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Reality Check: Gamification 10 Years Later

Reality Check: Gamification 10 Years Later

It’s a good decade after gamification made it on the public stage of Gartner hype curves, tech conferences, business magazines, and airport bookstalls. In the course, the idea of “fixing broken reality” with game design has lost a lot of its glamour, like any technology and design trend ultimately does. But we have also learned a lot about the actual possibilities and limitations of using game design and technology beyond games. This talk will take a look back over ten years of gamification to tease out where its sceptics and critics were proven right; what successful application areas have survived and thrived, like crowdsourcing or change management; how gamification is being mainstreamed in design for behaviour change; and practical advice for game designers and developers interested in breaking into the field today.

SUBOTRON pro games lecture held July 2, 2020.

Sebastian Deterding

July 02, 2020

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  1. »Gamification presents the best tools humanity has ever invented to

    create and sustain engagement in people. [...] It’s a proven approach using breakthroughs in design and technology to vastly improve the world as we know it.« – Gabe Zichermann, 2012
  2. first, a quick detour into the replication crisis 2005 theory:

    Most findings are false 2015+ data: 39% of studies replicate, mean effect sizes half
  3. a.k.a. “let’s run all the analyses!” Average effect is equal

    to wearing glasses or eating potatoes technology making us addicted and depressed?
  4. 5 easy steps to gamification success, pokémon go-style 1. Create

    a 100+ year old trusted brand for quality family entertainment (Nintendo) 2. Create the world’s largest media franchise with hundreds of millions of fans across the globe (Pokémon) 3. Get Google $, talent, and infrastructure to build your alpha (Ingress) 4. Find a game mechanic that fits hand in glove with the franchise’s core fantasy and runs on the world’s largest install base OSs 5. Make a game and don’t care 1 second about gamification or behaviour change
  5. we mostly have just-so stories without data Slack onboarding bot

    ≈ Early bot levels in WoW Game-inspired onboarding caused Slack’s success How alike are they, really? Was Slack really game-inspired? Are WoW’s bot levels working? Is Slack’s bot working? And IFF all that were true: how generalisable is that?
  6. specific contexts differ – and matter  500 steps 8th

    day without cycling – you really should step it up! What about a 5 minute ride today? C’mon, your friends in California did it! Frank & Engelke, 2001, Reeve 1996
  7. A skilled team following standard UX and game design best

    practices* is more predictive of success than any design element or gamification method. contention *User research, (re)framing, abduction, iteration, playcentric design, polish, …
  8. In 2010, gamification is the new black.* * “black” =

    Opens the door to innovation departments and hearts of bored or desperate middle managers. 2008 2017 2016 2018 2019 big data 2005 web 2.0 machine learning Blockhain, VR/XR chatbots tech ethics, 5G
  9. we see some areas that ‘work’ areas with heavy adoption

    • Self-care/mgmt apps (Headspace) • Private learning (Khan Academy, MindWare) • Corporate health programmes (Virgin Health Miles) • Corporate training (Supercell) • Crowdsourcing (Zooniverse) areas with low/slow adoption • Medical interventions • Formal schooling • Factory floors
  10. hypothesis: a matter of market fit incumbents regulation buyers users

    task structure production adoption factors • Incumbents don’t have buyers, regulators in capture • Little regulation • Buyer is individual consumer (b2c) • User is game literate • Task is unengaging, repetitive, piecemeal, easily assessable, digital opportunity Incumbents (edu publishers, insurers, health tech, …) enter market and buy in products/teams.
  11. game design elements behaviour change techniques ≈ A behaviour change

    technique is “an active component of an intervention designed to change behaviour ... the smallest component compatible with retaining the postulated active ingredients” (Michie & Johnson, 2013) behaviour change (design) is the new gamification
  12. but most current research findings are crud 2005 theory: Most

    findings are false 2015+ data: 39% of studies replicate, mean effect sizes half
  13. if you want to get into gamification today … 1.

    Don’t trust the science. 2. Read up on and consider reframing your work as behaviour change design. 3. Practice your fundamentals: game and UX design. 4. Consider your market fit: go in-house with an incumbent (educational publisher, health tech, energy provider, …) or startup if you have an uncrowded market niche that is not captured by incumbents, and a partner with deep domain expertise, or consultant in an agency that looks for behaviour change expertise.