#25/25: For the Win



  • People are motivated by well-designed game features
  • The game itself is a reward

Gamification: The use of game elements and game-design techniques in non-game contexts.

  • Internal Gamification / Enterprise Gamification
    • Improve productivity, innovation, etc. within a organization
    • Players a part of a defined community
    • Motivational dynamics
      • Organizational citizenship behavior
        • Do it because you want to be a good citizen not because of money
        • External Gamification
          • Involves Customers / prospects
          • Behavior-Change Gamification
            • Involves larger undefined groups
            • Game Elements
              • Objects
              • Relationships
              • Abstract concepts
              • Game-Design Techniques
                • „Why should I care about this?“
                • New users are maybe discouraged
                • Games should be
                  • Fun
                  • Addicting
                  • Challenging
                  • Emotionally resonant
                  • Reasons
                    • Engagement
                      • People love solving puzzles
                      • Getting feedback
                      • Reinforcement
                      • Engagement leads to iniation
  • Experimentation
    • Mastering the game by try and error
  • Results

Game Thinking

  • What’s in a game?
    • It’s voluntary
    • Ability to make choices
      • Which have effects
      • Give a sense of control
  • Rules of a game
    • New „reality“
    • Game Thinking = engaging expierence that motivates desired behavior
    • Ask the following questions:
      • Why do people use your service in the first place?
        • What is their motivation?
        • What makes them want to do business with you?
        • Can you make it more fun / compelling / interesting?
        • Gamers try to win the game
          • Try to design a desirable outcome
          • Sense of progression is important
          • Game itself is a process, a journey
          • Choice give a sense of empowerment
          • Design goals
            • Motivation
              • Needed for
                • Creative work
                • Mundane Tasks
                • Behavior changes
    • Is going to
      • Passionate
      • Engaged
      • Focused
    • Provides a
      • Measure of meaning
  • Meaningful choices
    • Player autonomy
  • Structure
    • Measure (of quality) and respond to action
    • Track user’s activities
  • Potential Conflicts
    • Leaderboards can be harmful if they are in the wrong environment

Why Games Work

  • What means motivation
    • From latin: serving to move
    • Amotivated = indifferent
    • Intrinsic = wanting
    • Extrinsic = needing
    • Cognitivst
      • Self-Determination-Theory
        • Ext. Environment needs to support internal wishes
        • Three factors
          • Competence
            • Effective dealing with ext. Environment
              • E.g. learning to dance
      • Relatedness
        • Interaction with others
      • Autonomy
        • Control of own life
      • => Always focus on building authentic engagement
  • Reward can crowd out fun
    • See post about Punished by Rewards
  • Boring can be engaging
    • Extrinsic motivation works on boring dull tasks
      • i.e. tasks that are non-intrinsical
    • Focus on learning and development instead of competition
  • Feedback loops
    • Should be fast
    • Reinforcement of „good“ actions
    • FB: near real-time feedback score
      • Data from
        • Coworkers
        • Progress towards goals
        • Coaching
        • Supervisors
    • Lessons
      • FB should be unexpected + informed
        • Increases autonomy
        • Increases intrinsic motivation
      • Reinforcement should work toward progress
      • Metrics will determine actions
  • Different stages of motivation
    • External = punishment
    • Introjected = „I must …“
    • Internalized = „I should …“
    • Integrated = „I want to …“
    • Intrinsic

Game Elements

  • Points, badges and leaderboards (PBLs)
    • Basic but not everything
    • Points
      • To effectively keep score
        • „how well am I doing?“
        • can define levels, i.e. represents the true „play space“
        • To determine the win state
          • E.g. to give away a prize
          • To connect progression and extrinsic rewards
            • X points will give you Y
            • To provide feedback
              • Quickly & easily
              • To externally display progress
                • Status
                • To provide data to game designers
                  • Analyzing tasks
                  • Badges
                    • Visual representation of some achievement
                    • Motivational characteristics
                      • Provide a goal to strive toward => positive effect on motivation
                      • Provide guidance as to what is possible => engagement
                      • Signal what user cares about and what they have performed => capability
                      • Virtual status symbols
                      • Tribal markers => sense of identity with a group
  • Very flexible
  • Leaderboards
    • Most troublesome
      • Can be motivating or demotivating
      • Turn of players (zero sum game)
      • Usually reduce performance rather than enhance it in business
      • Game Elements
        • Dynamics
          • Constraints
          • Emotions: curiosity, competivieness, happiness, etc.
          • Narrative: consistent, ongoing storyline
          • Progression: player’s growth and development
          • Relationships: social interactions generating feelings of camaraderie, status, altruism, etc.
  • Mechanics
    • Challenges
    • Chance: elements of randomness
    • Competition
    • Cooperation
    • Feedback
    • Resource Acquisition
    • Rewards
    • Transactions
    • Turns
    • Win states
    • => combinations, for onboarding (new participants) and interest curves (exp. Players)
  • Components
    • Achivements
    • Avatars
    • Badges
    • Boss Fights: especially hard challenges
    • Collections
    • Combat
    • Content Unlocking
    • Gifting
    • Leaderboards
    • Levels
    • Points
    • Questions: predefined challenges with objectives & rewards
    • Social Graphs
    • Teams
    • Virtual Goods


  • Hierarchy of all game elements

Six Steps to Gamification

  • Design process
    • Define business objectives
      • Specific performance goals
      • List objectives
      • Rank them
      • Delete means to an end
      • Justify objectives
  • Describe target behaviors
    • Which behavior helps achieving your objectives?
    • How can you measure these behaviors?
  • Describe your players
    • Who are they?
    • What is their relationship to you?
    • What might motivate your players?
    • What demotivates them?
      • Volition: perceived lack of desire => Engagement
      • Faculty: perceived lack of capability => Progression
    • How can you segment your players?
      • Achievers, explorers, socializers, killers
        • See other post
    • Write a small story of (some) players (basically personas)
      • Which Bartle player types are they?
      • What are their hopes and fears?
      • Their talents?
      • Their hobbies?
  • Devise activity cycles
    • User actions provoke some other activity, which in turn provokes other user actions, etc.
    • Engagement loops (Micro)
      • What your players do
      • Why they do it
      • What does the system do?
      • Feedback as an important element
        • Actions immediately produce visible responses
    • Progression stairs (Macro)
      • What’s the player’s journey
      • Start out simple
      • „boss“ villain = major challenges which gives a sense of pride
      • Incorporate some randomness
      • Small surprises help to escape the hedonic treadmill


  • Don’t forget the fun
    • Would players participate in the system voluntary if there weren’t any extrinsic rewards?
    • Types of fun (Nicole Lazzaro)
      • Hard fun = challenge or puzzle
      • Easy fun = casual enjoyment
      • Experimental fun = trying out new personas and new experiences
      • Social fun = interaction with others, even competitive
  • Deploy the appropriate tools
    • Start picking appropriate mechanics and components
    • Then iterate, iterate, iterate

Epic Fails

  • Problem: Focus too heavily on the rewards instead oft he experience
  • People will go to the limits
  • Legal constraints

If nothing else, gamification may make business more fun.

#63/111: Fish!

What is it about?

You are now in charge of a team of discouraged people and your job is to increase their productivity. What would you do? Mary Jane, the fictive new manager, has gone to a fish market and learned why you can be productive and happy despite having a exhausting job.

What can I learn?

Choose your attitude: You chose your future and how you will experience it. If you truly decide to be energetic, you will be energetic. If you decide to be depressed, you will be depressed. You decide how you see the world.

Play: Work don’t have to be exhausting and depressing. Try to include some fun. You can make games out of the most boring activities. I have once worked on a really boring assignment where I had to check about 10,000 addresses per hand. I created some goals and tried to get faster from hour to hour. It wasn’t the greatest game ever played but at least I had some fun.

Make their day: Do something that will WOW others. You have always the opportunity to be outstanding. Can you finish a project sooner than announced? Can you do something remarkable for your customers? Just think and let your mind flow. I’m sure you know something.

Be present: There’s a Zen lore where a pupil asks his master why he is so happy. And the Zen master answers: “When I eat, I eat. When I walk, I walk. When I sleep, I sleep.” When I heard this the first time I thought that it was obvious. However, it isn’t. The key is to be present and do one thing. Don’t play with your kids and talk to the phone. Don’t read a book and watch TV.


Fish! is a nice book in an unusual setting. It’s really short, i.e. you can read it in 60-90 minutes. I don’t really have anything to criticize but also I’m not overly impressed. However, these principles are really valuable and if you haven’t implemented them yet, you probably should read this book and start making your life more livable.

#51/111: Predictable Success

What is it about?

What are the ingredients for a successful business? Les McKown thinks money, people and structure. You can see a illustration of his business cycle theory below. On the x-axis is time and on the y-axis success.

(Picture from Les McKown’s Blog)

What can I learn?

Whitewater: While you are growing things get more complex. Your company slows down. To get to the next stage you have to introduce some processes and structure to manage your company.

Predictable Success: In this stage there is a equilibrium between entrepreneurial zeal and structure. This is the ideal state and theoretically you can be in this stage forever. An important key attribute in this stage is ownership and self-accountability, i.e. your employees are accountable for results. You focus on people instead on processes.

Treadmill: Your company gets into this stage if processes take over risk taking and entrepreneurial zeal. Processes become more important than people and individual gaols. To get back to predictable success you have to cultivate personal development. Focus on results rather than on compliances.


At the beginning, Les McKeown writes that he became an accountant and learned that financing are is the most important factor for a company. I was really disturbed and though: That’s why accountants don’t start companies. However, later he revised his answer. In Predictable Success, McKeown describes each stage thoughtfully and with examples. It’s a real pleasure to read this book because he tells a lot of his own experiences as a business owner and consultant. A clear recommendation for everyone who want to know how to a company transforms over time and how to achieve predictable success.