Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (10 of 90): Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

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Video Tutorial for Gamification

Empowerment of Creativity is the 3rd Core Drive in Octalysis.

  • It is the the ability to utilize your own creativity and immediately see the outcome, allowing you to try again and again to see the final outcome.
  • A basic example is Lego: you give people the basic blocks, and there are infinite ways to put together the pieces and can entertain people for an indefinite amount of time without the content getting old.
  • People are by nature creative beings. We like to imagination, invent, and create, and both the process and outcome of the process brings happiness.
  • Think about games like Minecraft and Second Life.
  • Games like that are engaging because it allows you to create your own world, your shelter, and even your own looks.
  • Other social games like Draw Something (at least in the early scaffolding phase) as well as plants vs zombie.
  • Draw Something was fun for a long time because it allowed both sides to utilize their creativity and see immediate results.
  • The reason why it eventually dropped out was because of lack of fresh content (or challenges) and how people could just start to game the system by writing in the correct word.
  • That’s another good lesson in Gamification: when a system is “gamable” it devalues the experience of those who are doing honest play and demoralizes the players.
  • Plants vs Zombies, like any other “tower-defense” game, is about utilizing current resources and “plants” to solve a puzzle of zombie attacks. This allows people to utilize their creativity to create different solutions to solve the same problem, making it fun for each player to engage in the longterm.
  • I mentioned that in Farmville, one of the best evergreen mechanics they have is the ability to allow users to make art with their farms.
  • Even in the RPG game Diablo III, during the Onboarding and Scaffolding Phase, there’s a lot of Core Drive 1 (Epic Meaning & Calling), Core Drive 2 (Development & Accomplishment), Core Drive 5 (Social Pressure & Envy), Core Drive 6 (Scarcity & Impatience), but during the EndGame stage, Core Drive 3 (as well as Core Drive 4 and Core Drive 8) become dominant. 
  • Once a player reaches a high level, he would constantly think up new ways to play the game better, matching different skill combos, passive skills, boosters, as well as gear to create the ultimate effect in increasing DPS (damage per second), being a tank, life leech sustainability, or minion strength.
  • That process would drive many players to pull out excel spreadsheets to calculate the optimal combination of everything, try it out, and adjust accordingly. (Yes, there are a group of gamers online that heavily use excel spreadsheets to play games better.)
  • When a game or a product can get users to voluntarily pull excel out and figure out how to optimize your performance, I would say it does this Core Drive pretty successfully.
  • Even though this Core Drive can be the most powerful, it is the hardest to implement into a company product – primarily because it involves attention and commitment.
  • Most people these days have short attention spans, and unless you design your Discovery and Onboarding phase well, people will not want to commit their attention to play the game.
  • Often times other gamification experts like Sebastian Deterding (and Jane McGonigal) claim that Gamification does not nearly reach its promise, and prefers terms like “Gameful Design” as an ascended form of gamification. However, for the examples they list out relating to fun, learning, mastery, and problem-solving, it’s mostly because they prefer a higher emphasis of the Core Drive Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, which as mentioned is the hardest to implement correctly.
  • Some great examples happen in the crowdsourcing space, where a large group of people with a diverse set of backgrounds would solve one problem.
  • My favorite has been Foldit, where a 15-Year AIDS problem was solved within 10 days.
  • gets kids to learn by empowering them to do and create many things
  • Even in the work place, when you empower your workers to utilize their creativity and see feedback quickly, you have engaged workers.
  • Many corporate workers have talked to me before about being an entrepreneur simply because it’s frustrating seeing feedback for their ideas 10 months after proposing it through the bureaucratic situation.
  • Google’s 20% time allowed employees to express their creativity through other projects and see results quickly.
  • When utilizing Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, it is important to note a few things:
  • Flow: There must be a balance between the learning curve and the challenge. If something is too hard, players withdraw or get anxiety. If it is too boring, players feel bored and leave. A good gamification (and game) designer needs to make sure the flow for Core Drive 3 is well aligned to maximize engagement.
  • Boosters: A good way to add Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback into a design is through what I call Boosters (#31), basically things that make progress easier.
  • The reason why boosters are effective is because players now have to plan what type of boosters to obtain through what activities
  • An example of this is when users are accumulating “points” on a site, but when the site offers badges/trophies or “knowledge scores” that can superboost points acquisition, users start to plan out how to obtain the right badges/trophies to fulfill their objective better.

Conclusion on the 3rd Core Drive of Gamification:

It’s always good to incorporate as many core drives into a design as possible. Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is great because it gets users to discover their creative beings, inspires people, and can become evergreen mechanics that keep the users engaged for long periods of time.

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16 responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (10 of 90): Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback”

  1. The stretch possibility is moving to a point where people can find multiple solutions to the same problem and keep a couple of key thoughts going:

    1. There may be more solutions that the “experts” of designer realized/intended. A few years back a student taking the SAT selected a “wrong” answer that was provably correct — causing no end of grief for the SAT folks.

    2. Be mindful that the first solution is not always the best

  2. Need to incorporate some more life creativity… it is a win-win for the implementer and the victims (recipients 😉 ). Your presentations are highly informative and entertaining. Thanks.

  3. My 1st thought, then 2nd, 3rd etc. is that creativity & feedback are separate motivators. But they work well in combination. Feedback is required for all of the CD’s, whether external or internal.
    I hunch that different personalities are cranked to different levels by opportunities/requirements to be creative. Some like being the tank & feeling the power of ‘dozing over other players & obstacles. Some enjoy the sneaky-clever solutions leveraging resources to maximum effect, especially in unexpected ways.
    Side comment, Yu-Kai – I appreciate your creative video snippets of you in different settings as you speak in these videos. And I am also concerned to see you as the distracted driver. CD8.

  4. Yu-Kai! And here, after watching this video I start to really understand what is a “Twins distanced combined mind” effect. They say that twins, no matter where they are, feel and think identically in some cases, and sometimes even one twin seeing and feeling smth, somehow transmits this from his brain to a second twin so, that the second twin feels the same stuff from the first one.
    I think we are twins Yu-kai=) Does not matter that you were born in China in one family, an I in Russia, a couple years later in another family =) We are still twins=)
    Main stufll, that you told in this video – about your chess (old-school world favourite game) experience, and then comparing it ti Starcraft (I was once eager to became a pro Starcraft player and had good ladder results) – the same stuff happened to me. My mom always wanted me to play chess like a pro and I told her everytime that, “mom please, chess will die soon, and Starcraft is now a very big trend, and I’ll start earning money with it someday”… She did not listen and turned off the electricity just in the middle of a terran VS zerg almost won by me game… AAARRRGGGHG.
    So in Chess and Starcraft core drives may look similar, I suppose?
    But the effect of “Second Life” is much much stronger in Starcraft, don’t you think?
    So if we were to give levels of core drives activation – I would give level 10 to Starcraft and level 3-5 to chess ( just to show significant difference).
    And other stuff you told about Tower Defence mechanics that use our core drives and etc etc.
    You are AWESOME!
    I need to be trained in Ictalysis as told you in previous messages =) I feel that the Force awakens…

  5. Definitely one of the most interesting aspects of gamification and a real answer to my End Game engagement issue.
    Just one comment to add, Creation’s power has its limits, especially on End Game Phase.
    I would add a social aspect to it because there is no point in being creative if you can’t actually compete with others, show your results to others, compare with others and try to be more creative.
    I mean, sooner or later you are going to think “this is the best i can do”, until you see someone doing something else or better and you suddenly are like “Hey, that gives me an idea..” and you start again being creative.

  6. STD – self-determination theory refers to autonomy, empowered feeling from having multiple choices to solve a problem.  Creativity is a good way to approach this autonomous perspective.  Interesting how you say this is the most difficult core principle to apply.  Like many others, my challenge is to move beyond simplified versions of gamification, eg. PBL’s, toward more complex gamification models and how this is done.  Your framework has many structures to encourage complex design, but this choices and creativity core model seems critical in terms of developing more complex gamification models.  I’m getting a better grasp–thanks so much.

  7. Professor Werbach is starting a new class in January 2014. Let’s see if Octalysis appears in this edition!
    Regarding his hidden message puzzle, I consider myself a puzzle lover and I was obviously VERY excited when he announced in the first video that the bookshelf behind him contained a hidden message that would be gradually revealed during the course. I printed one screen for every class and compared what changed from one lesson to the other (because there was always something changing). After 10 or 15 changes I came up with my solution (at least the first one) and used the next lessons for confirmation. The next 10 confirmed it and I was happy. So what was the problem? Simply because the “real” solution involved only some playing cards that appeared eventually (1 out of at least 10 videos) and NOTHING else. Remember the several board games, trophies, caps, toys and other things behind him? Completely useless. The only relevant thing were some cards that appeared for the first time 10 or more videos AFTER the announcement of the puzzle existence! In other words, professor Werbach let his students be fooled by moving objects for quite some time that were completely irrelevant!! I came from a chess background as you, and everybody knows that an elegant chess puzzle is one with no unnecessary pieces. The only reason you throw extra pieces in the board is if your original puzzle is very easy (and maybe you’re ashamed of it) or is simply bad. I felt that was exactly of professor Werbach did with his hidden message puzzle and that’s the reason why I was totally disappointed with it. That being said, I reinforce that I strongly recommend his classes as a valuable learning material about gamification.
    One last warning from a puzzle lover: if your “word seeking game” turns out to be as disappointing as the previous mentioned, I will equally complain about it! Don’t come out with 45 useless word and the last 5 with the solution “Congratulations, you are a winner.” If that happens, I’ll use my gamification ninja powers to hunt you wherever you are! 🙂

  8. Tiago Sizenando Haha, thanks for the comment. He created his first course before I published my Octalysis framework, so it was “under the radar” back then, and I think he didn’t add too many materials afterwards for future ones.
    Some games are not meant for everyone but only hardcore players. I’m curious to see why you think those are BAD puzzle elements? I’m reserving my thoughts for that, but apparently he said many people were playing it intensely. 
    Similar to my “Word Seeking Game” in my videos. I don’t expect everyone to play. I’m actually expecting very few people to complete it, which of course allows me to actually give a really thoughtful and great reward for those that do 😉

  9. Yukai,
    First of all, awesome site! I’m having a lot of fun with the videos. I have seen professor Werbach in your video and I must say that his gamification course in Coursera is really good (even though a lesson about Octalysis in his course would be VERY helpful). The only point I definitely didn’t like was exactly the “hidden message puzzle” he mentioned in your video. In my opinion it had all the elements of a BAD puzzle and not a good one. Are you familiar with his puzzle? Did you like it?

  10. Never mind.
    I just watched episode 11 XD
    In episode 11 Yu-kai himself answers these questions 🙂
    And uses a conversation we had as inspiration for the video, to which I can reveal a little secret about him, watch episode 11 and find the secret in my comment below 😉

  11. I suppose an easy way to implement
    this in a small dose, is if you create achievements or missions, that can be
    completed in different ways, in order to engage a sense of creative engagement
    from the user and if mixed with social features, to get users talking on
    “how they completed the task”.
    Does anyone have some great insight to
    share on these thoughts or maybe even an example hereof?
    I’d love to hear about it! 😀

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