Octalysis – complete Gamification framework

This post is a high-level introduction to Octalysis, the Gamification Framework I created after more than 10 years of Gamification research and study. Within a year of publication, Octalysis was organically translated into 9 languages and became required literature in Gamfication instruction worldwide.

Click the “Continue reading –>” link below to learn about Octalysis.

Continue reading Octalysis – complete Gamification framework

How FITology Used Running to Create an Alternate Reality Adventure

How can you engage your employees to a common Corporate Social Responsibility cause – in a fun and healthy fashion? Here’s how FITology created an alternate reality game to help an organization raise funds for charitable cause.

Running is the new craze

Running is the new craze today. Nearly every 35 – 45 year old white collar employee who wants to get started on her / his fitness journey starts by running. In most of the metropolitan cities around the world short and long runs are organized every fortnight or month. There are communities, organizations and associations which run together. Raising money for charitable causes via long-distance races has become a fairly common, BIG thing.

We wanted to work with this opportunity. We wanted to raise as much charity possible from a group of employees working for a multinational company who live and work all over the world. And we wanted to do it on the backdrop of a Marathon. The question was how do we design a gameful experience to motivate these multicultural, global employees.

We listed our limitations first – why might people not want to donate –

1.      Not all the employees would be able to run for the cause – can’t be physically part of the initiative because of location or physical capacity constraints

2.      Not all the employees relate to running as a physical activity – they don’t believe it is strenuous enough for their friends who are running. So it doesn’t motivate these employees to donate in support of their friends who are running

3.      Not all the employees relate to the same cause – we were raising money for one very specific cause and not all people might have same feeling about that cause. Some people might already be donating to a different cause

And we started to build our solution around these three critical aspects in mind. Our key guiding principles became –

Everyone should be able to play (be part of the game physically),

with whatever physical activity (and not just running),

and raise for whatever charity they support (and not just our cause)

This is what we did –

We chose world’s highest marathon as the backdrop. Two employees (let’s call them S and V) from the company were actually running in Ladakh, midst of Himalayas, 3500 metres above the sea level. With low oxygen levels, any physical activity becomes daunting. It was risky but an exciting proposition to get all the eyeballs at this initiative – #BeMoreHuman.

S and V were running to raise funds to support for the education of young homeless girls in North India. We asked employees to run with S and V. Not physically, but in spirit. Yes, they did not actually have to run and not even on some particular date or at a particular time. For the whole month before the actual marathon run of S and V, the employees could do whatever physical activities they wanted to / they usually do, and that would be converted into equivalent miles.

They could decide for themselves, how many equivalent miles they would do in a month and accordingly pledge dollar amount for their favorite charity / cause.

To make it easier for employees to choose (Ground rule – 3 choices are more than enough), we gave them certain brackets. 26 miles in a month for a $100 pledge, 39 miles in a month for a $ 75 pledge, 52 miles a month for a $ 50 pledge. If employees completed their target equivalent miles, they would pay the pledge amount to whatever charity they want to support. By default, the option was the cause S & V were supporting. If the employees did x miles over and above target equivalent miles, they will have to donate pledge minus x dollars. If the employees did x miles under the target equivalent miles, they will have to donate pledge plus x dollars. For example, if an employee opted for 26 equivalent mile bracket and he ended up doing 30 equivalent miles by end of the month, he would only have to pay $100 – 4 = $96 as donation. By this, we were incentivizing people to do more of physical activities.

At the same time, making any donations at all was not compulsory – it had to be done on free good will. The employees were explicitly told that they could chuck all the mathematics at the end and donate as much as they want to the charity / cause they have already selected.

The span of this game was 30 days. Employees had to self-nominate to opt in to the game. They had to opt in with their equivalent miles estimate and charity / cause they support.

This is how it went –

We got a huge list of participation as soon as we opened for enrollments. People of various ages, in different countries, at different fitness levels were just all nominating themselves to be a part of this. We got about 38% employees to participate in just about two days (which is a massive number) and with a few more leadership messages and examples of people who had registered, we eventually closed the registrations with about 56% of employees registered as participants.

Every week, the participants would send a list of physical activities they did. We got responses ranging from step count to swimming to basket ball to yoga and some people did send 5-6 hours on PS3 as well.

As feedback, we would publish a public scorecard to all participants which showed how far they are from their target and little updates from how is it going at their charity / cause.

Eventually about 30% people did exceed their target equivalent miles but they still did donate the amount they had initially planned for. Some of the people who could not reach their set targets, were not really generous with donations – but that is ok.

S and V had a great run and the company was able to collect a very good amount of donation for the noble cause. Employees did not mind because –

Relatedness – they were a part of something bigger, it was not just their health but education of the underprivileged.

Competence – they were free to do the physical activities they knew or felt comfortable with – it could be just steps or their daily gym routines or running, swimming, biking – anything under the sun was allowed

Autonomy – they were free to opt in, choose their own target as per their capacity and even if they lose, choose how much money they wanted to donate.

Saamir is the founder of FITology. He creates alternate reality games to nudge people towards a healthier lifestyle. Over the last five years, he has developed and executed fun, engaging and gamified concepts for people across geographies, cultures and ages. As an ex-strategy consultant, he has advised world’s largest oil, chemicals and electricity companies on growth, cost reduction and operations optimization. He is also a Crossfit L1 Trainer, ACE Certified Group Instructor and trained dancer & actor. He loves to travel around the world and make new friends.

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 14 – Saving the Real World Together

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr By taking a long view and using game design now, we can save the real world together.


Will Wright shared that he believes one of the largest skills to be gained from playing games is a better imagination. Why? For the survival of humanity.

Survival is present in many games from the Sims to Black and White to Civilization.

World without Oil was a collaborative forecasting and problem-solving game which helped people expand their imaginations through fictional obstacles.

Superstruct Ten Year Forecast was yet another collaborative game created and run by McGonigal’s Institute for the Future, which developed 550 superstructs, or combinations of structural solutions to problems.


This final chapter is largely example driven and uncontroversial. Essentially, it is a rallying call for Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling.

Together, we can tackle what may be the most worthwhile, most epic obstacle of all: a whole-planetary mission, to use games to raise global quality of life, to prepare ourselves for the future, and to sustain our earth for the next millennium and beyond.

What’s next?

Congratulations! You completed the Reality is Broken readalong!

Which book should we read together next?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

The Great Delhi Run–How FITology used an Alternate Reality Game to Break the Ice

Adventures @ FITology | #1 – The Great Delhi Run | Alternate Reality Game

This article was written by Saamir Gupta, Founder of FITology. (See bottom of article for full bio.)

Day 1: 7:00 pm, Hotel ITC, Delhi

Imagine, you have taken a long flight to India. This is your first evening in Delhi and you are having dinner with your colleagues from all round the world. You are part of this pool of 20 senior management handpicked to start a new business model for your company. And your discussions with them, as a team start tomorrow. But instead of the work agenda for the next day, at the dinner table, you are handed this brief –

Continue reading The Great Delhi Run–How FITology used an Alternate Reality Game to Break the Ice

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 13 – Collaboration Superpowers

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr When we work together, we win.


McGonigal describes three aspects of concerted effort:

  • cooperating – acting purposefully toward a common goal
  • coordinating – synchronizing efforts and sharing resources
  • cocreating – producing a novel outcome together

These elements help lead to shared concentration, synchronized engagement, mutual regard, collective commitment, and reciprocal rewards.


McGonigal opens the chapter with statistics about how much kids game vs how much they read, and develops this argument to encourage us as a society to use our collective ability to play games well for good.

(Off topic: I think we’d do well also to increase literacy and reading, since reading often leads to better critical thinking and the ability to reason and create arguments, a valuable tool in conflict resolution and problem solving…maybe games can teach us how to read and debate!)

Game designers and developers today are working within contexts where massive real-time coordination tools, collaborative creation systems, and lightweight, asynchronous collaboration are possible.

I like McGonigal’s collaboration superpowers:

  • high ping quotient: extraordinary collaborators have no qualms about pinging or reaching out via electronic means to others for participation
  • collaboration radar: extraordinary collaborators develop a kind of sixth sense about who would make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission
  • emergensight: the ability to thrive in a chaotic collaborative environment

What do you think?

What collaboratories are you a part of? (Besides Octalysis Prime of course!)

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 12 – Missions Impossible

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr We need to create more moments and chances for epic wins.


Experimental games like The Extraordinaries, Groundcrew, and Lost Joules give players the chance to experience epic wins in their daily lives. Compared with games, reality is unambitious. Games help us define awe-inspiring goals and tackle seemingly impossible social missions together.


The Extraordinaries was a great example of a micro-task on-demand app for non-profits. It hasn’t taken off since its launch in 2009, though the company did raise a seed round of funding in 2011. My guess is that Kickstarter and Patreon are filling this void.

Groundcrew was an early version of Fiver or TaskRabbit for the real world. Players can ask for help in the real world, even for something as basic as a latté, and another player can bring it to her.

I agree with McGonigal’s focus on designing social participation tasks as well as human intelligence tasks.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk seems to have grown into the lasting and scalable version for human intelligence tasks.

Lost Joules doesn’t seem to have a successor, except that many smart environmental devices come equipped with their own usage data interfaces (think Nest).

Overall, McGonigal was right about the scalability of seemingly impossible missions, but some areas, like climate change, global economic crises, food insecurity, geopolitical instability, and rising rates of depression are still open to gameful design at a large scale social level.

One quip I have with this chapter is its focus on the large scale. I doubt McGonigal intends to suggest that small wins in our daily social lives don’t matter, but by focusing only on the large scale she does suggest that many things need to be bigger and better to draw our motivational attention. In my personal life, there are many small things I do to contribute to progress on a social level in my community (like small talk, volunteerism).

What do you think?

What social movements could benefit from a more focused behavioral design?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).