How to Add Epic Meaning and Calling into Your Lifestyle Design: Lifestyle Gamification Examples 1/8

This series is written by Erik van Mechelen, based on the Octalysis framework by Yu-kai Chou. 

Gamification in your life

Yes, gamification can be used to improve your lifestyle.

You’re probably already doing it. If you’re a parent helping your child with homework, you’re helping your son or daughter be the best they can be because you believe in education to change their life.

Gamification, depending on how you define it, is essentially positive psychology combined with game design. Throw in a bit of behavioral science, motivation, and design and you have a working definition of gamification.

Yu-kai likes to call this human-focused design (not to be confused with IDEO’s human-centered design).

This contrasts function-focused design (this chair is for sitting, nothing else).

Because human motivation is complex and complicated, we need to account for the various drives that play into it. Why do we want to move towards something better? Or away from something worse? Because we want what’s best for our life. Isn’t it as simple as that?

Simply stated, perhaps. But creating a life is what we are all doing and aim to do each moment of our day. How well you execute or live within the framework and models you’ve constructed (whether internally or externally) give you some experience on the spectrum from suffering to satisfaction.

In Yu-kai’s Octalysis framework, there are 8 Core Drives (and one hidden Core Drive) to behavior. If none of the drives are present, there is no behavior.

In this series, I’ll take each of the Core Drives one at a time to give you a detailed look at how each contributes to lifestyle and how you can apply more or less of each into your lifestyle design to improve your life satisfaction.

Ready to get started with Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling?

Yes? Good, me too!

Continue reading How to Add Epic Meaning and Calling into Your Lifestyle Design: Lifestyle Gamification Examples 1/8

3 Reasons Holacracy Didn’t Work for Medium: A Perspective from Octalysis Design

This post was written by Erik van Mechelen and takes the lens of Octalysis, a human-focused design framework built by Yu-kai Chou.

From first principles

Management is meant to facilitate the best use of people and their skills/talents toward productivity in pursuit of an organization’s objectives. This is what management is (in my words).

Management fits into a larger structural system, which could be flat or hierarchical or hybrid. (Big misconception: Holacracy = Flat…it doesn’t.)

I previously wrote about the Holacracy experiment at Zappos led by Tony Hsieh, which took about 2.5 years to get up and running for a 1,000-employee company. As I learn more about Holacracy itself and do more thinking about leadership and management and productivity, I can’t help thinking about why some systems work for some companies and not for others.

What distinguishes a framework that works in one instance but not another?

In this article, I’ll take a think through some possibilities in the context of Zappos’s continued experiment with Holacracy and Medium’s decision to abort it.

Continue reading 3 Reasons Holacracy Didn’t Work for Medium: A Perspective from Octalysis Design

Gamification Analysis of Audible: Octalysis Level 2, Scaffolding Phase

This post was written by contributing writer Erik van Mechelen based on the Octalysis framework designed by Yu-kai Chou.

Entering the Audible Scaffolding phase

Getting beyond Discovery and Onboarding is impressive. But products and experiences really need to shine during the Scaffolding phase if they want to get Players to the Endgame.

Scaffolding starts once a player has learned the basic tools and rules to play the game and has achieved the “First Major Win-State.”

Yu-kai wrote about Scaffolding over here, but this is the key piece:

Regarding the scaffolding phase, one thing to note is that more often than not, it requires the exact same (or very similar) actions on a regular/daily basis, and the Gamification designer must answer the question, “why would my users come back over and over again for the same actions?”

Once you understand the intrinsic and extrinsic trigger/action/reward loops, you can deliver them via the experience.

Keep note that usually extrinsic rewards are better at attracting people to participate in the first place (Discovery and Onboarding), but towards the Scaffolding and EndGame, you want to transition to intrinsic motivation as much as possible.

Continue reading Gamification Analysis of Audible: Octalysis Level 2, Scaffolding Phase

10 Collection Experiences We Can’t Live Without

This post was written by contributing writer Erik van Mechelen.

Collect till you can’t anymore

There’s something about collecting things that is an essential part of the human experience.

It’s in our nature.

We organized in groups to hunt and gather. Okay, we needed to survive.

But now we continue to collect.

Sure, there’s a counter-movement (minimalism), but even minimalists are in the business of collecting, often collecting experiences or relationships or something else they consider more valuable than material goods.

We collect stamps, rocks, feathers, books, ideas, friends, relationships, experiences. There’s something about it that we can’t avoid. Collecting can be about ownership and possession, or wealth and status, but however defined, you know it when you see it.

There’s a downside to collecting too much (perhaps). We all laugh or shake our heads when we see true hoarders in action, or people trampling one another on Black Friday. This could be some deranged form of the collecting mindset gone astray.

But it’s hard to make a case against the value of collections, whether inherent to themselves or to produce time savings or personalization.

Collections can be added to experiences, like my biology teacher in high school who had us collect 20 insects during our insect study (yes, it felt like Pokemon in real life). I get the same feeling as I collect knowledge and ideas from lectures and edutainment on YouTube.

When you interview for a job, the hiring manager will ask you for a collection of your experiences to discover if you have the skills and mindset to do the job and fit the culture of their company.

At bottom, life is a collection of experiences. Our past and present and future experiences coalesce to make a life. Collections matter.

Continue reading 10 Collection Experiences We Can’t Live Without

Tulips, Truffles, Diamonds, and Speakeasies: How to Get Scarcity Right (and How to Get it Wrong)


This article was written by contributing writer Erik van Mechelen

Scarcity Done Right (and Wrong)

What do tulips, Truffles, Diamonds, and Speakeasies have in common? To me, they all involve scarcity (or have in the past, in the case of tulips).

We know Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience is a Left Brain Black Hat motivator. Too much of it in a design can lead to burn out.

But at the right quantities, it can help drive desired behavior. Yu-kai has talked about how he used scarcity for productivity on his book and we’ve written about why year-end goals are more interesting than New Year’s resolutions. These examples emphasized how scarcity and impatience could amplify an experience and lead to Desired Actions and Win-States.

Scarcity is good IF you get a payoff.

Sometimes, I wonder if scarcity can change its face and blink into the White Hat region. I want to be considered the best fantasy writer in the decade from 2020 to 2030. There can only be one best writer, so this position is scarce indeed. However, in Octalysis, this is positioned more so under Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment than in scarcity. However, like my mom used to tell me when girlfriends would dump me: “Sometimes it’s what you can’t have that drives you, Erik.” This dual feeling of knowing it’s really unlikely to happen but believing I can get there, to me, blends scarcity with accomplishment.

What if someone knows scarcity is a thing and doesn’t like that you use it? What response might they have?

Continue reading Tulips, Truffles, Diamonds, and Speakeasies: How to Get Scarcity Right (and How to Get it Wrong)