Blog Page 102

Bunchball’s Gamification White Paper

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Bunchball has recently released a new white paper entitled “Gamification 101: An Introduction To The Use Of Game Dynamics to Influence Behavior”. The document is a great informational summary for people new to the industry and business owners looking to understand these new marketing tools and concepts. It starts off with an easy break down of what gamification is and some common ways we have already seen it utilized. The paper does a good job of explaining the different objectives of integrating game mechanics, how to use them most effectively and what is to be expected in a compact format.

Though the whitepaper is a bit commercial at times, Bunchball warns that gamification already has its share of hype and that it’s best to embrace this new trend with a critical eye.

You can download the complete white paper after a quick registration on their site.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Kiva Shifts Focus to Fun

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Kiva President Premal Shah is worried about the drastic change that internet has taken since 2005, the year the site first launched.

In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Shah noted that with game mechanics increasingly the norm and social games reaching an unprecedented audience, companies like Zynga are a stronger competitor to the micro-lending site than any other non-profit. He notes that it’s often difficult to get Westerners to care about important issues. It’s not that they’re selfish, but most are already overburdened with the stress of the daily grind and constantly hearing only the most negative stories on the daily news.  Successful social games like Zynga’s Farmville or Playfish’s Pet Society encourage people to enter into a temporary collective fantasy where they can have fun, interact with friends and family and still feel like achievers as they earn points and unlock new rewards. This phenomenon is not lost on Shah, who wants Kiva’s focus to shift to game mechanics to help bring Kiva back as a contender.

Shah knows that people generally do want to help and do good, but need to be shown how their small actions in the present can help someone else for the rest of their lives. He acknowledges that people tend to only think about non-profits and donating during holiday times. Kiva plans to create top-lender leaderboards, a series of food group badges, a complete system of achievements and a feedback loop to allow people to see the impact of their donations. The hope is to completely revamp the site within one year and encourage people to make it a part of their regular routine. Included in their 5 year plan is increasing the level of engaging game mechanics, continuing to encourage teams and healthy competitors amongst fundraising groups and helping users feel more directly connected to the people they’re helping in  the developing world.

If successful, this sounds like an awesome opportunity for the whole world. Many prominent speakers and designers (including Jane McGonigal, one of the keynotes for the Gamification Summit) have discussed ways to use games to create good, but what’s most exciting about Kiva gamifying is that they start from a position of great strength. With 300,000 monthly users and $170 million donated so far, Kiva has the market leverage to take games-for-good and make them truly a force to be reckoned with. Moreover, the service can make use of ideas like engagement and virality against a benchmark – something new sites frequently have trouble doing.

Obviously, the game mechanics themselves and Kiva’s final design may be somewhat controversial. The leaderboard suggestion raises some hackles (see my discussion on leaderboards in my Virtual Goods Summit video) and competition seems a bit far fetched for me in the context of donations. But whatever Kiva and Premal decided to do will ultimately provide exciting insight for those of us in the for-profit social world as well.

Hear more about Shah’s plan in his interview on TechCruch TV

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Cash is for SAPS

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One of the biggest mistakes that people make when designing engagement with gamification is to assume that cash (or stuff) is the ultimate reward. Time and time again, evidence shows that tangible rewards have serious deficits in an incentive scheme.

 

Limitations include:

They Can Turn Users Off: If your rewards don’t look good in the first few minutes, you’re liable to lose more users    than if you had never included rewards in the first place.
They Are Expensive: Obviously, physical rewards cost money – even if they’re donated, administration and fulfillment rarely happen for free.
Or They Are Too Cheap: users respond to cheap rewards just like they respond to cheap stuff in the real world: with limited interest. The $5 gift cert or trucker cap isn’t a panacea
It Rarely Motivates Better Than Chance: Unless you are offering large sums of money in a sweepstakes or casino, small dollar rewards tend not to motivate better than virtual items.

So what is the right reward schema? I have a simple approach that I’ve been using with partners that – in most cases – will produce the optimal results. The mnemonic is easy to remember: SAPS.

Status
Access
Power
Stuff

It’s what customers really want, in that order. And this list is also prioritized by “most sticky” and “cheapest to fulfill”. Some more elaboration on the SAPS idea:

Status is relatively obvious, and well-explained as a reward in my book, Game-Based Marketing.

Access rewards give users the opportunity to interact in a private or special way with your company or service. For example, an access reward might be to give top players the opportunity to earn a dinner with your company’s CEO – or a tour of your offices. Conversely, you might give social shopping “achievers” a 5 minute head start on deals on your website.

Power rewards specifically entitle players to “get one over” on others. This might be in the form of a moderator position (if on a forum or interactive site, say), or to change the way your site/application operates (usually best in a virtual world scenario).

And last/least in the model is stuff. Only once you’ve exhausted all the other options should you consider including stuff in your gamification design. Obviously, if you have amazing giveaways (and lots of cash to back it up), I highly recommend sharing the wealth.

But if you’re like most companies – especially start-ups – and you’re resource constrained, but looking for a way to create engagement, let SAPS be your guide.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Mayorships and Status

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For the record, I’m the classic casual gamer type. I play some games but I don’t get all crazy about beating them and don’t care a whole lot about having the high score. In fact, when something becomes too frustrating or competitive, I tend to put it down. I don’t have that “killer” instinct that some other players have. You know the type – they like to win, but they prefer to win if it’s at the expense of someone else. If they can make the other player cry – bonus! That’s really not me, though. I like to keep things light and fun. But for some reason, ousting someone as Mayor on Foursquare is one of the most satisfying game-like experiences in my recent memory.

The best was when I recently stole a friend’s Mayorship of his own company. He received an email informing him of it as I walked into his office. The look on his face was priceless and my inexplicable sense of achievement was wonderful. “That’s what happens when you drop the ball, Matt. You’d better quit slacking!”, I boasted in my victory.

Foursquare isn’t what “real gamers” would call a game, but for me it has always been the clearest example of online gamification to those who aren’t a part of the industry. Regardless of what you call it, there are plenty of people who take it very seriously. Some users always check-in, no matter where they are (even at home), are very proud of their earned badges. Me, I joined on a lark and have to use the SMS check-in service since I don’t have a smart phone. Yet I have 5, count ’em, 5 Mayorships of which I am very defensive. The psychology of that status is fascinating to me, since it so rarely manifests itself in any other aspect of my life. I’m not the type to buy designer clothes or have the newest gadgets and I don’t own a car. But you had better stay away from Vegas Diner- It’s mine!

And seriously, Matt, quit slacking.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Big Door Opens the Minibar

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Gamification just got so much easier with BigDoor’s new “MiniBar” features. Now even the least tech savvy business owners can add Facebook friendly game mechanics to their site by using the simple tool bar and selecting which ever options they like. It’s just a matter of choosing your widgets and copy/pasting source code into your site and your customers can quickly start earning points and  unlocking badges.

BigDoor CEO Keith Smith boasts that you can “add game mechanics to your site in less than five minutes”. Although this is a good sound bite – and awesome in practice, most agree that gamification requires serious design thought to be truly effective. Of course, these two things are not mutually exclusive – but there might be some risk of market confusion around the right priorities.

Smith assures us that he understands the difference: “5 minute gamification won’t likely be a long-term solution for most websites,” he says in an email, “but the idea is to get initial gamification on your site quickly and easily, see how the community reacts, and then iterate and improve.”

You can watch the demo video right here:

Big Door CEO Keith Smith boasts that you can “add game mechanics to your site in less than five minutes” and they’ve also announced a 70% price reduction. You can hear more of Keith’s game-changing ideas by hearing him speak at the Gamification Summit!

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Only 12 spots left for Gamification Workshops

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There’s been a huge amount of interest for our Gamification Workshops in San Francisco (Nov 12) and New York (Nov 15); so much so that space is now extremely limited: we are down to less than 12 available spaces.

The gamification workshops are an unprecedented opportunity to go hands-on with Amy Jo Kim and Gabe Zichermann for a full day of strategy, tactics and engagement loop design. You’ll emerge with answers to your toughest problems, a clear action plan and plenty of resources to get you moving.

Don’t miss out. Register today for New York or San Francisco.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Gamification “Do’s” and Virtual Game Summit Video

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The last 7 minutes of my recent talk at Virtual Goods Summit was extracted and syndicated by BNET in a snappy little video we’ve embedded below.

I call it “Three Perfect Bullets”, and it highlights some of the best takeaways from my work in gamification in the areas of Points, Badges and Levels. They are actionable ideas you can take and run with in your gamification design today – and there’s even a little Keanu Reeves thrown in for good measure.

Check out the video, and if you’re interested in designing for gamification, be sure to check out the Gamification Workshops coming soon to San Francisco and NYC and register today. Space is Limited!

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

EpicWin

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It seems like the next logical step: If you can create a game platform to motivate you to be more active socially, get forms finished and save money shopping, why not a game app that rewards you for accomplishing more in your everyday life?

EpicWin is a new iPhone app that’s been getting a lot of really  great reviews. It’s basic concept is a mixture between an interactive to-do list and an RPG adventure. You write a list of tasks to accomplish. You create a character from a variety of types and gain “loot” when you achieve your goals. Do enough and you can level-up giving your character better abilities. You watch as your character develops and each achievement also moves you across a fantasy world map that leads you to new treasure.

A lot of people make jokes about how gamifying everything will eventually make it’s way into the offline world and make everything in life a game, but EpicWin is actually a positive way to make life more fun and annoying tasks less daunting. And really, what’s wrong with that? So far EpicWin is only available for the iPhone, but Android, Blackberry and Facebook are in the works.

You can learn more about how to make your app fun by coming to the Gamification Workshops in San Francisco and New York City.  Registration is open now!

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Gamification Workshops Announced: SF & NYC

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We’re pleased to announce an unprecedented opportunity to get hands-on with your customer engagement strategy: the first ever full-day Gamification workshops to be held in San Francisco (Nov 12) and New York City (Nov 15). Space is strictly limited.
 
Creating engagement with game design can be complex and time-consuming — but the rewards are unparalleled: increased customer activity, retention and viral growth are all within your reach. Take the guesswork out of your Gamification strategy and learn from the masters in this unprecedented, focused workshop.
 
Join leading experts Amy Jo Kim and Gabe Zichermann for a full-day, hands-on workshop that leads you through the strategy and problem-solving cycles of building an engagement loop and Gamification architecture. Start with basic concepts, a working definition, core strategic metrics, and a proven design framework for applying game design to your project. Then, working together and in teams, brainstorm and spec out solutions for your specific business requirements, under the facilitators’ guidance.
 
At the end of the day, you’ll leave the workshop with an action plan, key problems solved, and supporting/reference materials under your arm – including books, whitepapers and course documents – ready to engage with gamification.
 
Whether you are building a new product or service from scratch, or looking to make your existing experience more fun, the Gamification Workshops are a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn, problem-solve, and interact with the most experienced teachers in the space.
 
Lunch will be provided, along with a tech talk on the BigDoor gamification platform – a service to help you get your Gamification architecture up and running quickly. BigDoor staff will also be available to answer your technical questions throughout the day. The workshops are presented in association with BigDoor and Pillsbury, Winthrop.
 
Space is strictly limited to maintain class efficacy.  Register today in San Francisco or New York to guarantee a place.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Speakers

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Get My Web 2.0 Talk and New Mailing List

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Thanks to everyone who came to see me talk at Web 2.0 yesterday. For those of you who couldn’t make, or just want to look through it again, my presentation is right here:

And, so you don’t ever have to miss another moment, you can now sign up for the Gamification.co mailing list. There’s a lot of exciting things happening soon. We’re going to be having a few gamification workshops and, of course, the Gamification Summit January 20th & 21st! Sign up below and make sure you stay in the game.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

How much do game mechanics really affect your life?

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Here’s an interesting exercise – Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg created this interactive public graph on Google Docs on how game mechanics alter behaviors. Anonymous users are invited to view and edit this range bar graph. The purpose is to place popular websites, social media companies and apps in relative dimension to their “gamey-ness” (how many game mechanics exist in the platform) and how much the platform changes one’s behavior off-line. The size of the font used on the platform’s name suggests its relative popularity.

What’s kind of amusing about this is that the graph itself mimics some of the same game mechanics it’s seeking to analyze. Viewers can chat and interact with each other, move and add components and feel like an important participant in the ultimate outcome. If, in the end, the graph matches your own opinion you might even feel like you’ve “won”. Below is a screenshot of the graph, though bear in mind it’s in constant flux. Do you agree with the layout right now or do you feel compelled to get in on the game?

Distinguishing these characteristics is no easy task. For example, some frequent users of eBay might feel it doesn’t affect their life at all. They might visit the site, buy & sell items and forget all about it when they close it out. Others may plan their day around making bids, adding apps and paying for auction reminders sent to their phone. They may spend hours trudging through flea markets and garage sales (Hi, Mom!) looking for a diamond in the rough to resell at a profit, or researching the retail value of cherished collectibles.

Even more importantly, some users take a lot of pride in leveling up to “Power Seller” status while others are much less affected by negative feedback. It’s a fundamental tenet of the power of game mechanics: now more than ever, who you are online is defining who you are, period.

As I write this, there are over 267 (268…269…) unique users viewing the graph. It has changed noticeably over a dozen times, with certain titles moving around the plane, debating its own significance and effect on daily life. I myself have made some changes, as there is disagreement on the effect of Twitter, which I can’t help but take somewhat personally.  The fact that we’re so motivated to weigh-in on the conversation suggests how affected we all already are.

Hear more about Gamification & the Gamey-ness of life: Gabe will be appearing on CNet’s Reporter’s Rountable on today (9/24), noon PT / 3pm ET where this topic will surely come up. Click here for a link to the live show.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

They Made a Gabe Sandwich (Badge)

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If you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm you might remember a particularly hilarious episode in which Larry gets a sandwich named after him at a famous deli. He isn’t happy with the actual sandwich so he tries to trade (and eventually usurp) Ted Danson’s instead. Ungrateful? Maybe. Funny? Definitely.

So yesterday I found out that I’ve been given the honor of gamification’s sandwich wall: a new startup has created a badge with my name and face on it.

MOJO, which bills itself as “Foursquare for the Web” (and is not to be confused with mojopages) is the latest service from The Social Collective. It lets you check in to website content you find interesting and allows you to then aggregate checkins from various services as well.   The idea is that if you really like a brand like Nike, you can earn points and status items for tweeting, reading, etc. Clinton Bonner, a social web expert was enamored enough of my book and blog to create the badge and wrote about both of them on his site.

So, if you sign up for mojo and follow me on Twitter, you’ll earn the badge. Cool! Follow the instructions in the post linked above and LMKWYT of the service.

Unlike Larry David, I’m not going to quibble about the badge design or name, instead graciously thank the folks at the social collective for the honor. But is there any chance the next one could come with a pickle? I really like pickles.

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.

Announcing: Gamification Summit 2011 & Keynotes, Big Blog Changes

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With great pleasure, we’re excited to announce the 2011 Gamification Summit (Jan 20-21, San Francisco) along with some major sponsors and keynotes. This is an exciting day – and space is strictly limited, so if you’re really into Gamification, skip the preamble and register now.

Gamification is a burgeoning industry with many new advances emerging every day and lots of both confusion and opportunity around best practices, market size/definition and the right approaches. So, working together with the amazing Margaret Wallace and our esteemed advisory board, we’ve put together an event that simply cannot be missed.

Whether you are a marketer, brand strategist, UX designer/architect or a startup person, Gamification Summit brings together the best minds for the first time for a series of keynotes, lectures, panels and networking that will help you learn best practices and the latest techniques from the field.

Our major sponsors include BigDoor Media and Bunchball, and other sponsors include Pillsbury, Winthrop and M2 Research. Thanks, Sponsors! More information about them can be found on the conference website.

Keynotes & Major Speakers Include:

Prominent game designer, Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, will keynote the event, discussing how game mechanics can be harnessed to bring about change, even on a global scale. McGonigal will also use the Summit as the backdrop for launching her much-anticipated new book, “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” (The Penguin Press).

Gabe Zichermann, celebrated author of “Game-Based Marketing” and blogger at Gamification.Co, who will share his vision for why page-views are a dead metric and will be replaced by an “engagement score”.

Amy Jo Kim, renowned gamification guru and author will be offering a full day, hands-on gamification workshop, along with an overview of designing for engagement.

And many more speakers listed on gsummit.com and even more to be announced.

Read the complete press release here.

Changing the Blog!

And, as many of you noticed, we’ve updated the FunwareBlog’s URL, look and purpose. Now at Gamification.Co, we’re going to be writing regularly, bringing you the freshest information about gamification – every day. Let us know what you think!

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Need help with behavioral science and gamification? Get in touch with our boutique consulting agency Dopamine.