Spotlight Podcast with Yu-kai Chou and Gabe Zichermann

Spotlight Podcast with Yu-kai Chou and Gabe Zichermann


GSummit is coming up soon, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. We’re happy to share with you the TechnologyAdvice podcast we did with two of the foremost thought leaders in the gamification industry, not to mention speakers at the upcoming GSummit – Yu-kai Chou and Gabe Zichermann. Listen to the podcast and read the summary below!

Listen to the interview or read the summary bellow.


Nearly two years ago, Yu-kai published his eight core drives of gamification, the Octalysis Framework. Since its release, the framework has already been organically translated into 12 languages.


While there are a number of mechanics and elements of gamification, Yu-kai says, including them to beck off a list does not create fun. The eight cores of the Octalysis framework break down the motivational drives, and give better insight into why it is we do what we do. Yu-kai came up with the drives through the analysis of thousands of unique games.

The first is meaning, which plays to our need to have significance. Accomplishment is second, and represents how gamification is usually understood, with badges, points and increasing stats. Next is empowerment of creativity and feedback, the place where users are engaged through a creative process.

These first three categories fall into what Yu-kai calls the White Hat category, which includes the need to control or master something. Drives four through eight fall into the Black Hat category, which represents actions you can take, but not things you can control. Yu-kai describes them as less-positive influencers.

Ownership, or a need to have or accumulate something, is the first in this section. Social influence, the fifth drive, encompasses everything you do based on what others think or feel. Scarcity and impatience, and unpredictability and curiosity are the last two drives.

Yu-kai created and released his program because of a bold but simple notion. He truly believes we can create a world without a divide between what you want to do and what you have to do. He even boldly says this could go for taxes. This union can be achieved, he explains, through employing gamification tactics to create better-designed systems.


Like Yu-kai, Gabe hopes to use the principles of gamification to make the world the better, happier place. Gabe Zichermann is the current chair of GSummit and an author of multiple books on the subject of gamification.gabe1-222x222

As he explains, gamification uses the best ideas from games, loyalty and behavioral economics to engage audiences and solves problems. These concepts are applied outside of strictly entertaining.

We are currently in the middle of an engagement crisis, according to Gabe. People are no longer paying attention to other people or products the way they used to. Strategies that acknowledge and address this issue are more successful.

While most think of points, leaderboards or levels, and badges — referred to in the industry as the pejorative PBL — as the heart of gamification they represent only one element, and a crucial misunderstanding. They are effective, he explains, and shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. However, successful games or gamified practices need to incorporate greater elements, like meaning, feedback and completion of a journey.

Gabe has broken down the main three pillars of a successful game experience into feedback, friends and fun. They include the elements to be successful, but do not constitute a checklist. Gabe says it has to be executed well.

Making the most of gamification requires commitment and investment. If you view it as a short-term project, you likely won’t see any true improvement. Payout and optimization happen over time, with consistent attention, Gabe explains.

Though gamification is often misunderstood, it’s at least working its way into the vernacular. He points out that just 2-3 years nobody even knew what the phrase meant. Now, it’s being baked into the DNA of startups who are fully understanding the term and incorporating deep into their business practices.

Very similar to Yu-kai, Gabe believes that principles of gamification can be used to improve our daily experience. Right now, the world is filled with things we don’t want to do. That’s something that needs to be and can be changed, and the people of today are leading that charge.

Both Yu-kai and Gabe will be at GSummit on June 10-13, and if you haven’t already, register today! We will be there, and we certainly hope you will too!


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