The Secret Social Science Sauce of Gamification

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The Magic Behavior Formula in Gamification

A few days ago, I was talking with Lauren Carlson about her ideas on how “gamification/game design” could improve the adoption of sales force automation (SFA) software.  She shared sketches of her ideas here.  Our conversation evolved into ideas about Enterprise Gamification, Culture, & Behavior, the same type of strategy shared in one of my previous articles, “7 core concepts to know when implementing Game Mechanics within the Enterprise“.  Our conversation inspired me to connect with others on my path to discovering the real potential of gamification.

Gabe Zichermann’s Gamification Master Class

Employing game mechanics to non-game environments aka “Gamification” can have a dramatic positive effect in supporting desired behaviors.  Understanding why people enjoy game-like activities will unlock new levels of engagement. Gabe Zichermann talks about this in his “Gamification Master Class” video series.  I invite you to listen closely as he shares some secrets of why people participate in this video.


You can order Gabe Zichermann’s complete “Gamification Master Class” video collection here.

Motivation Gamification

Most people that read my articles or follow me on Twitter ( @webtechman ), know I’m a huge fan of Dr. Michael Wu, Ph.D. and his work found here, “The Future of Enterprise Software will be Fun and Productive“.  Gabe also shared one of Michael’s presentations on his web site.  This presentation shares the fundamentals of behavior that reveals the magic behind gamification.

Gamification: The use of game mechanics/dynamics to drive game-like engagement and actions in non-game environments to support desired behaviors.

Gamification Behavior Model: Three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)

Triggers in Behavior Models: The third element of the Fogg Behavior Model is Triggers. Without a Trigger, the target behavior will not happen. Fogg Behavior Model (FBM), Triggers

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how it relates to mechanics of game dynamics will help achieve desired flow.


Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience: People are most happy when they are in a state of flow according to a theory by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  See his great TED Talk video here.  The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove.  This is a prime engagement goal of gamification.

The Science of Gamification: See Michael’s complete gamification presentation here.  I hope we will see Michael as a keynote speaker at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in the near future.  If you push to make this happen, we could see another innovation explosion in the Enterprise Market.

Current Gamification Twitter Game Board

Diversity fuels innovation.  Sports fanatics have their fantasy football teams. This is my fantasy innovation team. This current gamification twitter game board represents people focused on gamification now.  Additional people are available by following this gamification twitter list

[twitterusers @gzicherm @jesseschell @ChiefDoorman @mich8elwu @amyjokim @marigo @sethpriebatsch @ddebow @dankeldsen]

Gamification Resources

Turning regular activities at work into games: Gameification turns daily work life into a game with hopes to reap the benefits that games usually bring to extra-curricular life, to the work environment.

Gamification – Is everything a game?: Gamification is not new to social media, but it seems to be one of the key terms for 2011 with presentations, reports and analysis making claims about the proportion of brands that will have ‘gamified’ in the next few years.

Think you can afford to not understand Gamification? Good luck…: Gamification has not only been one of the trend words of 2010/11 in tech, but also one of the very real trends in the actual designs of user experiences/user interfaces (UX/UI).

Badgeville Targets Loyalty With New Gamification Product: Badgeville has grown quickly since it launched last September, having booked “seven figures” in sales in Q1 2011.

A Gamification Framework for Interaction Designers: As the critics point out, some gamified products are just poorly executed. Just because you saw something in a game once doesn’t mean it’ll be fun in your product.


How to TAME Desired Behavior with Gamification

Most people want to be successful.  Understanding and applying these four key principals of gamification can significantly increase the success of all efforts.

Trigger: A clear invitation to do the right thing at the right time.

Ability: Remove barriers to participation by extending people’s abilities.

Motivation: Help others understand what they can achieve.

Evolve: Support a continuous feedback loop for growth.

Gamification Workshop Washington, DC June 23

With an all-new curriculum developed by Gabe Zichermann (author,Game-Based Marketing and Gamification by Design), this hands-on, interactive workshop leads you through the strategy and problem-solving cycles of building a Gamification architecture and a proven design framework for applying game design to your business. Then… [more]


12 thoughts on “The Secret Social Science Sauce of Gamification”

    1. Alex,
      Thanks for the feedback and the other tips you sent me.
      I like and included your article because it is a great example of how gamification is all around us. In our everyday lives and in our social media interactions on blogs, facebook, and twitter.

      Your article also includes great references to @sethpriebatsch of @SCVNGR I believe his LevelUp service will crush Groupon. This area of gamification will be very exciting over the next couple of years while big players battle for marketshare.

      You have a lot of great content on your blog and in your social networks. Your article on zynga shows abundant opportunities are available in the Social Business Space. These exciting new business models will enable people to help transform the way we live, work, & play. The future looks amazing!

      Thanks for sharing,

    1. Marigo,

      I appreciate your support and your amazing blog focused on gamification. Your articles and the countless things you share though social media channels is priceless. Your tireless efforts makes you a key player on my Gamification Twitter Game Board.

      I like the way you help people discover new levels of engagement by leveraging methods of motivation. @DanielPink shares great insights to these factors in his book “Drive”. You bring this book to life!

      I’m looking forward to hearing more from you.

      Thank you,

  1. Dan – whew, you are doing a fantastic job of curating and summarizing #gamification. Thank you very much for including me in the “Twitter Game Board” as well.

    Exciting times – we’re finally starting to see people shed the preoccupation with technology first, and diving back into what they want to accomplish, and how they’re going to craft an environment that people will WANT to use, maybe even NEED to use, because we’ve done such a fantastic job of making sure they’re engaged in the flow so fully that it all just disappears as they get things done.

    Sometimes a down economy forces re-thinking that turns out to be far healthier in the short- and long-term, eh?

    Keep up the great work – and thanks again!

    1. Dan,
      These are truly exciting times! The early days of Enterprise 2.0 was about copying features from Social Networking sites like Facebook to support collaboration on intranets. Now the focus and language has shifted from features to benefits that address real needs.

      The shift from “Brainstorming” to “Painstorming” fuels “Motivation Design” that harnesses the synergy required for new levels of innovation crafted in co-creation that addresses real needs.

      Enterprise 2.0 Solutions that require a manual and relentless campaigns to drive adoption are examples of Enterprise 1.0 with an Enterprise 2.0 label. This is similar to people thinking they can support gamification, and try to gamify their system by adding badges that have no value. Smart Enterprise Gamification provides the addictive properties that accelerate people through the workflow in a seamless manner. Meaningful rewards, badges, leaderboards are key components in a gamified system created for engaging collaboration. The real value of Gamification is realized when the deeper engagement achieved endures beyond the system. A Real Enterprise Solution Res ipsa loquitur (speaks for itself)

      You make a good point about crafting things people WANT to use. This concept will help melt away the hard line between work and play. This reminds me of a previous article, “There is no Enterprise 2.0: The Practice of Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Patterns“.

      I respect the Enterprise 2.0 Community. The whole community is doing a remarkable job fulfilling it’s moral and ethical responsibilities to support the next generation workforce. Many organizations are realizing benefits now, but this long-term investment is about to unleash an innovation storm that will destroy creative poverty.

      Thank you for connecting and sharing,
      Daniel Hudson

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