh person to do it. More people have walked on the moon.
Natalie Keener: Do they throw you a parade?
Ryan Bingham: You get lifetime executive status. You get to meet the chief pilot, Maynard Finch.
Natalie Keener: Wow.
Ryan Bingham: And they put your name on the side of a plane.
Natalie Keener: Men get such hardons from putting their names on things. You guys don’t grow up. It’s like you need to pee on everything.

Beyond the collection, status, and achievement (Core Drives 2, 4, and 5), one thing that was very important for Ryan was that “I’d be the seventh person to do it. More people have walked on the moon.” This shows that because it’s something that he (along with billions of others) couldn’t get right now, he valued obtaining it more. It was simply more appealing because of how exclusive that was.

Persuasively Inconvenient

As the above example shows, our brains naturally and intuitively seek things that are scarce, unavailable, or fading in availability.

Oren Klaff is a professional pitcher and fundraiser who claims to close deals through a systematic way he calls neuroeconomics, a craft that combines neuroscience and economics, digging deep into our psychology, appealing to what he calls the croc brain, and utilizing various Core Drives such as CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness, CD6: Scarcity & Impatience, CD7: Unpredictability, and CD8: Loss & Avoidance (the discerning Octalyst may identify that there is a heavy focus of Black Hat Core Drives here. We will explore why sales and closing deals mostly appeals to Black Hat Core Drives, while workplace motivation mostly appeals to White Hat Core Drives in other posts).

In Klaff’s book Pitch Anything, he explains the concept of Prizing, and how it ties into three fundamental behaviors from our croc brains:

  1.      We chase that which moves away from us
  2.      We want what we cannot have
  3.      We only place value on things that are difficult to obtain

He claims that instead of ABS – always be selling, salespeople should practice ABL – always be leaving. If you are always leaving the discussions, it means that you are not desperate, are highly sought after, and do not depend on this deal. You are the Prize. Klaff claims that, when you do that, money will flow in as the ultimate commodity to win that Prize.

Through his methods, Klaff has raised over $450 Million and claims to continue so at a rate of $2 Million a week.

It is oddly true that often times, as we place inconveniences on something, it becomes more valuable in our minds. In Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, the author Robert Cialdini shares how Colleen Szot revolutionized her infomercials by simply changing the call-to-action line from “Operators are waiting, please call now,” to, “If operators are busy, please call again.”

Why would this be? In the first case, viewers can imagine operators sitting around, waiting to answer calls and take orders for products that may be of marginal value. In the second case viewers will more likely perceive that the operators will be struggling to answer a flood of calls and keeping up with the demand on orders.

Even though this message suggests an inconvenience to buy a product, the perceived scarcity of the viewers is enough to get people motivated enough to quickly make a call before the product runs out.

Oren Klaff also brings up another example in Pitch Anything where BMW released a special-edition M3 that required the buyer to sign a contract promising to keep it clean and take care of the special paint. Without this promise in writing, they won’t even allow you to buy the car! In this case, BMW is prizing itself so that the buyer would believe it is a special and exclusive privilege to drive the car, even though the buyer has all the money available.

Maybe that’s why the hard-to-get strategy is so prevalent in modern society conversations. It’s not just a way to show personality, but it actually drives real results as it inspires people to chase harder.

Gamification Techniques in Scarcity and Impatience

Magnetic Caps (Game Technique #68)

Continue reading

Top Ten Gamified Healthcare Games that will extend your Life

drmario Healthcare Games Top Ten Gamified Healthcare Games that will extend your Life

Healthcare Games Improve Lives

Technology is changing the face of healthcare as we know it. The typical habit of only going to a doctor when you have an issue is slowly fading. The medical field is now moving towards preventative care, and for good reason: according to the Partnership for Prevention, over 100,000 lives could be saved in the U.S. every year if the gaps in just 5 preventative health services were closed. Preventative healthcare improves general well-being and can save lives by catching a disease or condition before it’s too late.

And Gamification is making services more accessible, fun, and impactful through preventative healthcare games.

It’s no surprise that positively changing daily behaviors can help prevent disease and disorders. Eating healthier foods, maintaining an exercise routine, and remembering to complete a prescription medication regiment can ensure you enjoy a long, healthy life. While we intend to remain on top of these things, the reality is that most of us are likely to fall short of staying consistent with these habits. However, with the help of gamified tools and platforms, healthy regular activities can be fun and easier to maintain.

Here are 10 amazing companies that are changing and (even saving) lives through preventative healthcare games.

Continue reading