How the Great eCourse Adventure Rapidly Increased Community Engagement through Gamification

This article is written by Brad and Andy of the Great eCourse Adventure based on the Octalysis framework designed by Yu-kai Chou. 

We had an inspiring conversation with Yu-Kai Chou a few weeks ago.

He is one of the top gamification experts in the world. He’s even done a TED talk about it.

Yu-kai has created what is called “The Octalysis Gamification Framework.

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.

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If you’re building online courses, educational experiences or a team, then check out this post from Yu-Kai’s blog 😉

Our conversation with Yu-Kai really affirmed for us that we’re on the right track with all of the ways we apply gamification in our courses, however he also showed us where we don’t do it, but need to.

In this article, we dig into how we applied all 8 of the human core motivations in a recent Great eCourse Adventure community challenge.

The “Screw it, I’m Gonna do it Challenge” and applying the Octalysis Gamification Framework

Our goal with the “Screw it, I’m gonna do it” challenge was to apply all 8-core drivers to a community challenge to see if it would increase engagement, inspiration and completion rates by our students.

The basis of the challenge was to dedicate one full day per week for the next four weeks on a passion project that our students had been putting off for far too long.

The reason we chose this project was because the two of us had been putting off passion projects of our own for a really long time, because we were too busy with the Great eCourse Adventure, life and other work.

Creating this challenge actually forced us to get our shit together and create better systems and schedules for our businesses, which we’ll write about another day.

Before we dive into the juicy details, I just want to say that, by applying the 8 Core Motivations to this challenge, we have increased the amount community engagement and participation we’re now getting by 3-4 times its normal amount.

We are so excited by what we’re witnessing, we can’t wait to apply the Octalysis Framework to all of the other aspects of our businesses and lives. Thank you so much, Yu-Kai Chou, for the great work you’re doing.

Here’s how we applied the 8-Core Drivers to our “Screw It, I”m Gonna Do It Challenge”

Epic Meaning & Calling

Epic Meaning & Calling is the Core Drive where a person believes that they are doing something greater than themselves or they were “chosen” to do something. For our challenge, we had our students choose to complete a passion project that they’ve been thinking about, putting off or wanting to do for a long time. Talk about meaningful, right?

The challenge was for them to launch that meaningful project within 30 days. Many students chose projects that didn’t have to do with their current business, and are experiencing tons of residual momentum in all areas of their life because of the choice they made to do the thing they are extremely stoked about.

Our community forum (AKA the campfire) has never been more lit up with enthusiasm and conversation amongst our students.

Development & Accomplishment

This is the internal drive of making progress, developing skills, and eventually overcoming challenges. Aside from the obvious satisfaction of finally doing the thing they want to create and having it exist in the world within 30 days, we incorporated several other motivators to inspire action.

Each participant who successfully completes the challenge will get:

  • 10,000 bajillion (our community currency). This is the largest amount of bajillion we’ve ever rewarded.
  • “The Ring of Destiny,” a limited edition badge (AKA backpack supply).
  • Plus ONE winner will be crowned the champion of this challenge, based on criteria we laid out, which will allow a fancy crown to show up in their profile under “Backpack supplies” for everyone in the community to see.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is when users are engaged a creative process where they have to repeatedly figure things out and try different combinations. In the constructs of this challenge, we eliminated the need for their project to “make them money” and encouraged everyone to ONLY do something they are wildly excited about.

This freedom took the perceived risk out of the equation and all of a sudden, everyone is motivated by this sense of creative expression, fun and passion.

More people than ever are suddenly showing up and sharing themselves in the community forum, when before they may have held back or stayed silent. It’s been so incredible to witness the shift that’s taken place.

Ownership & Possession

This is the drive where users are motivated because they feel like they own something. This is where our students will get to take pride in finally having done something about that passion project they’ve been thinking about for so long and to be able to share it in the world within 30 days. No longer will it just be a good idea.

That, and every person who completes the challenge will get the Ring of Destiny and 10,000 bajillinon. Cha-ching!   😉

Social Influence & Relatedness

This drive incorporates all the social elements that drive people, including: mentorship, acceptance, social responses, companionship, as well as competition and envy.

Everyone participating in the challenge is required to make at least ONE progress update in their forum thread every week, sharing with everyone what they did, what they’re excited about, where they’re struggling and to be fully seen in their creative process.

The challenge is also a competition, where one person who does the best job (based on our criteria) will be crowned champion. This is causing people to show up and kick some serious ass that one day per week.

What we’re noticing too through the nature of the challenge, is that everyone is being super helpful and supportive with one another; offering feedback, encouragement and brainstorming ideas and genuinely showing up to help.

Scarcity & Impatience

This is the drive of wanting something because you can’t have it. We gave everybody a small window of time to sign up and commit to the challenge. Plus, it’s only 30 days long, so there is a clear beginning and end in site.

Given that so many people jumped on board, especially in the final day of signing up, we think the fear of missing out (on their dream) inspired the best in them.

So on that note, the scarcity of creating a window of time to get in and do the damn thing was extremely beneficial for all.

Unpredictability & Curiosity

Generally, this is a harmless drive of wanting to find out what will happen next. The Great eCourse Adventure was designed with mystery in mind. We love making our students wonder what’s going to happen next on their learning journey and we generally do this through story and entertainment. For this particular challenge, we have a bonus super duper grand prize for the crowned winner.

We also posed the question to everyone: “What if you were to start dedicating one day per week to this big passion of yours? What could you create in 30 days? Where could you be with it in 365 days? What if it all starts here with this Screw it, I’m gonna do it challenge? 

Asking the questions makes them curious enough to dive in and say, “Yeah, what if?” 

Loss & Avoidance

This core drive is based upon the avoidance of something negative happening. This one is obvious. They have been putting this passion project or idea off for a long time, and yet it keeps showing up as something they need to and want to do.

Where loss and avoidance came up for everyone is them saying, “If not now, then when?” That fear of never doing it definitely came up for some, based on what we read in the community campfire (forum).

In Summary

We are making new strides in our community by applying the Octalysis Framwork and we’re really excited to explore other ways that we can apply it to our sales processes, marketing and goal setting.

We will definitely be sharing more discoveries as they’re made, for this was only experiment number one!

Brad & Andy – eCourse Adventure Guides
Brad & Andy are the creators of the Great eCourse Adventure, a groundbreaking training program and community for online course creators. By approaching course creation as an art-form, they are merging entertainment, gamification and storytelling as a way to play their role in revolutionizing how we teach and learn online. Are you ready to have your mind blown open to a new dimension of creative potential? Check out what they’re up to in the world of online learning. Warning: Once you go down the rabbit hole, there’s no going back. Learn about their unorthodox philosophies here, take their free Masterclass here, and join the eLearning revolution and community here.

What to do when your industry is dying

(Viddler Screwed Old Users by deleting all their videos, so no video here 🙁 )

What to do when your industry is dying

I recently spoke with someone who works for a large worldwide newspaper company, and he told me about how it’s really tough being in his industry. Everyone says print is dead, and there are fewer and fewer people reading physical newspapers, and fewer and fewer companies want to advertise on them. They are trying to build up their online division, but there are so many free sites out there and so much competition that it’s very difficult to become established too. He asked me for some advice.

Take all your established resources in the dying industry and focus on the new booming industry

I told him that, being a worldwide brand that they are, they should really take that brand, and focus more energy on the online division. Yes, they have more competition, but they are more established, especially to their target market that is slowly moving online.

If they think of themselves as startup in the online arena, they will realize it’s not grim at all. They actually have so much established, so many assets, and a strong brand name. And with that, with the same amount of effort, they will beat their competitors. The problem is that their competitors who are entirely web based, focus 100% of their energy on their online department, whereas this company only spends about 20% of their resources on it. Of course they will lose.

Take what you have, pull it out of the dying industry, and put in all your efforts in the new booming industry. If you can’t adapt as fast as the environment moves, you will become a victim of natural selection.

How to Compete Against Offshore Companies and Services?



Recently my company has been learning about Tim Ferris, the author of the 4-Hour Work Week. It talks about how one can outsource her life and business to others so they make the most out of their time. The concept is pretty simple: if you make $30/hr, then instead of doing 4 hours of mundane tasks yourself, you can do one hour of work, make $30, and pay 3 people with $10/hr. That way you did one hour of work, but you accomplished 4 hours of tasks. You now then have the rest of the three hours to do whatever you want (including make more money at your rate).

Our company is looking at ways to outsource and automate too. We want to do everything, but do everything only once (Robert Kiyosaki’s suggestion). Once we set up a system, we can slowly start to replace ourselves with someone who can learn how to do it. Michael Gerber often refers to this as “work on the business, not in the business.” We plan to build a money-making machine, and then automate it so we can develop more innovative stuff.

My company then decided to look at a few places overseas that offer offshoring services. Whew! Americans are going to be in trouble soon (if people don’t already think they are in big trouble from the financial crisis). Lets just say this very professional firm that has been operating for nine years with 180 engineers, who also happen to have built dozens of websites of large brand name firms that you have heard of in multiple countries. The keypoint: they charge 20% of what a service firm like this in the US would charge. Go figure.

Continue reading How to Compete Against Offshore Companies and Services?

Gamification in Finding a well-rounded Advisory Board

Gamfiication Advisors

Click this link to see my latest post on how Diablo III uses Gamification to become so addicting

Finding advisors is a game

As a young team, we need a well-rounded advisory board who know what they are doing to guide us and prevent us from making bad decisions simply because of a lack of knowledge.

However, finding impressive strangers to help you could be a scary task, so by adding “gamification” to the process, or simply viewing it as a game, things become a lot more straight forward and less daunting. (How many of you are afraid of approaching a boss in a video game?)

As I pointed out in another post , good networking has 6 Core Values: Integrity, Sincerity, Optimism, Confidence, Initiative, and Persistence. As long as you constantly apply these 6 core concepts in your life, doors will open up in life for you.

1. Decide on the Objectives of the Game

In order to find the right mentors and advisors, you need to first know what are your objectives. Are you trying to create a scalable business? Are you trying to solve certain technology issues?

2. Identify the Kind of Advisors you would need for your Objective

Once you know what your objectives are, create a list of skill sets and experiences that you need to assist you further. Be as detailed as you can, such as “Someone who has 20 years in this field, has brought at least one company successful, and is local to my city.”

3. Create a Hunt-List of Qualified Advisors

This requires some work. You need to go on LinkedIn, go to conferences (and especially check out the speaker list), read the press, and identify a list of super powerful individuals that could be your advisors. Don’t be timid in adding the strongest folks in this list. You never know.

4. Start the Hunt

The next step is to hunt for these advisors. In this day and age, it is easy to find their traces online and possibly offline. See what social networks they spend a lot of time in. See if they have a blog and have a podcast show. Also, pay attention if they are going to conferences soon.

5. Soften up the Ice

 Before you reach out directly to them, go to a few of the places that they have presence, and create some interaction about that. If they have a blog, comment on their posts a few times. If they are on Twitter, Retweet and respond to their tweets.

6. The Direct hit

After some soft engagements, write a respectable email, social network message, or approach them at a conference, and say, “Hello, I’m _____. We’ve had a few back and forths on your blog. I’m working on a [2-3 sentence]. I was wondering if I could have a conversation with you sometime for the purpose of you potentially being one of our advisors. I think your experiences in _____ would make you perfect and I believe YOU will be the one that helps us become successful.” If you have done everything well from before (including truly finding the right and relevant person), you have a good chance of making it.

7. Sell as usual

During the meeting, you should sell your company just like you would to any investor. Get this advisor excited. Get this advisor to like you. Also, be clear on expectations of what you want from an advisor and what you would give for it. I recommend guaranteeing a monthly 1-hour phone call, as well as in-person board meetings once a quarter. Most startups give out  about 0.1%-0.5% of the company for a good advisor that is willing to commit.

8. Add a point on your LeaderBoard

Once you have gotten this advisor to help you, give yourself a brownie point and then go for the next one!

Throughout my career, I have firmly believed that, when you meet passionate and motivated people with a sincere attitude, only good things can happen. Building relationships is one of the most important and meaningful things you can do in life, regardless if it is for professional or personal enrichment. To apply another Gamification Analogy: Outside the comfort zone there is a harmless dragon that looks scary, but you are invincible to it. Once you realize there is nothing you can lose by approaching and talking to more people, you will be ready to slay the harmless dragon.