yukai chou gamification

The Aura Effect in Gamification Design (Game Technique #9)

In the ever-evolving realm of gamification and Octalysis design, there exists a myriad of Gamification Design Techniques that captivate and engage players. Today, let’s cover the “Aura Effect.” This technique, while seemingly simple, has profound implications not only in the gaming world but also in the broader spectrum of business and social dynamics.

Understanding the Aura Effect (Game Design Technique #9)

At its core, the Aura Effect is a mechanism where the status or rewards of one user uplifts and benefit those around them. Imagine a member of a gaming community who has achieved a high level or possesses a unique power-up. Due to this individual’s elevated status, others in proximity reap the benefits. As a result, everyone else in the group would commit more Desired Actions because of this person’s activities, and of course, this person would get a lot more honor and social appreciation (Core Drive 5), which would also push him to commit more Desired Actions.

How I Discovered the Aura Effect within Games

The roots of my Aura Effect Gamification Design Technique can be traced back to the iconic game, “Diablo II.” In this game, the Paladin, one of the character roles, possesses a range of “auras.” Players can invest points to enhance these auras, which in turn offer various benefits such as increased health, magic resistance, or even amplified damage to those around the Paladin. The presence of a Paladin in a party elevates the entire group, making them more formidable. This dynamic not only enhances gameplay but also fosters social interactions, as players are keen to team up with a Paladin to harness the benefits of their aura.

Translating the Aura Effect to the Business World

In the realm of business, the Aura Effect can be manifested in referral programs. Consider receiving an email that reads, “Your friend has achieved Level 10 status on our platform. Because of their dedication, you as a friend can now join and immediately start at Level 3 instead of Level 1!” Such an approach is more enticing than a generic promotional offer. The underlying message is that someone you know has put in the effort, and achieved a milestone, and now, you have a unique opportunity to benefit from their hard work. This strategy taps into several Core Drives, including Scarcity, Social influence, and Accomplishment.

If you were to just get a random email that says, “We’re doing a new promotion and during this week, if you sign up you will start at Level 3!” it might seem very spamming and you might ignore it more easily. But when the Aura Effect email above reaches a user, it feels a bit stupid not to take advantage of the hard work your friend did in the game. So there is a much higher chance you would want to sign up just to get the benefit and also satisfy your curiosity (Core Drive 7) on what your friend is so committed to doing for a while (Core Drive 5).

VIP Experiences and the Aura Effect

Another real-world application of the Aura Effect is seen in VIP experiences. When an individual achieves VIP status at a club or organization, those associated with them—friends or colleagues—often enjoy perks by mere association. Whether it’s a helicopter ride or a prime table reservation, the benefits are extended, not due to one’s achievements but because of their association with the VIP. Such experiences incentivize individuals to strive for VIP status, bringing more patrons into the fold.

Octalysis Prime and the Aura Effect

Within my premium learning community, Octalysis Prime, a unique power-up in Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling, cheekily called the “Playboy Philanthropist,” also utilizes the Aura Effect. Within another Core Drive 4: Ownership power, OP Members receive a “compound interest” every fortnight based on their accumulated “Chou Coins.” However, Members with the Playboy Philanthropist power-up can also opt to distribute a portion of their interest to others, be it newcomers or fellow high-status members. This dynamic creates an ecosystem where members can either uplift newcomers or bolster each other’s resources because they have done a ton of great work to accumulate their wealth on the Octalysis Prime platform. As a result, other members benefit from it.

Variations of the Aura Effect

The Aura Effect can be categorized into two primary types:

  1. Newbie Lifting: High-status members use their aura to assist newcomers, providing them with a boost.
  2. Dynamic Group Effects: Different members possess unique auras, and when they collaborate, the entire group benefits from a combination of these effects.

Drawing parallels from “Diablo II,” if a team comprises multiple Paladins, each specializing in a different aura, their combined strength becomes a gigantic force to be reckoned with.

Aura Effect vs. Social Treasure

While the Aura Effect and another Game Design Technique called the Social Treasure (GT #63) might seem similar, they have distinct differences. A Social Treasure is an active choice—a value that one decides to give to another. In contrast, the Aura Effect is more passive. It emanates from an individual’s status, and those around benefit without any active intervention.

Harnessing the Power of the Aura Effect

The Aura Effect, like many Game Design Techniques, is a manifestation of the 8 Core Drives. Its implementation can vary, and there might be overlaps with other techniques. However, the crux lies in leveraging these Core Drives to design experiences that drive Desired Actions and bolster Business Metrics.

In conclusion, the Aura Effect is a potent tool in the arsenal of gamification designers, referral program managers, and business strategists alike. I’m eager to hear your thoughts, experiences, and examples related to the Aura Effect. Let’s enrich this discourse by sharing our insights.

Until next time, game on!

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