Points, Badges, Leaderboards – Part 2 of 3

Last week we discussed how behavioral design goes much further than the widely used Points, Badges and Leaderboards.

It is, instead, about the right implementation of the right Game Technique at the right time and place, that makes for a successful design, and an engaging experience.

However, points, badges, and leaderboards can be a powerful addition to your design, if used right.

Photo by Mark Leishman on Unsplash

Badges vs. Achievement Symbols (GT #2)

When crafting an experience, we want to use the terminology that is most enticing to the user experience. The term ‘badge’ is overused, and there are better names: achievements, icons, iconic figures…

Achievement symbols can also be 3 stars systems, a uniform change, belts in martial arts, certificates. They symbolize accomplishment.

Why Are Badges overused?

Many companies like to put badges on experiences because they only see the shallow side of the game. A game is supposedly designed to have a fun and exciting gameplay. As you play this exciting game, you want to strive for certain milestones (that not everybody can achieve). If you hit them, you want to get recognized, brag about it, or feel good about yourself.

A lot of gamified experiences and products make the user do a boring thing for 20 or a thousand times, and reward this with a badge. Unless the achievement is ‘persistence’, this does not make much sense.

Do not make an achievement more special than it is supposed to be.
Instead, create a fun experience, with the Right-Brain Core Drives (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, Social Influence & Relatedness, Unpredictability & Curiosity). If people then uniquely use their creativity or their skill set to do something that others can not or will not do, symbolize this achievement. Reward them on top of the already fun game. The user will be proud of it, feel excited about it, and might even brag about it.

The Core Drives

Badges focus most on Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling – If the Achievement Symbol ties to something greater, you’re an evangelist, save lives, plant threes. If the user actually made a difference in the world, they wil feel proud of it.

Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback – Badges that require creativity and problem solving.

Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession – Badges can be turned into a collection set, a collectable theme.

Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness – E.g. when everyone who has the achievement can interact with each other, but if you don’t you can’t. You want to get in the club to mingle with those who also did amazing things. Or rewarding generosity, reaching our and helping other people.

Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience – Badges can be made very scarce, but well-known. Dangling in front of the user who knows what to do to get it (Earned Lunch GT #7) and they want to grind and do it.

Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity – Badges can be stealthily released as an easter egg badge.

Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance – Achievement symbols that can be lost if you mess up. Keep in mind that you don’t want to make the user so nervous to lose their achievement symbol that they’re Black Hat motivated.

At the core of Achievement Symbols is Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment.

The one rule for whether a badge is meaningful or not: If you give it to people, how likely are they to share it and brag about it to other people?

Implement Badges Correctly

When designing an experience, keep the Strategy Dashboard in mind. What are the Desired Actions, who are your Player Types? Then decide what the best Achievement Symbol design is to implement in your experience.

Next week we will take a closer look at Leaderboards and what they can bring to your experience if implemented correctly.

Got a taste of the things you will learn in Octalysis Prime? Learn more by heading there now and sign up to try the FREE version of Octalysis Prime (no strings attached). Gain access to over 700 videos about Game Techniques and the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis and subjects like Motivational Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Behavioral Economics, Applied Psychology and more!

Points, Badges, Leaderboards – Part 1 of 3

Behavioral design goes much further than the widely used Points, Badges and Leaderboards. This principle is one that is at the core of Yu-kai Chou’s book: Actionable Gamification.

The right implementation of the right Game Technique at the right time and place is what makes for a successful design, and an engaging experience.

However, points, badges, and leaderboards can be a powerful addition to your design, if used right.

Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

In Octalysis gamification we define two types of points:

Status Points (GT #1)

Status points allow the user to grow in status as they do more of the desired behavior. These are often experience points.

They focus on Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment, they make the user feel accomplished and a sense of progression.

With Status Points the user can level up and unlock permanent powers.

Exchangeable Points (GT #75)

Exchangeable points are points that you can redeem, exchange, gift. These are often virtual currencies.

They focus on Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession, they allow accumulation and exchange. As well as Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience, make sure there is scarcity in coins and items are useful to buy. This is where The Big Burn (GT #88) can be used by introducing a very expensive item that will only give a small cosmetic change. The user can tell other users about her succes in coins accumulation by showing off this cosmetic change. This mechanic, where the user can quickly burn the majority of her points for something, helps you to control your economy.

With Exchangeable Points the user can redeem points for items that have a one-time use. Occasionally they might be used to unlock permanent powers, but this is less common.

Important Differences

It is important to be aware of the differences between these two types of points as to not mix them up. Most games use both points: experience to level up as status points, and currency to use and redeem as exchangeable points.

Next week we will take a closer look at Badges and what they can bring to your experience if implemented correctly.

Got a taste of the things you will learn in Octalysis Prime? Learn more by heading there now and sign up to try the FREE version of Octalysis Prime (no strings attached). Gain access to over 700 videos about Game Techniques and the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis and subjects like Motivational Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Behavioral Economics, Applied Psychology and more!

4 Keys 2 Fun (Game Design Framework by Nicole Lazzaro) – Part 1 of 4.

This series looks into Nicole Lazzaro’s work. As a game designer, Lazzaro worked on Tilt, Myst, Sims, and Star Wars Unleashed. Lately, she’s working in VR, AR, and MR.

Gameful Design in 4Keys2Fun

Nicole runs a company called XEODesign and they published the 4Keys2Fun.

Hard Fun, Easy Fun, Serious Fun, and People Fun are the 4 Keys.

From the 4Keys2Fun blog, we see:

These four main reasons why people play games are how best sellers create more emotions for more captivating play. Each key unlocks a different set of play experiences. Because players alternate between them during a single play session best selling games offer at least three of the 4 Keys 2 Fun. Only XEODesign’s methods take advantage of the 4 Keys 2 Fun to heighten player emotions.

Types of Fun

Hard Fun is about Mastery, “The Brass Ring”, and when one succeeds in this area, one feels fiero.

Easy Fun is a vehicle for imagination

Serious Fun provides meaning and value and we feel excitement upon success.

People Fun is experienced with others, where we experience amusement upon accomplishment.

Player Experience

As you read the 4Keys2Fun chart, notice that the visualization attempts to focus on the Player Experience (PX). Some experiences will move between the 4Keys, for example between Hard Fun and Easy Fun, or from Serious Fun to People Fun.

How to Use Music to Gamify Productivity

This is a sample from a daily blog I write for premium Octalysis Prime members, sharing practical and immediately applicable information related to gamification and behavior design. In other words, a daily blog for OP inspired by James Altucher and Seth Godin and others with a daily writing practice. 

You’ve probably noticed background music and music to learn, like this Akira the Don album (YouTube) on Joseph Campbell‘s Hero of a Thousand Faces, which uses spaced repetition combined with original music production.

From Akira the Don

(I wager that Akira the Don’s retention is off the charts given he creatively composed this album, requiring him to select the most important aspects of Campbell’s work.)

I’ve read various authors and then followed up with musical compositions like this, which to my mind serve a similar purpose to a bookshelf, where, after reading a book, I can simply notice it on the shelf and remember its contents. It’s almost like magic!

Maybe it has to do with flow (Fadi and Yu-kai recently discussed on Linkedin).

Speaking of music, one of our very own Octalysis Prime members, Frank Parker, is familiar with gamified learning and community building through music. I happen to know his son Ashlin Parker has used the Octalysis framework to ideate and improve the Trumpet Mafia experience. (If you haven’t read about it, head over to the OP Store and purchase the Getting Started Guide, only 500 Chou Coins!)

I will keep an eye (and ear) out for member projects I like to expand on in this blog… For example, I’m curious to know more about Bo joining the Yang Gang (former US presidential candidate) even though he cannot vote in the election–Bo lives and teaches in Denmark.

In other news, I recently transcribed Yu-kai’s video on Endgame Loot Design (which is a downloadable resource received after completing the video).

One idea in the video is that in WoW and Diablo, Blizzard game designers implemented mystery box designs… but Yu-kai noticed a problem.

As a reminder, this is only the 2nd day of my new Daily OP quest, where I share a few notes every day with each of you here in the community. Since a lot of you are annual members, I thought ‘What better way than to have a daily conversation?’

For completing this blog reading, here’s your loot! (a random video from OP) … only for Primers.

Erik van Mechelen
Your Octalysis Prime Community Manager

PS Send any requests for downloadable resources, like ‘How to Get Started on My Octalysis Level I Certificate’ or ‘The Octalysis Guide to Parenting’

Linked content from this email:
Akira the Don – Joseph Campbell, full album – “what is this mystery…?” (CD1/7)
Joseph Campbell (wikipedia)
Endgame Loot Design video on OP Island

Prime On! (parting thoughts)

Congrats to member Sergio Ligato for his recent guest post on a top Italian gamification site!

Martín Villegas Wins the Octalysis Prime & Food Heroes II Design Challenge

In a tough field for a difficult challenge, Martín emerged the Winner of the latest Octalysis Prime Design Challenge and will eventually be headed to Shanghai to work with the Food Heroes team.

To see the Design Challenge details for Food Heroes II, read this article.

After the initial submissions in the OP Island Challenge area, Each of the participants was asked by Food Heroes for additional conversations, and from what I heard from Food Heroes, those conversations were helpful to them and also to the participants.

Additionally, @Sergio and @Iñaki were named Finalists, congratulations! Watch out for their submissions in the coming weeks.

This was, as usual, a very tough decision.

What we liked about Martín’s Submission

As you can see when reviewing Martín’s submission, he is a worthy winner showing 1) a solid understanding of the Octalysis gamification framework, 2) how to apply Octalysis knowledge to improve a product and service in Food Heroes, and 3) attention to detail in all aspects of his presentation.

From my personal perspective, it was amazing to see the quality of submissions improve from our last Food Heroes Challenge to this one. That is a testament to the dedication each of you has committed to improving your design skills. Well done and Prime On!

As always, if you are looking to improve your Octalysis Gamification design skill and expertise, Octalysis Prime is a great place to start or gain experience above and beyond your innate attributes.

How to Build Game Loops, Part 1 of 4

Yu-kai’s team at The Octalysis Group, which has worked with the likes of Lego and Volkswagen to create meaningful experiences for their customers, has learned from him about how to create Game Loops. Now you can too!

Yu-kai built his career based off of a deep understanding of how games work. How they work from the design side. How they work for the players. How they work for the companies that publish them.

This deep understanding needed synthesis.

Which is part of the reason Yu-kai developed the Octalysis framework. He wanted a way to not only better describe games and game-like experiences, but also to be able to tweak or even redesign them. Perhaps from scratch.

That is one of the great features of the Octalysis framework. Where other models are more difficult to make practical, the Octalysis framework is almost immediately practical from almost any stage of project or experience design, whether pre-design, pre-launch, or post-launch.

Game Loops vs Activity Loops

An Activity Loop is any repeated cycle of Desired Actions.

Game Loops are Activity Loops with Boosters.

What’s a booster?

Boosters directly change how the next loop can be played or navigated by the player.

Boosters relate directly to Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback. The player thinks? What boosters are available? How can you gain them? What strategy will you take on to acquire them?

Boosters inspire meaningful play, White Hat and Intrinsic, in other words, Evergreen mechanics.

The booster improves or changes the experience.

Play on to the next post!

Training the Stallion Mind to Unleash Creativity, Part 1 of 2

Here is a training video from Octalysis Prime about creativity and developing your Stallion Mind for those of you who want to let the wild horse inside you run free to make yourself even more creative.

Here is a partial excerpt from the video:

Today we’re going to explore a topic, I call the stallion mind. How we train that stallion mind is about unleashing creativity. Now, this all came about when I’m working with my team and I’m thinking about how do you become more creative. I’m seeing people come with ideas but I feel like well, they’re kind of just the same thing that we did last time. It’s not very creative. So I was wondering how to help people become more creative. What is the process actually prove that it is something you’re born with your you can actually improve it?

I believe, we’re always born with certain talents certain things right, just like we talked about in 10,000 Hours of Play you got the Talent Triangle, but then we also have the skill triangle. There are things that we can actively work on more so than others. I’m thinking about if creativity can be one of those things. In another sense, this is about unlocking Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback within us.

How Creativity Works

There’s another aspect because we know about creativity. I mentioned it is just how we connect pieces in the past, together with things were we already promised before like you know taking things that we absorb and rearranging the order and putting together in a way that no one has done before. No one has seen that order, potentially, but it actually kind of made sense. and so that blends two different skill sets that I call example recalling. An example recalling is the ability to think about example on the spot. And this has been a very, very very useful skill for me to work with my clients

I’ve always been super impressed with how amazing our subconscious brain is again, it can be. In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman calls you know the fast brain, System 1, and a slow brain, System 2, with the fast brain being more distinctive, but not precise, things like that.

So usually when I’m telling you the sentences like the sentence come out of my mouth in my head I’m not thinking about that sentence I’m not thinking about every word I was about to say, and then say it out. I already knew what I was going to say my fast brain already processes and I just have to execute on what my mind is thinking, sometimes when people ask me a question, I’ll immediately respond: Well, there’s three components to your questions and, or at least to the answers every components right and in my head I wasn’t thinking about with words like, Oh, well there’s, there’s this, and there’s this, and there’s this.

The Power of the Subconscious Brain

The subconscious brain is very very powerful and a lot of our creativity comes from there. And that’s why I kind of like to in this context call it stallion mind because it’s like a wild horse, running in the wild and running really fast and I think it’s the right type of mentality. And as you guys know I like to create fun names and maybe even cool names that have been attached to an abstract concept because I think things that have fun names make it more enjoyable to think about, play around and interact with.

So we got the stallion mind where things happen really quickly, maybe it’s not precise not mathematical but it things really quickly finds things in the past, and it really allows to be very creative, very quickly, as you know some people when they’re creative right, it’s like boom boom boom idea what to do, under five minutes you’re like oh so many ideas, and then some people are like, even maybe they’re very intelligent right but they’re like, what’s the new think outside the box, instead of the new idea what’s the new idea was nearly they’re really good at analyzing existing ideas, but they just are very good at come with a lot of random ideas.

People feel like that’s might be a personality trait. Some people are born creative their personality is creative and some people are just more logical analytical and my personal belief is, based on all the years I’ve been studying how the brain works behavioral science is that, again, we all have that stallion mind inside of us. But our logical brain suppresses it.

The Logical Brain Wants Control

The logical brain wants to be in control we want to understand what’s going on we want to know what we’re talking about. We want to know the logic we’re trained in school, to really focus on logic and execution not mindlessly exploring all these things

Okay, I’m just gonna stick to my conscious brain, the logical thing that the teachers put in front of me, and dealing with logical thinking I’m going to suppress the stallion mind.

This is my theory based on what I understand, at least I haven’t found any proven science that talks that complete system one system to data from there’s a lot of supporting surrounding stuff there’s enough, I haven’t seen any science that directly says this is the answer. But I think, because the implications of it can be really, really useful and helpful impact all right and if people are actually able to, let’s say, train the stallion and make the stallion better and therefore people are better at creativity and example recalling, I do want to share this in case you know this does end up these these for you because I know it’s been useful for me. And everyone’s different so how do we train the style and how do we let go and let it run.