Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (5 of 90): 4 Experience Phases of a Game

*New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & the Gamification Framework: Octalysis*

Click here to see all videos in this Series

Episode 5 Gamification Notes:

  • The four Experience Phases of a game.
  • Most people treat interacting with a product as one experience.
  • The product is good, bad, easy to use, funny.
  • You can look at your product as 4 different products
  • 1st day of LinkedIn is very different from other days of linkedin
  • A good “human focused” designer needs to optimize one product to appeal to all these phases.
  • If a product attracts people at the beginning, but as time goes by becomes boring and uninspiring…
  • that’s not very useful.
  • Similarly, if a game offers an amazing experience after 20 hours of play, but before that its a grinding and boring experience…
  • that’s not very useful either.
  • Note that the 4 Phases in Octalysis is a little similar to Prof Werbatch’s theory, as I did have the honor to watch his online lectures in coursera. But I made a few changes based on my experience as a gamer.

The first experience phase of a game is Discovery

  • This is when people first discover your product or service.
  • How did they find it? Was it from a friend? Through the news? Or a clever marketing campaign that you devised?
  •  Gamifying the discovery phase is a great way to improve your brand name, sign ups, and conversions.

Phase 2 of a Gamer’s experience is Onboarding

  • This is when you train them to become familiar with the rules of the game, options, mechanics, and the win state.
  • This is what most people focus on because everyone thinks once a customer uses their product for sometime, they would all fall in love with it.
  • Mastering the Onboarding Process can get your users to start participate in your game with excitement and interest.

The 3rd experience phase of a game is Scaffolding.

  • Scaffolding is a term that Professor Werbach uses to describe the third phase.
  • I tend to like the term “mid game” better, mostly from my chess background
  • (i also used to be a chess coach)
  • But I think I will comply to authority and use his term.
  • It sounds fancier too…
  • “Now is the time for Scaffolding!”
  • Anyhow, scaffolding is the phase where players use all the rules and options they learned during onboarding to try to achieve the win-state as many times as possible.
  • This is supposedly where the most “fun” should happen.
  •  Once you have a well designed win state in scaffolding that appeals to the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis,
  •  you will start to see player engagement and motivation
  •  Which of course, helps you with you business metrics.

 The fourth and FINAL experience phase of a game is the Endgame

  • This is when players have done everything there is to do at least once and are starting to see more repetitive actions to get to the win-state.
  • In this phase, if the designer didn’t create a good endgame, people easily get bored and quit the game.
  • But a good endgame can be achieved through evergreen mechanics as well as creating a system where the game producers can easily add new content in a system consistently.
  • if you mastered the endgame, you will create a lot of contributors, evangelists, and longterm customers.

This concludes this episode. Next episode we will talk about how to combine everything we have learned up to this point and apply Octalysis to the 4 Experience Phases.

After that, you will become a Level One Octalysis Gamifier.

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27 responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (5 of 90): 4 Experience Phases of a Game”

  1. I appreciate that one must consider different stages during the process and how each stage has its own needs. It does make it more complicated/sophisticated, however.

    • Big challenge will be finding the balance between complexity and development speed. Often when using folks use complex tools/systems, the result is an elegant deliverable that took way too long to complete.

  2. I’ll need to look at real life examples from various fields, I wonder how the 4 phases fit across different organizations & customer needs.

  3. Hi Yu-kai well presented video making the 4 phases easy to understand.

    I prefer the term mid game or middle game as it gives me a sense of where I am in that particular universe, whether I am playing or designing. I play backgammon on a regular basis and the decisions you make change dramatically between the opening the mid game and the endgame.

    While I do understand that the idea of building a structure in the middle game on top of the foundation leads to this dea of scaffolding I feel the building analogy doesn’t work so well here.

  4. Nobody from september?! NOWAY!
    Ok, so this video actually was a bew knowledge.
    Everybody expected that good games somehow addict to them, but that different use of tools is needed depending on a special phase when you experience something for the 1-10 hours, or 10-30 hours or more or more…
    And that THERE ARE REALLY DIFFERENT phases of addiction – that is a great thing to know (really to know, not guess, but KNOW).
    For that – Extra thank you Yu-kai!
    That was the second (in importance undesrstanding) video when I started to undestand that this blog is really good and began examine deeply what is written and shown in videocases, because

  5. Hi,
    I’m gamifying teaching/ learning in University of applied Sciences. I think, the teaching process could base on these four phases. Have you talked or written about gamification of learning or gamifying student engagement?

    Best regards,

  6. From my gamer experience i would say the hardest part is the End Game motivation. People get bored very fast when every content have been explored.
    I will wait to watch the video about “evergreen mechanics” before i get start making real question but for now, do you think it’s possible to create end game content without introducing new content (like better powers, suits, status, level)?
    So far i can see the solution only in recurring competitions and that involves social interaction, leaderboards or such. Any suggestions?

    • They key is to relay on White Hat design as well as Right Brain/Intrinsic Design. The secret lies in Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback. All timeless games have that Core Drive.

  7. Haha 🙂 Great videos Ju Kai! You are definitely the funniest gamification guru (keep the beard though!) i have seen yet.
    Awesome!! 🙂

  8. RichWallace Sometimes an elevation in “pseudo-status” and unlock more privileges or powers is very motivating for repetitive tasks. Also, if people can get more expensive gear that does the job more efficiently as they level up, that’s cool too.

  9. Hi Yu-kai, regarding general business tasks (repetition etc), do you have any examples things to avoid to avoid churn in the end game phase? In particular, to avoid disengagement of employees who will still need to use the tools.

    I’m looking at whether we can gamify X-line of business account planning to improve collaboration and increase the contribution to various business goals.  However I’m not sure how the endgame would be anything other than review against original objectives and moving into setting new objectives (new content?).

  10. Glad you are brining in other experts to complement your work…Prof. Werbach’s course was great and I liked it a lot….his term “scaffolding” is a better way to conceptualize the “mid game” 🙂

  11. Trey Latimer Thanks for the comment. Means a lot to me. And yes, learning about games is fun 😉

  12. It’s like you take all the knowledge I have accrued over all the years of video game playing and put it into something that can be communicated. Thank you!

  13. Thank you for posting……I think this is what I have been looking for… to gamify my gamification knowledge!

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