I now have my own eSports Team in Heroes of the Storm!

To Make Games Meaningful

Back in 2003, I had an epiphany that changed my life. I had just quit playing Diablo II and I felt a rush of emptiness.

I spent thousands of hours becoming strong in a video game, but once I was done with the game, all that disappears. I’m still at the same place in life.

It was then when I went on a life journey to make games more meaningful towards our real lives.

At the time, I had considered two options:

Option 1: do what was considered “Gamification” (in today’s terminology)

Option 2: do what was considered “Esports” (in today’s terminology)

Both of them were relevant in my quest of making real life better through gaming (and ensure that playing games wasn’t a “waste of time.”).

The Non-Existent Esports Industry

Back then the esports industry didn’t exist, besides some serious matches of Starcraft in South Korea.

It was just more of a vision for me where, if videos games could be like a real sport such as Basketball, then there would be a real economy and ecosystem around it (Managers, Players, Coaches, Media etc.), and playing/studying games all day long suddenly became very productive.

It wasn’t unfathomable (despite sounding crazy to everyone I talked to – they thought I was just creating more excuses to play games). “Real Sports” like Basketball and Football are basically just games that people played for fun. But when enough people enjoyed playing and watching the game, it sets up a whole economy of ticket sales, advertisers, staff, dedicated venues, and cultural change.

It becomes “legit” and is no longer “just a game.”

Team Octalysis Esports

Octalysis Esports

As you probably know, I ended up choosing the Gamification path. As a result, I became a leading pioneer in the gamification space and am running many of the biggest gamification initiatives in the world (consulting company, the education platform Octalysis Prime, FB community). It worked out quite well for me, and I live every day of my life as a passionate gamer. Even Blizzard has sent their game designers to my workshops to learn about the Octalysis Framework.

But I sometimes can’t help but think about the other choice I didn’t make. If I chose to go down the esports path, I would also become an early pioneer in esports and today I may be running some of the largest esports infrastructure entities in the industry (I’m realistic enough to know that I wouldn’t become a pro-player myself). That would be tremendously fun too.

The two passions meet

Gamification Esports Jersey

Gamification Esports Hoodie

Luckily, because of how strong my gamification efforts are doing, I suddenly have the unique opportunity to go down the path I didn’t take.

We have now sponsored a team in the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC), the premier Heroes of the Storm competitive league from Blizzard Entertainment. Our team “Team Octalysis” (formerly Team Twelve) is currently a Top 3 Team in North America.

Team Octalysis has 5 amazingly hard-working players, a great team manager, a coach/game analyst, and media members – all there to support competitive play at the highest levels, engage the fans, and spread a little bit of Octalysis love.

Team Octalysis is officially competing in the HGC, where eight teams in each of four regions compete every week to qualify for international tournaments and a shot at a world championship.

Every weekend, you can tune in on Twitch.tv or the HGC Website to watch their competitions, support Team Octalysis, and muse over obviously-less-talented teams fight each other.

You can also follow Team Octalysis on their Twitter: twitter.com/TeamOctalysis

Exciting times for Octalysis and for Gaming!

Esports Gamification Octalysis DratedEsports Gamification Octalysis Drated

My TEDx talk on Gamification just reached 100K viewers on Youtube!

My Gamification TEDx speech in Switzerland reach 100K!

A few years ago, I went to Lausanne Switzerland to do a TEDx speech on my framework Octalysis Gamification. It was my first time visiting Europe, and it was a huge blast.

It was a pretty difficult speech to do, since originally this talk was a 5-hour workshop, and I had to shrink it to a 17 minute talk. Not only that, I had to include a bunch of videos and fun things to share to make it dynamic. Of course, a TEDx talk is more like a brochure instead of a manual. The goal of a brochure is to get people to want to learn more. Therefore, a lot of the deeper knowledge, including Level II and Level III Octalysis couldn’t be covered, but I had to make it fun.

Little known fact – I said the first sentence incorrectly, and for the first minute I was simply trying to recover from that. Usually I just intuitively do my talks with my slides, but TEDx asked me to memorize my lines and rehearse with them a few times. I was all ready to go, but then when I was onstage, the lighting was MUCH stronger than I expected. It threw me off and I uttered the sentence wrong. It was supposed to be, “Imagine a world where WORK is obsolete – where LABOR is a thing of a past.” I said, “Imagine a world where LABOR is…” and then I felt sad. It took me 1-2 minutes to pick myself back up again and be on my flow again. I always wonder if the talk would have been more successful if I maintained strong energy from the very beginning. Of course, we would never know.

Successes in Gamification after the Gamification TEDx Talk

Since then, I published my book Actionable Gamification, and have won two Gamification Guru of the Year awards by the Gamification World Congress. Many fans, book readers, and clients have contacted me after watching that talk. I am grateful how much this talk has contributed to my accomplishments today.

Thank you TEDx, thank you Lausanne, and thank you Switzerland.

 

4 Dominant Applications of Gamification in 2018

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

Continue reading 4 Dominant Applications of Gamification in 2018

When to use Extrinsic Rewards to Motivate People

Extrinsic Rewards

The Advantages of Extrinsic Motivation Design

(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.)

Obviously designing for Extrinsic Motivation is not all negative. Besides enhancing a person’s focus on completing monotonous routine tasks, it also generates initial interest and desire for the activity.

Often, without there being extrinsic motivation during the Discovery Phase (before people first try out the experience), people do not find a compelling reason to engage with the experience in the first place. Promoting, “You will get a $100 gift card if you sign-up,” usually sounds more appealing than “You will utilize your creativity and be in a fun state of unpredictability with your friends!” (Though both actually utilize Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience.)

When people consider themselves “too busy,” they won’t justify spending time to try out your experience. But when you offer them an extrinsic reward to try out the experience, they will at least test it out, assuming of course that the reward is not an insult to the value of the user’s time investment.

Rewarding users $2 for trying a new search engine for an entire month is pretty weak, while paying people $3 to spend weeks going to stores, taking pictures, and sharing them with their friends is also a path to failure. It is better to not give them a reward at all!

And of course, as we have seen earlier, if people continuously justify doing something for high extrinsic rewards, their intrinsic motivation dwindles as the Overjustification Effect settles in.

Therefore, as Michael Wu of Lithium points out, it is better to attract people into an experience using Extrinsic Rewards (gift cards, money, merchandise, discounts), then transition their interest through Intrinsic Rewards (recognition, status, access), and finally use Intrinsic Motivation to ensure their long term engagement. Through this process, users will start to enjoy the activity so much that they will focus on relishing the experience itself without thinking about what can be gained from the experience.