Top 5 Gamification Tidbits at SxSW

Top 5 Gamification Tidbits at SxSW


This year’s SxSW has been even more festive than years past, with the alternating rain and sun driving social media hordes in and outdoors over the weekend. In between bouts of over-drinking, endless parties, sponsored taco trucks and coffee “scrums”, there were some interesting sessions at the conference on the topics of gamification and engagement.

I moderated one session of note, which was called “Games for Good”. Normally, sessions like that set themselves up to be back-patting, navel-gazing and truth-avoiding. Obviously, I’m interested in more direct and honest communication (just like we do at GSummit) so my intention was to drive a discussion filled with data, truth and tough topics. I think my panelists did a great job. They were:

  • Samantha Skey, Recyclebank
  • Nadya Direkova, Google
  • George Weiner, DoSomething
  • Adam Bosworth, Keas

You’ll be able to catch some of them at GSummit in June as well, but here’s a quick summary of some of the best tidbits of information I gleaned from the session:

  1. When Keas switched their health behavior-change site to a gamified approach, their user engagement rose 100x (an order of magnitude).
  2. had a 26% response rate from their teen audience to a scavenger hunt. By comparison, 2-3% of their users respond to “marketing” offers.
  3. Nadya – a game and UX designer – pointed out that most of what we know about what works to drive behavior is being figured out as we go along – gamification, like game design, is a new discipline.
  4. Recyclebank believes that people will eventually recycle out of habit, and rewards need not scale up all the time after an initial phase that’s positively reinforced and educational.
  5. The most surprising thing Keas learned is how motivating points actually are – the only negative and much of the positive feedback they receive from users is about points themselves.
  6. BONUS: the panelists all agreed that onboarding was the most important part of the user experience, and that it needed to be fun, step-based and have a low barrier to entry.

There should be full audio (if not video) of the session available shortly – I’ll post it up here when the links become available.