Octalysis Primers Start Consulting Business – Part 2: Joel Schmidt

In our last post we introduced two passionate Octalysis Primers: Joel and Daniel Schmidt from Germany. If you missed it, check it out first.

These brothers, friends and now also business partners, recently started a consulting company named Smithery. They do UX consulting with a focus on digital learning experiences. Shortly after launch they are already working for two clients!

Joel Schmidt

Joel, age 21, is the younger brother of the two.

After High School I took a year of Bible School with the aim to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do.

I have experience with outdoor experiential education: group activities and team-building exercises and more and more got the feeling that I should do something with business consulting.”

During the interview we observed that we could really see Joel in a consulting position as he comes across as very disarming and kind.

We had a good laugh together when we mentioned that people would likely accept him telling them what they do wrong and should improve. To which Joel simply replied: “Yeah that’s true“, with a perfect disarming smile.

What is it like to work with your brother?

In April 2021 I felt in my heart that it was time to move on. I quit my job as a scaffolder and started Smithery with Daniel. It is great to work with my brother. We’ve had our difference in the past, but we grew very close together now. We often take a walk in the evening to really talk about stuff. Yeah, it’s really nice to have such a brother”

Daniel adds: “Amen to all of that. And Joel adds so much value to the way I do things. He sees so many things that I would completely miss because I’m all about the structure. Joel is like fluid; he understands my structure but can flow through it like water, making all sorts of connections.

How did you land on Octalysis Prime?

“When I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do, Daniel suggested to sign up for Octalysis Prime.

He reasoned that no matter what I would choose, when working with people, understanding motivation will always help you.

Also even if it is just for yourself. It is very useful to learn more about what moves you, what you are hard-wired to do, and how to motivate yourself to do stuff.

What did you get out of Octalysis Prime?

Actually, the ‘side-stuff’ has helped me the most. I really resonated with the videos on how to improve your life. It has helped me a lot to structure my life better and make better choices.

For the business, the core about Gamification and the Octalysis framework provides a solid foundation. Particularly useful are the videos that cover the importance of thinking through the four phases of the User Journey.

Something great, and fun, about Octalysis is that it provides a language to talk about motivation in a much more meaningful way. We now see Core Drives everywhere! When watching a TV show we often point out to each other things like: “That is a really good Core Drive 2 example!”

Can you tell us something about your Octalysis Certificate?

Of the brothers Schmidt, Joel was the first to earn his prestigious Octalysis Level 1 Certificate.

It is really fun to analyze a product, like an app or website, and figure out how to make it more fun and engaging. Going through the steps of defining the Octalysis Strategy Dashboard definitely helps. It helps to make clear what is important for the design, and you can refer back to it during the Brainstorming to get the focus right.”

What the Future Holds

We are looking forward to seeing Smithery grow into a recognized consulting business in Germany, and to read your updates in the Slack Community. This is just the beginning.

Good luck and Prime On!

Octalysis Level 2 Certificate Achiever: Colin Hahn

“Wait, didn’t I already see a blog post about Colin Hahn’s Octalysis Certificate recently?”

Yes, you did, Colin is on a roll! He attained his Level 1 certificate with this submission about Talent Development. And very shortly after submitted for the prestigious Level 2 Octalysis Certificate, which he achieved in one go!

The chosen experience to analyse and improve is Leadership Engine, a program to develop new leaders at Douglas Dynamics.

Douglas Dynamics is a publicly traded manufacturing company. They produce work truck attachments and install attachments onto work truck chasses.

Currently, 230 of the 1,750 employees are in first-level leadership roles: Team leads, Operations managers and Office managers. But the new leader experience at Douglas Dynamics is inconsistent and ad hoc, creating a significant opportunity for the new Leadership Engine program to improve labor productivity, engagement, and turnover.

Colin diligently creates a full Octalysis Strategy Dashboard, capturing all the information required to guide the design process. For Level 2 this also includes Feedback Vehicles, Feedback Mechanics and Rewards.

By creating an Octalysis Graph to analyze the motivation provided by the current experience he identifies the key areas for improvement.

After Brainstorming for features to fill the gaps and make sure the new experience is motivating for the main Player Type, Colin created visuals to explain his ideas. A requirement for the Level 2 Certificate.

This is his proposal for an improved visual dashboard.

Congratulations Colin for reaching this impressive milestone and adding your name to the Hall of Fame! You’ve earned it.


Try out Octalysis Prime for FREE, if you also want to master all the skills required to motivate your employees.

Octalysis Primers Start Consulting Business – Part 1: Daniel Schmidt

Did you know that two of our Octalysis Primers are from the same town in Germany? What a coincidence, right?

Or maybe not so much, these two handsome men are actually brothers! But Daniel and Joel share much more than a last name, they are both:

– Passionate Gamers
– Driven to make learning more fun
– Co-owners of Smithery

Smithery – Forging great learning experiences

Unlike their own experience at German university, Joel and Daniel strongly believe that “learning can and should be something fun.”


Armed with knowledge about Human Motivation, Gamification and UX Design, they started a consultancy business. It is cleverly named Smithery; a place where powerful things are forged, by the brothers Schmidt.

They started working for their first client only two days after launch!

Daniel Schmidt

Daniel, age 29, is the older brother of the two.

In the past years I have worked with many organizations in the field where two things that are close to my heart come together: Nerd Culture and Christianity.

As a leading force for e.g. Allianzmission and MainQuest, he is well-connected and respected through-out Germany.

What is it like to work with your brother?

“I have worked with many different teams, and luckily we have so far always managed to establish a family like culture. But working with your actual brother is really something different.

The age difference between Joel and myself is quite big, 7,5 years. So when I was growing up and going through early adult struggles, Joel was still a child.

In recent years we have grown very close together, and have established a deep sense of openness and trust. Which I think is absolutely necessary because our working relationship is intertwined with our family relationship.”

How did Octalysis Prime help you start a business?

Daniel joined Octalysis Prime after reading Yu-kai’s book Actionable Gamification.

“I have had six years of study and research around topics like Motivational Psychology and Gameful Design at university. But my understanding of these topics came to a new level by digging into Yu-kai’s work. It is actually even bigger than that, a whole new world opened up!

There is also a lot of merit in being part of the OP Slack community. There are some people in the community who just breathe valuable information. And it is great to share different perspectives with like-minded people.

One repeated lesson that stood out to me is to always come back to thinking about motivation – the difference between Human-focused Design and Function-focused Design. To answer the question: joining Octalysis Prime helped with everything.

Can you tell us something about your Octalysis Certificate?

Daniel mentions that he is not all about certificates, as his main focus is on the intrinsic motivation for learning. But he is very happy that he put in the effort to obtain his prestigious Octalysis Level 1 Certificate:


“It is very helpful to take something that you think you know and have studied well, and then have somebody who really knows look at your work and give you feedback that brings you back to reality.

Because the required quality thresholds of the different certificate levels are really enforced it has real value. And it provides the reassurance for myself that I have learned something well.

I know so many people who managed to get their university degree that I won’t take any advice from. Earning an Octalysis Certificates really means something.”

Fun Fact

To wrap up the interview, Daniel shared an amusing story about Octalysis Prime:

He once spent half an hour to click the ‘Defend the Castle’ button in the Challenge Section of the Island exactly 100 times. This made the dragon fly away to patrol for a hundred times, but unfortunately did not reveal any Easter Eggs.

“You may all thank me for testing this so you don’t have to!”

(Button used to say ‘Defend the Castle’)

Part 2 Coming Soon!

A big thanks to Daniel for the interview! Read more about Joel Schmidt’s perspective in Part 2. Spoiler alert: “Joel is like fluid“.

Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 2/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday’s Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers.

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 3 – One of the low hanging fruits to improve a design, is to make it easy for users to show appreciation for each other. However, we can only motivate people, gently nudge them in the right direction, we cannot control them. Do you think we can use things we can control (e.g. NPCs, the companion on the Island, a chatbot…) to achieve (partly) the same effect. Motivate your answer.

Thorsten Niemeyer shares his own experience with Witcher 3 and how NPCs motivated him through CD5.

“Appreciation from an NPC, you companion can definitely motivate you, and I think the more it is individualised the better.
So like in video games where you grow to like persons, prefer them over others, do things for them rather than others (Witcher 3 with all the different Relationships comes to my mind, where I for sure had some kind of social feelings for the characters, especially regarding how my interactions affected the relationship)
Another thing that I thought of was a bot that shows you around a game, platform etc. that shows you how to do things, drive actions, how to communicate with others. And there with the right kind of dialogue it could definitely invoke some CD5.
“Hey adventure let me show you around. Here you can chat with me, ah nice. If you post something others can like it. Here see you already got a like from me.”, even though knowing the first like is from a bot would at least I have the feeling do its part to motivate the user.”

Lucian Katzbach goes into detail about what would be necessary in order to have a NPC offer motivation through Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think it’s possible. But hard to achieve since it must be vivid. The npc needs to have weaknesses or moods etc. But they need additionally enough CD7 but still needs to be in context. All this makes it hard. One example might be the app Replika.”

Colin Hahn is brainstorming for automated coaching tools.

“I’ll say yes. The scenario I’m thinking about is automated coaching tools. I’ve personally found that messages from those bots can tap into that social experience. From a motivation perspective, I’ve felt like that technique works better when:
– The bot has a “personality” – that creates some CD3 and CD7 which makes me interested in what the bot will say, instead of just expecting a rote explanation
– The bot customizes the messages for me – there’s probably a combination of CD4 Alfred Effect, CD3, and CD 7 involved when the bot asks, e.g., why I care about the goal and then uses that language in future reminders
– The bot connects me with other users; I’ve seen some bots use CD5 social anchoring to say “85% of your peers did ABC, you should too!””

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

Monday’s Mini – Can We Feel Related to NPCs? 1/2

In our exclusive Slack community for Premium Primers, we offer the weekly Monday’s Mini Challenge.
The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. We created the Monday’s Mini Challenges to offer our Primers the chance to do this.

Monday's Mini. One topic. Three questions. Many high-quality answers from our Primers. Click To Tweet

Oftentimes when we think about Core Drive 5, we think about Social Influence, Relatedness, Social Pressure, Envy. We think about what we do based on what other people do, think, or say, about collaboration and competition. With humans.

But what about NPCs? What about animals? What about people that only exist in books, stories, movies?
This week we will explore a larger extent of Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.

Question 2 – “Do you think NPCs can motivate us through Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness? Explain why you think this can or cannot be while coming to the core of what you feel CD5 represents.”


Manas Mallik (Product Manager) goes to the core of CD5: Social Influence & Relatedness.

“I think NPCs can motivate us through CD5. That it’s a bot doesn’t matter as long as it is designed well. Deep underneath humans want to be appreciated, feel wanted, feel encouraged and a NPC can do that. Rationally thinking we might say that we are not motivated but actually we are. It is true for any advertisements also NPC need to designed intelligently for the right context and Then it can motivate through CD5”

Ren Chang Soo (Experience Designer) uses Animal Crossing to analyze the use of NPCs there, focussing on the possibility of AI in NPCs in games.

“In animal crossing, the NPC Tom Nook can be perceived to play the role of a mentor. You can go to Tom and ask “What should I do?” and Tom would share next steps. Getting answers to the question of “What should I do” sounds like the NPC is motivating us through CD5 (mentorship)
Having said that, upon further investigation, you will realise that Tom Nook is just sharing your next logical “desired actions” in a conversation format. And thus might act more like a guide (instead of mentor), when the player is looking for a new “desired action” to move forward with.
Thus having an option to ask the NPC an open ended question/ advice such as “What should I do?” is a good starting point in embedding CD5. It is also imperative that the NPC’s response to this question needs to be crafted (by the game designer) in a way that the player feels like receiving guidance/ advice from the NPC in further strengthening the presence of CD5
What would be awesome is to have NPC powered by artificial intelligence.

Predrag Stefanović goes into more detail explaining about how NPCs can utilize Core Drive 5.

“Yes, I think NPC could motivate us through CD5.
The NPC could inform us how we stand on the leaderboard and what tasks we need to perform in order to progress further. For example, he might say, “Great, you’re doing well for now. If you complete the task to the end, you’ll overtake John B. on the leaderboard. Also, after we solve a task, the NPC can reveal to us in what way and what strategy was used by John B. to kill the dragon and win the mighty sword. Also, NPC can invite me to help my friend John B. in battle. From the above examples, we can see that NPC can be our ally in correspondence with real players in many ways, utilizing core drive 5.”

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

OP Mini Challenge – Habit Building

We host a Slack Community where the premium members of Octalysis Prime come together to support and learn from each other. The best way to learn is by putting your knowledge into practice. That is why we created the ‘Monday’s Mini Challenge’: One topic, three questions and many excellent answers from our Premium Primers!

The Question

“People often get a boost of motivation to start exercising when summer is around the corner. However, this is often short-lived and insufficient to maintain the new behavior.

After doing a daily action has become a habit, which usually takes around 60 days, it is a lot easier to sustain the behavior, how can you explain this using the Octalysis Framework?”

Habit Building – Reply from Alexandre Lim

Monday's Mini Habit Building - Profile Picture 2

Alexandre Lim is a software engineer from France and passionate about Gamification. He tackles the question using the Eight Core Drives:

“People often focus on what they want to achieve; outcomes in a limited time frame. This is mostly based on Black Hat and Extrinsic Core Drives (CD). Namely CD8: Avoidance, CD6: Scarcity, and CD2: Accomplishment. As a result they either burn out, or they stop due to a lack of urgency as soon as the time frame is finished.

It’s useful to leverage CD8, CD6, and CD2 at first to create the urgency to start building the habit. But to enrich the experience and sustain the behavior, we should add the intrinsic Core Drives CD3: Empowerment, CD7: Curiosity and CD5: Social Influence. A CD5 example would be having an accountability partner.

But I think the crucial Core Drive at play is actually CD4: Ownership. By repeating an action every day, unconsciously, we create a new identity (CD4). We don’t want to lose this identity (CD8), so the habit persists. As part of our identity, it’s becoming easier to sustain the behavior.

For example, my identity is centered around being a badminton player. If I had to stop playing after 20 years of practice, I’d likely go through an identity crisis. ”

Habit Building – Reply from Bo Ullersted

Monday's Mini Habit Building - Profile Picture 3

Bo is a teacher from Denmark and a long-time Octalysis Prime member with a steady record of great quality replies. Here he connects B.J. Fogg’s Behavioral Model and Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 thinking to the question:

“It’s part of the B=MAP theory: when it becomes a habit, you automatically have a Prompt – you remember that this is the time you usually do this activity.

It also increases your Ability to do the action. For this reason, less Motivation is needed to do the action. Yu-kai even states that when something is a strong habit, motivation is needed to not do the action.

But why does our Ability increase when we build a habit? It has to do with System 1 and 2, from ‘Thinking, fast and Slow’. When we do stuff that are not habits, we need to spend mental energy on activating the ‘logical brain’, System 2. But habits can be run by our efficient, “intuitive brain”, System 1, which is our default mode.”

Join the Discussion!

Do you want to join a community of learners and bring your knowledge of Human-Focused Design to the next level?
Don’t hesitate to try out Octalysis Prime for free!

Interview with Jeff Booth (Economy Expert and Author)

Here, Yu-kai interviews Jeff Booth, an economy expert. He is the co-founder of BuildDirect and the author of Why Deflation is the Key to an Abundant Future.

Jeff Booth is a visionary leader who has lived at the forefront of technology change for 20 years. He led BuildDirect, a technology company that aimed to simplify the building industry, for nearly two decades through the dot-com meltdown, the 2008 financial crisis, and many waves of technological disruption. Jeff has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Inc.com, The Globe and Mail, BNN, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2015, he was named BC Technology Industry Association’s (BCTIA) Person of the Year, and in 2016 Goldman Sachs named him among its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200114005299/en/Jeff-Booth-BuildDirect-Co-Founder-Releases-Book-Titled

Watch the five-part Octalysis Prime series of Yu-kai interviewing Jeff over Zoom about the current COVID economy and his predictions of the post-COVID economy.

If you are interested to go deeper on this topic you have couple of options:

  1. You can find it on Amazon.com:
    https://www.amazon.com/Price-Tomorrow-Deflation-Abundant-Future/dp/1999257405
  2. Join Octalysis Prime community to dialogue more with Yu-kai and a community of learners of gamification:
    https://join.octalysisprime.com/op-fr/