The Science of Gamification: Unlocking the Hidden Motivation Power of Gamification

The Science of Gamification: Unlocking the Hidden Motivation Power of Gamification


Michael Wu of Lithium Technologies is here to talk about his research into the science of gamification and online communities. With a PhD in Biophysics from UC Berkeley and three years of extensive study, Wu has produced of the most meaningful insights into the complex world of engagement.

Wu analyzed what gets a person to do anything from a psychological standpoint.

-Motivation- One does it.

-Ability- One can do it.

-Trigger- One’s told to do it.

All three is what we are going for. Ultimately you must drive the user to the trigger. There are many ways to get them there.

Look at what motivates people:

Wu projects Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need from 1943 up on the screen.

-Physical needs must first be met.

-A state of safety must be accomplished.

-A sense of belonging should be achieved.


-and last is self-actualization—something intrinsic

To meet the final level there are many existing meta motivators including harmony, goodness, power, purpose, et al.

Drive by, Dan Pink took from these motivators and distilled them into three – of which all are made up of game mechanics – Autonomy, mastery and purpose.

He spoke of flow, when one is totally immersed they—forget food, hunger, time, ego.

Skill and challenge have to match. If a game is too challenging people get worried, too easy, they get bored. Flow is the fine line between control and boredom.

Trigger—something that triggers people to take action. A user must be aware of and understand it. Why is a trigger necessary? Some people question their motivation, or are otherwise engaged/

The magic formula is to trigger and motivate players when they feel the greatest access to their ability.



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