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27. Is Gamification Right for Me?


Is Gamification right for your organization or business problem? 4 questions to ask:

  1. Motivation
    • Where would you derive value from encouraging behavior?
  2. Meaningful Choices
    • Are your target activities sufficiently interesting?
  3. Structure
    • Can the desired behaviors be modeled through algorithms?
  4. Potential Conflicts
    • Can the game avoid tension with other motivational strutures?


In what  situations is motivation important? 2 different categories:

  1. Situations that involve deep creativity or unique skills and connections and teamwork, not just work. It’s not necessary something simple and familiar. It’s something complex and deep that requires people to go the extra mile. Motivation gets them to do that. These are high value add tasks, the desire for innovation, productivity and lasting consumer engagement.
  2. Situations  where the task seems boring and repetitive. Without intrinsic motivation (meaning, interest or challenges), only extrinsic approaches can get people involved in the task.

Example: Reamde by Neal Stephenson

One character in the book is the CEO of a MMOG. The business model for this game is using gamification. The game generates revenue by going to organizations with dull tasks. For example, airports dealing with security and having people ensure no one walks in the wrong way through the door that leads to the baggage claim area. This is a dull and boring task but if people passes through, terminals may get shut down due to security issues.  The company use 3D motion capture to represent people walking through the passageway in the terminal as creatures in the game. People are walking down a certain passageway into a castle in one direction. Objective is to catch a goblin who is trying to sneak it and get a big reward and experience points. Result is many players play and try to catch the goblin. This is the same airport security task but putting it into a game makes it fun and engaging and this becomes a huge business opportunity for this company.

Meaningful Choices

Are there meaningful options for the user? Is the gamified system interesting where the user has to make choices and care about the outcome?

Example: Google News Badges

Badges are given for reading stores on a particular area. There is no choice other than what stories to read, but it is not meaningful since news sites are suppose to let people find out about many different things.


Can we use rules, algorithms, hard-edged decisions to implement a gamified system?

Example: Samsung Nation

Two tasks that Samsung Nation allows you to gain points are sharing things on Twitter and registering your newly purchased Samsung product. The point system is just guides and people playing need to decide how they personally value the activity.


Motivational structures (e.g. pay) are not necessarily in conflict with systems the promote fun and intrinsic motivation as part of a community to have some accomplishment. But tensions may arise if these things move in opposite directions

Example: Lee Sheldon’s Grading System

Lee Sheldon developed a gamified experience point system which can be used for giving students points instead of grades. Sheldon realized games work by building up (i.e. start at 0 experience points and grow).


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