Stumbled today over an interesting article from Sophie Bushwick, I started to think again about the potential of using other elements than our actual general reward-system in business. If we think about it everyone knows that the human species is a collaborative one. To live together in clans for supporting each other and to create an effective division of labour was one of our ancestors secrets to survive. Collaboration defeated competition.
Even, while acting the other way round today, this behavior is still 'burried' inside of us. Cooperation is central to human social behaviour. "A new study finds that when people have to make the choice instantly, their first impulse is cooperation—which indicates that generosity is innate. Only when they have more time to consider their choice do they behave more selfishly.", says Sophie Bushwick.
Our last centuries were dominated by an economic incentive system that treated competition preferentially over co-operation. And so far, successful or not, it worked. But circumstances have changed: Companies are complaining about a shortage of well educated employees and this means that the advantage changed from the employer to the employee. Now, every organization has to think about how to keep and to motivate its employees to stay.
And in addition "what motivates employees" also changed.
Of course everyone needs a salary that enables one to live the life he wants to, to be able to cover the basic expenses and a little bit more. ;-)
But people also want to get better...(remember the Maslow's pyramide?) They want to learn, to get smarter, to overcome challenges and to achieve goals that have some kind of meaning for the society. Goals that can't be achieved alone. Goals that create something bigger that we would be able to achieve alone. Why? Because, inherently, we know that this is the right way. Evolution proved it to be the right way. And because evolution used the elemination strategy for creating more effective specieses, cooperation is build into the DNA of the surviving ones.
And now the interesting part: If we are free to choose we prefer to play games that let us collaborate with others instead of games where we have to fight each others; games that use a social layer to build an emotional experience. If you look at the statistics, in general, games that 'force' us to use a social mechanic to overcome the given challenges are more successful and longer lasting. We love to give our expertise within games to help others. We prefer to be known as an expert more than to be known as the guy that defeats everyone. Of course there are different player-types out there with different bias but in general we are more socializers than killers.
But in business we use incentive systems exact the other way round. Is there something that science knows but business ignores? Yes, definitely. But I don't think that they really ignore it. It is just much easier to reward a competitve behavior than a social behavior because of metrics.
But, no matter how competitive the industry is, you still need people who know to and also want to collaborate. Even in a cutthroat star system, you need team players. And you know what? The Gamers-generation (and also the digital natives) know how to collaborate. Gamers like people :-)
So, why shouldn't we think about how to use the psychological effect of games, concerning our human species and start to use what was build into our DNA (namely Play) to become more engaged and fulfilled while doing our work than ever before?
(Roman is the Founder & CEO of Engaginglab (engaginglab.com), a company that transports 'game-design-thinking' combined with 'motivational & behavior psychology' into reality.)
"Gamification works by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems step by step, and by taking advantage of humans psychological predisposition to engage in gaming." - Roman Rackwitz (email@example.com)
My last weeks were full of discussions about what Gamification is and what it is not. I tried to separate what I believe Gamification should be from business activities like bonus programs and so on. For me, these were just loyality programs and so, far below the ambitions that I believe Gamification should have.
But honestly? I was wrong.
Not about its ambitions but how everything is connected. By remembering the official definition of gamification (the use of game design elements, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts) we see that it also matches with e.g. loyality programs.
This helped me to the get to the awareness that it is not about 'what is Gamification and what it is not' but I recognized that we have a chronological evolution of Gamification (also of course dependent on our technological progress).
So, after my first draft I came up with this:
Gamification 1.0: Bonus programs (e.g. Payback; buy something, get points and redeem these points to get something else.)
Gamification 1.5: Status programs (e.g. Frequent-Flyer-Program; it adds the rewars of status to bonus programs.)
Gamification 2.0: Simulations (e.g. Flight simulator; using a virtual world to exercise real world activities.)
Gamification 3.0: Serious games (e.g. fold.it; Using a video game to solve real world society problems.)
Gamification 4.0: Motivational-design
Transporting 'game-design-thinking' combined with 'motivational & behavior psychology' into reality by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, by helping to solve problems step by step, and by taking advantage of humans psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. If it is done right, the participants might not even realize they are playing a game but experience similar positive emotions, strong social relationships and a sense of accomplishments and a sense of purpose like they already know it from playing games.
Of course there are more possible breakdowns but, for me, these were the most obvious ones.
What do you think? Am I missing an important one? Or would you change the chronological order? Feel free to comment or to get in touch for an engaging dicussion ;-).
At the end I would like to suggest the defintion of gamification from Dr. Michael Wu (the Principal Scientist of Analytics at Lithium.com) because he adds an important element:
"Gamification is the use of game attributes to drive game-like behavior in a non-game context."
...a game-like behavior. Perhaps this is it what I mean if I want to seperate 'Motivational design' from loyality programs. A game that provides points for an activity that isn't really challenging won't create a long-term engagement and a feeling of accomplishment and fun by its users.
So, if we think about the potential of games and what they are able to achieve concerning emotional experiences, than we are talking about Gamification 4.0. But I have to admit that sometimes it is smart to start with 1.0 :-)
I'm putting every second of my time and all of my strength into my vision to change the world by creating more fun around us. And that's not an approach to build more games. It's an epic mission to use what is build into our DNA by nature (Play) because I believe in the power of game-like environments to unfold the full potential of the human society.
Gamification targets the way we are doing something and by using game-design-thinking it wants to get the best out of us while doing.
("Applying game-design thinking on activities with non-gaming-context" - Gabe Zichermann)
But 'playing' by yourself is boring, right? So, I'm dreaming of a threesome:
It is an affair between Data Mining, Data Visualization and Gamification.
The following might have a familiar ring for my frequent followers ;-)
Big Data Mining is the process of discovering new patterns from large data sets involving methods at the intersection of artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics and database systems. (- wikipedia)
A great and entertaining example about the advantage of knowing, getting and evaluating the right data is the Book "Moneyball".
Up to now we are just touching the surface of all the available data we are surrounded by. New technologies and the ubiquity of tools like our smartphones allow us to get access at individual & real time data. Within the next years we have to learn what to do with it.
Data Visualization has the goal to convert knowledge from a data set in a human-understandable and intuitive structure. This will assist us to evaluate and also to graple with data. A great example (in my opinion) is the app 'Planetary', where your favorite music artists, albums and tracks are being visualized as a planetary system. It's very intuitive to use. If it's already useful is another question but I think you get the point. Here is a short video that shows Planetary in action:
I think the potential of the merger of Big Data Mining and Data Visualization is already obvious. Now, think about the potential to use the sum of both with the idea to change the way how we are interacting with our daily routines - to make them more intuitive, more engaging and even more intrinsic motivated...!
So, starting with Gamification and keeping it the core of my businesses I'm looking forward to add deeper cooperations with companies from the 'Big Data Mining' branch and the 'Data Visualization' sector to Engainglab's (www.engaginglab.com) operations.
What do you think? Do these three 'Elements' match?
For a long period I was looking for a term that describes the phenomenon of gamers to collaborate and create value 'outside the game for the purpose of the game'. Now, thanks to Friedman, I found it:
The wikipedia of World of Warcraft is a great example, I think. There, thousands of people are contributing their knowledge and experiences to help others to become better and more effective. This again, leads back to the game itself and enriches its play-experience.
Another successful business case in my opinion ist Lithium Technologies. By 'implementing' the evangelists and fans of a brand within its own online-forum, the brand is able to "harvest" the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm of them,for the value of every other customer. This leads to an amazing peer-to-peer affect, helps the brand to understand their customer base even better and creates an Affinity space for its evangelists and 'super-users'
We (Engaginglab) are using the idea of "Affinity spaces", although we didn' have a particular term for it up to now, for engaging employees to participate and share their knowledge within the company's intranet.
Although gamified activities often enhances the creation of an "Affinity space" it is not a planned and organized part of these gamified activities.
Instead, it is a "space" that is often being created by the employees themselves to help each other to perform better within these activities. But it is, at least, as important as the gamified activities themselves.
Michael Wu, Ph.D. is Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, digging into the complex dynamics of social interaction and group behavior in online communities and social networks.
I like the work of Michael Wu very much. He explains his work and his thoughts in a great and understandable way and, most important, he is the only one I know of that combines the idea of Big Data, Data Vizualisation and Gamification. In any case, I think so... :-)
So, we are working on the same subject. But of course there is a different level of quality...yet.
So, to speak in terms of playing: "the race has started, Mr. Wu."
One of the most frequent arguments that I heard was that video games were bad for my vision, my health, and my brain. Years later, I still find myself in the battle of schoolwork versus video games. This time I’m arguing with myself, (instead of my Mom) but I’m still sore about losing all those times when I was younger. But now I’m Older! Wiser! And, most importantly, I have access to the Internet! So, Mom, here’s my updated list of reasons on why video games are a totally valid way to spend my time.
If someone talks about a game that fascinates him he doesn't talk about the +200 Xpoints he got because he found a virtual good and he is also not talking about how amazing it was to build a new house on his street while playing Monopoly. But he is talking about the challenges that are hard to overcome. He talks about his efforts and try & errors till he finally got the solution. He is talking about the story, missions and challenges that he is facing. And talking about all these happenings, what he really means is how the game challenged him, made him progressing, learning and get better than he was before. And this means: He experienced some kind of fulfillment.
And I'm not talking about a little: "yeah, I've got it". I'm talking about a rush of dopamin that is being released inside your brain. And that's nothing particular just for gamers. Play is nature's learning engine. It was an evolutionary process that these species that were able to learn (means to adapt to changes in their environment) faster than others were better prepared to survive. Therefore, evolution had to come up with a tool that rewards us for doing great in the sense of surviving...that is to say: learning.
So, think about it: You love to get things done. You love to achieve benefit from your activities. You love to get smarter. And you love it to be involved in an activity that challenges you entirely. Remember the last time you lost track of time? There it was... an activity that needed all your focus, right? And did you like it? I bet you can't remember any time that you lost track of time while doing something you didn't like. "Wow, five hours? It felt like one."
But the fact is that most people are very enthusiastic about all sorts of games and things in their lives yet go to work with no sense of enthusiasm or fun. Why is this?
A Game provides us for example with immediate feedback and the perfect ratio between the challenges we are facing and the skills of its player. They make it possible for us to achieve the state of "Flow" (one of the most intrinsic rewarding mental state a human is able achieve). Games are able to do this by design. And I'm not talking about graphic-design.
The idea of Gamification is to use what we know about motivational- and behavioral-psychology and to merge it with the powerful tool of Games: creating opportunities for mastering (progress), immerdiate feedback, meaningful choices and some kind of meaning (collaboration for a something epic).
So, Gamification is a framework that uses similar elements like games to let us experience the most powerful emotions we know about (besides love) : Fulfillment and enjoyment.
We are hardwired to this emotions. It is build into our DNA. So, why not use gamification-thinking to 'fix' the activities in reality that aren't able to give us what we want. If the gaming industry can do it - we can do it. :-)
Just steped over this article about Klout.com. They mentioned that it is Gamification if you just add points and badges at an activity. No it isn't. That's just a loyality-program. So here is my answer:
Hey, thanks for this article. Some interesting thoughts. But I have to disagree with your talking about gamification. (Although there are some approaches). You are mentioning that points and rewards are provided for different sctions on a website. That's not Gamification. That's just a loyality-system, right? Do something, get points and redeem these points. We all know this for years.
So, Gamification is applying game-design-thinking on activites, right? And if you think about it: Is it the core-element of games to collect points? No. The core-element of a game is to overcome its specific challenge. And to overcome its challenge means to learn to improve, to progress and then, at the end, to overcome the challenge. So, it is something like a learning environment. And the human psychlogy is hardwired to learn and that is it why we love games. Of course, normally there are points, badges and levels within games but these are just some communication-tools between the game and its users to tell him what he has achieved and to tell him how he is performing.
So, just cklicking on a 'like' button or a share button or anything similar - where is the learning process? Right, there is none and so it is not Gamification.
There is much more about Gamification than just this "Learning" thing :-) but I think it is obvious what I wanted to say, right?
One year ago, when I took care of my siblings (8; 12) for some days we visited our grandma. The kids love to be there and of course there is always something to eat between the classic meals (Candy, cake, fruits,...). The problem was that my siblings stood up from the table without clearing the table.
So I started with some short-term extrinsic rewards to award good behavior like clearing the table, doing their homework, learning languages, and so on. Most things our parents asked me to take care of during their absence :-). So, I gave points for different activities and of course it depended also if my little sister (8) executed them or my little brother (12). Normally the tasks were easier to perform for him so he got less points. As a result he wanted to do more of them or even more difficult ones.
The collected points could be "redeemed" while we were playing board games or doing other activities. Playing "Ludo", the kids could use their points to buy a six or to get some extra steps. It was amazing to watch how they used their points. Sometimes they spent all these points in the bgeinnig to get a head start and sometimes they used the points more wisely and strategical during the whole game. They learned to use the points to cover some moves of the other players and so on.
But the most fascinating thing: Using this method for some days "clearing the table", for example, became a habbit and they also noticed that our grandma was very pleased to see what's happening. And so, the activity of clearing the table changed from a short-term, extrinsic motivated behavior to a long-term, intrinsic motivated behavior. Of course we already stopped giving points for all this activites bit they are still doing them.
I think it is an easy example for "using some kind of Trigger to get started first" and than, because there was more behind the activity (pleasing our grandma, pride) it became intrinsic motivated.
Stanford neuroeconomist Brian Knutson is an expert in the pleasure center of the brain that works in tandem with our financial decisions - the biology behind why we bypass the kitchen coffeemaker to buy the $4 Starbucks coffee every day.
The strongest bridge that connects the future of virtual worlds and the future of videogames may be the characters that we will interact with. Jesse Schell details ten different technologies that are shaping the future of virtual characters.
2011, SETI, Gamify and Mashable started a contest to gamify the "search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence".
Veni, vidi, vici... ;-)
This success was also some kind of final motivation for us to get our company Engaginglab.com out of the stealth mode. To describe our experiences from this moment on: "We can't stop laughing :-) "
It's amazing how things went over the last year.
We are meeting fascinating people and are able to passionate them even more.
We got projects and presentations at great companies that, on the other hand, got us contacts to more passionated and fascinating people and companies.
Often, by explaining the idea behind gamification, we are talking about the amazing potential of the Flow-Channel and its benefits for us humans. And I think it is not a exaggeration saying that I'm feeling as if I'm in such a Flow-Channel for almost a year now.
The most important driver for this success? A lot of people that we have met during our journey the last year and my family.