Level Up KL 2016: More to gamification than just games

  • Leverage on gamification to benefit non-game scenarios by learning from game development.
  • Game designers and developers understand what motivates and keeps people engaged


Level Up KL 2016: More to gamification than just games


GAMIFICATION may sound like a fancy videogame term but in actual fact, it is the art of taking elements found in games and applying them to the boring things that we hate to do in the real world.

Speaking during the recent Level Up KL 2016 conference, gamification expert Yu-kai Chou (pic, above) explained that the power of game design is more useful that people think it is.

“If you can design a game well you can essentially make life into a game,” Chou said. The ideal concept is that we would be able to make everything that we do fun while improving ourselves.

Game designers and developers, according to Chou, are experts in understanding what motivates and keeps people engaged.

Games are normally meant to just please the individuals playing them. But there is a lot more to these gamification concepts than serving as excuses to keep a player entertained. They can be used to making boring matters like compliance training, difficult school subjects or exercise more fun and exciting.

Chou said that all successful games appeal to what he calls Core Drives that motivate people towards certain activities. By studying different motivations and behaviours he identified eight Core Drives that he grouped under a gamification framework called Octalysis.



Level Up KL 2016: More to gamification than just games


These drives include elements like accomplishment, meaning, empowerment, ownership, scarcity and many others.

He said that there are many examples of situations where Core Drives can be applied to gain greater user engagement.

The Core Drive of Ownership was capitalised upon by a little known mobile game called Geomon, a precursor to Pokemon Go, that enabled users to collect creatures by using geolocation data from smartphones to determine the kind of creatures players would collect.

Much like Pokemon Go, people grew attached to their virtual creatures through a sense of ownership.

Sadly, the developer of the game, Loki Studio, was forced to shut the game down after it was acquired by Yahoo! in 2013. Still, people persisted and fought to keep the game online though that too ultimately failed.

Traditionally Social Influence plays a big part in games particularly in massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft where players gather into massive groups to “raid” dungeons.

But the concept also applies through crowdfunding on sites such as, Kickstarter and Indiegogo where people are motivated to pool their resources to take a project or product live.

But there is also a darker side to these Core Drives that comes from drives like Unpredictability, which are often used in gambling games. Unpredictability randomises rewards and incentivises users to try multiple times to gain something.

The other is Avoidance, which can be seen in Zynga games like Farmville that posts pictures of a player’s farm on their Facebook feed should they not tend to their farm for a certain period of time.

Ultimately, though, Chou hopes that the framework will help in the understanding of what motivates and engages people  so it can be used to affect positive change and help people achieve their goals through meaningful achievements.

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