TA Expert Interview Series featuring Yu-kai Chou, author of the Gamification Book Actionable Gamification

TA Expert Interview Series featuring Yu-kai Chou, author of the Gamification Book Actionable Gamification

Yu-kai Chou, gamification pioneer and international keynote speaker at San Francisco CA, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on gamification. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

Yu-kai joined Buckner to discuss his book, how he ensures his team is on the same page, gamification implementation, and how gamification and B2B technologies connect.

Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: There are some CRM solutions that have an 80 percent failure rate, either because it’s not implemented correctly, or because the goals were never mapped out to begin with. How do you get your team on the same page at the very beginning to get their goals and their strategy in place?

Yu-kai: At the beginning of every gamification campaign, I always let clients to define five things— what I call the strategy dashboard.

The first one is business metrics, which lead to the game objective. What are the metrics you actually want to improve? What’s your most important metrics? What’s your number two? What’s your number three? It’s amazing how, when you change the order of these business metrics the entire experience design completely changes.

That leads to the game objectives. This is why you’re gamifying something. If those numbers go up, it’s successful, if they don’t go up, the campaign’s a failure. And then you want to define who the users are and their player types.

And then the third one is desired actions that lead to win states. Those are all the little steps the user needs to do for you to be successful. And every time they do the desired action, it needs to be a win state.

The fourth one is feedback mechanics that lead to triggers. So feedback mechanics are things people can see, in terms of communicating those core drives; each of these feedback mechanics needs to trigger the desired actions defined earlier.

And finally, its the rewards and incentives. Basically, if users hit the win state, what are the rewards that you can give them. This is a very precise and tight-knit process, but once those things are defined, the whole team is together. There’s clear language about what’s a priority.

And I don’t think I need any more than that. Usually within a few days we can get this flushed out. And then the rest is just designing a great experience.

TA: Gamification implementation with different technologies starts out very simple, and then builds. Once you understand what motivates somebody, you can use that in a way that ensures you’re going to get the desired action. What connections do you see between gamification and B2B technologies like CRM or marketing automation software?

Yu-kai: The core of gamification is delivery experience, where people will take the desired action. And we know every time they take an action is because of the 8 Core Drives.

But you need to be able to send them feedback mechanics to trigger these desired actions. So marketing automation software is very useful in this case because it provides triggers. BJ Fogg says that every behavior is because of motivation, ability, and a trigger.

So marketing automation software makes sure it’s constantly sending users the right triggers at the right time. It’s intelligent, it says, ‘Hey, it’s been two weeks!” or “This just happened!” or if something just appeared in the news, ‘Hey, don’t forget about us.’

And then the content of that email message will be the motivation part. That’s when you think about, am I motivating them to take the next desired action? ‘Hey, look, 80 percent of fortune 500s are using us.’ That, or scarcity or exclusivity— like there’s only three spaces left.

You want to think about what goes into that automated email. But as long as the user can see the email, that’s the trigger, there’s the motivation, and hopefully every email has an action item, a link or something the user can do. That’s when behavior happens.

And you can craft that experience to be fun, engaging, emotional. Woo.com for instance, is famous for using fun and exciting, and kind of unrandom, unpredictable language to sell really serious things and they make the experience playful. I recommend companies who do that a lot.

How do you add a little bit more of unpredictability to your automated marketing messages? How do you add social influence, how do you add scarcity?

To learn more about Yu-kai Chou visit Yukaichou.com.  His LinkedIn account is Yu-kai Chou while his Twitter account is @Yukaichou.

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download here to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. You can also subscribe to just the gamification category.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.


New Trends in Gamification

New Trends in Gamification image showing a business person drawing figures for growth and innovation A guest blog from our friends at TechnologyAdvice exploring cutting edge innovation in the gamification market.

People love games.

This isn’t a new revelation. People have loved games for a long time. And when someone really loves a game, they dedicate hours to mastering it.

In fact, as of 2011, over 5.93 million years of total time had been spent playing World of Warcraft alone. When a game is that good, people spend hours at a time engaged with the platform.

This is the same type of engagement companies are experiencing with their gamification systems (albeit a little less extreme than World of Warcraft). The idea of implementing gaming techniques in the workplace was originally met with heavy skepticism, and often criticism. Now, there are dozens of case studies outlining how companies large and small have used gamification to increase profits, decrease expenses, and increase competitive advantage.

A recent study performed by M2 revealed that the gamification market, currently valued at around $100 million, will grow to more than $2.8 billion by 2016. As more companies begin to realize the massive potential of gamification in the workplace, and as vendors create new and inventive ways to gamify everyday processes, the biggest movers and shakers will seek to stake their claim on what’s trending in the industry.

A few trends in particular have risen from the crowd as powerful and interesting changes within the gamification industry. Companies who have taken advantage of these trends have seen successful results, and other organizations are jumping on board. Continue reading New Trends in Gamification

GSummit 2014 Highlights and Takeaways

Logo for the GSummit 2014 Gamification conference in San Francisco 2014

GSummit 2014 Highlights and Takeaways

by finneycanhelp aka Mike Finney of CARFAX, Inc.

Phew. The wonderful GSummit 2014 has come and gone and because there was a lot to process, I decided to share a few things that I learned at GSummit as well as a few links to presentation slides, Twitter accounts, and some key resources.

Reader beware: Since some of the material is from my notes, mistakes are possible. In any case, I encourage you, the reader, to dive deeper where possible. Finally, I credit all the great knowledge to the excellent presenters- thank you for sharing your wisdom!

We begin with the first official day of the conference, Wednesday, June 11th, 2014.

First Day: Wednesday, June 11th

After some breakfast, hugging old friends and meeting new ones, it was time to watch the fun begin on the main stage. The friendly “Welcome to GSummit 2014” by Gabe Zichermann came and went. The first presentation called “GAMIFY: What is the Future of Gamification?” began.

GAMIFY: What is the Future of Gamification?” by Brian Burke

Brian points out that digital business is forcing organizations to figure out how best to engage and motivate others both internally and externally. The physical and digital worlds are being blurred together.

Weight Watchers was an example of a struggling company in this Digital Business age. Weight watchers is commonly pointed out as a Gamification example that’s been around for about 50 years.

Lately, its stock and revenue have been doing worse now that certain solutions like MyFitnessPal, FitBit and other digital solutions have become available.

There may come a day when work / life balance is achieved through a digital dashboard with a virtual assistant named Samantha to help you. I look forward to that day.

My key takeaway is:

Continue reading GSummit 2014 Highlights and Takeaways

Gamification Workshop in SF Bay Area (Herger & Chou)

Gamification Workshop SF Bay Area

This Workshop is officially over. My full-day Octalysis workshop was a huge success. Read about it here!

Premium Gamification Workshop in the SF Bay Area by Top Rated Professionals

Hey guys, a lot of people have been asking me and my colleague Mario Herger whether we are running workshops in the Bay Area (because we are traveling internationally all the time to do it – Ha!)

Therefore we have decided to run a two-day workshop here in Palo Alto to help fellow startups and organizations execute better Gamification.

Here is the Event Page to Sign-Up

Because it’s a workshop, it’s not meant to be huge as we want everyone to receive enough attention and really be able to come out as a person competent in the fields of Gamification Design. As a result, it’s priced accordingly for those who really believe that this can make a huge impact in their professional lives (as they did on myself and many people I know.

About the Gamification Speakers

Gamification Gurus List
Gamification Gurus List by UK-Based Leaderboarded.com

If you guys are not familiar with Mario Herger, he has been championing gamification for many years as a Senior Strategist in SAP. Whereas I am more about hardcore gamification experience design and startups (we’re all pretty well-rounded though), he has deep knowledge in the implementation of gamification in the enterprise space – working with compliance, legal, budgeting, reporting. He is also one of the biggest experts I know regarding enterprise motivation and competition.

Both Mario and I consistently have been ranked Top 3 in the Gamification Gurus list on UK Based Leaderboarded.com, which isn’t to say that it’s the most legitimate way to measure gamification knowledge and ability (since it is more of a measure of influence and focus), but it’s always a nice reference.

And if you are unfamiliar with me…look around the site. Click on my About page. Watch my videos (but be prepared to watch really goofy stuff).

Focus of the Gamification Workshop

Mario and I will each divide up the two days and take over one day each. Continue reading Gamification Workshop in SF Bay Area (Herger & Chou)

When Playing Games Can Help Save Lives

When immersed in a great game experience, learning, doing and solving problems feels completely effortless- the hours fly by.  The non-game enthusiast may see this as an idle past-time and some may even regard the compulsion to keep playing as a kind of addiction. But the people behind the Internet-Response League view this as an untapped social potential that can drive the accomplishment of enormous feats, the solving of tough problems, and the saving of lives in times of crisis and disaster.

The initiative is headed by Peter Mosur, Patrick Meier and Ahmed Meheina. Peter is a graduate student at the Metropolitan College of New York who studies emergency management. Patrick  is an expert on next generation human technology and has co-directed a Harvard program on Crisis Mapping. Ahmed is an undergraduate at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alexandra who is studying communications and electronics. So what do these three have to do with this untapped potential?

The Internet Response League focuses on mobilizing and leveraging MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) communities. These groups have high numbers of players engaged with online game play where a healthy dose of enthusiasm is needed to solve difficult mission-driven challenges. With the right strategy, this problem-solving energy can be harnessed to produce socially conscious actions.

Continue reading When Playing Games Can Help Save Lives

There is NOTHING wrong with Israel Gamifying War

Israel War Gamification

New to Gamification? Check out my post on the Complete Gamification Framework: Octalysis or my Video Series: The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification

A quick background of the Israel Defense Force Conflict

You may be aware that Israel and Palestinian nations have been upset about each other for quite some time now. Most recently on Nov 14-21st, 2012, the Israel Defense Force started Operations Pillar of Defense, where it launched an attack on the Gaza Strips, supposedly as a response to the 8,600 and more Rockets that were fired into Israel from the other side between 2001 and 2009, and 1000 more rockets this year alone.

Along with this, IDF introduced many game mechanics and gamification techniques on their website in the form of IDF Ranks. This is a game that is meant to stir up patriotism and get Israelites (and other nations) to stand up and support their efforts.

Users get points by reading, commenting, watching, and sharing information and updates they post on the websites and level up into different ranks, as well as earn badges. This will also allow regular civillians to feel like they are contributing to the war effort and helping their country.

Unsurprisingly, the social media world pounced on that with strong criticism. It is covered by publications like Time, Gamespot, and more. Jon Mitchell at ReadwriteWeb wrote, “Innocent people are dying on all sides, and the IDF wants to reward people for tweeting about it…It makes me sick.”

This post is about why I think, as controversial as it may be, IDF has the RIGHT to gamify their war efforts.

What this post is NOT about

Before anything, I want to say that this post is NOT about:

  • Promoting war, or saying war is fun. Just like Jon Mitchell said, war itself is horrible, with innocent people dying on all sides. I do NOT like war. I abhor it, and feel sad about all the killed/injured people and their family members in any war.
  • Who is right or wrong. I’m not going to make a moral judgement on which side is right. People fight wars for various reasons (In fact, weren’t we the United States just in a “war” recently?), and as a Gamification Professional, I’m going to leave my political opinons on this aside. This post is merely on whether gamifying war efforts, GIVEN that a nation is in a war, violates codes of basic morality or “taste.”
  • Evaluating how GOOD the gamification actually is from the IDF. Even though the gamification efforts from IDF isn’t very well designed and implemented from a professional opinon, this post is about whether they should do it or not in the first place instead of how well they do it.

Now with that aside…

It’s the other way around: most games were created to MIMIC war

You know how Gamification is applying game elements into non-game context? Well guess what: most games since the very beginning are simply applying war elements into non-war context.

War has been around for as long as there are people. Operations and practices of war have long been around before games appeared, and they’re basically all about defending/invading nations, staying alive, and keeping soldiers motivated.

Soldiers have naturally been keeping score or “points” based on how many enemies they have killed. Some warriors in various cultures hang their enemies’ skulls on themselves as trophies, while others “capture enemy flags” to keep score and showoff their victories and inspire their entire armies.

These practices are accepted in their respective cultures because war is serious, gruesome, and has devastating consequences if lost. There must be ways to motivate soldiers who are going through dreadful lifestyles, missing their families, and risking their lives everyday. And the way to do it is to have them focus on their enemies as well as their own progress and accomplishments in a battle.

These things are very necessary to win a war (again, losing has devastating consequences), so instead of feeling distaste because of wars that use game mechanics, shouldn’t it be more valid to say that it is sick and distasteful that games are modeled after wars?

What’s the most popular win-state to gain points, experience, or trophies in games? Enemies destroyed.

Pretending to be in a war when we’re actually not is arguably the sick part of our psych, as opposed to pretending we’re in a game during war to keep morale up and make things more bearable.

Oh, and where do games get the concept of “badges” from in the first place? The military of course. When a soldier has accomplished many missions, he gains a badge that represents recognition and honor.

Is it sickening that we are recognizing and honoring people who likely have taken lives away from people?

Self-Defense has no rules

Continue reading There is NOTHING wrong with Israel Gamifying War

How To Maintain Your Online Privacy In A Gamified World

How To Maintain Your Online Privacy In A Gamified World

One of the few unwanted side effects of gamification is the fact that it often involves putting a lot of personal information out there. Even if you choose to keep your name anonymous, by logging your activity, you are giving potential identity thieves some very useful data.

Of course, this is true of everything in today’s online world. We’re so used to our data being all out there that we often don’t think twice about it. We agree to all T&C’s; we give every retailer our credit card details; we confess important personal information all the time.

Much of the reason we’re so willing to give up our personal information is that it no longer seems like we have a choice. Sooner or later, Apple, Google, Facebook, and all their affiliated advertisers will know everything there is to know about us. And sooner or later, there’ll be a big breach that gives criminals access to the identities of everyone online.

But that does not have to be the case. It is still possible to keep a handle on our identities, but to do this we have to take the necessary steps.

Be sparing with your personal details

It may feel like everything’s out there already, but it doesn’t have to be so easy to access. We’re not advocating that you live like a survivalist, expecting the end of the world just around the corner. But make sure that when you sign up for something, the service is reputable and trustworthy.

Even with reputable services, be careful. Do not reuse passwords – if you do, hackers will be able to access all your accounts with what they glean from just one attack. Ideally, have a billing address that is not your home address, and don’t share your home address with anyone unless absolutely necessary.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is touted by many as a solution to everything, from FBI surveillance to the gaze of your neighborhood hacker. Well, it’s definitely not a panacea, but it does do a lot to keep you safer than most.

The best VPN service will hide your location and encrypt your data without keeping any logs of their own. This last point is important. If they keep user logs, stay away from them. They may have innocent reasons behind it, but if they get hacked then you’re back at square one again.

Also, remember that you’re going to have to pay for a VPN actually worth its salt. While there are free versions available, you usually get what you pay for. Most of the free ones expire and you end up needing to pay anyway.

Still be Vigilant – don’t be the sucker

A VPN will not solve everything, and is no help if you are willfully handing out your information to everyone that asks. It goes hand in hand with secure web practices. It may be considered irresponsible, however, to use the internet without one. These days, our data can put us at risk of identity theft. Don’t make it any easier.