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Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework

Gamification

Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework

(This is the Gamification Framework that I am most known for. Within a year, it was organically translated into 9 different languages and became classic teaching literature in the gamification space worldwide. If you are interested in commercially licensing the framework, please visit our Octalysis Group Licensing Page.)

Gamification is design that places the most emphasis on human motivation in the process. In essence, it is Human-Focused Design (as opposed to “function-focused design”).

Gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities. This process is what I call “Human-Focused Design,” as opposed to “Function-Focused Design.” It’s a design process that optimizes for human motivation in a system, as opposed to pure efficiency.

Most systems are “function-focused,” designed to get the job done quickly. This is like a factory that assumes its workers will do their jobs because they are required to. However, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in a system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do certain things, and therefore optimizes for their feelings, motivations, and engagement.

The reason we call it gamification is because the gaming industry was the first to master Human-Focused Design.

Games have no other purpose than to please the individual playing them. Yes, there are often “objectives” in games, such as killing a dragon or saving the princess, and sometimes saving a dragon, but those are all excuses to simply keep the player happily entertained.

Since games have spent decades (or even centuries depending on how you qualify a game) learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and that is why we call it Gamification.

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[Guest Post] When online brands meet social engagement – a match made in heaven

Engaged User

How behavioral economics has turned online brands into emotionally rewarding user experiences – offering a whole new engaging ecosystem within their online assets.

(Below is a guest post by the Gamification and Engagement Platform Captain Up. They are a tool that easily allows any website to implement game design elements to motivate behavior. If you notice, the little widget on the right side of my side is from Captain Up.)

Behavioral economics is a fascinating scientific field. It revolves around the way in which we make decisions and what drives us to do what we do. This is a new bonanza for prominent online brands – a better understanding of their followers and clients, more accurate compliance to their needs. There is no doubt that viewing user engagement as a revenue enhancer is an innovative concept for online brands and a noteworthy trend.

What was once only part of hugely popular social games like “Candy Crush” and “Clash of Clans” is now driving new and exciting engagement features for leading online brands.

Turning motivations into actions

It’s no secret that user acquisition and online marketing are an endless challenge, and that’s even before we get started on user loyalty. It is a Sisyphic struggle, constantly seeking to get new clients on board while also preserving the existing ones. However, the modern online marketer’s arsenal hasn’t really evolved over the past couple of years. User acquisition tools have mainly focused on more-of-the-same marketing methodologies generating more-of-the-same results. But there’s a wind of change blowing.

“Total immersion” – the essence of successful brands

In this day and age, maintaining a great brand is much more than advertising or marketing. It is not all about the quality of your product or service but about the adrenaline rush created by a flawless and exciting user experience, driving users in and getting them to come back for more.

This user experience is driven by what is called “total immersion”. The whole brand scenery surrounds the user, creating a unique atmosphere and a special vibe people get hooked on.

But what creates this atmosphere? Well… everything. From the big picture to the smallest details, every aspect of the user’s journey is pre-calculated and designed to support their decision making process.

Spot the right motivations and provide solutions

The basic assumptions for boosting user involvement and loyalty through engagement are:

  • People are looking for a sense of belonging – belonging to a community is a valid and powerful incentive to act upon. (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness in the Octalysis Framework)
  • The right reward for the right action – customizing and offering the right rewards for preferred actions drives excellent engagement from users.
  • Good design has super-powers – getting a message through to users and driving them to action is a form of art combined with psychology. Great and carefully planned design can do magic to online user engagement.
  • People want to be engaged – they are just looking for a good enough reason to engage with your particular experience.
  • Content is king – it won’t do you any good trying to motivate and incentivize your users if your basic offering – your content, service, or product – isn’t good enough. Offer great content and start from there.

Captain Up – The new generation of user engagement solutions for super brands

Today’s brands realize that in order to attain a new level of brand loyalty and engagement with their fans they have to act differently and enhance the user experience dramatically. To do so, the startup Captain Up has developed a platform that aims directly to the heart of these needs.

Captain Up has developed a SaaS platform to provide a new generation of retention and loyalty, based on insights from behavioral economics. The user engagement platform enables online businesses and brands to add social and gaming mechanics, turning visitors into active loyal users.

The outcome is an immediate impact on user loyalty and behavioral patterns once exposed to the exciting features. Most users are drawn to the the new sensation of belonging and involvement, turning a lot of them into brand ambassadors.

Octalysis Case Study: From a few thousand monthly visitors to a Million with DreamsCloud

Octalysis Case Study

Case Study: how I helped DreamsCloud dominate the dream world

It’s rare that I get permission to share the work I do and the ROI Octalysis helps to generate with clients, so when I get the opportunity to share the results of my work, I quickly jump on it (at the bottom you will see why I got the permission to share from the CEO).

These days I’ve been working with all sort of companies, from Fortune 500’s to universities to governments. However, some of my favorite work still lies in my roots – the Startup World.

Startups are fun to work with because, almost by definition, they are doing things that have never been done before. They don’t latch onto the status quo because they know the status quo is death, and they do everything possible to innovate and turn the needle from certain death to world-changing glory. Whereas large companies often make a handful of big experiments a year, startups often make company-altering experiments multiple times a week. 

One such startup is DreamsCloud. DreamsCloud is a pioneering startup in getting people to input and share their dreams every morning when they wake up. After people share their dreams, professional dream reflectors and dream enthusiasts alike can share their wisdom and insights on what the dreams mean. You may think this is an odd space to be in, but every month there are more than 90 million people online searching what their dreams mean. That’s almost a third of the US population searching for dream meanings on a monthly basis!

The Behavioral Challenge

The challenge for the company is that, dreams must be recorded immediately after a person wakes up, because after a minute or two, the person will likely forget their dream. However, when most people wake up in the morning, recording their dreams is not likely the activity they are most concerned about. They are brushing their teeth, preparing for breakfast, and getting ready for work/school.

I was brought in to help them improve the Desired Behavior of doing the activity loop of recording their dreams, as well as registering on the site, reading about other dreams, and creating a social community. 

The Octalysis Difference

When I first started contributing, the company didn’t have much traction. They were exploring pioneers in uncharted territories, and while having solid technology, it is tremendously difficult for most people to alter behavior. They were trying many ideas through different products, but none had caught on greatly. 

Octalysis Case Study 3

WEEKLY Traffic from Mid 2014 – Mid 2015. Stagnant at 2000 – 3000 visitors in April 2015.

As you can see from the WEEKLY traffic view, from mid 2014 to mid 2015 things were relatively stagnant. They had about 2,000 – 4,000 visitors a week, which is by all means not bad, but not enough to make them successful.

However, after working with the team of incredibly smart and hard working people (as well as other experts and agencies), after 2015 they saw a massive breakthrough and grew tremendously into a dominating position. They went from mere thousands of unique visitors a month to over a million per month.

Octalysis Case Study 4As you can see, by Jan 2016, they had over 280,000 visitors a week, breaking the 1 Million Visitors per month threshold and still growing!

And that’s not all of it. Their conversion rates from visitor to registered user were in the double digits, and more impressively, 60% of newly registered users recorded a dream within 12 hours! 

I would again like to repeat that this result is the combined effort of lots of great people, from their organic marketing company SEERS Interactive, their engineering team, designers, product managers, all the way up to the visionary CEO. I in no way claim that I was the ONE who made all this happen, but I can say with certainty that I made a tangible difference in helping them get where they are today. Continue reading

4 Dominant Applications of Gamification in 2016

Octalysis Gamification Framework

4 Dominant Applications of Gamification in 2016

(Below is a snippet of Gamification Book: Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. If you like this blog post, you will LOVE the book.)

Now that we have covered the different implementation methods for gamification, we will explore the various applications of gamification in several industries.

In general, the majority of my clients represent four fields that I consistently see innovating time and time again, indicating a tremendous amount of application and growth in these sectors:

  • Product Gamification
  • Workplace Gamification
  • Marketing Gamification
  • Lifestyle Gamification

1) Product Gamification

Product Gamification is about making a product, online or offline, more engaging, fun, and inspirational through game design. Most companies struggle to create products that customers fall in love with, continue using, and passionately share with their friends. Some of these products have great “functional” purposes, but don’t focus on the motivation and Core Drives of their users.

In a previous era, consumers didn’t have adequate information and were accustomed to slow gratification. Along with immense barriers for starting new companies, it was not as detrimental for a company to simply assume that customers would use their products – provided that they were marketed correctly. However, people today are spoiled with instant gratification through the Internet, with immersive empowerment and real-time feedback through games, and the constant connection to their social network. Your users, customers, and employees are becoming less tolerant of badly designed products that do not take into account their motivations, especially when they have a variety of competitive alternatives they can choose from.

Status Quo Sloth of Startup Adoption

Many corporations and startups excitedly tell me, “Our product is great! Users can do this; users can do that; and they can even do these things!” And my response to them has been, “Yes, you are telling me all the things your users *can* do. But you have not explained to me *why* the user would do it.”

That’s the problem with a majority of company products – great technology and functionalities, but no traction. People don’t have a reason to go out of their way to use the product. Sometimes, a startup founder tells me, “Hey, Yu-kai, there’s no reason why people wouldn’t use our product. We save them money, we save them time, and we make their lives better.” On lucky days, customers themselves would even say, “Yeah, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t use your product. It saves me money, it saves me time, and it makes my life better. I’ll definitely sign-up sometime tomorrow.”

For those who have run startups or launched products before, you know the crucial part of the entire phrase is the ending. When people say they will do it “tomorrow,” more often than not it means “never.” This is because at this point they are motivated by Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance, and specifically by something I call Status Quo Sloth (Game Technique #85) – they are avoiding a change in their habits and behavior.

Remember how we talked about how Gamification is actually Human-Focused Design learned from decades, even centuries of game design experience? When you are launching a new product, its motivational standing is very similar to a game. No one has to play a game. You have to do your taxes; you have to go to work; and you really should go to the gym. But you never have to play a game, and let’s be honest, oftentimes you shouldn’t.

Because games have invested an amazing amount of creativity, innovation, and resources into figuring out how to get people to want to spend more time on them, there are definitely many great lessons you can learn from games for your own products. The key here is to make a product so exciting that customers become obsessed with using your product and are compelled to share how exciting their experiences were to their friends.

2) Workplace Gamification

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Top 10 Mistakes I Made In My Life

Top Mistakes

The end of the year is a good time to reflect and learn. I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Some were more penalizing than others, and some may have cost me my company or set back years of my efforts.

Fortunately, because I also did a few things correctly, I ended up okay. But these mistakes are valuable lessons for me today, and likely for new entrepreneurs who want to maneuver the crazy startup/life jungle.

Interestingly, as I look through the list below, I realized one of the common themes in the mistakes below relate to caring too much about what other people think but not following what made sense to me. Good advice is golden, but following bad advice or mere pure pressure may be detrimental for an entrepreneur.

Here is list my top 10 mistakes in life as an entrepreneur.

10) Listen to MBA students from Anderson School to write a 60 page business plan

When I started my first technology startup as an undergrad at UCLA, I looked towards some students at the Anderson business school for some mentorship. To an undergrad student interested in business, MBA students were like masters of the universe, and we believed in everything they said. They advised that I create a very robust business plan that factored in all the MBA training they were receiving.

This whole process took more than 4 months of valuable startup execution time, especially when our plans keep changing. When the business plan was already 55 pages long, one of the MBA students said, “you still missed a section on listing out and describing the 5 Risk.” That was another one week.

At the end of the day, once I finally proudly displayed my 60 page bullet proof business plan to a Venture Capitalist, she annoying told me, “Oh we don’t look at anything beyond a presentation deck or a 1-page executive summary.” That crushed me.

Lesson Learned: just because someone is successful in their own rights doesn’t mean they are the expert at what you are doing. MBA students are generally smart individuals who worked mostly entry-level at big corporations like Consulting or Investment Banking Firms. Their achievements of being there is highly respectable, but often they don’t know a lot about how the startup world works.

Your divorce lawyer uncle is not a corporate lawyer. Don’t mistaken success to true relevant expertise.

9) Spent too much time making my first business “look legit”

Similar to the mistake above, when I started my very first business (not tech startup) first year in college, I was enthralled with the idea of having my own business.

I spent a lot of time figuring out legal options, website stuff, logos and business cards – basically the things that made me look like a “legitimate business.”

I did that for a couple months, and I felt great about it. However, I later realized I didn’t spend any time making my business actually more valuable. My ego probably got in the way (you know, like giving people a business card with a fancy logo that says you are CEO of your company), but since my business didn’t have true value or content, eventually all that was trashed as I moved on to other ideas, logos, websites and concepts.

Lesson Learned: many of the most successful companies came about as hobby projects that didn’t have any business structure before they got traction. Instead of making your business “look” legit, it is much better to focus on your product or talking to customers to ensure that they would actually buy your service once it is ready.

8) Trying too hard to fit into my business fraternity

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Serious Games, Advergames, Gameful Design? Implicit vs Explicit Gamification

Serious Games

Serious Games, Advergames, Gameful Design? Implicit vs Explicit Gamification

(Below is a snippet of Gamification Book: Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. If you like this blog post, you will LOVE the book. This is also a flushed out version of my guest post at G.co)

One of the most popular debates and criticisms in the gamification industry is what is considered gamification and how it relates to Serious Games and Advergames.

For those who are unfamiliar with these terms, Wikipedia defines serious games as, “a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment.” In other words, games that are generally built for a productive purpose, such as training, education, healthcare, and the like (Hence, the term “serious”).

BusinessDictionary.com defines advergames as, “A video game which in some way contains an advertisement for a product, service, or company.” These are games that basically act as interactive advertisement campaigns which draw potential customers onto a website or into a business. When I refer to “shoot-the-duck banner ads” as early and embarrassing forms of marketing gamification, those banner ads are technically classified as Advergames.

As you can see, both definitions have the word “a game” in them, which seems to go against the core essence of what “gamifying” something means. In my own writings, I talk about how you can gamify anything that involves human motivation, as long as it is not already a game, just like how you can’t liquefy liquid. You can however, apply better game design to games.

So because advergames and serious games are “games,” by that standard you can’t really gamify them. Right?

The Semantics of Gamification vs. The Value of Gamification

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