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Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework


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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My talk at Google on Octalysis Gamification

My talk at Google on Octalysis Gamification

Earlier I had the pleasure to do a speech at Google regarding my work on Octalysis Gamification. It is probably the most complete 1.5 hour length content of my work (the next level up is my 4 hour Workshops, 3-Day Workshops, reading my book, and the upcoming Octalysis Prime.

For those who have already heard me speak many times and have read my book or blog posts, some new and interesting information make come in the form of the Q&A, at 1:19:40.


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.

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 2

Monthly Traffic from Mid 2014 – Mid 2015. Stagnant at 6000-7000 Visitors at Mid 2015.

As you can see from the monthly traffic view, from mid 2014 to mid 2015 things were relatively stagnant. They had about 6,000-7,000 visitors a month, 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

Monthly Traffic from Mid 2015 – Beginning 2016. Topping off at 1.25 Million Visitors at Jan 2016.

As you can see, by Jan 2016, they had over 1.25 visitors a month, breaking the 1 Million Visitors per month threshold with flying colors!

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

The Taiwanese Government has gamified Tax Collection since 1951!

Government Gamification

Government Gamification on Tax Collection

Taiwan is my home country and as I became more knowledgeable in gamification, I continue to be more impressed with the level of gamification that is implemented in its society and culture (without these innovations ever really being called gamification). One of the things I have been most impressed with is how the Taiwanese government uses gamification (specifically Rolling Rewards) to ensure tax compliance.

Tax evasion is very common in most countries, where businesses prefer to take cash over credit cards so they could report less on their earnings. Most countries use the penalizing Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance by cracking down and punishing companies that evade taxes when they are caught, but besides a chronic lack of complete enforcement, it is also extremely costly to investigate all the businesses that are suspected of tax evasion.

Introducing Core Drive 7 into Taiwan’s gamified tax collection process

As early as 1951, the Taiwanese government has sought to resolve this problem by doing two things. First, it unified all receipt and invoicing systems into a central system, which means that all businesses that give out a receipt would have the unique receipt number and amount sent to the government for tax reporting.

But the second step is where we see true innovation. The Taiwanese government turned each receipt and invoice number into a lottery ticket for citizens to play. For every odd-numbered month, citizens can see if their receipt numbers match the winning prize, with the first place winning the equivalent of $62,000 (about 5 years worth of salary for an average new college graduate), second place $6,200, and scaling all the way down to $7 wins.

Because of this “Uniform Invoice Lottery” system, consumers are now demanding receipts and invoices from businesses, preventing the businesses from evading taxes by exchanging cash under the table. Not only that, consumers are likely to be willing to spend more since every time they make a purchase they can become a winner, boosting the economy in the process.

Even my grandmother has won many of the small $7 and $31 wins over the past two decades, just by doing what she already does – buy groceries, food, and gas.

As a result of the Uniform Invoice Lottery, the Finance Ministry collected 75% more in tax revenue in 1951 compared to 1950. Great ROI, especially for government efforts.

This has been so successful that the government added much higher prizes after that, topping at over $300,000 prize money, or the equivalent of over 25 years of salary.

In 2006, the Taiwanese government even started to transition these unified invoices into e-invoices, reducing the involved processing costs by $250 million and saving 80,000 trees every year.

We should see more of our governments implementing innovative solutions by motivating and engaging its constituency instead of just clamping down harder or making punishments for infractions more severe.

[Octalysis Guest Post] The Alchemy of Ingress

Ingress Gamification

“Ingress is an acceptable lifestyle choice”  – @Hosette, R1

How Ingress uses gamification and the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis to engage users

(Below is a guest post by Anne Miles. Email yukai[at]yukaichou[dot]com if you have would like to guest post about gamification/Octalysis/Behavioral Design)

For the past three years I’ve been immersed in a global gaming subculture that thrives around the augmented reality game, Ingress. Then I read Yukai’s book and was immediately struck by the Core Drives and how applicable they are to problem-solving in general.  As a User Experience professional, I’ve taken a lot from what I have learned playing the game. My clients and colleagues are always surprised when I say that. They see games as merely entertainment. (One in particular can’t finish a sentence without saying “Roll Tide,” yet he isn’t connecting how deeply games can impact people. Seriously.)

What I know, and what many Ingress players know, is that while games can indeed serve as nothing but escapism or entertainment, they also have the potential to be a shortcut to personal and professional growth. They inspire, motivate, teach and yes, turn into obsessions. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about that through the game Ingress in Octalysis parlance. You can read more about Octalysis here. Then I’d like to explain how I’m using what I’ve learned in my own business. To do that, let me set the scene. You need to understand how Ingress works to understand how the Core Drives apply.

You can download an app on your Android or iOS phone that lets you track places in the world that have XM, or exotic matter, bubbling through them. These places all have certain things in common. There are breathtaking public sculptures or murals, important historic sites, natural wonders. 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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