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WHAT IS GAMIFICATION? Gamification is
the incorporation of game design thinking, methodologies, rules, dynamics (interactionsbetween user and system), mechanics, aesthetics (overall experience) and elements in non-game contexts and environments, in order to playfully induce user behaviors and - hopefully - improve their experience. Visuals: Aled Lewis 2
THE MANY FACES OF GAMIFICATION
Over the past few years, “gamification” has taken a wild ride alongside Gartner’s hype cycle; invading all kinds of areas: productivity, food recommendation, employee motivation, financial monitoring, task management, skill development, fitness, education, etc.STACK OVERFLOW RIBBON HERO FOODSPOTTING FARMVILLE PROGRAMMING PRODUCTIVITY FOOD RECOMMENDATION GAMES GETGLUE VIRGIN HEALTHMILES MINDBLOOM CHORE WARSCONTENT DISCOVERY EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH LIFE GOALS HOUSEWORK EPIC WIN NIKE PLUS HEALTH MONTH DUOLINGOLIFE ORGANIZATION FITNESS HEALTHY LIVING LANGUAGE LEARNING
GAMIFICATION IS NOT MIND CONTROLGamification’s
conveniently catchy, palatable and click-friendly name came to the detriment of the understanding of what it’s truly about, reducing the concept to its most easilyaccessible aspect: the layering of game-like mechanics on top of any pre-existing structure.A modern take on the stick & carrot love story; with the similar assumption that its audience refused to evolve beyond a perpetually hungry, narrow-visioned object: a frenzied donkey. Visual: Museo Tamayo 4
WHAT IS EFFECTIVE GAMIFICATION, THEN?
Effective gamification arises from the understanding of a fundamental - and brilliantly documented - distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivational triggers, which is the distinction between a food-craving addict and a dedicated donkey on a mission; throwingsacrificial wooden barrels at a chubby plumber to preserve his hearfelt sense of power, control, and disturbingly misplaced inter-species love. Visual: Peter Hebeisen 5
WHAT ARE EXTRINSIC REWARDS? Extrinsic
rewards are not about the thing you are doing or the task you’re trying to achieve. They are rewards that come from the outside: a set of techniques, designpatterns and mechanics that hopes to tickle users’ curiosity, motivation, and behaviors. They are tangible, expected, and arguably gimmicky. They are the distracting carrot. The trick and treat. Colorful, yet ultimately meaningless on its own.ACHIEVEMENTS PROGRESS CONTENT REPUTATION Awards Levels Quests Leaderboards Trophies Score Missions Ranking Badges Points Virtual Goods Rating 6
THE INCREASING FOCUSON EXTRINSIC REWARDSAs
pre-packaged, neatly-structured gamificationplatforms have grown in popularity (Bunchball,BigDoor, BadgeVille, Gigya, SCVNGR, amongothers), the side-effects of focusing on extrinsicrewards have been made more and more evident.The prevalence of shortsighted motivationalmechanics means that users will focus onthe task to accomplish rather than thecreative solution to discover. Visual: Shutterstock 7
THE SHORTCOMINGS OF EXTRINSIC REWARDS
Extrinsic rewards make you a spectator of progress rather than the autonomous agent surfing the learning curve. They increase stakes, thus causing stress (MIT study). They belittle the tasks by applying a value to them. They trigger undesired behaviors and have you chase the wrong rabbits (Chris Hecker smartly coined it “Metric fetishism”, we prefer heavy-handed animalistic analogies).Sebastian Deterding puts it best: “extrinsic rewards turn games into work” - rather than the reverse. A perspective similar to Alfie Kohn’s “rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery”. Visual: Platinum FMD 8
IT’S NEVER “JUST A GAME”If
you take a closer look at reverred games out there, game mechanics are never the core of the fruit (or in our case, vegetable). Stripping down the extrinsic rewards from these games does not - and should not - impact the main qualities and inner enjoyment of the experience. Reducing game design to its flashy mechanics shifts focus from the real roots of playful behaviors: intrinsic rewards and motivators. Visual: Penny Arcade 9
WHAT ARE INTRINSIC REWARS?Intrinsic rewards
come from within. They tap into higher motivators and positive emotions (“aesthetics”): overcoming challenges, self-driven learning, the thrill of autonomy, belonging, power, mastery, meaning, pride, curiosity, surprise, social validation, renewed interest, peer recognition of internal accomplishments.The craft is in providing a sense of inner progress that results in a meaningful journey forthe player, no matter what kind of player they are (see Bartle’s archetypes of gamers) or what type of fun they are having (see Marc Le Blanc’s 8 types of fun or Nicole Lazarro’s 4 keys to fun for good models on the topic). 10
CRAFTING A PLAYFUL EXPERIENCE A
crucial part of the design process is in the engagement and feedback loops.Not as a flashy, epileptic, and controlling scoring card; but as a documentation of internal accomplishments that relies on a great game in the first place. Sure you can collectawards and trophies, share them on Facebook; but the real sense of progress comes fromwithin, from informational feedback that validates the 3 essential elements of “Drive” (as defined by Daniel H. Pink): autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), mastery (the urge to get increasingly better at something that matters) and purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the context and service of something larger than ourselves). 11
REDEFINING GAMIFICATIONIf we dare to
put labels upon it, effective gamification is about playful design (or “gameful design”). It’s about the leverage of game design philosophy to drive engagement byproviding meaningful feedback and reinforcement for learners - when it is appropriate to do so. As Mozuku puts it: gamification is the delightification of feedback. Different names for the same thing perhaps, but a great occasion to separate the superficial hacks (extrinsic layers) from the harder-to-achieve virtues (intrinsic joys). Visual: Erik Johansson 12