domingo, 28 de abril de 2013

Gamification Player Types: The T-E Pyramid (II)

Different people, different motivations

In the first part of this post, we established why it was important to identify the expected roles of our target players, as well as introduced the axioms underlying this model. If you want to know more about it, or missed out the introduction part, i truly recommend you to have a look back here

Before starting with the characteristics and definitions of each player, i do want to focus on something that i consider, it is really important to take into account: 

"Players are not always the same. Their roles and motivations change throughout the player´s journey, and our best hope is to make it endless in time"

I really want to highlight that, as experts like Andrzej Marczewski or Richard Bartle have stated, our players will change while playing, and this types also vary from game to game. That is why, when designing a gamified system, we must take into account that onboarding players will change towards the middle part of our game, looking for a richer experience. Every gamified system will have different players, and those players will also be different in their behaviours in other games. 

Let´s put an example of this:

This is a screenshot of the book "Game On" of Jon Radoff, and it is very interesting because, even when it shows the "common" pacing of a game, it let us see how a game changes in time. And so does the player. 

So, a certain kind of person (remember we have/need some data about our target players) starts playing our gamified system, and we have identified that, this player is likely to be a netwoker. Someone that is playing the gamified system just to expand his contacts. 

However, during the "game", he meets some nice people making a group with them, with no other purpose rather than hanging out and having some fun. At the same time, he starts influencing some new players that just discovered the platform, realising all of a sudden, that he is part of something bigger than himself, a community that just arose, what keeps him engaged, turning his pure extrinsic motivation into a more intrinsic one.

What if i tell you this example is something that usually happens in Twitter?

Players change and we have to be aware of that fact to adapt our design process to it. Also, what is valid for one game is not for another. The same people, act different in different games.

3 Types of Fun 

So, after the former explanation, let´s get into each type of fun, what kind of motivation is behind and which different players we can find within each one in a brief way.

The Time - Engagement pyramid is based on 3 types of fun, according to the different kinds of motivations that players have in each level (all the basics about this extended model of Andrzej Marzcewski´s players can be found here, in the first part of this post:

In this second part of the post, we will go through the 3 types of Fun with examples, keeping the "Meet the players" stuff, for the third and last part of this model. 

Fun 1.0: Enjoyers

Fun 1.0 is based on the first PERMA factor, pleasure, or also called positive emotion. Things like joy, gratitude, interest, surprise, curiosity, hope, pride, courage, inspiration or awe. (some taken from 

If we think about it, they are all pretty "instant" at some point, but very powerful at the same time. This is what i call "Quick Fun" because in a gamified system, these are the kind of things we experiment first, when we discover it. Of course, we will keep on experimenting many of them, but will be mixed with other motivations. 

In example, we can experiment Fun 1.0 the first time we enter Foursquare, all those badges are so epic! And what is that "major" thing? Oh! Someone just checked in a place i used to go! Wow!

Or when we just signed up for Line, and a friend sends us one of those super cool stickers! I am the second one of my friends doing this and i feel so lost but it´s fun! We dont even know where to start but hey!, curiosity is killing us, so let´s find out!

According to this motivation, the kind of player that we can identify here is the ENJOYER.

Fun 2.0: Networkers, Self seekers & Farmers

Fun 2.0 is based on extrinsic factors, so basically, all kinds of rewards that our gamified system is going to give the players.

As we have established before, in order to understand the motivations between rewards, we will take relatedness, meaning and achievement (the factor of intrinsic motivation) in a pure extrinsic way. Any kind of reward that are players will get count as extrinsic motivation, no matter the way this reward is.

So in example, what happens when our players are looking for relatedness in a pure extrinsic way? When any of us joins a gamified system just as we have said before, to make some business contacts, which are the rewards the play.

Then we meet the NETWORKER

A very clear example of this is LinkedIn (don´t get me wrong, it has many other intrinsic motivations too) in the beginning, when we just join it for career reasons.

If extrinsic motivation is to be applied to meaning and achievement, we find the SELF SEEKER and the FARMER. 

We´ll "meet" all these players in detail in our next post, but as an introduction, think about Twitter/Reddit for the Self Seekers and how this kind of people act for their own benefit, and about the facts that could make a farmer on Candy Crush or Farmville.

Fun 3.0: Socialisers, Goal seekers & Achievers

The last type of motivation and by far, the most powerful is the intrinsic one. Researchers have studied the intrinsic human motivators for decades, coming to the conclusion that mastery, autonomy, relatedness and purpose are its main factors.

After asking Dr. Martin Selgiman (Author of the book "flourish" and expert in positive psychology) via email, i have decided to set autonomy as a whole, something that must be in every system, to focus on the types of player that arise when they base their motivations on the social aspect of our gamified system, on some kind of goal or purpose or when they simple want to get achievements to progress.

So let´s go with the Nike+ example, one of the masterpieces of gamification.

When we start playing Nike+, our main goal is to train and improve, to be able to run some distance we never could. In the end, is all about achieving goals that we never thought we would reach.

However, not only we set goals, we also feel some kind of purpose in it, running to be part of something bigger than ourselves, the running community, sharing the results with our people.

Even stronger is the feeling of meaning in the game "Free Rice" that helps millions of people worldwide donating rice while we play (check it out and play here:

To sum up in a brief way, when this motivators are enhanced in a gamified system, our engagement skyrockets in the long term, and we encounter the SOCIALISERS, GOAL SEEKERS and the ACHIEVERS that we´ll meet in our next post

...If you want to know more about gamification player types and "meet" every type of them check out our next post!!!...

Victor Manrique

jueves, 25 de abril de 2013

Gamification Player Types: The T-E Pyramid (I)

Why use Gamification Player Types?

This post is about a new extended model of the Gamification Player Types that i developed with the guidance of Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage) based on his previous framework.

So let´s start with some questions: why shall we create a model for player types? Is it neccesary or useful?

Well, there are many reasons to use this kind of methodology, but among the most important is the need to fully understand what kind of people are going to be our players, in order to create the most compelling gamified system. 
One of the first steps to start designing a gamified system is to get some data about your target players to classify them into the different kind of players to create accurate "User Personas" (this is Jon Radoff´s word, some more info in his book "Game On")

This will lead in great game MDAs designed to match their characteristics, and i will dig into those later on this blog (if you want to get more insights about it right now click on this link that will lead you to the official academic article:

To sum up, when applying gamification we need to have a great level of understanding about our players, in the same way businesses must know their clients to achieve excellence. 

Introduction: Looking into the past 

Once upon a time, Richard Bartle created one of his masterpieces, "The 4 Player´s Types" based on the different types of behaviours that he observed in the world of MUDs. Later on, and even though this model is no longer as useful for gamification as it was for that type of games in the past, it is still the very basics. 

Just as a brief introduction, this is Bartle´s model:

He identified 4 types of players according to how they acted or interacted with the surrounding world and the other players: Killers, Achievers, Socializers and Explorers. If you want to know more about check this out:

Once we understand the basics of this model, it is the moment to move forwards to gamification nowadays.

The starting point for the T-E Pyramid model

The T-E (time - engagement) Pyramid model is an extended version of Andrzej Marczewski´s (@daverage) Gamification Player Types that i have developed with his help. You can find Andrzej´s approach here:

His model is based on 4 types of players that evolve into 4 more when extrinsic motivation (rewards) is applied. One of the main points of his theory, is that, the extended version of the Self-Determination Theory of Deci and Ryan (to know more about it you can check out my post on Why use Gamification here: is behind these 4 types of players: 

- Socialisers = Relatedness
- Achievers = Mastery
- Philanthropists = Purpose
- Free Spirits = Autonomy 

Since at some point we can call those "intrinsic players", there is a need to add extrinsic rewards, and when doing that, a new model arises:  
If you want to know more about it, i suggest you to visit the whole blog to get further knowledge on it, but to sum up, these are the key points of Andrzej´s model extracted by me:

- Bartle´s basic model is not enough when talking about Gamification
- In Gamification, we have to focus on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation rather than bartle´s factors
- The extended version of the Self-Determination Theory is the model underlying

The key elements of the T-E Pyramid model

Once that the basics have been settled, let´s have a look at the main elements that this Time - Engagement Piramid is including, and the reasons why i developed this model. 

When looking at Andrzej´s model, we realise that there is a clear motivational factor underlying, and that players are motivated not only by extrinsic reasons but also by intrinsic goals. 

Furthermore, some posts before, i introduced the PERMA Happiness model created by Dr. Martin Seligman (you can check it out here: and linked it to the Self-Determination theory due to their connections. 

If we take as a starting point that people play because it is fun, and it makes them happy, we can revamp the player types into a new model that features not only motivation, but also fun and happiness. So that´s what this model is all about. (To see the connection between fun and happiness:

This is the graphic that summarises the T-E Pyramid model, but first of all, let´s establish some axioms/statements that i have taken into account to create this framework:

- The extended Self-Determination Theory (Deci, Ryan and Pink) matches almost perfectly with 3 main PERMA Happiness factors meaning that we can take the main PERMA Factors as the key elements to introduce a new model for players:

Relatedness = Relationships
Purpose = Meaning
Mastery = Achievements

- We assume that every gamified system relies on autonomy in one way or another. Apart from this, i personally contacted Dr. Martin Seligman, and his answer on autonomy is that autonomy/control: "it is not a key element of happiness but enhances the others". So autonomy has been introduced in this model as a whole, as one of the main differences with Andrzej´s Model.

- The first PERMA factor (positive emotions) is our first type of fun, defined as quick fun, or in other words, when people spend some time in our gamified system just for some minutes, getting some "pleasure" and leaving for a while.

- Extrinsic motivation is defined by the intrinsic factors but only focused on rewards, as a way to further understand the extrinsic players.

- Engagement is one of the main elements of Gamification and it has been taken as something that is achieved through all types of fun and it is defined by flow.

- Last but not least, the more intrinsic fun our players are having, the more engagement and time spent on our gamified system.

To be continued...There are still many things to analyse, all types of players to describe as well as things like the game MDAs that go better with each type, but that will be in our next post...

Victor Manrique

PS: Thanks Andrzej for all your help! Without you, this would have not been possible! ; )

lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

When NOT to use Gamification?

Why use Gamification

In our latest post we established that Gamification is a very powerful tool that allows us to generate/build happiness while increasing people´s motivation to achieve a goal. 

This is due to two main conclusions:

- There is a strong connection between game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics (MDA) that gamification is based on, with the well-being PERMA factors of Dr. Martin Seligman

- A link between the happiness (well-being) PERMA elements and the main factors of motivation can be identified, according to the extended Self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan

When "joining dots", we realise that the formula of Gamification is: 

Gamification = Goal = Happiness (PERMA) + Motivation (extended SDT)

If you feel like knowing more about it check my post "Why use Gamification" here: 

Many other resources can be found in that post, as well as the official links for some more expert insights!

The NOT to use factors

Up until now, we have established that gamification is used to increase people's happiness while boosting their motivation towards a goal. In consequence, we have discovered which are the most important factors that drive it so, if we know why we use it, can we identify the situations when not to apply it?  

And the answer is: YES!!!!

Going through the reasons why it is used again, we can see that happiness, motivation and goals are the main keys points

So, if we are thinking about applying gamification and:

-  A start-end task or activity cannot be clearly identified or there's no motivation for it

- The motivation for the target task or activity is more than enough to accomplish it

- Or we are clearly not creating or increasing the happiness of the people involved

We should not use gamification!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No goal: start-end activities

One of the main factors to apply gamification is the existance of a certain purpose, an activity that is started because of a reason and its finish line is a clear goal. This means that if no clear goal to accomplish this task is involved, there is not that much gamification can do.

This is the case when we are doing things just for the sake of it, without a meaningful reason. Playing football for fun with some friends, having a picnic on a sunny day or checking out stuff on the internet to get some information are good examples for it. As we can imagine, it is not that recommendable to gamify this activities since no long term goal is involved and they dont start because of a stated reason. We do them just because we want.

On the other hand, it has to be said that this kind of tasks are not the common thing, and a start-end pattern can be identified in the majority of activities that we do day by day. In some cases it's clearer that in others, but if we think about it, almost all of them are started by a reason and done in order to accomplish a meaningful goal. (Think about "Chore Wars" and how "chores" also have a reason to start and of course a purpose can be identified in time)

When applying gamification, there must be a start-end pattern underlying or it will not be as effective or powerful as usual, especially in the long term.  

Enough motivation: Time/Speed/Seriousness

Another one of the reasons not to apply gamification is the "enough motivation" factor. By this, I am thinking about those kind of activities that we don't need a motivational boost in order to perform them in an optimus way.

This is the case when extreme time or speed constrains appear and the activity is a matter of "life or death". In addition, there are some cases when the seriousness of the task itself is more than enough to do it.

In example, taking a relative to the hospital, doing an exam or explaining the business current situation to our stakeholders are things that need to be done, and due to their seriousness they need to be quick and effective without any delaying steps in the middle.

When applying gamification, we have to be aware of the time, speed and seriousness constrains involved. Sometimes gamifying is not advisable.

Unethical or Amoral behaviours

Our last factor is a very clear one. Gamification must always be a tool to promote ethical behaviours and it musn't be used in any other way.

When gamification is causing great harm, as some recent studies have shown with "gamblification", or it is not promoting happiness or motivation in a good way, it should not be used.

For more information about this topic i suggest you to read Andrzej's (@daverage) Code of Ethics (

Victor Manrique

martes, 16 de abril de 2013

Why use Gamification?

Understanding Gamification as a tool

We know what Gamification is, why games are a source of happiness and some of the phychological reasons  underlying but...

Why should i use Gamification in my business? Why should i implement a gameful design as Sebastian Deterding (@dingstweets) calls it, or a human-focused design (@yukaichou) in my business? 

As business people usually say..."What do i get from it? Is it worthy?"

The answer is definitely: YES!!!!!

And there are two approaches here to support this: the business approach and the well-being point of view. 

So combining both, the answer is: You will achieve your business goals in a more effective way but also have happier and more motivated customers that will like you more :)

And you say this because.....????!!!

The PERMA Happiness elements

We have already settled that people play because it makes them happier by fulfilling their basic human motivators (more info here: but, which are those Happiness elements? 

What are the key factors of well-being? To answer this question we must quote the author of the well-being (as he calls happiness), Dr. Martin Seligman and his book "Flourish"(

Dr. Martin Seligman is an American psychologist, teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, best seller writer, and an authority in the world of positive psychology (apart from a very nice man, that answers all the questions that you have about perma here:

But the most important thing for us is his PERMA Model that includes the 5 main factors or elements of well-being (happiness) that are: 

- Positive emotions

- Engagement

- Relationships

- Meaning

- Achievement

These 5 factors are the basic pilars of happiness and well-being and every well-designed game mechanic, dynamic or aesthetic (MDA) increases one of them in one way or another. Because fun is all about happiness

If you want to learn more about it, and i truly recommend it check it out here: or buy his books, "Authentic Happiness" and "Flourish" to understand these 5 factors, what is involved in each of them and which are the requirements to be a factor itself.

As an introduction read about the 24 strengths that underpin all this elements here:

But we should combine this with the self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan and some further additions of Daniel H. Pink to make it complete!

The Self-Determination theory + Dan Pink (@danielpink): Types of motivation

Some years ago, two researchers called Edward Deci and Richard Ryan elaborated this theory that focuses in the types of motivations that human beings have. Also some few years ago, Daniel Pink, introduced some new additions that made it more complete. 

But, for us, and to state it in a very simplyfied and easy way, lets focus on the two types of motivation existing : intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation and which elements they involve.

It is obvious that extrinsic motivation and rewards, are powerful tools for boosting people to get things done, they release a significant dopamine dose in our brains and make us happy. Nevertheless, in the long term, they usually cause negative effects and decrease their power. That´s why the have to be very careful with this topic that will be further analysed when MDA comes to scene. (If you want to know more and you want it now, read "Drive" of @danielpink)

So, for now, lets just stick to the most powerful of the motivations, the intrinsic motivation. Following our simplistic approach, intrinsic motivation as seen by Deci and Ryan and Daniel Pink all together is compounded by:

- Mastery (sounds like achievement?)

- Autonomy (isn´t it a powerful boost for perma?)

- Purpose (similar to meaning?)

- Relatedness (seems like relationships?)

So, as you can see, the elements of intrinsic motivation are closely related to Happiness. This is a topic that i will talk about later on, because it´s still to be fully validated but....

Why use Gamification?

Because gamification helps us achieving a goal through happiness and a big dose of motivation.

In other words, and for the business world: Gamification is a tool that allows us to achieve our business goals, encouraging people through both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, making them happier at the same time. 


But....... does it always work out in this wonderful way.....??? Is there any chance that gamification is no good at all or shouldn´t be applied? YES there is, so dont miss out the next blog to discover when!!! ; )

Victor Manrique

jueves, 11 de abril de 2013

EPIC Gamification Interview - "Gamification: Present and Future" (II)

EPIC WIN Interview with Andrzej Marczewski 

"Gamification: Present and Future" (II)

After a thrilling first part of the interview with Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage), we keep on talking about the future of gamification, serious games and the likely "bursting bubble" effect.....

Here we go for more Epic knowledge about Gamification!

Now drawing attention upon serious games and ARGs that are becoming so popular, does the type of motivation applied change? And what do you think that happens when something is gamified, and all of a sudden, it stops being like that?

Ok, well. Here we are talking about two different concepts – serious games and gamification. They are slightly different.  

A serious game has gameplay and a virtual world (of some kind), gamification does not, it is the use of game thinking applied to non game “things”.  With serious games you are trying to achieve a goal by getting people engaged in the game. Often the experience is fun for the user, though not always!

For serious games to work out, they need to actually be made like normal games. The budget may be smaller, but if you don’t have game designers working on serious games, they have a real chance of being terrible and being rejected by the target audience. They are not a small undertaking – making a good game is really hard, the same can be said for gamified systems!

In addition to this, some of the motivations for continuing to play a game or use a gamified system are similar. 

When I speak of intrinsic motivation (Read Andrzej´s blog about it to understand the relationship between pic and text, I tend to combine the ones used by Deci and Dan Pink. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose and Relatedness.  All of these can be found either on their own or in combination in all successful games AND gamified systems.  Without them, all you are left with is the extrinsic rewards we have spoken about already.  Whilst these can keep you entertained for a short time, there is no long term future for them in isolation.

Take FourSquare. The concept was born from a platform called Dodgeball. This was a location based recommendation system. You texted where you were and it told you things that other people had sent to the system about that place.  This was sold to Google who let it die (how unusual for them). However, the idea was sound and one of the founders released FourSquare.  At its heart, it was and is still a recommendation system. You check in to a location and get to see all sorts of social information that others have submitted.  The difference was that they gamified it. Checking in, leaving tips and reviews etc. earned you points and badges.  At the time this was quite new and exciting for many. People loved that they were ousting others as mayor of a town, the little in built competition of this and the leaderboards etc. was fun.

A few years down the line and a few million users later, this has begun to change. The shiny badges are less interesting to people, especially long term users.  However, the system is still huge – why? Because, it was built on a much deeper experience, a social experience where people are able to help and influence others.  This keys are Purpose and relatedness. Some feel that leaving tips has a purpose (these are philanthropists in my gamification user types), it helps others. For others, the social aspect is really enjoyable (socialisers).

The points and the badges are still important, they help people get through the first stages of using the system. However, FourSqaure have seen the shift in how people want to use the system and have actually begun to bring the recommendation system to the forefront over the badges.  They are still there, but they are no longer the focus of the system.

Last but not least, and talking about gamification as a new world to explore, what is the next milestone that gamification has to reach and what is its future in the long term?

Wow, that’s a big question. 

At the moment the gamification bubble is expanding, but slowing. Gartner themselves have said that by 2014 80% of gamified projects will fail (  That will be the bubble bursting – that will be the backlash that I mentioned earlier.  (Roller Coaster effect)

People will get tired of everything they do having leaderboards and points etc – it will no longer have any impact.  This is evolution. Look at how games have evolved.  New mechanics and ideas are added all of the time, the goal being to engage users with the newest game.  If games never changed, no one would buy them, otherwise we would all still be playing space war, space invaders and pong!  

The thing is, that is not easy.  Games designers (the really good ones), have to come up with new ways to combine ideas, repackage them and invent new ones. This is the only way to push games out there that will truly capture audiences.  

Yes, we get stuck sometimes – look at the Call of Duty series.  Whilst there have been changes to the way certain aspects of the game look and feel, there have been no major core changes to the way it actually works.  You still have to shoot people and not get shot in return.  That is pretty much the same as Space Invaders or Galaxian! 

What is interesting is that this seems to be reaching a critical mass as well.  No longer are Call of Duty games winning big awards.  Look at this year’s BAFTA game awards and GDC Choice awards. Journey won loads of awards and Call of Duty got nothing. Why? Because Journey was something new, something no one had experienced before and players loved it. Sure, Call of Duty made millions and will keep doing so, but it is interesting to watch it reaching the peak of its popularity.

The same is true for gamification. The current bread of mainstream gamification is fast coming to its critical mass. Soon this bubble will burst.  What will be left are the people who tried to do more than the basics.  They ones who tried to engage users at a core intrinsic level, rather than just an extrinsic shiny level. Only the ones who did something a little different will survive. Of course the other stuff will still be around, but people will be looking for the next big thing in gamification.

So what are your key points Andrzej?

Gamification is powerful, beginning to prove its worth and here to stay in one form or another.  Anyone who is learning about it needs to look at what is really working, which projects have had sustained success.  Ignore the projects that say they had a 200% increase in engagement in the first month of releasing the gamified version of their product. Concentrate instead on the ones who had a sustained 50% or even 10% increase in engagement 1 year after launch, 2 years after launch and more.

Read about motivation, read Dan Pink (@danielpink), read Deci and Ryan, read books on gamification and game design. It will all help you to understand what can be done.

Don’t be blinkered by the definitions of gamification, even mine! If you are you will miss out on opportunities to create better experiences for people – pure gamification may not always be the best solution. Consider serious games, simulations, gameful design etc.  Also consider that gamification may not be the first answer. Bad user experiences are often made worse with gamification, sometimes you have to fix that first. Gamification is not a plaster for a broken system. The value proposition of a business keeps on being the most important thing. 

Most of all, listen to people and really hear what they are saying, not what you want to hear.  If they are not getting it – why?  It is easy to say it is because they just don’t understand your vision.  But, is that because you have visualised and presented your vision poorly, or is your vision even right for the users you are trying to help?

Because, as Andrzej says... "Content is King, even in Gamification!"

Thanks for an amazing interview Andrzej!! Hope to see you soon here again for more EPIC insights! : )

Victor Manrique

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2013

EPIC Gamification Interview - "Gamification: Present and Future" with Andrzej Marczewski (I)

EPIC WIN Interview with Andrzej Marczewski 

"Gamification: Present and Future" (I)

Hi guys!! So this is a very special blog post! One of the Top 10 leaders in gamification worldwide ( wanted to collaborate with us and answer some of the questions that as gamification students, we had for him. And the result is EPIC!!! Thanks Andrzej!!

So, who is Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage)?

Andrzej has been a great web developer for about 13 years and a gamer for as long as we can possibly remember. He is 35 years old, going back to the days of the Apple Mac II and Star Trek! About two years ago Andrzej began to blog about social media and techy things that he liked and.... Then he discovered gamification as a concept, and got totally hooked on the idea!

For two years, he has been writing about Gamification in his blog, ( he has published a short book on gamification – Gamification: A Simple Introduction and a bit more, consulted some companies about it and been invited to speak at a couple of events with more on the horizon ( this month in Lisbon). 

Because in his own words: “Today I am just as excited by it as I was when I first discovered it, only now some people are listening to what I have to say!”

So Andrzej, our first question to warm up, it seems that nowadays, whenever we hear something about Gamification; Points, Badges and leaderboards are a "must-have". What do you think of this present "mindset"?

I tend to think – “ARGGGG”. They can play an important role in gamification; there is no doubt about that. The trouble is, so many people are saying: this is all you need to gamify a system” that it is becoming the way to do it".  Slap some polish on it and it will fix all out engagement or motivation issues. The truth is, there is much more to it and people need to move past this mindset. Thankfully, it is beginning to happen, but the damage is being done as people lose faith in gamification as they see these poorly thought out PBL systems fail.

Related to this topic, do you think that there's a likely risk for gamification to become standardized, like a paint layer that we can apply to anything? How can we sort this out? 

I think that is already happening. There are so many plug and play type solutions. Copy this bit of code onto a site and it gives you our version of points and badges. As this continues, people will become numb to it – especially as points from one place have no relevance to points from another.  It is like anything; the more it is applied, the less impact it is going to have. This is why people need to start considering what game thinking and gamification is really about – hooking into things that motivate people intrinsically and using game elements to support this.

It is not a one size fits all type of venture. Whilst certain ideas may work for more than one application, they are not going to be universal. Different audiences require different things. It also depends on what outcome you are looking for. What works for a sales team internal leaderboard probably will not work for a company’s innovation website.

I recommend a great article by a guy called Steve Bocska from PugPharm Badge Fatigue and Loyalty Backlash

Coming to the actual use of Gamification, there is a great focus nowadays on the game mechanics, but not that many sources of information draw attention upon game dynamics and aesthetics. Why does it happen?

This comes from a single misunderstanding of what game mechanics actually are. 

This is something I took some time to look into, speaking with a few experts in the games industry (Richard Bartle, Eric Zimmerman, Ian Bogost and a few others). In gamification, we have hijacked many terms from the fields of game design and psychology. The trouble is, many don’t understand what they meant originally so just use them however they want. Game mechanics is a term used to cover almost any aspect of the outcomes and visible elements of gamification.

My usual examples are the phrases “Blissful Productivity” and “Epic Meaning”.  These are both spoken about as Game Mechanics.  The truth is they are anything but: “Blissful Productivity is the outcome of a well-balanced system – if anything; it could be a game dynamic”.  Epic Meaning is really part of intrinsic motivation – purpose. Again, it is the product of a well-made system!

In fact, the dynamics and the aesthetics are all spoken about as game mechanics. Check out my post on Game Mechanics!

And following this discussion, which of these game MDA elements are most used today and would be in the future according to you?

Well, the obvious answer is that Points, Badges and Leaderboards are the most commonly seen game elements that are in use today. Actually, when I think about it, scheduling is also used a lot as well. These are the ones where you have limited time to claim certain deals, or things happen at certain dates. It also includes the idea of unlocking goods or higher levels after certain other criteria are met (time limits, points, skill levels etc.).

Thankfully, we are seeing a further scope of motivation linked to these experiences now. Social elements are some of the big ones. Making use of social status, reputation, pressure and encouragement are hugely important and well continue to be so. These can be seen in many of the fitness apps around now. With this I mean, the ability of telling your peers how you are doing, and then getting feedback from them

Related to it, goal setting and feedback are also massive.  People are seeing now that setting shorter goals and building to bigger goals is hugely effective in keeping people motivated and engaged. This is then linked, with continual feedback to create a much better experience for people.  It is an idea that games have been using since they first were invented. 

Take a game of Call of Duty.  Imagine if it worked by making you shoot every enemy in the game, then at the end told you who you had hit, how many points you had etc.  It would be of no interest to most.  However, take the same experience but give instant feedback on your actions and levels that you have to complete before taking on the end game – suddenly you have a much more engaging experience for the player!


Dont´t miss out the second part of the interview tomorrow!!!!

Victor Manrique

domingo, 7 de abril de 2013

Why People Play: The Magic of Fun (II)

Games and Fun

Games are FUN!!! Fun is joy! And fun actually means...Fun WHAT IS FUN???!!!

This is the second part of the series: "Why People Play" (see part 1 here: and it´s dedicated to fun and its connection with our human motivators. 

Because in the end, playing games is all about Fun/Happiness.

The concept of Fun - The How

The truth is that defining fun is not as simple as it may seem, and that´s mainly because the concept of fun changes depending on the person that thinks of it. What is fun for me, might not be for you. 

So how is fun described? Fun is defined as enjoyement, amusement or lighthearted pleasure, but the most important thing about fun is not what it is, but how it happens. 

We could be hours discussing about its concept, but the really interesting part of it for gamification is what fun means for games and how to create it. To see that, we must check Jon Radoff´s Book out ("Game On") and its list of the 42 things that are fun!

The 42 things that are FUN

So Games are fun, and we already said that fun was related to happiness through the PERMA happiness factors (see the link between fun and happiness here: but how we actually create fun?

This is Mr. Jon Radoff´s list of the 42 fun things (divided into two screenshots): that at some point is a developed model of the MD model (in concrete, the aesthetics) of Robin Hunicke, Marc Leblanc, Robert Zuker ("A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research"):

So we can see that, in example, finding random treasures is fun. Ever wonder why there´s always a random drop system in games? Or random gifts in games? You are playing today, pretty boring and..all of a sudden a great item drops! It made you day!!! Cheers to beers!!!

Or Customizing virtual worlds. A clearly fun activity that has made The Sims or Minecraft a total hit! We all know those empty fields need houses!!! Become Norman Foster and make them look EPIC!

And what about Romance? Final Fantasy and its melodramatic scenes were added just because it looked cool to have a love story (in which in the end its all fake unless you unlocked all the secret content, metagamification!) just there? Rather not!

Or mistery! Mistery makes everything funnier in games! Prof.Layton games? Not only a puzzle! Not knowing what would happen now in that game? More hours played to find out, or we cannot sleep properly!

Even nurturing is so much Fun!!! Farmville? Plants vs Zombies? Those plants are starving, they are so cute and they need your help. Give them their daily water dose and let them eat the zombies!!! 

When the MAGIC comes!

We have just seen the list of "How to make games FUN" but did you realise about the small detail just in the upper part? Remember what all those things are? 

YES!!! They are the 16 human motivators and its connections with the 42 fun things!!!

The most important part of games is that through fun, games are fulfilling our human motivations making us happier!!!!!!


Victor Manrique


So... Do we all play games? Who is a gamer? Are we all the same when playing? We´ll find out in the next section.... (Adding some random "mistery" to it : P)

martes, 2 de abril de 2013

Why People Play: Games and Human Motivators (I)

What is a game?

Gamification is called like that because, obviously, it has to do with Games!

We've already stated that people play games because they experience emotions that are closely related to the main factors of happiness (Playing to Happiness: Part 2

Mainly because games involve fun-creating elements and many ways to fulfill our very basic motivations, but.... What is a game? 

Well, defining a game is not one of the easiest things to do, it's not "nice and easy" to say what a game is and there are many definitions given by experts, all different and similar at some point. 

What we can really do is analysing which elements all games have in common to define a game as an activity that involves (and here i quote Jane Mcgonigal, based on Bernard Suits):

- 1. A goal that we will try to achieve. In example, the goal of Monopoly is make your "friends" go busted while you are the richest man in the world (could be true, but its only "your" world)

- 2. A set of rules that we have to respect and follow. In this same example, we can only roll two dices of 6 faces (wish we could play with a D&D 20´s). This rules create the "frame" or also called "magic circle of Huizinga. 

- 3. A voluntary and playful willingness to overcome the obstacles, challenges, or just to play. No one wants to play monopoly if your MBA super cool teacher tells you to do so to learn. Well, maybe we do, but it wont be that fun if a mark is given! Games are voluntary, and if forced, playing turns into working (This refers to Daniel H. Pink and his book "Drive")

- 4. Last but not least, games require continuous feedback on what we are doing. In monopoly, feedback is given through our friends giving us money for our streets. We did something rigth and we get the confirmation of it. All the way around, when we pay, we know we didnt do that much right. Negative feedback is also provided! Points system are this kind of feedback that almost all games use. 

The 16 Human motivators 

So we know what a game is, but...why do we actually play them? For happiness? Yes! but.. What are the reasons underlying?

Well, it turns out that humans are not as complicated as they say. We are more than carrots and sticks but we´ve got what Dr. Steven Reiss calls: The 16 basic human motivators and their object of desire (see the picture above. Taken from John Radoff´s "Game on"):

So in example, humans are motivated by order and we desire organization. Simple huh? Ever thought of why games like Candy Crush or Bejewelled are so popular? Something inside your brain is telling you: that's all messed up! Tidy it up now! (Like moms and kids, but in games and without rewards). 

Or another example, social contact and status. Two words that appear everywhere nowadays, and that are the base of twitter, facebook, and any kind of social experience. Nothing new though, once upon a time, Aristoteles said that humans were "social animals"

Checking the list, we can also see that humans crave for acceptance, the feeling of being part of something bigger than us, to be part of a group. A place to belong, and where to find a better place to do so than in World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2? Guilds are based on comradeship and this kind of experiences. 

Even Angry Birds, a casual game that appears to be as simple as throwing outrageous birds to nasty piggies has a background "behind the scenes". Those piggies stole the bird´s eggs, and those birds are YOUR birds. Vengeance IS REQUIRED!!! Joining dots? 

If at this point, you are starting to realise that everything makes sense, wait until fun enters the main scene, gamification is a riveting and thrilling world because....

.........the magic comes when we link this 16 factors to the 42 things that people consider FUN....

(To be continued in part 2)

Victor Manrique

lunes, 1 de abril de 2013

What is Gamification?: An introduction

This is a very special week since the Coursera Gamification course has just started and it seems EPIC! (Join us here:

And Facebook group for spanish speakers has also been created! (Join us here!

So everyone is talking about Gamification, a weird word that seems to have been made up to get all of our problems sorted, and it´s all about games! But what is Gamification?

"Gamification is the use of game mechanics and dynamics applied to a non-pure gaming environment to achieve a goal"

In a very simple way to explain it: It´s like taking some pieces out of a car (wheels in this case) to use them as a swing for your kids. They´ll still be car parts but you use them in a different way to make your children have fun!

As a real example we can talk about Line, the popular chatting App: Line is an alternative to Whatsapp but ever thought why it became so popular if it´s just the same? Well, obviously,  it´s not the same. Ever used their stickers? How many of us collected, traded or sold stickers when we were kids? Many of you could raise your hand up, and the truth is that just this small detail is a big deal. In fact, collecting is one of the most powerful human motivators, but we´ll talk about that soon....

So, in overall and briefly, this is gamification! and it´s a whole new (or old if we look at the ancient Greece and their war games) world but lets have a global view of the schedule of the blog!

0. Gamification: the beginning

0.1 Playing to Happiness: Part 1
0.2 Playing to Happiness: Part 2

1. The 4 Ws of Gamification: Who, Why, What and When

1.1 Why people play: Games, human motivators and Fun           
      1.1.1 Part 1: Games and motivators           
      1.1.2 Part 2: Fun
1.2 When and Why to use gamification
1.3 A New model of Gamification Players

2. Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics: A Fun Approach

2.1 The very basics of gamification
      2.1.1 PBL
      2.1.2 Levels, Quests and Social Graph
      2.1.3 An introduction to Virtual Goods
2.2 The Fun MDA Model
2.3 Mechanics
2.4 Dynamics
2.5 Aesthetics

3. Games in Business

3.1 The evolution of a player
3.2 Monetization in games
       3.2.1 Virtual Goods I
       3.2.2 Virtual Goods II
3.3 Business Metrics
3.4 Gamification in the real world
      3.4.1 Real World Gamification I
      3.4.2 Real World Gamification II

* Additional Content and Extras

** ...Upcoming sections...

I´ve created 4 sections in which i´ll talk about those topics and all the elements involved around them.

First of all, the psychology of gamification is explained through 2 parts to start talking about the 4 Ws of gamers, that settled the base of everything.

Afterwards, the basic elements of gamification are analysed in detail and as well as many other game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics, that would be described with real and practical examples!

Since this is mostly a business blog, the art of gamification in business will be discussed, and i´ll also talk about other real world examples that are working out nowadays (some are them are EPIC).

More parts will be added but for now this is the schedule! With each new blog i´ll be giving some referencing, key books or materials to read or watch (like TED videos) but if you want to know more just email me ( !!!

Hope you like it and i´ll be posting next section soon!!!

Victor Manrique