This time I will tell about one of my favourite topics ever nowadays. Gamification! This is the first part of an article talking about what Gamification is all about and how it can be used in classic Intranets (in example on SharePoint) to amplify end user engagement and boost productivity. Is Gamification the silver bullet in information portals? It might be, if it's used right. Let's have a look...
Everyone loves games! Period. It's that simple. Why do we love games? There are many answers to that question, but mainly because they are entertaining and they have a human-focused design. Being part of the video-games generation I am so happy to see that this global movement of Gamification is taking place at this very moment. Gamification is not about playing games at work or transforming work-processes into grinding trips, like you might know it from MMOs like World of Warcraft. Or is it?
Most of the people do not understand Gamification yet, or do not really see the power behind it. It's not that obvious at the first glance. Many people believe Gamification is about gathering points, leaderboards and badges (Short PBL). Woohoo, how exciting! We can now add some PBL to our information portal and we are masters of Gamification and the user engagement will go rampage! You will soon see that by simply adding those elements won't make your portal truly gamified, it just added more information about your users. Wait, that's already quite useful isn't it?
Nowadays most Gamification implementations fail. Badgeville claims that over 80% of Gamification projects fail due to poor design and implementation. With this high fail rate there will be soon a common sense that Gamification is not working. It's a bit like saying that driving a car is not useful. Of course it's not useful when you don't know how to drive, isn't it?
So what's now the beef behind this? Let's make a deep dive!
First let's look at the core basics of Gamification maybe first what motivates us people to do stuff!
Most of us are wired the same way. We all have fundamental desires for:
- Status (Very powerful need)
- Reward (We love to be recognised and rewarded for things we do)
- Achievement (Prove to ourselves that we can do whatever we want)
- Self-Expression (People like to be heard and understood)
- Competition (Mine is bigger than yours... or, nevermind)
- Altruism (It makes us happy to help people in need)
In addition to the fundamental desires we have 8 core motivational drives as they are described in the ingenious Octalysis Framework from Gamfication Guru Yu-Kai Chou! I bow before you Master Chou!
- Epic meaning or calling - I am part of something bigger, or I have been chosen so...
- Development & Accomplishment - That's the motivation of getting stuff done and ultimately reach mastery
- Empowerment of creativity and Feedback - This kicks in when we try to figure something out, try different things and can immediately see if it works or not. Building something with Lego is a perfect example here
- Ownership and possession - This is about wanting something. If you own your work, you will work harder than others
- Social influence - This drive incorporates social elements like mentorship, acceptance, social responses, companionship or envy
- Scarcity - Something you cannot have just yet. It's in front of your nose but you need to do stuff to get it.
- Unpredictability - The element or randomness and positive surprise. For instance reading a novel or watching a movie uses this core drive
- Avoidance - The things you do to avoid experiencing something negative that might happen to you.
On Yu-Kais (@Yukaichou) website you can read much more about the eight core drives. It's really worth the read
Ok, so now we know about what our desires and core motivational drives are. How is this now linked to Gamifiaction? Well Gamification exactly USES these desires and motivational drives to engage users to do stuff. Sounds creepy? It's not, and that's why. So in short Gamification is also HUMAN-FOCUSED design. Why do we rather find classical work tasks boring? Because they are usually process-focused tasks. They make us do stuff what we usually would not do, or rather would do differently. They narrow us down in our fundamental desire for autonomy and responsibility.
Actually, people WANT to satisfy their desires and WANT to be motivated. If you manage to create a smart design to satisfy fundamental desires and motivate people to use your stuff, there you have the silver bullet.
However this is not very easy to accomplish. That's one of the reasons PBLs are so popular in Gamification because this is one of the easiest elements of Gamification. Already adding PBLs WILL have a positive effect on user engagement in your information portals. I would lay my hand in a Rancors mouth for that!
So what other basic tools other than PBLs can we use in Gamification?
The SAPS principle
The SAPS is a rewarding principle. It works because it is addressing several motivational core drives as described above.
SAPS stands for:
S = Status - This is the most powerful reward. Everyone loves status and showing it off. Even those who do not consider them as show offs. It's just hard wired in us. Status is the most important reward of all time
A = Access - Giving privileged access to something others don't have and you have achieved through your efforts. Privileged access also gives status.
P = Power - Power over a system or other people. For instance forum moderation.
S = Stuff - Everyone likes to get stuff. However it's the least important reward of all.
Here we can see, giving the "players" responsibility and acknowledge their achievement has a much higher value when it comes to rewarding users. The more visible the status is the most power it will have over the player and the others around.
The FLOW state by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - The players state between anxiety and boredom, meeting his own motivational level in that experience.
- focus and our senses are they are sharp and clear
- do not feel at all self conscious
- forget all worries and anxieties completely
- experience a sense of full control
- feel time differently
- find the current activity intrinsically rewarding
- experience a merge of action and awareness
Many game designers try to invoke FLOW with its players. In this state of mind we are the most productive, the most effective with the task at hand. Also once we reached FLOW we would like to get back to that state.
So you need to design your stuff that the users are not bored, nor overwhelmed. Always have a sense of progress and have the target in front of their very nose.
Hyper available feedback loops
This principle is about giving constant or hyper available feedback to the "player" about her or his current performance in a task (mission), a chain of tasks (quest) or in a whole project (story or epic).
When you incorporate this principle a player always...
- is aware of the past and current progress as well as what needs to be achieved to reach the goal
- is aware of the imminent next steps to move forward
- knows her or his personal performance, compared with others and in the whole story
This information is highly motivating to move forward with something and eventually reach mastery. Games like Role Playing Games (RPGs) use this principle very often.
Ok, now we have looked at some basic principles of how Gamification works and what motivates us. In the next parts of this article I will write about how Gamification can be used in practice. I will describe several use cases when using Gamification in a classical SharePoint environment.
The force is with you, always!