Food Heroes Octalysis Design Challenge

It’s finally here! The 2017 Octalysis Gamification Design Challenge – Food Heroes!

Many challenges are reserved for Octalysis Prime members only, but this challenge is open to the public since we want to maximize our impact on social good.


The design challenge will be about Food Heroes, motivating kids in China to eat healthily and sustainably. The Octalysis Group has already designed an engaging 7 Week Kindergarten program to engage the kids.

However, Food Heroes needs to figure out how to engage and train the teachers to run the 7 Week Program. They also need to create a follow-on online subscription box to make sure the kids are still eating healthily and engaged with the brand for the next 12 months.

Your job as a Octalysis Gamification Designer is to either (1) Help them create a gamified training program for the teachers, or (2) Design the 12 Month Subscription Box that the parents will order for their kids and play as a family.

Prizes for Winning

Option 1: Four Days of Food Heroes in China

JUCCCE will pay for economy class, non-refundable, non-changeable ticket to Shanghai and work with the JUCCCE team to see the Food Hero Program in action and eat the food. JUCCCE will sponsor 5 nights of housing for this visit.

Option 2: Spend a day with Yu-kai Chou in California

JUCCCE will pay for economy class, non-refundable, non-changeable ticket to California to hangout with Yu-kai for a day. The winner can shadow Yu-kai on his work and discuss anything interesting. Two nights of lodging will be provided in California by Yu-kai Chou in either Fremont or Milpitas.

Other Finalist Prizes

Gain exposure and bragging status in the Octalysis/Gamification community
-Finalists will receive a Level II Octalysis Certificate by The Octalysis Group
Immortalize your design by becoming a standard Octalysis Prime design case study (through video conferencing with Yu-kai Chou)
-Potential qualification to interview Octalysis Group for Consulting Career

Please Submit your work and design to by December 20, 2017.

Look forward to discover the next Octalysis Gamification Master in the community and change the sustainable future of our next generation!

Interactive Learning Content at Professor Game

This blog post is contributed by Rob Alvarez, creator of Professor Game.

During my work at IE Business School Publishing, we regularly create interactive learning content. We have our own processes and ways of doing things, but today I want to talk about ways I’ve used of Octalysis to improve my designs. First, let me clarify that when I say design I’m specifically referring to learning experience design and gamification design.

As with any project, we have an ideation phase, where we come up with ideas on what to do and how to take the learning experience and results to the next level. During this phase, I’ve seen a significant improvement since I’ve been studying Octalysis and drawing from its ideas for projects. I’m not changing the whole internal process that we follow in our department, but rather using many of the things I’ve learned. As you might know, the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard offers five critical elements:

  1. Business Metrics, leading to Game Objectives
  2. Users, leading to Players
  3. Desired actions, leading to Win-States
  4. Feedback Mechanics, leading to Triggers
  5. Incentives, leading to Rewards

If you want more information on these, go to Yu-kai’s post on this topic, or, if you want to go deeper, read Actionable Gamification by the same author.

After completing the dashboard mentioned above for a project, Octalysis moves into the ideation phase. This is where the 8 core drives come in especially handy, and where I’ve found a lot of value in coming up with new ideas and balancing out the different motivations for our students. Often, you will see that towards the end of any regular ideation phase for the creation of a learning experience, even if you don’t follow the previous process it can be very useful to analyze your conclusions using the Octalysis lens, to figure out what core drives your idea is tapping more into. You might also want to reflect upon whether you also want to include other drives you might want to reinforce. It’s also useful to even take a step back and, if you haven’t taken a look at your user with the dashboard, to think about that person now, what are the main motivational drives present in this type of person and if you are using elements that tap into those main drives.

The more I use loose ideas from Octalysis, the more I realize how well they tie in together and how useful it can be to go through all the steps and phases. My daily work and discoveries in gamification have led me to get to know world-leading gamification gurus like Yu-kai Chou and other experts from around the world. All that I’ve learned and found useful led me on a journey to look for the best way to share my regular discoveries and applications of gamification in education with others. That’s how I’ve arrived to a new project, the creation of the Professor Game Podcast where I interview experts and practitioners to inspire teachers and professors to make their jobs even more amazing! If you want more information, look for it on iTunes or Stitcher, or go to

Rob Alvarez Bucholska


This blog post is contributed by Rob Alvarez, creator of Professor Game.

Putting on Octalysis Glasses as an Educator in Hungary

Putting on your Octalysis glasses:

I spoke with Judit as part of our ongoing Hidden Gems podcast for Octalysis Prime, where we believe everyone has a story.

The reason I’m writing this post is for 2 reasons:

  1. My conversation with Judit inspired me
  2. The recording of our conversation was lost

Judit is a primary school teacher in Hungary, where she has taught young students through high school for 27 years.

She has studied and tried many methods of teaching. Kids change, she said, so you need to stay with them, or ahead of them if possible.

She experienced burnout last September and last summer.

Continue reading Putting on Octalysis Glasses as an Educator in Hungary

Exploration of Knowledge

This article was written by Bo, Octalysis Prime member: Bo Paivinen Ullersted is a Danish teacher in physics and math at high school level. He has been working with gamifying education since 2015 and runs a primarily Danish language blog and Facebook group about this. This article first appeared on Bo’s website

An approach to gamifying the classroom

An approach to gamifying classroom book-and-paper teaching, which worked well when tested in practice.

Note: My references here are to the Octalysis framework for gamification.

So, after having messed around with various approaches to gamifying teaching, I realised that I needed something simple and flexible. Something that could be used no matter what the topic was, and something that could be finished in a reasonable timeframe. At the same time, I found that a key issue was to provide students having different levels of skills with enough challenges, while avoiding the typical motivational killer of “I didn’t manage to solve all of the challenges”, and also making sure everyone practice the same skills.

My solution to these needs was the exploration of knowledge concept that I present here.

Continue reading Exploration of Knowledge

8 Education Gamification Examples for Learning Sprints

This article was written by Erik van Mechelen, based on the concepts in the Octalysis Gamification framework created by Yu-kai Chou. 

Why Learning Sprints are Useful

Lifelong learning is a marathon, but sprints can be useful along the way. Sprints can shock your body and mind. They will drive you through Core Drive 2: Accomplishment & Development, and several other Core Drives (depending on your sprint’s design).

Depending on where you are in developing a skill, trade, or craft, you can benefit from a sprint in the following ways:

  • improving your habits
  • leveling up to a more focused work ethic
  • learning new things about your daily routine and rhythms
  • actually learning the mini-skill, trade, or craft (obvious, but must include!)
  • exploring something completely new, just for fun!

Learning sprints are fast-paced, focused, and give you time to reflect more frequently than a long-term goal.

Bite, chew, then see how it feels.

Because of how efficiently sprints use your time, they are a great way to test an approach and see how something fits into your routine without having to dedicate years.

How to choose what to do is a completely different matter. (Which I may or may not be able to help with, but definitely ping me in the comments, because I might be able to!)

I’ll sprinkle in some Gamification Techniques and as always base my Top 8 Learning Sprints on the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis.

Let’s do this.

Continue reading 8 Education Gamification Examples for Learning Sprints

Top 10 Education Gamification Examples for Lifelong Learners

These gamification examples were tested by Erik van Mechelen, based on the gamification framework–Octalysis–created by Yu-kai Chou.

Education Gamification Examples for Lifelong Learning

Each of us learn every day, even if we aren’t trying to. As humans, we pick up new ideas through mimicry and even by osmosis. Well, maybe not exactly by osmosis, but it sure feels that way!

Here are 10 gamification examples from education for lifelong learners. Be sure to tell me what I missed in the comments 🙂

As before, I’ve included the ever-powerful Game Techniques along the way.

Continue reading Top 10 Education Gamification Examples for Lifelong Learners

The 5 best books about Gamification and Behavioral Design

Yu-kai’s note: through the influence of many of the books mentioned in this article and through my own 20+ year of research, I decided to publish a Gamification Book that is now the de facto education material about Gamification in classrooms around the world.

With non-fiction, I usually read quickly (scan), apply what I’ve learned, then come back later as needed to refresh. I prefer to learn by doing. This is the case for my education in gamification, too (I built an iPhone app instead of reading too much about it.)

For me, books are just a great way to see how others have done it and test against your own approach.

I borrowed my brother’s copy of The Lord of the Rings from his bookshelf. I was nine years old. Ever since, reading has been my favorite way to consume content. With a book in hand or on screen, I can read as fast or as slow as I want, mark the pages, save comments for later, and return to the book when needed. (I still think reading is one of the biggest level-ups any parent can give their child. And I believe that many of us can improve our reading ability and critical thinking well into adulthood.)

An introduction to games and gaming

Like a lot of you, I came up playing a lot of video games. Solo, with friends, against friends. It was our education and our entertainment. I remember sneaking into my mom and dad’s bedroom to play MathBlaster. They were only mildly annoyed I’d woken them up. I was learning, after all.

I also wrote about games. Here’s some notes from my journal when I was 10.

Later, my first real article to hit 50,000 reads was about Super Smash Brothers 64. I was 19 when I wrote that, but had written and discussed and analyzed games ever since I started playing them.

Later, I naturally came to gamification and design through a love of understanding and mastering systems. Even though I was in the “real world” now, I still drew lessons from developing strategies to battle my brothers in Starcraft or in terraforming Venus in SimEarth (tip, use a lot of ice meteors).

Starting 5

If I had to pick a starting five for games, behavior, and psychology, I’d pick the following.

Note: These are books I’ve read. There could be objectively better ones out there. One thing I love about reading is discovering great new texts and stories, so share in the comments what you’ve read that was amazing or helpful. 

1. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior

John von Neumann was a beast of an intellect. So is this book. Co-authored with Oskar Morgenstern, it provides the gammut of intellectual thought and theory about games and economic behavior available when they wrote it.

2. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

Zimmerman and Salen do a fine (and playful) job of first defining, then exploring the building blocks of game design. I’d class it with Jesse Schell’s book on the same topic.

I had a chance to meet Katie Salen in person and she was pleased to know I’d delved into the work. She was giving a talk at Target in 2013 about cultural transitions. She offered some decent ideas about workplace gamification and designing environments that motivated the players to move to win states. Sound familiar?

One interesting point here was that this text was written in 2003. At that time, there wasn’t a theoretical framework for games within design. I thought Katie and Eric did a fine job (688 pages worth) of detailing this work.

I recommend this book to people who want a readable yet textbook-esque book to start their journey of understanding games and game design.

Particularly interesting is the following:

Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like “play,” “design,” and “interactivity.” They look at games through a series of eighteen “game design schemas,” or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance.

Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is equal parts a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.

3. Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World–Jane McGonigal

I met Jane McGonigal in 2012 at a digital marketing conference in Minneapolis, MN, USA. She was very personable and asked me about my iPhone game. A good quick conversation before she went on stage for her keynote ahead of Guy Kawasaki. With a name like McGonigal, for a moment she almost made me feel like Harry entering wizard school (it definitely motivated me to complete the iPhone project).

Her book approaches a discussion of games from the premise that games can do good for the world. Especially if we design them appropriately.

I got the sense that McGonigal’s title, “Reality is Broken” was more of a headline hook than an actual representation of the book’s content. I instead found it to be a treatise for how games and play can improve individual health all the way to changing the way people interact and improve the world.

(As a side note, I also read McGonigal’s 500-page master’s thesis, entitled ‘Ubiquitious Play and Performance at the Turn of the 21st Century.)

Jane won’t give you too many direct examples to apply to your business unless you’re paying attention and applying the concepts to your everyday life.

4. The Art of Game Design–Jesse Schell

Jesse Schell’s book, by contrast to McGonigal’s, goes into depth about the totality of the experience. I liken his book to Norman’s Design of Everyday Things in that it describes the designer as a communicator through the game to the user. But also–and this is important for Octalysis apprentices–he hones in on the Experience of the game. In other words, he understands how experience motivates actions, mechanics, and decision-making within the game space.

5. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

When I slip into writing and two hours have gone by like two seconds, I know I’ve probably done some good work. What’s more, the experience of immersion, though fleeting in memory, is satisfying to accomplish. It also, it seems to me, to help my long-term productivity.

Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi wrote about unleashing creativity and investigated the satisfying feeling of complete immersion in an activity.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s illuminated “optimal experience”, a state of experience or consciousness he called Flow.

During flow, we typically experience a deep sense of enjoyment, creativity, and an involvement above normal experience. The idea is to reliably create the environment that will induce these states and remain in them for extended periods.

While his ideas have been controversial under scientific study, my own experience has suggested at minimum there is a level of focus and productivity that can be reached when distractions are removed.

Csikszentmihalyi discusses how to order the information entering our consciousness and we can discover true happiness and improve the quality of our lives.

This goes a little far in my view. True happiness is as of yet not measurable beyond self report, but I do know my general quality of life appreciates when I accomplish tasks, especially creative ones.

I recommend this book for anyone serious about understanding the creation of optimal experience in work and play.

Future reading

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading, from blogs to books and everything in between.

In a future post, I’ll break down some blogs I’m following, including Scott Young’s (Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment), Cal Newport’s (CD2 and Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback and Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity), and Gary V’s (Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness, for emotional and social intelligence).

If you’d like to see me review a specific book, I will do that. Please leave a recommendation in the comments! I love doing mini-book clubs with friends and community members. 🙂