Effective gamification arises from the understanding of a fundamental distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivational triggers. We go over these two concepts and the gap between them in more details in our latest SlideShare presentation on "Gamification of Motivation: Extrinsic Rewards vs. Intrinsic Rewards" (embedded below).
Blog about gamification and how game design can transform business, advertising, and marketing practices.
Humans are playful creatures. Granted, we do not hunt the same pleasures, nor do we extract the same joys from play. But as curious researchers, we've tried to decipher the delicate recipe behind players' motivations. Why do we play? How do we play? The cynical marketers in us are eager to craft an accurate taxonomy of players.
The Bartle Test: 4 archetypes of gamers.
One of the first models to emerge back in 1996 was the Bartle Test, a character theory that delineated 4 primary groups of motivations and characters. Every player drifts between all four areas, but Richard Bartle observed that most players do have a "primary" style. All other styles are "secondary" are subservient to the main interest. For instance, Achievers will definitely explore the game, but only to find new sources of treasures. They will socialize, but as a way to compare digital egos and trophy collections.
Fun comes from the treasure hunt.
Driven by concrete measurements of success within the game context (points, levels, rewards, possessions, prestige, skills).
actions to do in the game.
Fun comes from discovery and information seeking.
Prone to experiment with the laws of the game: topology, physics, rules, depth, etc.
interactions with the game.
Fun comes from people and what they have to say.
Importance of interpersonal relationships: empathy, sympathy, joking, entertainment, listening, conversation-enabling.
interactions with other players in the game.
Fun comes from the competitive game of dominance and win/loss situations.
Cause distress to other players, wreak havoc: taunts, adrenalin-driven killing sprees.
actions on other players in the game.
You can take your own Bartle Test quiz here. Let us know in which category you land!
The challenge: what kind of gamers are you marketing to?
One of the key learnings from the segmentation above is that gamification is not just about Achievers. Points, levels, badges and rewards may not captivate much of your audience if it happens to look for an adventurous escape.
Think of yourself as a game designer.
And portray your project (marketing campaign, social-enabled technology, employee motivation system, etc.) as a game. What kind of player are you trying to reach? And how does this impact the kind of game you need to create? Will you craft a competitive land of warfare and testosterone to entertain young adults in need of a joy kick, or will you paint serene experiences to capture etherial brains in need of digital relief?
The brilliance behind real-life gamified applications and devices such as Nike Fuelband, airline rewards systems, Foursquare; is the magnetic blend that goes beyond concrete measures of success. Foursquare is about badges and material rewards as much as it is about discovering new places, encountering like-minded users, competitive yet friendly show-off with your clique.
The Golden Rule of Gamification: intrinsic joys prevail.
Golden rule of gamification is to work in reverse from the natural instinct: extrinsic rewards only have value if the intrinsic joys that users get carry them long enough to care about badges, points, experiences, etc.
Source: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spads: Players Who Suit MUDS, Richard Bartle (1999).
Banner image: Diesel advertising campaign.
Engagement. The important word that advertisers and marketers put at the top of their (our) PowerPoint pyramids, as the holy Grail that crowns a successful campaign. Video games provide an extraordinary degree of engagement, which explains the increasing amount of attention that marketers have paid to game design principles & mechanics and how they could help improve how we conduct marketing and advertising campaigns.
A few hard facts first:
- An estimated 3 billion hours are spent on gaming every week.
- By age 21, the average American will have spent more than 10,000 hours playing video games.
- World of Warcraft has been played for 5.93 million years.
What is it about games that enables this extraordinary degree of engagement?
Jane McGonigal makes the case (in her TED Talk in 2010) that games inspire people the way real life does not, by providing a mixture of urgency, optimism, productivity, social connection and meaningfulness.
Games answer all the layers of the hierarchy of needs:
Games aren't designed with needs in mind. You don't need games to survive. Games are designed with engagement in mind: self-improvement, sense of enabling, expression of beliefs, etc.
Some services already understand this philosophy. For instance, the financial management tool Mint.com presents your relationship with money in a playful, challenge-packed, objectives-driven way. You handle your wallet the way you handle a game: maximizing points, getting visual feedback, improving your performance, achieving your financial goals.
4 critical attributes of video games design:
No matter what your perspective (marketer, advertiser, brander, drug addict), applying the golden rules of game design can help create better campaigns, programs and initiatives. After all, "Engagement" only becomes a marketing objective if you don't know how to apply it.
Do you know who gamers are?
The answer was yes, since you've obviously read our previous article on essential facts about gamers from the Entertainment Software Association (download their full 2012 report here).
But do you know why gamers play? Also yes, since you've somehow read the article below, in which we look at how Sony reinvented how marketers approach the video game industry (and 'core' gamers in particular) with the launch of its PlayStation brand.
Treating gamers like adults, not teenagers packed with acne.
At the end of the previous Century, the convention was to lure kids & young teenagers who had a knack for pretending to be either a chubby plumber with a signature moustache or a hedgehog high on acid. And even in the face of proficient market data, cliches remained pretty resilient.
Sony flipped this approach upside-down by focusing on a more adult audience and embracing its irreverent philosophy: they don’t filter advertising, they mock it. And they indulge in video games for reasons (conscious or not) that go beyond primal button-mashing.
What makes someone play?
What drives gamers of all kinds to venture into virtual lands? We play to escape our normal lives. To take us above our unchallenging daily routines. We play to experience places we usually only dream of. Places where we can release our frustration, freed from our constraining physical boundaries and our fear of the unknown.
We play because we can’t – or don’t know how to – experience (real) life in full. We hunt Carpe Diem, yet hate ourselves for being slaves to it. Video games provide a resolution to this unanswered conflict. In a way, we play to free ourselves from our insecurities. A digital rebirth is a new life after all.
The Third Place: a tale of escapism.
The Third Place was PlayStation's way to embrace this insight. What is the Third Place? It is where you go to when you’re gaming. This is neither home (the first place) nor work (the second place); rather whatever you want to do or whoever you want to be. Not an easy idea to depict visually, but Picasso, Dali, Bosch, or Brueghel would surely appreciate the silly and bizarre playfulness of it all. See it for yourself below.
What does this mean for marketers?
Gamification is a fantastic buzzword with a lot of erroneous baggage. And a lot of proponents riding the tidal hype waves. But there is one fundamental difference not to be forgotten:
Games aren't not engaging just because they are wrapped in infinite layers of trophies, badges, achievements, points, levels, and other external rewards.
Good games are addictive because of their intrinsic drive, how potent they are at presenting you with an alternative reality that is attractive enough to lure you in, and meaty enough to keep you hooked.
Think of escape as an attention deficit disorder with a cure that is as obvious to share as is it hard to cook: how do you create an experience with a lasting sense of fun?
The relationship between learning and playing has enjoyed increasing scrutiny from sharp brains around the world. We recently talked about Sebastian Deterding's delightful presentation "From game-based learning to a life well-played" and were freshly reminded of a research paper from the MIT's Education Arcade: "Moving learning games forward (2009)", whose main learnings were summarized in an infographics by the folks at Newton, for our desperately ADD brains.