How Apple Inc. Harnesses Epic Meaning & Calling to create Loyal Snobs

Image of The giving tree giving an Apple Inc. Logo to a boy

(Below is a manuscript snippet of my book, Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Please subscribe to the mailing list on the right to order the book when it launches. This post may be moved into a Premium Area after a certain period of time).

Newton’s Pride is Not Just a Fruit. It’s Got Gravity.

Epic Meaning & Calling is generally best communicated during the Discovery and Onboarding Phase of a Player’s Journey. You want to communicate very early on exactly why the user should participate in your mission and become a player.

Apple Inc. is one of the rare companies that truly understands the Core Drive Epic Meaning & Calling, and they managed to instill that into consumers without it being user-generated, an open platform, or pushing for “a charitable cause.”

Every once in a while, I’ll have friends who excitedly tell me, “Hey Yu-kai, I am saving up to buy the next iPhone.” I would respond, “But you don’t even know what’s in the new iPhone! What if it sucks?” My friends would usually respond with, “I don’t care. I’m going to buy the next iPhone.”

Isn’t that a strange phenomenon in a world where electronic consumers are spoiled by all the options out there, with many alternatives touting the same or even better capabilities than the iPhone but only at a fraction of the cost?

Why are people so crazy about Apple products?

What we are seeing here are people who are self-identified as an “Apple Person,” and therefore they need to do what “Apple People” do, which of course, is to buy the newest Apple products.

This is also why you would regularly see hordes of “Apple Snobs” walking around and making comments like, “Oh, I never have that problem because I have a Mac.” “Hmm, well, that’s what you get for not using an iPhone.”

I myself have been guilty of this too (proudly!). When confronted with the argument that many Android phones have better specs and lower prices than the iPhone, my response has usually been, “Well, I don’t know about the specs, but I do know that, when I’m using an Android phone, I feel sad; but when I’m using an iPhone, I feel happy. Perhaps that’s worth something.”

So the Multi-Billion dollar question is: How does Apple do this?

Besides having a stellar and smooth product with an intense focus on the details of design, Apple has been one of the few electronics companies that actually try to sell a higher meaning.

Lets examine two of the most successful Apple commercials in history.

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How Waze built its Craze through Gamification

Logo for Waze

Waze is Gamified Driving

Waze is an immensely popular GPS app that is changing how we navigate traffic through crowdsourcing real-time traffic and road info.

Receiving an average five star rating by thousands of people, its fans have taken the mundane experience of driving and turned it into an enjoyably immersive adventure with a rewarding social experience.

Let’s take a deeper look into how Waze accomplishes this by applying an Octalysis analysis to its design and mechanics:

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How eBay and Amazon Wield Gamification Techniques

Image of a person handing a book through a laptop screen

(Below is a manuscript snippet of my book, Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Please subscribe to the mailing list on the right to order the book when it launches. This post may be moved into a Premium Area after a certain period of time).

The First Gamification Site that I was Addicted to

One of the most popular blog posts on my website is a list of the “Top 10 eCommerce Gamification Examples that will Revolutionize Shopping,” with my first choice being eBay (Disclosure – I’ve worked with eBay on a couple projects in 2013, none which are mentioned here).

eBay.com is an online auction site that was founded in 1995, fairly early in the internet era. It became one of the largest Dot Com boom successes, and till this day is one of the leading tech companies.

Less known to most people, is that eBay is also one of the earliest eCommerce companies that built gamification in its core DNA.

If you just think of creating a generic ecommerce site, it’s not necessarily intuitive to have a competitive bidding system, a mutual buyer-seller feedback interface, a “path to level up” through achievement symbols such as Yellow, Purple, and Gold Stars, as well as Power Seller statuses.

Interestingly, eBay was the first platform to trigger my first business. Without eBay, it is very likely that I would not have become an entrepreneur, and as a result you would not have this book to read.

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Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Day 213 - Temple Run

Moments of downtime or dead time are an inevitable part of daily life but they don’t necessarily have to be dreadfully boring, especially with all of today’s awesome game apps.

You probably know how surprisingly fun these can be; according to a recent article in Forbes, games apps constitute the highest source of revenue on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

There are many great apps available and even more being developed to help pass the time. Here are 10 popular favorites in no particular order:

Angry Birds

Angry birds logo

Angry birds is practically a household name and yet if I explained the game on paper (catapulting birds like weapons + destroying forts = fun), it may not sound ingenious nor very exciting. But many of you know that the game experience is very different; it is super easy to get addicted. Here are a few reasons:

  • It is simple and because it is simple, players feel accomplished and empowered early on- Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment).
  • The game develops in a way that allows the players to feel a clear sense of progress which further ingrains their sense of achievement.
  • Players can compete with their friends. There is a strong drive to beat the other person and score higher (even if they are your girlfriend or boyfriend)- Core Drive #5 (Social Influence & Relatedness).

Temple Run

Temple Run Logo

Temple run is an adventure game. Players interact as an explorer character who steals an ancient mask and must must escape the wrath of demon monkeys. The touch screen controls allow the explorer to run as fast as possible, trying to avoid dangerous traps and obstacles such as trees and roots- Core Drive #8 (Loss & Avoidance). Players can move left or right. They can also duck, turn or jump as well.

There is now a Temple Run 2 which is based off the movie, Brave. The objective is to use archery to hit a target and collect coins. By the fourth day of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times!

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope Logo

Cut the rope is a puzzle game that utilizes mechanical physics. This is another example where the story and concept are lackluster compared to actual gameplay experience. Players are required to cut pieces of rope which are affixed to candy. The goal is to get the edibles into the mouth of a little round creature by solving puzzle challenges.

Sometimes the rope has to be cut at the right time. The candy might be attached to several pieces of rope which need to be cut in a certain order. Players are driven to keep overcoming past failures until they succeed. This is a great example of Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment) and Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) which together instill a sense of empowerment and awesomeness.

The Room

The Room Logo

The immediate appeal of the Room is the graphics which convey a sense of mystery and a supernatural air. Players are presented with a series of ornate looking objects that turn out to be individual puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. As the player solves puzzles, they learn more about a stranger named A.S.- Talk about Core Drive #7 (Unpredictability & Curiosity)!

As puzzle levels are solved, players occasionally glimpse into a different dimensions beyond their physical reality. Many people feel that the story line is not as compelling as the actual puzzle-solving which fosters a strong sense of Core Drive #2 (Development and Accomplishment) as well as Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

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Octalysis of 8 Gamified Alarm Clock


(This is a post by one of the very few people who hold a Level-1 Octalysis Certificate in Gamification: Average Joey. To check out their other writings, go to the StartMyQuest Blog!)

The “Eye-Opening” Gamified Alarm Clock Industry

Alarm clocks. We have a love, hate relationship with them.

There are alarms that fly around sending you on a blurry chase in the morning or ones that wake you to the gentle rising of a fake sun. These innovative alarms rely on harder or softer sensory feedback to get you up, but some of the most exciting wake-up solutions are coming from a growing market of gamified alarms and app designs.

I present to you here, 8 of the most engaging gamified wake-ups to help illustrate the gamification techniques at each point around the Octalysis Alarm Clock.

1) Epic Meaning & Calling: Shadow

The team behind “Shadow” have got epic meaning nailed with an epic goal for building the world’s largest database of dreams for the betterment of humanity, no less.

2) Development & Accomplishment: Wake n Shake

Wake n Shake is one of the gamified alarms heavily using achievement symbols in its design.

3) Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: Sleep Cycle

The “Sleep Cycle” iOS app doesn’t just work as an alarm, but tracks and records your sleeping hours enabling you to analyse and adjust your sleep-play.

4) Ownership & Possession: AlarmMon

The AlarmMon app gets you to set-up your alarms with the different choices of cute characters to build your own wake-up experience from scratch.

5) Social Influence: Spotify The Social Alarm Clock

This alarm from Spotify is still in concept stage, but shows an app that will give you the ability to create and send re-mixed alarm tones and wake-up messages to friends.

6) Scarcity & Impatience: Starbucks Early Bird

As soon as you accept the ‘Starbucks Early Bird’ wake-up it gives you a 1 hour countdown to get yourself down to the nearest store to claim a discounted cup of coffee or build up points towards future ones.

7) Curiosity & Unpredictability: Brian Blessed Alarm

For pure mischief (Game technique #51). I give you the ‘Brian Blessed’ alarm. Will it be Shakespeare, an insult or Brain on a rocket?

8) Loss & Avoidance: SnuzNLuz

The SnuzNLuz alarm still stands out as putting the most interesting and perverse twist on the idea of charitable giving as something you’d want to avoid!