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.
One of my friends, Jordan Harbinger, is the host of an extremely popular podcast show with hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners called The Art of Charm. After seeing my TEDx talk, he felt that my content would be great on his podcast show. We had a fun interview about Octalysis and Life.
There are tons of other great shows and interviews on his iTunes channel, including Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Strauss, Noah Kagan. Check them out here: http://www.theartofcharm.com/itunes
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
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).
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.
Even though I have been working on Gamification companies and projects since 2003, I only became more public with my Gamification knowledge August of 2012. Before that, I was too busy running RewardMe (another Gamification related startup) to write about this passion of mine. After I stepped down as CEO of RewardMe, I finally was able to start researching and writing more about Gamification. I was really on a mission to help the world create better Gamification design, as self-proclaimed gamification experts constantly just throw PBLs (points, badges, Leaderboards) or other game mechanics on solutions without any deep game design process. As a person who is deeply passionate about Gamification, I wanted the world to give it a fair chance. I’m almost frightened that the industry will take a look at Gamification, try some badges, decide that there is no ROI, and then move on to the next shiny item. I wanted more awesome examples that move large business core metrics by double or even triple digits, whether they’re created by me or not.
The complete gamification framework: Octalysis
As a result, I started organizing and restudying all the things I’ve learned in the past 10 years to formulate the complete gamification framework – Octalysis. I published the Octalysis framework towards the end of 2012, and it really took off, getting thousands of Retweets and Likes. It was also translated into over 7 languages and a big traffic driver for many reposters. Afterwards, a great amount of consulting/speaking opportunities showed up. I started working with cool companies like eBay, Gini in Germany, the Christian Non-Profit Superbook, mobile apps such as Pregnancy Companion, BeLike, and many many more to help them implement better Human-Focused Design that motivates people through the 8 Core Drives. I also got invited to do gamification talks and workshops around the world: Denmark, Australia, India, Germany, England, and of course, a variety of states in the US (my travels are documented in my video series: The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification). All this is very exciting, especially since I just got married to an amazing wife and being able to comfortably support a family (based on what I love doing!) is always a good thing. After a year of hard work through writing, consulting, and speaking, I’m excited and humbled to be Rated 1st Place among the Top 40 Gamification Gurus in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. Number 1 in the World? Wow, that’s unfathomable! Or as Megamind says it, “That’s without fathom!”
The craft of Gamfication
Of course, being first place on the gamification chart is mostly just an ego booster than a final accomplishment (and as the cliche but true saying goes, I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys being awesome readers, promoters, and appliers of my work). My work in this field has just begun! The way I like to put it: I have finally crafted a boat that can leave the dock and sail off to sea; and now I face the vast ocean ahead of me. There are so many things to learn and apply in gamification. I’ve said many times that gamification is not really a word I like (I prefer Human-Focused Design), but since the gaming industry was the first to master Human-Focused Design, we are now learning from games – hence “Gamification.” But gamification is not one field. It’s a combination of many (much like the study of Human Complex Systems). To continue to level up in gamification, one needs to master a combination of game design, game dynamics, behavioral psychology, macroeconomics/currencies, user experience/interface, technology, brain/happiness biochemistry (such as Dopamine and endorphins), and metric-based business systems for driving ROI. There’s so much to do, so much to learn, and so much to experience, that the gamification industry is just at it’s nascent stages – and all of that is fascinating. Of course, at one point when you are considered the “expert,” people expect you to know a bunch of stuff that others are doing. One of the hardest things to master as a “gamification expert,” is to correctly pronounce (and spell…I admit, I had to check Google for this one) the name Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, creator of the Flow Theory. Of course, everyone also expects you to know what every gamification platform (and game) is doing. “What do you think about this latest Bunch Ball feature?” “What do you think about Badgeville’s new press release?” Honestly, I’d rather go deep and study more games, psychology, and good design. But people expect me to be on top of what all these platforms are doing, so I make an effort to do that, even though new platforms and examples are popping up left and right by the dozens every week (a great sign by the way). There’s just a lot of things to learn and pick up, and I’m still at the beginning of the journey (along with the entire gamification industry).
The exciting potentials of Gamification
The most exciting potential of gamification, is that it can become the killer application for Big Data. Right now, everyone’s focused on Big Data – collecting trillions and trillions of data points in order to be able to analyze things when needed. The problem is, besides a few brilliant companies, no one actually knows what to do with that big data. They can call out reports when they want, but at the end, it becomes info-porn: fun to watch, but gets you nowhere. There is where gamification comes in. Gamification is all about utilizing big data to cater the experience to each user, making it unique and enjoyable for each person. In a game, everything is tracked – which character you choose, which stage you are on, what abilities you have learned, what items do you have, what level you are, etc etc. and based on all that tracked data, it provides you a different experience in real-time that makes things more enjoyable. Imagine if we could do that with EVERYTHING we do, where a unique and fun experience is customized for us based on big data (or what we have already done through meaningful choices). This will MASSIVELY increase engagement and retention to any application or experience out there. And whoever figures that out first will become the new Amazon (who was the first to realize and figure out the disruptive power of the internet towards traditional businesses) in a brand new era of motivation and engagement. Last, but not least: it’s nice to be First. 😉
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
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?
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.