Octalysis: From Gamification to Human-Focused Design
Today is a very special day for all the Epic Win Blog community since we´ve got Yu-kai Chou with us! He is one of the Top 5 Gamification leaders (http://www.leaderboarded.com/gurus#.UWU4H5PwaSo) and wanted to chat and answer some more questions about the term itself, the gamification bubble and an epic framework called Octalysis. Let´s get started!
So, Who is Yu-kai Chou? (@yukaichou)
Yu-kai started his Gamification Career in 2003, being one of the earliest pioneers in the industry. For his whole life he´s been (and still is) a hardcore gamer at every game he has played. But still, he was feeling a bit empty deep inside because his expertise was in something that was not very productive and did not make a difference in my life.
That was a tipping point for his career, and he became obsessed with how to make games more meaningful and how to make real life more fun. Furthermore, he started creating frameworks around Lifestyle and created his masterpiece, the Octalysis Framework, as well as a few startups in gamification beyond his consulting for other companies. Due to it, he has done talks for companies like Google or at universities like Stanford.
He writes about Gamification here: http://www.yukaichou.com which i really encourage you to visit and study!
As one of the pioneers of Gamification, how would you define it and why?
As mentioned in my post "What is Gamification" (http://www.yukaichou.com/
gamification-examples/what-is- gamification/), I prefer the term "Human-Focused Design" (as opposed to the “Function-Focused Design"). It’s a design process that optimizes for the human in the system, as opposed to pure efficiency of the system. Unlike a factory that assumes that the workers within WILL do their jobs, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in the system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do things.
The reason we call it gamification is because the gaming industry was the first to master human-focused design. Games have no other purpose than to please the human inside, and have mastered what motivates and engages people. Since we are now learning from games, we call it Gamification.
So Yu-Kai, talking about the knowledge of the past you have, what has influenced this “gamification bubble” that we are having nowadays?
The proliferation of Gamification is the result of a few different forces. I think the most important one in terms of timing is technology. It has only being a few years where we could create user interfaces and experiences in a scalable way. Before, most products were a rigid one way user experience, and there were very little interactions involved. This means that there is very little space for the users to “play.” In fact, the only industry that has a lot of interactivity and empowerment is the gaming industry. And because interactive technology became MUCH easier to create these days due to web 2.0 and social media technologies, this enables the industry of gamification to boom.
The next force in gamification is the growing crowd of Generation-Y into the workforce. These young workers grew up with games, which mean that they were spoiled by the ideas of having empowerment, feedback, epic meaning, and social activities within everything. These people need these mechanics that games take for granted to stay motivated. Of course, people are discovering that GOOD gamification appeals to all generations, but the Gen-Y NEED it to stay motivated (I can imagine it would only get even more-so when the younger generations enter the workforce) Nowadays, this same generation is making a shift from consumers to producers which results in more gamified services and products in the market.
The third force is the advancement in the behavioral and psychological science. Since Gamification is all about human behavior and motivation, understanding in those fields help a lot. However, the development in these fields have been around forever and they did not really help much to push Gamification forward, hence it is not as influential as the other two forces. It merely helped to prove the efficiency of the concept and thus build credibility.
It is clear that “Human-Focused design” is an effective but complex process. Which are the study areas involved in it, and how is it to be a specialist?
Having a career in gamification does not need a formal degree in any field, although some can help.
I studied International Economics at UCLA during my undergraduate work, which relates to human behavior and incentives on a macro level. However, I don’t think it directly contributes to my knowledge in
gamification but gave me the tools to understand things better. Gamification is relatively new so there is no established training in the education system yet (beyond some classes...a few are given by me).
I imagine that having studies in psychology, behavior science, game design, and even UI/UX (especially the UX part) would be very useful in gamification. There are multiple paths to becoming a specialist in gamification - some people get there by being a game designer for many years, like Jane McGonigal, Amy Jo Kim and Gabe Zichermann; some become a gamification specialist from an academic background, such as Sebastian Deterding and Kevin Werbach; some get there by being a tech entrepreneur, such as myself and Rajat Paharia.
What matter is not what your training is but your ability to connect motivation and engagement to good human-focused design. Of course, I strongly believe that people who have spent a large part of their lives playing games having a much better chance of mastering gamification. As you will see in my framework, games are fun not because they have some shallow game mechanics, but because they appeal deep into our core drives, which is hard to really grasp unless you have been hardcore in a game.
This is only the first part of this interview and more will be coming in the next part! Something as epic as Yu-kai´s Octalysis (http://www.yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/octalysis-complete-gamification-framework/) so check it out very soon!
Hope you liked it!
...to be continued...