Defining fun – some research results

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! Type % Description Challenge 17.0% Over coming obstacles. Attaining a sense of... Read the full article...

Playful design vs Game inspired design

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...

A small gamification victory with my daughter!

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 & gamification: a misunderstanding

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...

User Types – an expansion to consider

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...

The Flow Shift and Bounce

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...

Non-Competitive Leaderboards

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...

What can a toilet teach us about gamification?

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...

Lowering barriers with Gamification

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...

The Language of Gamification – Short Glossary

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...

Focus – it’s like a learning super power

This is a picture of my daughter playing Toca Pet Doctor. What can you see? A child. A tablet. A game. A table. And a dress in the background? What else? Focus. Pure and laser like focus. My daughter is about 2 years old. I got Toca Pet Doctor for her today as a treat. My 7 year old laughed at me and said "she will not be able to play that, she doesn't know how". I smiled. After loading, the screen showed a pet. She tapped it. The screen switched to a picture of the pets fur, an open jar and 2 fleas crawling in the fur. She tapped the fur. Nothing happened. She tapped a flea, it moved. She tapped and held a flea, it stuck to her finger. She moved it to the jar, it fell in. She did the same with the second flea and waited. Both fleas jumped out of the jar. She tried again, dragging the fleas to the jar - only this time she closed the lid after she had put them in. Curtains draw and she is congratulated. In 5 iterations and about 2 minutes she had learned how the game... Read the full article...

Engagement – What are we talking about?

Engagement. A word that is thrown about in gamification with all the abandon of a child dancing and singing to Frozen... The thing is, what exactly are we talking about? What is engagement. As ever, I took to the dictionaries to see what the word on the street is. Looking up engagement is a fruitless task as you get such gems as A formal agreement to get married And The action of engaging or being engaged However, looking up engage is a far more satisfying experience. [with object] Occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention) [no object] (engage in or be engaged in) Participate or become involved in http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/engage#engage From this we can get an idea of what people are talking about when they say they are using gamification to engage people, or increase engagement. They are generally looking to get people to participate in activities. That tends to be the key goal for most gamification, participation. So... Read the full article...

Why User Types?

Second post in a day, not very SEO clever, I know. I wanted to take a moment to explain my view on User and Player types and their use in gamification. First up, some bullets so you get the idea quickly. What User Types are not; Perfect Applicable to every situation or project The same in all contexts Pure science What User Types are; A tool in an overall toolkit Easy to use and get your head around Useful if you understand their limitations In my case based on motivation (eg Self Determination Theory), observation and research I created the my User Types, because I wanted to use something in my thinking and design that focused on users, but was not built for games. I had been using Bartle's types, but they just did not fit well with gamification - this is something he repeatedly tells people! It was also very hard to talk to people in enterprise about killers (i.e. people who take pleasure in the harm they can cause others). I also wanted to... Read the full article...

Gamification World Congress 2014

Wow, what an amazing couple of days. Last week was Gamification World Congress 2014, the biggest Gamification event in Europe and I think in the world with over 600 people. They all came together over 3 days to celebrate the best Gamification has to offer in 3 days packed full of talks  (seriously 9 am until 8:30pm with over 30 talks on the second day!) and workshops. On day one, 60 delegates attended 4 workshops, run by Sergio Jiménez, Mario Herger, Alberto Tornero and me. The workshops were great fun, I think everyone enjoyed most of the content they got to see and work with. My own had some highs and lows - which I am going to build on to create my next one (details soon I hope). The day of the talks was massive. So many great speakers, I can't think of a single talk that I didn't enjoy! I also enjoyed my talk hugely and was happy to answer all of the questions thrown my way. I can't wait to see the output from the third day, which I sadly missed. it was... Read the full article...

Mystery, Curiosity and Surprise

Most people seem to like surprises and mystery. It also seems that curiosity has the power to drive us to do strange and counter-intuitive things. We like to know what is in the mystery box, what is behind door number 3, what happens after the season finale, what the red "do not press" button actually does, if we can climb to the top of the rickety looking rope. Curiosity can also be seen around problem solving. Whilst at times we need to solve the problem, there is no need for us to do puzzles like crosswords or to learn languages that we do not really need. These kinds of drives seem to fall in or around curiosity. Think of children and how they learn. I remember being told and told and told that the berries in the garden were poisonous, but curiosity got the better of me - I had to find out if they really were. The resulting vomiting supplied me with the answer to my curiosity. I could not deal with this idea that I just didn't know for myself. Curiosity lead me to learn... Read the full article...