I have promised in the past not to write about the dangers of extrinsic rewards anymore. However, can't stand reading about gamification being a failure anymore, when the articles proclaiming this almost always start with "gamification is about awarding points, or physical rewards to people for doing dull tasks".
No quoting from Dan Pink or Deci and Ryan this time, just facts based on experience.
If you offer a reward, especially a material reward that has value to people, you are setting yourself up for failure. Every time I have seen a 'gamified' campaign that offers someone like an iPad as a prize for participation, it has had problems. The worst culprit is when the prize is offered for nothing more than activity (so no actual creativity needed).
This carrot approach leads to one of two main outcomes. The first, rubbish input from people wanting the prize. Offer a reward for commenting, and you get hundreds of "Great. Awesome. Amazing." type comments. Offer rewards for... Read the full article...
In one of those "D'oh" moments, it occurred to me that management types have been promoting one of the core components of gamification since at least the 80's!
We all agree that one of the main aspects that forms good gamification is good goal setting (at least I hope we all do by now). Well The Management have been told to do this for about 30 years now - ever since a concept called "SMART" was first given air. SMART is an acronym (of course, we all love one of them), that generally stands for;
It is important in gamification to make goals clear. "I want to lose weight", is not a specific goal! "I want to lose 10lbs" is specific. This is where you ask the "Who, What, Why, Where" type questions.
If you can't measure progress, how do you know you are heading towards your goal? Set sub markers to your goal. You also have to have a win state - in this case "I have lost... Read the full article...
One of the ideas that has always fascinated me is altruism within random groups. The idea that if you do a good deed and others see it, they will also be more likely to do a good deed.
I have been testing this idea on my drive into work for a few months now. In a totally non scientific way, I have been alternately allowing people to cross past me at a junction and not letting them. When I let them cross, I keep an eye on the car behind me to see if they then let the next person through.
I would estimate that about 7 times out of 10, the person behind will let the next car through. When I don't do it, then the car behind almost always follows suit and won't let the someone past.
I got me to thinking if there is a psychological study on this out there and low and behold discovered something called the "Multiplier Effect". An article at Psychology Today talks about research that suggests generosity is contagious.
The researchers actually set up a game where selfishness made... Read the full article...
I thought that might get your attention. Excuse the contrived use of the 1 in shit there as well, firewalls can be so jumpy about certain words.
Now back to my point.
Gamification, in far too many cases right now, is indeed shit. I am not saying gamification itself is bad, just a lot of the uses and applications of gamification that we are seeing out there falls into that particularly odorous category.
It's as if gamification has become the duct tape of user design. "The user experience is a bit off, what should we do? Add gamification". "The system is not great, people get stuck and don't like using it, what should we do? Add gamification - points and badges will fix it!". "We need to improve efficiency in the department. How can we do that? A leaderboard you say? Let's do it!"
Rather than using gamification as part of the overall design, to help enrich the user journey and experience, it is used to patch bad design - making it ultimately worse. Gamification is not a... Read the full article...
As a gamification designer, it is easy to get hooked up on the intricacies of the system. The feedback mechanics, the game mechanics, the economy and the cleverness of it all. It is also easy to think, "this is going to be great" when you have a new idea and then spend waaay to long making the idea real.
What we need to to is step back from time to time and say "How will this actually impact the user".
For example. You have this fabulous animation that you want to make use of. It fits the overall theme of the gamified solution you are building and think that it adds a little bit of playfulness to break up part of the process. Great. However, what does it really give the end user? If it is used once and adds some greater value to the process they are going through, by giving a new understanding or insight - then brilliant. If it really does give the user a break for a particularity complex part of the process, then okay. If it sits there and forces them to watch it, possibly... Read the full article...
As many of you will have seen by now, I am running a short survey on what people find fun. So far I have had 141 results, for which I am truly grateful! Of course, I need more - so tell your friends, I am missing any answers at all from the 17 or younger age group!
However, I thought it would be fun to share some of the findings so far, show those of you that have answered so far that there is something happening with your answers. I have been categorising the answers into various types of fun, creating new types as I find answers that don't fit into those I already have. So far this has given me 20 types of fun. Part of this process is to get your feedback on the types I have so far - are they all separate for example, or can I group a few. Also, can I group them generally beyond what I have already. I really need your feedback to help this process!
But, until there, here is what I have so far!
Over coming obstacles. Attaining a sense of... Read the full article...
When I first started to describe Game Thinking, I talked about gameful design or game inspired design. Part of me was always split about what I really meant. In my mind, these ideas were based on user interface more than anything. So creating menu systems that mirrored ideas seen in games, or creating slightly more fun look and feel.
It wasn't until I was messing around with the Snapchat interface that I realised what I was really thinking about - playful design. Design ideas that add to the pleasure of using something whilst not necessarily altering the functionality. The example that Snapchat gave me was something I discovered just by playing with the interface. If you go to your chat stream and slide up, the image at the bottom becomes an animation. At the moment it is of the Snapchat ghosts playing football.
There is no need to do this, it is just a bit of fun. It is a playful reward for exploring and messing with the interface and one that I... Read the full article...
Whilst I spin through a really busy time, I wanted to share with you a minor gamification victory with my daughter.
Anyone who has read my blog in the past, will know that I have been trying to use gamification around my daughters behaviour for a few years now. Not all (any) attempts have been 100% successful. The most gut wrenching failure was the use of the reward chart! However, in March, I decided to try a slightly less rewards based system - the Behaviour Meter.
This was a simple chart that displayed numbers 0 to 10, with an arrow pointing to the value that best described my daughters behaviour at the time. Whenever I felt her behaviour changed, I moved the arrow - simple!
Anyway, fast forward to this weekend.
Daughter: "Daddy, how come I am on an 8 on my chart. I thought I had been naughtier than that"
Me: "Well, generally you have been pretty well behaved"
Daughter "I can't wait to get a 10 on there"
Me: "That's great, but you know there is no prize for... Read the full article...
Flow. A popular concept in gamification, goodness knows I have spoken about it often enough - just last week in fact. It was that article that actually made me realise that there is a distinct misunderstanding of flow as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes it.
The image below is how we in gamification tend to view it, our simplified version.
We talk about the Flow Channel, the point where skill level and challenge level are in a good balance. So this would mean that Flow could be achieved when you have a balanced low skill and low chalenge. However, when we look at how Mihály Csíkszentmihályi originally described it, that would actually be apathy - not a state we want for our users!
I think and I know this is true of me, that we are actually talking about a balance of skill and challenge over time. Flow theory is about a particular moment in time - a snapshot.
For gamification to work, we want to increase the level of challenge in line with the level of skill our... Read the full article...
I have not mentioned User Types for at least a couple of blog posts - so though it was time to mess with your heads a little.
When I first started the user types, there were four intrinsic types (Socialiser, Free Spirit, Achiever, Philanthropist) which represented the four intrinsic motivators I speak about in RAMP (Relatedness, Autonomy, Master, Purpose). There was also one extrinsic type called the Player.
I later moved to eight types by expanding the player into four basic types that mirrored similar actions to the intrinsic types, but for rewards. These new types were; Networker, Exploiter, Consumer and Self Seeker.
Finally, I settled on six types - the Hexad. This contains the original types as well as Player and Disruptor. This now makes up the core of my types and everything I speak about in types. However, me being me, I can't just leave it at that. In reality I have never stopped evolving the types and adding too them as I observe new and interesting behaviours. So... Read the full article...
This is more a thought and possibly even a question to those who know more than me about the Flow concept. I have spoken about Flow in the past and use it as a core principle to engaging long term design.
However, recently it occurred to me that long term exposure to extremes in frustration or boredom, could alter our perception of flow.
For instance, you spend months in the boredom phase. You have little to no challenge. It seems reasonable that you would need to boost the level of challenge to help improve engagement and in turn try and get closer to this idea of flow. Below is the "ideal" mix of skill and challenge as described in flow theory - only this time plotted against time.
Now, if the challenge levels off, the likelihood is that your related skill level will begin to level off or possibly dip a little (due to lack of being pushed to develop it).
According to flow theory, this would put you smack bang into the boredom area. But what happens if you... Read the full article...
Leaderboards are evil. They create competition in environments that may not benefit from competition. They make more losers than winners and only engage the top 10 players on the board. Right? (out of context quotes ahoy!)
Well, yes and no.
In reality it is not quite as simple as that. It all comes down to intent, presentation and interpretation. If the point of your leaderboard is to create unnatural competition between groups of people, then you may find you don't get the results you expect. Not everyone wants to compete, so if that is your intent you will often find very short lived engagement. As soon as people find they are not in the top ten, you tend to find they lose interest. The competition then revolves around the top players, leaving the rest actually disengaged from the process.
The example above is from the Gamification Gurus Leaderboard run by Leaderboarded. The intent of this leaderboard is to show people who is active in the world of gamification. It... Read the full article...
Another talk, another idea. Having just done a really fun talk for KMUK, a new analogy came to mind to illustrate using simple user experience to change behaviours.
One of the things we are trying to do to save the planet, is use less water. The way this is often done is offering the user two options. One is a long flush (for the harder to shift moments of life) and a short, water saving flush for everything else.
The obvious symbology for this is a big button for the big flush and a little button for a little flush. Simples!
However, which button is easier to push? Looking at the wear pattern (yeah I know, I need to get out more), the big button is easier to push. That may be because mechanically it offers less resistance, it may be because it is big inviting button. So the button you want them to press, is harder to press and less obvious to press than the button you want them to press.
If you want people to do something, make it easier to do! Make the big button... Read the full article...
I did a very enjoyable talk at the Knowledge Cafe the other day. The audience was made up of various interested people, varying wildly in age - but with a majority belonging to Knowledge Management. It stood out for me in two ways. The first was the fact it was the first time I had done a talk with no slides. I gave the audience the option of having slides or not - they unanimously opted not (a lesson to learn here)! The second was that it was the first time I had really spoken about the concept that gamification can be viewed as lowering barriers.
Let me explain.
Anyone who is doing gamification knows that for many instances, gamification can have a short shelf life, depending on the way you are doing it and the reason you are doing it. Simple systems that offer Points, Badges and Leaderboards are often cited as having very short life spans. However, what if that is ok? I have spoken about the fact that PBL systems are not all evil, that spans to any gamification that has a... Read the full article...
As I rewrite my book, I realise that there are many terms that I have been using that may not be known to non-gamification people. When I started writing it was with the intention of using plain language. Sadly, that is not always possible. So I have started to build a little glossary of terms as I use them. This is my interpretation of the words or phrases and is by no means complete. I will add to it over time I'm sure!
Gamification: the use of game elements and game thinking in non-game contexts OR making more game-like experiences.
Serious Game: a real game that is built primarily for purposes other than pure entertainment.
(Game) Mechanics: explicit sets of rules that define the outcomes of user activities.
(Game) Dynamics: emergent activities of the users as they interact with mechanics.
(Game) Aesthetics: the experience of the end user.
Game Elements / Components: these are bits that are taken from games, such as progress bars, missions, points, badges... Read the full article...