Octalysis Group is hiring – The 2017 Octalysis Challenge!

Search for the best Gamification Designer

My company The Octalysis Group is recruiting a new part-time or full-time (remote) Trainee to help our efforts in designing engaging gamified solutions for clients around the world.

For that we launched the Octalysis Design Challenge 2017.

What you get as the top gamification designer

– the opportunity to work with the world’s leading experts in Gamification and Behavioral Design
– a great team with fun people, where only merit counts
– full transparency and full autonomy
– work from wherever you are in the world
– a full time position with a base pay and excellent bonus prospects (semi part-time openings available as well)

How to apply for the Challenge?

The challenge is to create a better and more engaging experience for the successful Habitica app using the Octalysis Framework.

Click on this link for instructions

A selected few will become finalists and present their work to me.

The good thing: every submission that passes our scrutiny will also get a Level 1 Octalysis Certificate!

Please send your Challenge Submissions to joris [at] octalysisgroup [period] com
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 3 MARCH 201

Top 10 eCommerce Gamification Examples that will Revolutionize Shopping

eCommerce Gamification

The power of eCommerce Gamification

Shopping has evolved so much from traditional market exchanges. It completely transformed from acquiring of needed goods into a rich experience that integrates deeply into every single culture of civilizations that can afford to power such an activity. People shop for fun, and for many (ahem, me not included), shopping could still be an epic win after spending 3 hours in a mall without buying a single item.  (In the rulebook for my game, if I am shopping for over an hour and I bought nothing, I felt that I have failed. No Win-State for me…)

As shopping went online, a lot of the fun, interactive, and social experiences of shopping disappeared. However, it opened up a whole new world of other fun and exciting activities that could make shopping even more addicting than ever – except this time within the comforts of my home, and I can achieve my win-states much more often.

There is where eCommerce Gamification comes in place. Awesomely, many eCommerce gamification examples out there have actively improved sales and conversions by double or even triple digits towards the right direction, and some helped eCommerce sites become $Billion businesses!

Below I present to you 10 stellar eCommerce Gamification examples that will revolutionize shopping.

eCommerce Gamification #1: eBay’s Bidding and Feedback System

When it comes to early good gamification, few can match eBay’s ability to bring out our Core Drives.

If you were to just think of creating an ecommerce store, it’s not necessarily intuitive to have a competitive bidding system, real-time feedback, and stars for leveling up that eBay introduced.

The power of eBay is that buying items on eBay isn’t just a “purchase” like most ecommerce sites (Core Drive: Ownership & Possession in Octalysis), but when you buy something on eBay, you felt that you WON! Even though you might have paid 10% more compared to what you initially wanted to pay, you felt that you beat the other bastards who were bidding against you, sealing your victory. This is enormously a good example of Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

Add that to trying to improve your seller’s %, getting more stars, improving feedback scores, and constantly checking back to see if you have gotten new bids or competition (Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience as well as Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity), finally leading to NOT wanting to lose the deal (Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance), no wonder everyone keeps saying, “eBay is so addicting!”

eCommerce Gamification #2: Woot.com Daily Deal System

The online retailer, Woot offers only one initial product per day in
limited quantities at a special sale price.  A new product will be
offered only after the supply of the first product has been exhausted,
or by 12:00 AM Central Time.  Each day people will wait for the next
product to be introduced, often at the midnight hour.

Since each product is limited and unknown beforehand, there are a
combination of factors which influence the site’s shoppers.  They know
that the next item up can be desirable and yet limited in quantities.

They also know that they could be disappointed in the particular
product, and have no desire to acquire it.  Thus, Woot’s users are
attracted by the motivation to find out what will be offered and how
“rare” they might perceive it to be.

Often times, when people log onto Woot.com at 4PM, they would see that amazing deal, but unfortunately sold out. After a few days, they feel a stronger desire to finally be able to get the deal. As a result, a bunch of people starts to go on Woot at 11:59PM, constantly refreshing their page, so they can immediately see the new deal, and potentially scoop it up if it’s appealing.

When you get users to change their daily habits before going to bed like Woot.com, you are demonstrating an amazing utilization of Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity, as well as Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience.

eCommerce Gamification #3: Nike’s Winter’s Angry Campaign

Continue reading Top 10 eCommerce Gamification Examples that will Revolutionize Shopping

Gamifying Company Politics: Chou’s Corporate Player Types

Corporate Gamification Player TypesThe Corporate Environment is a Terrible Game

This post is a little different to what I usually write. It is not about my Octalysis Framework (but there are some core foundational principles derived from it), but rather on my observations after working with a significant amount of corporate companies.

Most employees dislike the politics and culture within their corporate environment for a multitude of reasons.

  • Your coworkers and allies are also your competitors.
  • You don’t know who is actually playing nice or pretending to play nice.
  • Sucking up seems to be more important than doing good work.
  • When working between departments, people would spend an hour explaining why they shouldn’t do something that would take 15 minutes.
  • People fight to claim credit and put the blame on others.

This has demoralized the motivation of many employees, which results in low productivity, bad-mouthing the company after work, and high turnover rate.

Of course, being a manager is extremely difficult too. You have to deal with this most fuzzy thing called human emotions. It’s confusing and irrational. Many of the smartest people in the world with ridiculous IQs were terrible at  figuring out human feelings.

I remember many years ago, when my friends first entered the workforce, they would complain how their bosses are incompetent idiots that didn’t understand the business at all. However, I’m almost 100% certain that, besides a few exceptions, now that these friends are managers themselves, people under them are calling them incompetent idiots.

Clearly, it is very difficult being a good manager.

Based on my observations, I’ve created a quick player type matrix for the corporate environment so managers would have a strategy guide to follow. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be some great gamified player type theory that I spent years perfecting. There are many others like Richard Bartle and Andrzej Marczewski who have more robust gamified player type concepts that I highly recommend.

Gamifying Company Politics: Chou’s Corporate Player Types

Corporate Gamification Player Types.001

The key principle in my Corporate Player Types, is that I divide all employees into two characteristics: performance, and politics.

Performance simply means how well the employee can carry out their responsibilities. This factors in work ethics but is focused on end deliverables. If an employee works hard but cannot produce good work, then performance is low. However, this should NOT factor “business impact,” simply because business impact is a result of having both performance and political skills.

Politics means how good (or proactive) the employee is at making friends within the organization. These are people who regularly say nice things to others, ask coworkers out for lunch, and proactively try to impress their superiors. They also tend to make something harsh sound more pleasant to the ear, even if it means sugarcoating the information a little bit, or having slight exaggeration or omission. They aren’t “liars” in most socially acceptable standards, but they are very driven by extrinsic goals and therefore pick what they say carefully and strategically.

Any 2×2 matrix divides people into four different categories: Low Performance and Low Politics, High Performance but Low Politics, High Politics but Low Performance, and High Performance and High Politics.

Corporate Gamification Player Types

Gamified Player Type: Survivors

For the Low Performance and Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Survivors.” Survivors are there simply to collect a paycheck (Core Drive 4) and not get fired (Core Drive 8). As a result, they usually just work hard enough to collect their paychecks and not get fired, and then they stop exerting effort.

Survivors are not necessarily dumber or less efficient at what they do. More often than they are just not motivated or incentivized to do good work. Survivors often like to say things like, “Why should I do this? I won’t get paid more to do it.” or “Last year I did way more work but I didn’t get a bonus. There’s no point.”

Gamified Player Type: Performers

For the High Performance but Low Politics quadrant, I call them “Performers.” Performers are people who do great work and finish their deliverables in efficient and reliable manners. They are often the people that solve problems that no one else on the team can solve. However, they have a natural dislike (or ignorance) towards corporate politics, and therefore never spend the time to make friends or work on other peoples’ feelings and motivations.

Performers also don’t suck up to their bosses and would do career suicide moves like telling their VP, “I can’t go to your dinner party because I need to think about how to execute on the plan next week.” Performers usually dislikes those who are good at politics, thinking them as “phony” and “insincere.” They inherently believe that, “As long as I do a good job, I will be given my fair reward. That will show those fancy-mouth ass-kissers.”

Gamified Player Type: Politicians

Continue reading Gamifying Company Politics: Chou’s Corporate Player Types

What is Gamification

Gamification President

If you want to make Gamification actionable, Check out my Complete Gamification Framework called Octalysis.

What is Gamification?

What is Gamification? This may be an unfamiliar word for many of you. As a leading author and pioneer of the industry (since 2003), I’m here to help you grasp the promise of gamification and clear up some misconceptions in the industry.

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

Most systems are “function-focused” designed to get the job done quickly. This is like a factory that assumes that the workers within WILL do their jobs. However, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in the system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do 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 human inside. There are “objectives” in the games, such as killing the dragon or saving the princess, but those are all excuses to simply keep the player happily entertained inside. Since games have spent decades learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and that is why we call it Gamification.

Games have the amazing ability to keep people engaged for a long time, build relationships and trust between people, and develop their creative potentials.

Unfortunately, many games these days are simply focused on escapism – wasting your life away on something that doesn’t improve your own life nor the life of others.

Imagine if there is a truly addicting game, where the more time you spend on it, the more productive you would be. You would be playing all day, enjoying it, and your career would be growing, you would be making more income, having better relationships with your family, creating value for your community, and solving the hardest problems in the world.

That is the goal I strive for and the potential I see that Gamification could fulfill.

What is Gamification in relationship to the Gaming Industry?

Many people think Gamification is a branch of gaming. Upon hearing the term, some people respond with, “Oh I don’t play games.”

That’s a complete misconception on what is gamification all about.

So what is Gamification really? Gamification does not involve games. It is simply absorbing the fun elements in a game (what we call Game Mechanics or Game Design Techniques) into real-world applications. When you see the progress bar on LinkedIn, or when you Tumblr listing out a Leaderboard on the best content, do you think, “Oh I don’t play games. This is not for me.”? Of course not! Continue reading What is Gamification

Top Ten Learning Games For Kids

Top 10 Learning Games for Kids by Yu Kai Chou

Top 10 Learning Games for Kids

(If you are confused about what all the Core Drive #s are about in this post, make sure you check out the Gamification Framework: Octalysis first!)

This is a follow-up to last week’s post on What are Learning Games. One of the most promising applications of gamification is to enhance the learning experiences of children. The teaching tools of today are no longer limited to chalkboards, whiteboards, flashcards, textbooks and worksheets. Games offer kids more interactive options.

“There is no commandment which says, thou shall not have fun,” says one YouTuber who discussed the use of games for educational purposes. They can enrich a child’s understanding of information rather effortlessly. And with games, learning feels effortless, as opposed to being an aggravating chore.

But be forewarned. It is important to choose your educational game wisely. Just because it is packaged as a learning tool, does not automatically justify its worth. David Kleeman President of the American Center for Children and Media sums this up well as he says:

“I love and support the idea of tapping the engagement and strategic thinking of game play, but I’ve also seen very poor examples that are little more than gussied-up rote learning,”

With that said, here is my list of Top Ten Learning Games for Kids. They range from the teaching of simple and intermediate academics to more complex real life skills.

Learning Game #1: Dragon Box

Why wait until middle school to start learning Algebra? While some students excel in this subject, it is certainly not everyone’s favorite. Many kids learn to solve equations very mechanically without really understanding the underlying concepts at work.

In Dragon Box visual elements are used to represent the idea of balancing two sides within a closed system. The goal is to eliminate all unnecessary elements to get the box all by itself. The game progresses to higher levels which more closely approximates the types of equations that kids will eventually face in school.

I remember for my childhood (yes, even as an Asian kid), I hated math. It was the most annoying and boring subject. It was the epitome of “school work,” and it was what many parents cared about the most. I also know A LOT of other kids thought like me too.

The amazing thing about Dragon Box is that little kids LOVE to play it without knowing that they are solving complex math. There has been many case studies where 4+ year olds are mastering and solving thousands of middle school Algebra problems!

This is the epitome of a learning game – making something boring fun and exciting!

Learning Game #2: Mind Snacks

Mind Snacks is an interactive app that teaches words and phrases in different languages such as Spanish, Chinese, French, German and Japanese. There is also the option to choose SAT vocabulary. Instead of learning through rote memorization and repetition, fun touch screen games are used.

Most kids don’t like being confined to a desk with a textbook. But with Mind Snacks, they can learn foreign words and phrases in informal settings, such as waiting in line, or even during a long car trip.

Childhood is the best time to learn new languages. The earlier this is done, the better. With games like Mind Snacks, kids can optimize this valuable window of opportunity instead of waiting until middle school or even high school.

By the way, I must add that I have been playing this game for a while to learn Spanish myself, and it is by far the most fun learning experience I have had towards Spanish (comparable to playing Diablo III in Spanish).

The difference to this and Duolingo, is that Duolingo gamifies the Meta-game towards language learning, where Mind Snacks make the learning part itself fun!

Learning Game #3: DIY.org

Projects like baking a cake, knitting a scarf, planting a garden or even making toys can give kids an immense sense of Development & Accomplishment (Core Drive#2) and Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback. They also learn that not everything of value needs to be store bought, especially when they can use their own abilities to create these things.

Do it yourself projects teach problem solving skills, artistic sensibilities, resourcefulness and independence. They also help bring out the creativity that is inherent in all of us.

The site, DIY.org has an app called DIY – Get Skills, Be Awesome. Kids can showcase their creations and even share them in a larger community. This social aspect allows them to receive validation from peers their own age, not just from mom and dad (Core Drives #3 and #5)

Learning Game #4: Code Spells

More parents are realizing how important it is for kids to learn how to code, especially since this is a highly marketable skill. However, programming is not offered as a core subject in school for small children yet. But with a game like Code Spells, writing code becomes a fun pastime, not an extra learning course.

Players must help gnome characters perform certain tasks by using magic. But the spells  they use need to be written in Java code.

A study on 40 girls (ages 10-12), showed that learning code was actually quite effortless due to this game. And some of the subjects even expressed disappointment that the game was over too soon. A highly addictive experience combined with immense learning equates to a fabulous learning game indeed!

I remember when I took my first computer class in Visual Basic, it was so boring and dull that I gave up on it quickly for the exciting topic of Economics (that eventually disappointed me), which led to a great regret for me because now being a professional in the tech world, I truly wished I learned more programming when I was younger. Hopefully this can prevent other kids from having the same regret later (and who knows, maybe it’s not too late for me!)

Learning Game #5: Scribble Naughts

Scribble Naughts is a media creation game for kids around ages 8-11 which teaches creative problem solving skills through imaginative scenarios that involve logic, spelling and creativity.

Players are given a particular challenge to solve. And they can do this by summoning just about anything they can think of,  by typing it into a field.

Imaginations can run wild with all the different possibilities that can be brought to life. Players can even create new puzzles that can be shared with others (Core Drive #3 Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

If the super hero Green Lantern had played this game growing up, he would have eliminated his biggest weakness – lack of spontaneous creativity.

Learning Game #6 Dora’s Cooking Club

Dora’s Cooking Club is for ages 4-6. Most younger kids love Dora. So using this character to inspire learning in children is already a huge plus.

Kids learn about numbers, fractions, shapes and Spanish as they help Dora and her grandmother prepare a delicious Mexican meal.

Children are likely to play this game voluntarily as opposed to doing exercises in a workbook.

Unfortunately, this is a bit out of my league…I haven’t found the strength in me to master this game and be addictively edutained for months.

Learning Game #7. Game Star Mechanic

An important life skill (which is difficult to teach) is to come up with a good, creative idea and develop it through a process of logical steps.

With Game Star Mechanic, kids are given the opportunity to hone this ability by making their own games and sharing them with others. According to their site, their community has over 250,000 designers whose games have been played over 5 million times. Game Star Mechanic is even being used by teachers in classroom settings to fulfill STEM requirements.

If I had played this game on game design growing up, I would have become an even stronger Gamification Expert (assuming that this is physically possible).

Learning Game #8: SimCity

SimCity is one of the original awesome Learning/Productive/Serious Games in the industry that really got the hearts and minds of players. Eventually, you learn that it also gets the brains of players.

The makers of SimCity have come out with educational version (Sim City EDU) to fulfill classroom STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) requirements. Kids are asked to build virtual cities as they learn about socio-economic development, urban planning and environmental management.

This holistic framework helps kids develop big picture thinking styles where they learn how specific actions affect a larger system such as an entire city.

I wasn’t a big fan of this game when I was younger (it’s because I messed up the water piping and sewage system in my city the first time playing and gave up), but one of my best friends who loved this game ended up being an Architect – graduating from Architecture Association, one of the top architectural universities in the world.

Learning Game #9: Mindblown Life

Teaching money management skills often takes the form of stern lecturing between parents and their young adult children.

Mindblown Life is a game that is designed to teach money management skills to teens. Multiple players participate and interact with one another as they try to balance their professional and personal lives to avoid overspending (Core Drive #8: Loss and Avoidance).

Cofounder, Tracy Moore spoke to Mashable and said, “We’re at an unsustainable point in financial literacy…If we don’t do something now, the tomorrow that exists will be dramatically different from the one we imagined and the one we want.”

Albeit, money management is particularly critical in today’s economy. However, it is something that is best learned through the feel of managing your own money (Core Drive #4: Ownership & Possession). Mindblown Life is therefore a wonderful tool to help impart these life lessons.

Learning Game #10: The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom

The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom is a challenging puzzle game for Windows PC and XBox Live Arcade.

Perhaps the most striking characteristic is the look and feel of the game, which is done in stunning black and white graphics. According to Destructoid.com, “All of the art is downright beautiful to look at…there’s a simple elegance to every detail in the levels and story frames that draws you in.”

The player moves through the game as a pie stealing character named PB Winterbottom. The player’s strategies can involve cloning him or even manipulating time.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills can indeed be cultivated effortlessly through imaginative and immersive digital activities such as Misadventures. This is like the kid version of “Portal,” where an understanding of physics (and the fun places where you can break the laws of physics!) become engaging and critical to solving the problems.

Conclusion on Learning Games

Most people think of games as being strictly recreational. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. Games can help kids of all ages master learning feats without the struggle and frustration that is often felt in formal learning contexts. When designed properly, they can boost feelings of confidence, accomplishment (Core Drive #2) and self efficacy. They offer excellent opportunities for players to tap into enormous reserves of creativity and problem solving abilities. And best of all, they can be incredibly enjoyable.

(Thanks to Christine Yee for tremendously helping me on this post)