The Future of Gamification, from 10 Minutes with Yu-Kai Chou

The Future of Gamification, from 10 Minutes with Yu-Kai Chou


Attending GSummit as a speaker for the third year in a row, Yu-Kai Chou, developer of the Octalysis framework, is an established veteran in the gamification industry. Working in gamification for the past 11 years, Yu-Kai has developed the Octalysis (octagon + analysis) framework to explain the eight core drives that motivate people to engage in activities.

The framework assigns a score to different gamification designs based on criteria such as data analysis, judgement, and experience flow.  Within a year of release, the Octalysis framework was translated into nine languages, and became classic teaching literature in the gamification space.

After three years of participation, Yu-Kai has come to appreciate GSummit for the people, the energy, and the conversations. Yu-Kai enjoys being at a conference with other gamification enthusiasts, because he can quickly move past small talk and get straight to industry analysis.  This Friday, Yu-Kai will be leading a hands-on demonstration around the Octalysis framework, explaining the model’s foundation while providing in-depth analysis into the eight core drives.

When asked about his prediction on the theme of GSummit this year, Yu-Kai expressed some frustration about the conference attendees’ tendency to get lost in semantics. For him, the purpose of the conference is a lot more straight forward. “It’s all about this broad knowledge of psychology motivation design and game dynamics, and how we use that to make the world a better place.” Yu-Kai would also prefer that the conference include more discussion about solutions and less fascination over statistics. At last year’s GSummit, Gartner announced the results of a study concluding that seventy percent of Fortune 500 companies would use gamification by 2014, but 80 percent would fail. This became a large topic of conversation at the conference, and in Yu-Kai’s opinion diluted the potential for industry improvement.

But that doesn’t change the alarm raised by the presentation of such a daunting statistic. So why do gamification initiatives fail? According to Yu-Kai, it’s because people copy the shells of a game, but not the essence of it. When observing the gaming industry, it’s apparent that many of the contenders have almost identical design. Why does one game succeed while so many seemingly identical models fail? For Yu-Kai, it’s not about the graphics, or the design, but the subtle things that make a difference. The essence of the game, not the shell or the look, is what creates a following.

With the expertise of people such as Yu-Kai, the gamification industry won’t be fading anytime soon. The title, on the other hand, may not be so permanent.

“Ultimately, the term gamification is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it unlocks a person’s imagination… It’s very broad. The curse is the term ‘game’ in it. Makes a lot of companies think ‘oh we don’t play games’ and ‘it’s so not serious.’ I think it has at least three to eight years of steam left.”

No matter what happens to the term ‘gamification,’ the craft of motivating and getting people to enjoy what they’re doing is here to stay.

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  • Don’t get caught up in semantics.

  • Focus on the essence of a game, not the shell.

  • Gamification might be a temporary term, but the craft of motivation is here to stay


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