Yu-kai Chou: “A Framework on Actionable Gamification” | Talks at Google

Updated : Sep 12, 2019 in Articles

Yu-kai Chou: “A Framework on Actionable Gamification” | Talks at Google

FEMALE SPEAKER: Hello everyone. Thank you for coming
to talk at Google. It’s my pleasure to introduce
Yu-kai Chou, a gamification and pioneer. Yu-kai started his work in the
gamification industry in 2003. Since then, Yu-kai has been
helping businesses engage customers and clients
using gamification, for companies like eBay,
HP, Cisco, and Wells Fargo, et cetera. His work has been featured in
“Forbes Magazine,” “The Wall Street Journal,” “PBS,”
and he has also lectured at Stanford University. It’s no wonder that Yu-kai
was awarded the Gamification Guru of the Year award,
for both 2014 and 2015, by the World Gamification
Congress, based in Europe. Most recently, Yu-kai
rose to the top in 2015 with a number one rating among
Gamification Gurus Power 100 by Rise. Interestingly, Yu-kai
has the rare gift of being able to write
different things with both hands at the same time. So everything in life is a game. Today, Yu-kai will explain his
book, “Actionable Gamification, Beyond Points, Badges
and Leaderboards.” Please welcome, Yu-kai Chou. YU-KAI CHOU: Thank
you very much. It’s a great
pleasure to be here. So today, we’re going to talk
about a framework on actionable gamification. . So that’s me, Yu-kai Chou. C And we already talked a
little about my background, so I wanted to talk and say that
I started this journey in 2003. So at the beginning, it
was a lonely passion. People didn’t understand it,
they didn’t believe in it. They thought I was just creating
more excuses to play games. But I really believe in the
power of utilizing game design to motivate desired behavior. So I stuck to it. Over the years,
created a few startup companies, all in this space. And I do a lot of
these keynote speeches or lectures at
Stanford, at Accenture. And actually, three weeks ago I
was at Denmark doing a project for LEGO, which was
a great experience. And just very blessed
to have all these experiences on something
I’m so passionate about. And as you know,
this last year I published my book,
“Actionable Gamification.” I know a lot of people
are watching online, so if you check out
the link, it’s Amazon. But for the live
audience, if you want, we can have some books here,
I can sign it for you guys. Anyway. So to start, I want to
start with an exercise. I want you guys to
think about one game that you enjoyed
doing in the past. And just think about one. So it could be a social mobile
game, like Farmville or Candy Crush, or Angry Birds. It could be something
more hardcore, like League of Legends, or
StarCraft, World of Warcraft. But even if you don’t
play computer games, you can choose games like
poker, or golf, Mahjong, crossword puzzles. I believe that everyone has a
game they enjoyed in the past. And just think about, what
made that game fun to you? Out of all the
games out there, why do you like this game,
not the other ones? And then in this talk,
we’ll introduce a framework about motivation and fun. And then we can come back
to understanding that game. So I believe at the
core of gamification is what we call human focused
design, as opposed to function focused design. So most systems are
function focused. They assume that
people in a system will take the desired
behavior and it optimizes for things like
usability, efficiency, orgonometry. And then it tries to
maximize the outcome on that. So it’s kind of like
a factory, where you assume people will take the
desired behavior because you pay them to do it. And then you kind
of figure out how to increase your production
and your efficiency. Now, human focused
design remembers that people in the system have
feelings, have motivations, have insecurities, have
reasons why they do or do not want to do something
and optimize for that. So that’s kind of like
a theme park, where you design it to be
really, really fun, and then you can predict
that people automatically want to line up for
hours and hours, just to enjoy the experience. Now, what’s interesting here
is in the case of a factory, you’re paying these
people to sit there and do relatively mundane things. But in the case of a
theme park, they’re paying you to stand in
line for hours and hours because they want to enjoy
that experience so much. Now the reason why we call
this field gamification is because I believe the gaming
industry is the first to master human focused design. Because there’s no real purpose
to playing a game, right? You never have to play a game. You have to go to
school, do your taxes, do you training even if you
don’t like it kind of suck it up and do it. I call it contaminated
motivation. But again, for a game, there’s
no purpose to playing a game. You never have to play a game. The moment a game is no longer
fun, you leave the game. You play another game,
you go on YouTube, you go check on YouTube, or
you go and check your email. And so because games
have spent decades– or even centuries, depending
on how you qualify game– to figure out how to get people
to come back for four, five, six, seven, eight hours
a day, doing relatively repetitive things like
throwing out the bird, throwing out the bird,
throwing out the bird, or matching three gem, matching
three gem, matching three gem, again and again. Every day, right? Where there’s no
mandated purpose at all. We’re now learning
from that discipline, and that’s why we
call it gamification. And this principle of
human focused design is very important,
this especially when you’re launching new
products, because again, almost by definition,
your users do not need to use your product. Right? Because their life work
was relatively fine before you existed. So I’ve had a lot of clients
or startups come to me and say, hey Yu-kai,
there’s no reason why a person wouldn’t
use our product. We save them time,
we save them money, and we make their lives better. On lucky days, even the
user will say, oh yeah, there’s no reason why I
wouldn’t use your product. You save me time, you save me
money, you make my life better. So I’ll definitely
download it when I go home. And then if you have
experience on launching new products, a lot of times,
you’ll see six months later, you meet the same person. You’re like, Hey! Did you Did you use the product? What did you think about it? And they’re like, oh yeah. It sounded really cool,
I still intend to do it. I just got busy, I’m sorry. And I’ll definitely do
it when I go home today. And so, this person
is busy, but chances are this person has been playing
games over the past six months. So this is the
conundrum, in terms of there’s all
these things we know that are important in life–
health care, education, product design, but we don’t
want to spend time doing. And then there’s these
games that have no purpose and we spend all
that time doing. So just because you’re useful,
you have good functionality, you have good
technology, does not mean people will want
to use this product. It has to engage
with the human brain. And so, I was very lucky
because a few years back, gamification became an industry. A lot of companies
started to care about what I’ve been doing. So sometimes politicians,
universities, hospitals, they’re asking me to do
this gamification work. And then more and more
people are coming out and they want to do
more gamification. But I think there’s a big
problem in the industry, which is a lot of people are
obsessed with the fancy term game mechanics, game
elements, whatnot. So it’s things like points,
or badges, or leaderboards, or quests, or narratives. So companies think, hey, if
I just take all these game elements and put it into
my product, we have points, we have levels, then it’s
going to be fun exciting. And I think that’s
doing it backwards. So if you look at a bad
game designer’s angle, a bad game designer
might start off thinking about the
problem as, OK, well what game elements do I need? Well, we need swords,
where can they go? OK, let’s put them here. We need monsters, let’s
put them somewhere. You know, cows are cool and
friends who could fertilize their crops, that’s popular. Well, how about some
birds with attitude? How about some plants
that shoots peas? Hey, puzzle games are
popular, let’s do that too. And you can see here that a game
can have all the right quote unquote elements in
them, but still be incredibly stupid and boring. In fact, if you think about it,
every single game in the market has game elements in them, but
most are still not engaging, most are not successful. And so it’s not
realistic to think that, hey, if I just take those
game elements that are even found in boring games
and put into my product, it automatically becomes
fun and successful. That just doesn’t happen. Only a few well-designed
games achieve mass success. . So if you look at it from a
good game designer standpoint, instead of thinking about,
oh, what game elements should I use, they can start off
thinking about it as how do I want my users to feel? Do I want them to feel proud? Do I want them to feel inspired,
even scared for some horror games? And once they understand, OK,
how do I want my users to feel, that’s when they think, OK, what
are the game elements that I can put in to implement, to
create those types of feelings. Maybe it’s swords,
maybe it’s monsters, maybe it’s cows or friends. The key here is that good
gamification design does not start with those game
elements that people love to talk about, but really
starts with our core drives, our psychology. So this is where I introduce
my octalysis framework. So I spent many years
studying, again, what makes a game actually fun? So what I did, I studied
a lot of games that are very similar to each other. Sometimes one is just
a clone, they just copied the other game. But somehow, one game
is incredibly successful and the other’s a failure. So I wanted to
understand why that is. Well, first of all,
of course it’s not because one has game
elements and the other doesn’t because they both
have points, or levels, or achievements, whatnot. But still, one is
successful, one is a failure. I also noticed it’s not
because of the graphics that make a game successful. Sometimes the
visually stunning game is a huge failure, and
the relatively ugly pixelated game–
thinking about Minecraft, or Runescape–
they’re known to not have the most pristine
graphics, but people are just really addicted to those games. So after a few
years of research, I realized that all the
successful games have now what I call the eight core
drives of motivation in them. And so I published this on
my– the octalysis framework, so it’s called
octalysis because it’s analysis based on an
octagon shape– on my blog and then it was
really picked up. So it was organically
translated into about I think over 18 different
languages, which is how I got started getting
a lot of speaker opportunities and workshops and whatnot. And so inside there’s the
eight core drives, outside there’s a list of different
types of game design elements that bring out
those core drives. But this is a busy chart,
so at the beginning we only want to focus on
the center, those eight core drives. So I believe that every single
thing you do, inside or outside of those games, are
based on one or more of these eight core drives. Which means that if there’s
none of these eight core drives there, there’s zero motivation. No behavior happens. You guys are all here
because of at least one of those eight
core drives, right? Some of you are just curious,
so that’s core drive seven, Unpredictability and Curiosity. Some of it is your
friend asked you to, so Social Influence
and Relatedness. Some people really think
that maybe this knowledge can help me change
the world, that’s epic meaning and calling. I don’t think anyone here is
like that, but in some workshop it’s Loss and Avoidance–
Oh, I don’t want to get fired so I’m going to show
up to the workshop. And so, it’s all
these core drives. I’m going to go through
them, one at a time, and show some examples about how
these core drives are utilized in products, in our lives, in
the workplace, and whatnot. So the first core drive is
Epic Meaning and Calling. So this is the drive
that says, we’re motivated because we feel
like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. And I believe that this
is the core drive that motivates people towards
contributing to Wikipedia. We all know that people
don’t contribute to Wikipedia because they make money from it. But they don’t even use it to
update their resumes, right? People contribute to
Wikipedia because they feel like they’re protecting
humanity’s knowledge, something bigger than themselves. So you see that
theme a lot in games. In games, a lot of
time it’s about, oh, the world’s about to
end, but somehow you’re the only person qualified
to save the world. It’s very engaging,
motivating, yeah, I do it. And there’s a lot–
even Wikipedia, right. When I was writing my
book, I had a hunch that I felt like maybe
these people aren’t just doing this work for
Wikipedia for free, they’re probably also
the biggest donors. So I looked it up,
and sure enough, the majority of
Wikipedia donations come from those people
who spent a lot of time, almost on a daily basis, to
contributing to these things. And if you think
of that workflow, it’s almost like grunt work you
give to entry level interns. It’s basically, if you give an
intern a stack of 1,000 pages and say, oh, go through
all these pages. Inside, there’s going
to be some inaccuracies. I want you to flag
them, I want you to see what’s not important. I want you to review what your
colleague, the other intern, flagged and decide if you
want to remove it or not. We know that this is
not fun, exciting work. It’s grunt work. Someone has to pay their dues,
so you give it to the intern. But again, people finish
their work, they go home, and they can spend hours
doing this grunt work for free because of the
epic meaning and calling. Now, I want to show a
quick video about how, for instance, an app uses epic
meaning and calling to get kids with cancer at Children’s
Hospital to update their pain journals, called Pain Squad. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] -This is the Hospital for
Sick Children in Toronto. Within these walls, every single
year, thousands of children are battling cancer
and are having to undergo terribly
painful treatments. Children like Olivia,
who eight months ago was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The hospital’s continually
trying to minimize this pain, but to do it, they must
first understand it better. And most importantly,
discover the medications that are working best. To do this, they need
these young patients to record exactly how they’re
feeling in a pain journal. The challenge is that
after multiple chemotherapy and radiation
treatments, many kids are too tired or discouraged
to even hold a pen, much less keep a
detailed journal. And the sad reality is
that if this data is not collected daily, it’s useless. We needed to find a creative
solution to collect data every single day. And with the Pain Squad mobile
app, that’s just what we did. To begin, our
patients were enlisted as recruits in Pain Squad, a
special police force dedicated to hunting down pain. We gave each recruit
an Apple iPhone, loaded with the Pain Squad mobile app. Then twice a day, an
alert from headquarters told patients it was time to
complete their pain reporting mission. Because the reports
worked with iPhone’s user friendly touchscreen, kids
could easily fill them out. With a simple flick
of the finger, they could identify exactly
where and how much it hurt, as well as which medications
were working best. But making it easy was,
well, the easy part. We knew to be truly
successful, we needed to find a
way to encourage our young target daily. So we called in some
police reinforcements. -Hey, rookie. Welcome to Pain Squad. It’s really great you’re here. We need all the help we can get
to help put pain in it’s place. -We brought together the cast
of Canada’s top police dramas, “Flashpoint” and “Rookie
Blue,” and filmed a series of inspiring
videos, then deployed them
throughout the app. To encourage the kids to
fill in their reports, we built in a
graduation structure. When a recruit completed
three reports in a row, they received a message
from HQ, informing them that they were
moving up the ranks. -You are now officially
a full-fledged detective in Pain Squad. -Well done. At this rate, you might
even be the next Chief. -They just don’t make
them like you anymore. -You truly are one of Pain
Squad’s best and brightest. Keep it up. -Back inside the
precinct, recruits could check to see when
to fill out their reports, and how many badges
they had earned. And once their last
report was filed, they were sent
one final message, informing them that they were
being retired from the field. -But this case isn’t closed yet. Your squad is still fighting. Couldn’t have done it
without you, so way to go. -The Pain Squad app is now
set to roll out into four other Canadian hospitals. And due to it’s
success, it will soon be made available everywhere. -The app is an excellent tool. That’s her control
over the pain, because she’s able to
document it herself, but she’s using an app. She just glides
right through it, and it makes her feel
that she’s a part of this. It’s fantastic that you all
were able to come up with this. It really helps. -Just got the word from Chief. Turns out, you were
doing so great, he feels like you’re
ready to move up. You’re well on your way to
putting Pain in it’s place. Don’t stop now,
you’re almost there. -Congratulations! -Cool. [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] YU-KAI CHOU: OK. So it’s hard to empathize
with, but if you can, imagine if you were
a child with cancer at a Children’s Hospital. You feel like you’re very
lonely, the world doesn’t care. And when you go through an
extremely painful session, the last thing you want to
do is take out a little book and write, oh, where does it
hurt, how much does that hurt? So the Pain Squad
brings the experience into like an epic theme, where
you have a whole team of people out there, serious looking
people, they depend on you, they depend on your effort. And it’s really tying it into
something bigger than yourself. And you can see
early on that there’s one key term they
said, “well, making it easy was the easy part.” A lot of technology,
when we look at them, it’s about making it easy,
simple, straightforward. But where’s the motivation? Because if people have
no motivation, then it doesn’t matter how easy it
is, people just won’t do it. So what I really respect
about Pain Squad, they didn’t just
say, oh, we want this epic meaning and calling,
they doubled down on it. So they hired a lot of
these– not real police, but famous actors– actors
from famous police shows. And they start
filming this video. So now the user–
the child– can see, oh I’m getting courage, I’m
feeling, I’m levelling up. And that feeling
is a strong kind of epic meaning and
calling in that experience. So again, I was really impressed
by how they, not only saw that vision, but was like, we
need to fully motivate them with that type of core drive
one, epic meaning and calling. Now, some people come to me
and say Hey, Yu-kai, you know, that’s cool, it’s changing
the world and all this stuff. But we’re just a tool. We’re just useful, functional. Like, how do you bring
epic meaning and calling to your tool? There’s no fun purpose to it
or world changing thing to it. And so I like to
bring up the GPS app Waze, which Google purchased. So when you think about
a GPS or navigation tool, you don’t think about it
as something fun, right? It’s very functional. You turn left, turn right,
get to your destination. Just very functional. And so when Waze came out,
I think seven years ago, from Israel as a
startup, they were in a market with a
lot of heavy players, a lot of companies with a lot
of market share, a lot of money. And so they had to innovate. So they add a lot
of gamification to their experience. Some are fluffy,
some were great. But of course, they
had to try new things. The one thing that I really
respected what they were doing was they also added the
epic meaning and calling into their onboarding process. So in the early days, when
you first sign up to Waze, they show you an image. And on the left
side of the image, they show you this
big snake monster. And the snake monster
is made out of a road with cars stuck on it. And the name of the snake
monster is called traffic. Well, they didn’t name
it, but it’s implicit that it’s called Traffic. On the right side, you
see cute little Wazers, with nice helmets, and swords,
and shows them working together to fight this big snake monster. And below, it has one tagline. “Beat traffic together.” So when you are
driving with Waze on, you’re no longer just again
turning left and right, getting to your
workplace, you’re helping a huge community
of brave Waze knights battle this huge
monster called traffic. And of course, no
one likes traffic. Everyone hates traffic. And the way to take down traffic
is to drive with Waze on. Because Waze is a
user-generated GPS, as you drive with Waze
on, you’re absorbing the information, the data about
where’s the traffic, where’s the car stuck on the road,
where’s the policeman? And so now, even if you know
how to drive to your workplace, you still want to
drive with Waze on because you feel like
you’re contributing to a higher vision. And the powerful thing about
this epic meaning and calling is that sometimes
it makes people do things that are against
their self-interest. So in the early days,
because it’s user generated, sometimes Waze
wasn’t very accurate, so it took me to the wrong
location about two to three times, and I was 15 to 20
minutes late to my meeting. And you think most cases, when
you fail at the only thing you’re promising– because the
only thing that a navigation app is supposed to do is take
you to the right place– and so most times, if you fail at
the only thing you’re supposed to be good at, people will say,
well, this is a piece of crap, I’m going to delete it. But in the case of
Waze, a lot of times when it takes people to
the wrong place, not only do they not get angry,
they panic and say, oh no, the map is broken,
I need to go fix it. And how powerful is that? When you fail at that one thing
you’re supposed to be good at, people aren’t mad at
you, they want to fix it. And again, it’s because this
epic meaning and calling, core drive one, is
not about what I want, what I get out of it,
my benefits of it. It’s really about how I can
give up myself for that higher vision, for that vision. And when you see a
crack in that vision, you actually want to work
hard to cover that vision, so other people don’t see that. Sometimes a company can build
that epic meaning and calling into their own brand. So throughout the years, I’ve
had friends walk up to me and say, hey, Yu-kai, I’m saving
up to buy the next iPhone. Hopefully no one’s on the
Android team over here. I’m like, well you don’t even
know what’s in the next iPhone, it could suck. And they’re like, I
don’t care Yu-kai, I’m buying the next iPhone. And so what you see here is this
person first self-identifies as an Apple person,
and then they need to do everything
Apple people need to do, which is by iPhones, iPads
MacBooks, walk around and say, well, I don’t have that
problem because I use a Mac. I’m personally guilty of
that, especially when I’m watching my wife use her
PCs, very frustrated. But that’s why this image
could be kind of funny. It says, well, you think
your Mac’s so cool, can you do this
super Windows trick? But this is an accidental. Apple very intently built
that epic meaning and calling into their brand. If you think about the two most
successful commercials Apple’s ever done in history, the
first one was called 1984, and the other one was
called Think Different. And so the 1984, for
those who don’t know, was launched in 1984
in the Super Bowl ad. And they were basically
saying that because of Apple computers, 1984 won’t be like
George Orwell’s dystopian society novel, “1984,” and
IBM won’t be the big brother controlling everything. So Apple liberates human beings. And Think Different
is the campaign that’s about 15 years ago. And it’s about, oh,
here’s to the crazy ones, because those crazy enough to
think they can change the world are the ones who do. So those were the
two big campaigns. And what’s interesting
about those two commercials is that none of them
talk about products. They don’t talk about, oh,
we have color screen now. We have more RAM. We have more storage space. That’s what all their
competitors are doing. Apple just says, well, we
believe in this vision. If you’re part of this vision,
then you’re an Apple person. So in 1984, people are
like, oh, that’s amazing. I want to be part of
this liberation movement. An And of course, the way to
do that is to own a Macintosh. And then later on, it’s
like, oh, Think Different. Oh, that’s amazing, I want
to be the crazy ones who change the world. And of course,
the way to do that is to have 1,000
songs in your pocket. And so, it’s all about
that vision, that belief. You don’t even need to know what
they sell, but it’s about, oh I believe in this vision. And so then people become
irrational about it. It’s like, oh, well
Androids have better specs, it’s a better deal
and all that stuff, so you should look at it. No! I’m Apple person,
I need to go Apple. And I believe that epic
meaning and calling will stay until Apple
does something stupid and it’s no longer a
vision worth believing in. They mess up with the privacy. It’s like, oh, now they’re
like an evil empire, they’re the big
brother, or whatnot. And that’s when people
will say, maybe I should look at the specs
again, it’s kind of overpriced. Things like that. So that epic meaning
and calling is very important in a lot
of different aspects, when you think about it. I think Google has a
very strong type of epic meaning and calling
in it’s culture, especially in the early days. In the early days,
the Google founders– when I was reading all the books
about Google– they’re saying, well, we want to
create an environment where we would like to work at. So they assume that
every employee at Google either is an entrepreneur or
wants to be an entrepreneur. So no one’s going
to be at Google just because they have to be
there, they get paid for it. It’s kind of like what we
call– talk about games ride. The moment a game is no longer
enjoyable, they leave the game. They play another game. So Google was thinking
about the same thing. How do we get
people to stay here? And so they’re thinking about,
OK, epic meaning and calling. They have a few
different core drives, but one of the things about
epic meaning and calling is about one, we organize the
world’s information, and two, we do no evil. So now some
developer’s say, well I could get a paycheck
anywhere, but at Google, I feel like I’m changing
the world and I’m being part of the good guys,
and that’s important to me. And so that’s part
of the motivations, the early design of a human
focused design for culture. Core drive two is development
and accomplishment. So this a drive that says
we feel motivated because we are leveling up, we’re
achieving mastery, we’re improving ourselves. And that’s a very
engaging process. So this is where
most of the points, and badges, and
leaderboards fall into. So points are just
counters, right? They show you a
sense of development. So it’s like, oh
well, even though I’m doing the exact same things,
every day, over and over again, at least I see
this number go up, or this progress
bar more forward, so I feel a sense of
progress and development. Badges are basically
achievement symbols, so they symbolize
accomplishment. And achievement symbols could
be many different forms. It could be badges, or it
could be uniforms, helmets, black belt, white belt, your
avatar changes, better frames around your profile. But the key is that it must
symbolize accomplishment. If you give people a badge
for every silly thing they do, there’s no core drive two. It’s just insulting. And one of the key examples
that use a lot of gamification in eCommerce, eBay. Some people over
the years are like, I don’t believe in gamification. I don’t believe it’ll ever work. Well, did you know eBay
was one of the biggest gamified eCommerce sites. They’re like, oh, I
never thought about that. If you think about a
generic eCommerce website, it’s not necessarily
intuitive to have this competitive bidding system,
to have this mutual feedback system, this little path to
level up from a yellow star seller, to a blue star,
to a power-rated seller. And I remember when I was eBay
seller, maybe 12 years ago, I’d had 10 positive
feedback, and they send me this certificate, signed
by the CEO, saying yay, you’re a yellow star seller. And I was so
excited at the time, I printed it out and
put it on my wall. And it’s probably still
with my parents somewhere. But again, that’s from
the seller’s side. But on the buyer’s
side, there’s also that sense of accomplishment. Because when you
bought things on eBay, you didn’t just buy
something, right? No, because anyone with
money can buy things. That’s boring. No, when you bought something
on eBay, you feel like you won. Sure, maybe you overpaid
by 10, 20% than what you would otherwise
pay, but at least you beat those 10 other bastards
that we’re bidding against you. And so that’s why people, every
day, every hour they come back, did someone outbid me,
did someone outbid me? Ugh, the outbid me, I’ve
got to bid them back. So that becomes a very engaging
process, where some people say, oh, it’s addictive experience
from both the buyers and sellers. Now, another company that use
this core drive development accomplishment is Twitter. So most people remember
Twitter’s innovation being limiting your characters,
your messages to 140 characters. But very few people remember
that oh, Twitter also pioneered the one-way follow. At Twitter’s time,
back in the day, social network was two-way. You invite me to
be a friend, and I don’t want to make you
feel bad, so I accept and we’re both friends now. But Twitter comes
out and Twitter says, no, you can
follow me, but I don’t have to follow you back. Which means if a million
people follow me and I follow zero back, I’m super awesome. I’m a rock star, man. And so, this is when A-list
celebrities like Ashton Kutcher decided to raise a
challenge against CNN to see who can reach
a million followers. And you know, Ashton Kutcher
is an A-list celebrity. He has hundreds of
millions of fans, so why does he really
care about that million? But it’s hard. It’s hard to get followers. And this is very important
because at the time, a lot of these technologies were
just stuck in Silicon Valley, with people who read
“TechCrunch” and whatnot. But it never got
into the mainstream. But because an A-list
celebrity like Ashton Kutcher wanted to do this
challenge, suddenly you have all these little girls,
they’re doing the videos. Hey, vote for Ashton on
this thing called Twitter. We love you, Ashton. And then CNN wants
to do that too, but they need to be
more professional. So on every news they’re
like, follow us on CNN. Being professional just
means having a lower tone. So you can see here that, at
the end, Ashton Kutcher won. So he’s like, “Victory is ours!” 10 exclamation marks. He’s so excited, so
pumped, so happy. And again, why does he care
about that one million? It’s because it gives them
a sense of accomplishment. And CNN, as you can see,
they were good sports. So they said, “Ashton
Kutcher is the first to reach a million followers contest. Congratulations.” And you can see there that
CNN had 999,652 followers. So they were only 350
followers away from winning. But again, he won. So that’s why, when I work with
clients or I tell companies, you don’t ask, do
you have badges? You ask them, do you make
your users feel accomplished? Because having badges can
insult them, could make them feel accomplished. You could go either way. So the core drive is more
important than the game design elements. Core drive three is empowerment
of creativity and feedback. So that’s kind of like LEGO. You give users the
basic building blocks, and there’s an infinite
amount of ways for them to use it creatively, try a
different strategy combos, see feedback, and then
go back and adjust. And that a very
engaging process. And you’ll see
later that this is what we call a white
hat intrinsic motivation core drive, it’s
on the right top, which means that it’s an
evergreen type of mechanic. It allows people to
stay on for the launch of 10 years, 50 years. All the timeless games
like chess, like poker has this core drive. If you think about
chess, very simple game. 64 squares, 32 pieces. But people have been
playing it for centuries. And today, it’s still fun. They don’t have to be like,
every week, hey, here’s a new board, here’s a new piece. A new hero enters the
scene, here’s a new quest. They don’t have to do that
because our brains are entertaining itself. It’s just like all this
creativity and feedback allows us to make you
feel very interested. And so some people come to
me and say, hey, Yu-kai, most people play games for two
to six months and they quit. So if we gamify
our product, are we shooting ourselves in the foot? And the answer is
no, for two reasons. The first reason is because
earlier, remember I said, you never have to play a game. The moment a game is no longer
fun, you leave the game. Well, hopefully your product,
your training program, whatever it is, has
a purpose to it. So even if it’s not fun,
people probably should do it, and chances are, right
now it’s not that fun and they’re still doing it. So just attempting to make
it more engaging probably wouldn’t result in people
just leaving because of that. But the second reason is
because a lot of these games don’t design for the
end game very well. And so when you
reach the end game– and we’ll talk about the
a little bit later– when you reach the end game, most
people lose that excitement. So it’s like what motivation
do I have to stay here? But games that
design their end game well, especially
core drive three, empowerment of
creativity and feedback, people play it for decades. So this is StarCraft II. So when StarCraft I came
out in 1998, a lot of people played it. And when StarCraft II
came out, I think 2011, almost 15 years
later, a lot of people were still playing
StarCraft I and they didn’t want it to switch. And it became so popular that
it became a national sport in South Korea. They had three TV
channels dedicated to StarCraft competitions. You not only have full time
professional StarCraft players that make over $300,000
a year, you also have full-time
professional commentators that also– just
basically, all they do is talk about what’s
going in the match. So they were really
pioneers in eSports arena that we see a lot these
days, on Twitch and whatnot. So this is like an arena,
where a lot of people pay a ticket price to go up. And it’s like a
rock star concert, but onstage you just see
some gamers playing games. And there’s millions of
dollars of prize money there. So again, when your game is
well designed for the end game, especially when you have
empowerment of creativity and feedback, you have an
evergreen type of mechanic and people can play for a
very, very, very long time. This also matters
a lot in education. So if you look at kids who
played card games like Magic The Gathering, or
Pokemon, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, they have to remember
a ton of information. There’s usually
over 1,000 cards. Every card has a lot of
different stats, their health, defense, whatnot. And the kids who
play this not only memorize every single
card, they remember things like oh, your card counters
my card, counters his card. If you think about it, that’s
actually more information than in the periodic table. So it’s like these kids not only
memorize every single element on the periodic table, they
memorize the exact placement, the exact weight,
and exactly how every single element interacts
with every other element. So they’ll know things like this
plus this plus this together is the granite combo, but if
you switch the order round, it becomes the diamond
combo, it’s more powerful. It’s mind blowing. But if you ask the same kid, oh,
so what is the fourth element? I don’t know, oxygen nitrogen? Helium? And it’s not like this kid
suddenly went from a genius to an idiot, it’s because
of a motivation difference. For the periodic table, they
study this to pass their test, not get in trouble
with their parents. And they study hard enough to
get their acceptable score. Doesn’t matter whether
it’s A student, B student. They get it to their
acceptable score and they stop. And they probably go
on and play games. But when they
study, when they’re looking at the card
games– every single card allows them to
become more powerful, utilize more strategies,
beat their friends– and so as a means
to an end, if they have to memorize a lot of
information, that’s not only tolerable, that’s enjoyable. So a lot of times,
education should really be about how do you empower
them to use their creativity to learn more things. Core drive four is
ownership and possession. So this is the drive
that says because we feel like we own something,
we want to improve it, we want to protect it, and
we want to get more of it. So this obviously deals with
things like virtual currencies and virtual goods,
but it’s also so the drive that makes us want
to accumulate wealth or collect stamps, things like that. It also has things
that are a little more abstract, like if we
spend a lot of time customizing our profile,
or Dropbox folders, or our avatars. We feel more attachment
and ownership over it. There’s also another thing I
call The Alfred Effect, which is if the system’s
constantly learning about your preferences, what
you like, what you enjoy, and serving that to you
before you even ask for it, then even if the new technology
comes out that’s supposedly better and smarter, you
don’t want to switch, right? Because that technology
doesn’t understand me. This one does,
this is my system. So I call it The Alfred Effect,
like Batman with Alfred. If a random person knocks
on Batman’s door and said, hey, you know I could
replace Alfred because I’m younger and more efficient. Hire me. Batman’s not going
to do it because he’s like, well, you didn’t
grow up with me, you don’t know what I want. You’re not Alfred. And so sometimes a
lot of understanding what the user wants and
serving that early on now creates a stickiness to
that product excitement and engagement. So I was a advisor to a gaming
company called to Loki studios. They had this game called
Geomon back in the day, probably five years ago. And Geomon is like a game
kind of like a Pokemon, where you go around and capture
monsters and you train them. The difference is that
the monsters you capture is based on your
physical location, depending on your cell phone. So if you’re next
to a river, you can capture a river monster. If you’re on the mountain,
capture a mountain monster. And in Geomon, they have this
theme of the four season deer. So there’s the summer fire deer,
the winter ice deer, et cetera. The things is, once you have
two or three of the four season deer, we automatically
want them all. It’s kind of just awkward having
two or three of the four season deer. Now the problem is that you
can only capture this deer at the right season. So for the gamers, that
means they probably have to wait three to six months
before they can get all of it. And to the gamer, this is like
a huge amount of wait time. So in the game, a lot of people
were obsessed about trading for these four season deer. Some people really
paid real money for it, just so they can
collect all of them. And these four season deers
aren’t even that powerful. You almost never
use them in battle. It’s just nice to
have that collection. And so this company,
this game was actually bought by Yahoo years back
and Yahoo shut it down. And the gamers– the
gamers didn’t know that. The gamers thought the startup
was running out of money. So all these gamers, a lot of
them were high school kids, they banded together
and they raised a commitment of
$700,000, to see if they could keep the game alive. Because they’re like,
oh I spent so much time collecting all these monsters,
and that ownership possession drive really motivated
them forward. We’ll come back to this game
later in another core drive. So that’s a collection
set type of game design, but a collection set has
been used in other ways too. So one example is the
McDonald’s Monopoly game, where McDonald’s wants people
to buy more soft drinks and fries because they
get more margins on that. So they did something where
whenever you do these desired behavior, you buy
over there, they gave you a little piece of
property on the Monopoly board. And if we collect all of them,
then you unlock a big reward. And so even though these
parts by themselves are not worth anything,
unless you have all of it, people were so obsessed
about collecting them, sometimes they don’t
care about the food, they don’t even like the food,
but they’re at McDonald’s just to collect these parts. And sometimes they
spend real money to also by the collectible
properties from other people, just so they can get
closer to their completion. Core drive five is social
influence and relatedness. So this the drive that
says everything we do is based on what other
people do, think, or say. So this goes into things like
collaboration, competition envy, group quiesce, gifting
which is social treasuring, but it also has this
relatedness piece. So if you see a product that
reminds you of your childhood, you automatically have a higher
chance of buying the product. If you meet someone
from the same hometown, you have a higher
chance of striking up a deal with that person. So one theme in the social
influence core drive is the group quests. So a group quest has been in
games for a very long time. It’s like if you
can beat the boss, you can reach a win-state
and a lot of amazing rewards. However, the only
way to beat the boss and reach the
win-state is if you have a lot of players
participating together, to fight the boss. So this has been in
games for a long time. And more relatively
recently, businesses saw that, hey, we could apply
this kind of group quest mechanism into business. So then you have Groupon
coming out and saying, hey, look, if you
reach the win-state, you have a major
reward, a 50% discount. However, the only way
to reach the win-state is if you have a lot of
people participating together. And so now people are
recruiting their friends to be part of this quest. And so Groupon was allegedly
the fastest company to reach a billion
dollars in valuation. And unfortunately, because
of some operational issues, it didn’t reach the potential
everyone wanted it to. I think it still made a
few billion last year. But we also know
Kickstarter, Indiegogo very successfully utilizes
this group quest theme. So that’s why a lot of time,
it’s so intriguing and useful to look at games. Because sometimes there’s
these other brilliant ideas that are already in games
for a very long time. And if you just identify
what they were and bring it into business, then maybe that’s
the next billion dollar idea. Also there’s a very important
theme on social norming, in terms of how we like to
behave the way other people do. So OPower is SaaS
utility company that tries to get people
to use less energy. And they tried a lot
of different things. They tried little
messages that say, hey, this is how much money you would
save if you use less energy. And it doesn’t really work. And they said, oh well,
you should be responsible, should make the world a better
place, a very weak epic meaning and calling push. And people said, yeah,
maybe I should do something. But then they don’t
change their behavior. So what they saw
work really, really well was when they showed people
a chart that says, hey, look. This is where you’re at. This is where your
average neighbor’s at, and this is where your
best neighbors at. And when people are like,
whoa wait a second, I know I’m not some
world saving hero, but how can I be losing
to Bob down the street? That makes no sense? And so suddenly, people
changed their behavior. So you want to show
them the social norm, and then they change
their behavior. A lot of people say Amazon–
well, eBay uses gamification, but Amazon does not. Actually, Amazon has a lot
of very subtle gamification elements. There’s a leaderboard
on the top reviewers, there’s this three
star, five star system. But one of the most successful
features Amazon reports is their recommendation engine. Amazon says that 60%
of all their sales came from people
clicking on this link and then buying something. And what does it say there?
“Customer who bought this also bought.” It’s basically telling
them, hey look, a lot of people who are
just like you are spending their money here, so maybe
you should spend your money here too. So it’s a lot of that social
influence and relatedness. We also now, as you scroll down,
we love the reviews, right? And what’s interesting
is that a lot of study shows that we usually don’t
trust the reviews from critics, we trust the average
people that are like us, which doesn’t make any
sense, kind of, because it’s like, well, these
critics have dedicated their lives to figuring out
what’s good, what’s bad, what’s worth your time. They spend all this energy
writing a thoughtful piece, but people don’t trust that. They’re like, well, I believe
Bob has the right answer. Bob says, this book is awesome. Yeah! It must be awesome then, right? I’d say it’s kind of
like some guy says, well my friend Michael,
he says the doctor’s wrong and Michael reads a lot
of health magazines. And it’s like,
well why would you think someone who reads
health magazines is better than someone would dedicates
his life to medicine and went through Med school? But again, we trust people
that are similar to us, a social norming thing. So you have the reviews. We look at it. Like I said, there’s
a top 1,000 reviewers. There’s a lot of little subtle
gamification elements in Amazon too. But you want to be very careful
because social norming works both ways. If you tell people that
it’s the social norm to not– everyone is
destroying the environment and you should be better, then
that oftentimes does not work. So in Arizona, there was the
issue with a petrified wood theft. So people were stealing
petrified wood, destroying the environment. So they did an experiment. They put on three
different signs. The first sign says, oh,
for the past few years, thousands of people has been
stealing our petrified wood. It’s terrible, destroys
the environment. Basically, don’t do it. The second sign
just says, please don’t remove the petrified
wood from the park. And the third sign
is the control group, it has no sign at all. So it’s just like
see what people do. And then they put some
easy to steal petrified wood around the forest, to
see what people would do. And so the results were
surprising for many people. So when there’s no sign at
all, about 3% of the people were stealing the
petrified wood. But when they just
put a sign that says, please don’t steal the wood,
it reduces by almost half. 1.67% people steal. However, when you
show the sign that says many passengers
have removed the petrified from
the park, blah, blah, blah, suddenly 7.9% of
the people were stealing. So that sign at the top, it
not only does not deter crime, it promotes crime. And the reason is
because people are like, well it seems to be the crushing
norm that everyone is stealing. Maybe I should do it to. So you want to be careful about
what you’re telling people as a social norm. It’s true, sometimes
we put ourselves– we want to be unique and
different in some environments, right? But usually we
pick a few things, like two or three
things, that we just really want to be different on. But then for everything else,
then we’re on auto pilot. What toothpaste are you using? Blah, blah, blah. It’s based on the social norm,
what people like you are doing, and also what we’ve always
been doing in the past. Core drive six is
scarcity and impatience. So this is the drive that
says we want something just because we can’t have it. So if grapes are on the
table, we don’t really care about those grapes. Maybe we’ll eat a few
because of convenience, but we don’t value them. But if these grapes were
locked behind the glass shelf, just beyond your reach, then
we’re always thinking about it. Can I have them? When can I have them? Are they even sweet? And so the exclusivity is
enough to drive the behavior. So that’s kind of
how Facebook started. At the beginning,
Facebook said, oh we’re only for Harvard students. If you don’t have a
Harvard.edu account, too bad. Can’t use Facebook. And then Facebook
said, well we’re open to Harvard, a few Ivy
League schools and some schools your high school
buddies got in, but you weren’t smart enough to get in. Too bad for you. And then opened up
to more schools. So I remember in 2004
Facebook opened up to UCLA, like everyone
rushed in to Facebook. And not because they already
knew how amazing Facebook was– because no one used it ever–
but that exclusivity itself, because they couldn’t go
in and suddenly they can, that’s when they rushed
into using Facebook. Core drive six is
also a core drive where a lot of social mobile
games are used to monetize on. So some people go into
a game like Farmville and say, this game
is kind of fun, but I’ll never spend real money
on a stupid game like this. And then eventually,
Farmville starts to dangle this little mansion
in front of your face. And you’re like, hmm. This mansion is pretty
interesting, let me see what I need to do to get it. Oh man, I need to
do about 40 more hours of farming to be able
to afford this mansion. That’s a lot of farming, right? Oh, but wait! I just have to spend $5
and I could get the mansion immediately. $5 to save 40 hours of my time? That’s a no brainer. And so now you’re no
longer spending $5 to buy some useless
pixels on your screen, you’re spending $5 to
save a lot of your time. And now that’s something
that’s a worthy transaction. So it just kind of messes
with our value systems. And what’s funny here is
that, technically, these games are all free to play. So you play the game for
free, and then you pay money to play less of the game. So it’s like, so is
the game fun or not? If it’s fun, why are
you spending money to skip gameplay? And this we’ll see later, is
the difference between extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. You’ll see later that
this is a black hat and extrinsic
motivation core drive. But last year I interviewed
this guy who’s an engineer, and he spent like $40,000 on
one mobile game, in a year. And it’s not like
he’s a millionaire. He says his other
interest was motorcycles. So because he played this
mobile game called We Heroes, he’s going to be buying one
less motorcycle in his life. But you know, it’s
a lot of that what we call a black hat drive that
drives this obsessive behavior. So remember Geomon,
the little game. So in Geomon, there’s a
monster called the Mozzy. The Mozzy is a firefox. And the only way to capture a
Mozzy is you have to be next to a Mozilla Firefox
headquarters, which meant that in
the entire world, only a few people got
to capture Mozzy’s. I lived in Mountain
View here at the time, I got a lot of Mozzy’s. They thought I was a hacker,
all the other players. But everyone wanted one
because it was so rare. And so I just took
a random screenshot of a public chat board. Over here, Vincent7512 says,
“I wish I had a single Mozzy. Then, at this point in my
life, I could die happy.” And you think that hey,
look, when you’re publicly saying that, most people are
like, come on, get a life. It’s just a game, right? But no. On line number three, you’ll
see that ValerieFox18 says, “Me too, Vincent. Me too.” And so it’s all just these very
sad gamers that are like oh, I want a Mozzy. Please, I want a Mozzy. But that does nothing
compare to the burning phoenix, the Laurelix. The only way to
capture a Laurelix is you have to be at a place
that’s extremely, extremely hot, like 110 degrees
Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius. I mean that’s just
extremely hot. Which meant that, at one
point in the game’s history, there’s only three players
who owned a Laurelix. And needless to say,
everyone wanted one. So the gaming company
got called by a mom once. And she was saying, oh,
you know, my son is sick. He’s been sick for two weeks. Can’t get out of bed. And he said the only thing
that can cheer him up is if he had a Laurelix. And she says, I don’t
know what it is, but he says you guys have it. I’m willing to pay $20 if
you can give him a Laurelix. So again, that scarcity–
and Laurelix, again, it’s not even that powerful. Some people play it, but it’s
not like the most powerful ever. A lot of people don’t use
it, or they wouldn’t use it. So the scarcity also has
this very sticky factor. So I was an advisor for awhile. Helped them balance their
ability trees, yada yada. So I played it a bit. And then I stopped playing
it, and I finished my product. So for an entire year, I did
not think about the game, I did not play the game. The only thing I did
was I met with the CEO to discuss monetization
strategies and business development, stuff like that. But then one day, I
was traveling overseas with a client. And I was at a place that
was extremely, extremely hot. And I just like, I
just felt like the sun was burning my skin. And the first thing
that came to my mind was, I wonder if I could
capture a Laurelix here? It is funny because I wasn’t
even playing that game anymore, I don’t even care
about the game. But because the
Laurelix is so rare, my brain just thinks, well
maybe, I could get one, I should get one. So that scarcity
triggered my mind. I didn’t download the
app because of that because I knew it was
silly, but it still has that stickiness factor. Core drive seven is
unpredictability and curiosity. So this is the drive
that says because we don’t know what’s
going to happen next, we’re always thinking about it. So this is a drive that’s
obviously heavily utilized in the gambling
industry, but whenever you have a sweepstakes, a
lottery, a raffle ticket system, you utilize
this core drive. It’s also the
drive that makes us want to finish a book or movie,
which is why we hate spoilers. And there’s a lot of
scientific research behind this core drive. The most famous one is
called the Skinner box. So scientist B.F Skinner
put animals in a box, and inside the box
there’s a lever. So the first experiment is that
whenever that animal presses the lever, food comes out. And what you’ll see
there is that the animal will press the lever until it’s
no longer hungry, because it doesn’t need food anymore. Make senses. But when you change
the mechanics, to the point where whenever
the animal presses the lever, food may or may not come out,
and sometimes two come out, what you’ll see is that
the animal will constantly press the lever, regardless
of if it’s hungry or not. Because it’s just
messing with it’s brain. Will it come out, will it
come out, will it come out? So there you have like
gambling addiction, right there in the little Skinner box. So there’s a lot of
ways to utilize it. One popular theme
is the Easter egg, which is a reward
that you don’t expect. So there’s different things
in gamification design. There’s the fixed action reward,
you know what you need to do and you know what the reward
is, it’s to earn lunch. There’s the mystery
box, which is you know what you
need to do, but you don’t know what the reward is,
like opening a treasure box or taking down an
enemy in a game. Something will come out,
you don’t know what it is. Then there’s the Easter
box, the Easter egg, which is not only
do not know what the reward is, you
don’t even know what you need to do to get it. When you get it, you’re so
surprised, it delights you. It makes you want to go back
and do the desired action again, just to see if you
can replicate it. And it makes you want to
tell your friends about it. So a quick example is
FourSquare in the old days. So 2011, when Steve
Jobs passed away, I had a friend named
Mario [INAUDIBLE]. So he went to the
Cupertino Apple store, where a lot of people
were there mourning, giving flowers and whatnot. And Mario was a very
casual FourSquare user, but he decided to just
check in on FourSquare. And unexpectedly, he unlocked
this badge called “Jobs.” And it says, “Here’s
to the crazy ones. Thank you, Steve.” So as far as he
knows, this is a badge that can only be earned at
that place, at that time. And it was so unexpected
that it delighted him, besides the mourning and
the sadness of Steve Jobs. And it made him want
go to more places to check in on
FourSquare, to see if he’d get more of these Easter eggs. It made him want to
tell his friends. And made me talk about
this to you as an example So that you Easter
egg was very useful. These days– I actually got
an Easter egg from them too. So they split up to Swarm. I don’t use Swarm
or FourSquare a lot, but I since I travel
a lot, I decided to check in on Swarm
when I’m in airports, just to have a footprint
of all the airports I’ve been to in the world. So I remember when I got off
the plane– this is in Germany, I think, or Denmark,
I forgot, Norway, I forgot– I got off the
plane– maybe it was Portugal– and I had 2% battery left. And I’m like, oh
crap, if I don’t check in now, we’re going
to leave the airport and I won’t be able to check
in to the airport anymore. So I quickly checked in. And then it suddenly
said hey, I got a badge called Juice Box
or something, and it says, oh, you’re almost out of juice
and you checked in on Swarm. Thank you for loving us so much. Here’s a badge. I’m like, oh,
didn’t expect that. Kind of cool. Very thoughtful type of design. Little engaging experiences. Chase also has a
program like that. So chase has a system
called Chase Picks up the Tab, which is every time
you swipe with a Chase debit card, there’s a small
chance that they’ll send you a text message
that says, “Hey, Chase just picked up the tab. Your $5 will be credited
back to your account. Have a nice day.” So even though it’s
not a lot of money and the chances
are pretty small, because it’s so
unexpected, it makes people want to go back and swipe
more with their Chase cards and makes them want to tell
their friends about it. And sometimes their friends
want to sign up to a Chase card, just to see if they can
play the game and win. One really brilliant
and creative idea that utilizes this
core drive and scarcity is done by something
called eMart. eMart is the largest
retailer in South Korea. Their mother company
Shinsegae, actually bought Walmart in South Korea. And so eMart saw one thing. They saw that during the day,
their traffic and revenue has been pretty strong. But at noontime,
traffic drops off. And it’s because most
people go out to lunch. And eMart offers lunch
too, but most people don’t think of eMart
as the place to eat. So to solve this
problem what they did is they started to build
a lot of these little abstract-looking statues,
and they put them in front of every eMart. And so when you look at it,
it doesn’t look like anything. It’s abstract, like what
is it, abstract art? However, during noontime,
the position of the sun will cause the shadow
of this little statue to form a perfect QR code
that people can scan. And so again you
have that scarcity. Oh, you have to be
here at noontime. And it’s not based on some
arbitrary company creating the rules, it’s based
on the laws of physics. It’s only at noontime
and on good weather. And also there’s that
unpredictability and curiosity. I want to see it form. So just by that itself,
people want to show up. They don’t even know what
happens after they scan it. I think this can be a
little bit of improvement, but when they scan
it, then it has, oh, if you shop within
the next hour, you get a 20% off, yada yada. But that design increased their
noontime revenue and traffic by around 30%, which is huge
considering they’re already the biggest in their industry. Core drive eight is
loss and avoidance. So this is the drive that’s
very straightforward. We’re doing something
to avoid a loss, we don’t want something
bad to happen. Or we don’t want to change
our behavior, per se. And so again Farmville was very
good at this loss and avoidance design. Very early on,
Farmville says, hey, if you don’t come back eight
hours later at our appointed time, we’re going to show
you very uninspiring images of your crops all
dying, it’s all yellow. You have to click on them
one at a time to clean it up. And your brain just
thinks, oh never again, I don’t want this to
ever happen again. I’m going to come back every
day, every eight hours now. And so, back in the day when my
mom was addicted to Farmville– which that itself
was crazy for me because she always said
all technology is evil, gaming is evil, all that
stuff– and then suddenly, she was sucked into Farmville. But sometimes she had to wake
up 5 AM in the morning just to go on Farmville to
harvest those crops. And when she had to leave
town, she had to call my cousin and say, oh, you know,
I’m leaving town. Can you take on my farm. Here’s my Facebook email
and login, password. And to me it was
confusing at the time because I’m like, wait a second,
I thought people played games because they had too many
responsibilities in the world, they have too much stress. So they want to be a world
where they can be free, they can do whatever they want,
they’ve been empowered, right? But no. Here you have a new set
of responsibilities, a new set of chores,
a new set of things that stresses you out. That didn’t make sense
to me at the time, but now it’s like, oh, it’s
this very heavy black hat design with loss and avoidance. So those are the
eight core drives. And it’s worth saying
that everything we do is based on one or more of
these eight core drives, which means that if there’s none of
those eight core drives there, there’s zero motivation. No behavior happens. And then, once you understand
how users are feeling and how you want
them to feel, that’s when you finally go
out and think about, what are the gamification
design elements that can fulfill those core drives? Maybe it’s points
or badges, maybe it’s a magnetic cap,
or a group quest, or a glowing choice
design oracle effect. So the key is that, again,
it’s not about the outside game elements, it’s about whether
the core drives are triggered. Now this is also on an
octagon shape for a reason. The left side core
drives, I call them the left brain core
drives, which the disclaimer is that it’s not geographically
on the left side of our brain, is just symbolically the
logical side of our brain. And so these are the
left core drives. And interestingly enough,
the left brain core drives coincide with what we
call extrinsic motivation. These are things you do for a
reward, or purpose, or o goal. But we don’t necessarily
enjoy the activity itself. So once we obtain the
reward, we hit our goals, or we get use to the reward,
we stop doing that activity. And then there’s the
right brain core drives that are basically things that
we just enjoy doing, intrinsic motivation. These are things that we
would even pay money in order to experience. So we don’t need a reward to
enjoy using our creativity, we don’t need a reward to enjoy
hanging out with our friends. And in the case of
unpredictably and curiosity, we don’t need a
reward necessarily to be in that suspense
of unpredictability. So in fact, if you
sit there and you press a button for
four hours straight and you’re guaranteed
a paycheck, that’s kind of boring, right? That’s like a job at a factory,
most people don’t like that. But if you sit there and you
press a button for four hours straight, and maybe you’ll get
a paycheck, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll lose money. Suddenly that’s Casino gambling,
and a lot of people like that, even though the payout
of that is way worse. Guaranteed payment versus
potentially losing money, but our brains crave
that intrinsic motivation of maybe I would, maybe I
wouldn’t, that sense of hope so much, that we are willing
to pay the Casino– and we know that’s how they
make so much money– to go through that feeling. And so that’s why. It’s intrinsic. Now most companies like to
design for left brain core drives. And it’s because it’s
just so much easier to put a reward and a goal,
or a badge on the desired behavior you want to see, as
opposed to making it actually fun. Now, the problem
is that science has shown that extrinsic motivation
can kill intrinsic motivation. What does that mean? Let’s say I love drawing
and I always draw for free. it’s my passion. Science has shown that one of
the best ways for you get me stop drawing is to
first pay me to do it– at the beginning I’m excited,
yay, I get paid for my passion, right– and then pay me less
and less and less. $50, $10, $1, $0.20, $0.01. At one point, I
will refuse to draw. I would be like, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to draw
for $0.20, that’s stupid. Even though before I met
you, I drew for free. So you have transitioned
my intrinsic joy of drawing into that extrinsic
motivation of making money. And so when the
money’s not enough, I stopped doing it all together. Now, you also might notice
that the top core drives are more positive feeling, so
I call them the white hat gamification core drives. So if we’re always
doing something because it’s bringing us
closer to something bigger than ourselves, pursuing our
faith, we’re achieving mastery, we’re using our creativity,
it feels very, very good. That’s white hat. But if we’re always
doing something just because we want
to avoid a loss, just because we
can’t have something, just because we don’t know
what’s going to happen next, it’s still extremely powerful
in driving our behavior, but in the long run it leaves
a bad taste in our mouths because we feel like we’re not
in control of our own actions. White hat makes users
feel powerful, in control, they feel good. But there is no
sense of urgency. The black hat makes
people feel urgent, obsessed, and even addicted,
but in the long run they could burn out
because they don’t feel like they’re in control. I believe that the
problem with Zynga is that they figured out how
to do all these black hat game design techniques. And they don’t think
about it as black hat because they don’t
have the framework. They call it data driven design. But we know because
black hat drives urgency, whenever you are
too data driven, you always go more
black hat because it creates immediate results. Oh, once we put a
torture break on, people come back
three times a day. It’s amazing. And they’re spending money. But then they get more
and more black hat. So all their short term
metrics look great. Their monetization,
retention, even virality. However, because
people don’t feel good when they play Zynga games,
when they can quit the game they will will. And usually that’s the
happiest day of your life. I’ve finally escaped the demon
grasp of Zynga, Farmville. And If you’re a
great game, people shouldn’t be the happiest when
they quit playing you, right? They should be sad
when they stop. So that’s the thing about
the black hat motivation. And recent years,
they proved my theory correct by double-downing on
all these slot machine games, and that’s core drive seven. It’s more intrinsic, but
it’s black hat still. And the only two games that
they’ve always been successful on are games where they,
I think they accidentally took core drive
three, empowerment of creativity design
timeless from timeless games. So Zynga Poker and
Words With Friends. Those are games that have always
been pretty high performing and it’s because it has a lot
of those white hat core drives already embedded
in the game design. Those games don’t have to
add new quests and missions every week. But just because it’s called
black cat gamification doesn’t mean it’s
necessarily bad. A lot of people put themselves,
voluntarily put themselves in black hat gamification in
order to go to the gym more, eat healthily, and
just behave better, in a better way they want. So this is a funny
example, where this is an alarm clock,
where every time you press the snooze button,
it destroys your money. So you are waking up because
of core drive eight, loss and avoidance. You don’t want to lose
money, so you wake up. However, you’re OK
with that because it’s a goal you want to accomplish. You want to wake up. What people don’t like is
when companies, governments, marketers, parents,
teachers, use a lot of black hat
gamification of core drives to get people to buy
stuff they don’t need, work overtime without
fair pay, get manipulated. And they’re probably
still going to do it because this stuff is obsessive,
but again, the moment they can escape from this
system, they will want to. So once we understand
the framework, now we can analyze why
different things are engaging. We can like things
like Facebook. Oh, it has a lot of core drives. There’s not a lot of
epic meaning and calling. There’s not a lot of scarcity,
in terms of these things I really want but I can’t get. Early days they
were, not anymore. Epic meaning and
calling is important because a lot of people are
deleting their Facebook, or at least blocking it, not
because they don’t like it, but they like it too much. But there’s no higher meaning. They feel like they’re
wasting their time. So like, no, no, no, I
need to stay away from it. So if Facebook increased their
epic meaning and calling– if people feel like every
time I’m on Facebook, the world becomes better,
I’m helping children, and all this stuff, then
there’s a higher drive to stay on Facebook
and be happy about time they spend on Facebook. We can look at games
like Farmville, also doesn’t have epic
meaning and calling, doesn’t have unpredictability. We know what we’re
just going harvest the crops we planted
and plant new crops. A friend of mine in Israel
built the octalysis tool. I’ll give you the
link if you care. So it’s basically, there’s
a little toggle on the left. You can change the numbers
and the shape grows. You can add notes and
little insights about, oh your experience is too white
hat, or there’s no urgency, or it’s too left-brain
focused, there’s no intrinsic motivation. So there’s a little templating
stuff, some people like it. So yukaichou.com/octalysis-tool. You look at Twitter,
more right-brain focused. LinkedIn is something really
interesting to look at. So LinkedIn, you can see it’s a
lot of left-brain core drives. And it’s because LinkedIn
is about your life, it’s about your career. A lot of extrinsic motivation. Lots of people feel like, I
need to have a LinkedIn account. However, there’s not a lot
right-brain core drives, so they create account and
then it just sits there. There’s nothing
to do on LinkedIn, unless you need to recruit
someone or find a job. So we get very
extrinsic focused. So for years,
they’ve been trying to push on the social influence
and relatedness core drive. So they introduced things
like the social prod, which is the endorsement. So before there’s
a recommendation, which is a social
treasure, which is something valuable that
only someone else can give you. But then you still take time
to write a recommendation. This person is great
because blah, blah, blah, I’ll do it later. So they did the endorsement. Endorsement is a
social prod, which means the smallest
amount of energy to create a social interaction. It’s kind of like
a poke on Facebook. It’s like, I got a
poke on Facebook. I don’t know what it means,
but I’ll poke you back. Ha! And it’s like, oh, now we
have a social interaction. You don’t have to think
about being witty or saying things that are
embarrassing, you just poke. And so, on LinkedIn, a poke
is obviously not appropriate, so they called endorsement. But you can see that, by design,
the LinkedIn endorsements are not designed to be
meaningful, they’re designed to be abundant,
so at the beginning, you’re endorsing four people
at once, four people at once, four people at once. You’re endorsing 12 different
skills of one person, even though you have no idea
if this guy’s good at all 12 of these things. But if you want to
make it meaningful, if you want to just
endorse the one thing you know he’s
good at, you can’t just select that one thing. You have to be like, x x
x, cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel, until
that one thing’s left, and then click endorse. So again, by design, you can
see that LinkedIn endorsements are not meant be meaningful. They’re meant to be abundant. And as a result, for a
long time two years ago, when they launched,
when they did that, I started getting
a lot of emails. Oh, so and so endorsed
me, so and so endorsed me. OK. I’m going to back and
endorse them back, ha! So yay, now there’s
something to do on LinkedIn, which is basically
people going and poking each other and feeling
socially connected. But we can see that
through framework that they could probably benefit
a lot if they thought more about how to improve empowerment
of creating the feedback, giving users more meaningful
choice and creativity, as well as unpredictably
and curiosity. In fact, they do try
to monetize on that. They’ll tell you
things like, hey, you know last week 47 people
looked at your profile. But you’ve got to upgrade
to find out who they are. That unpredictability
core drive is there. So, yeah. This is the core– again,
about eight core drives. And so I really
understand not only how to create behavior,
but also the nature of it. Sometimes your data looks great,
everything’s off the charts, but you have to
recognize, well wait, we’re doing all black hat, so
we probably should transition to the white hat eventually. If you’re all white
hat, you’ll have a nice passionate community
who loves your product, but there’s never that viral
growth, that obsession into it. So a lot of time it’s the
balance between the two. So that’s level one octalysis. There’s actually
five levels in total. We’re going to talk
about all of them. I don’t talk about level three,
beyond level three in public. But a quick view of level
two and level three. So level two is really
breaking the experience down into four experience phases. A lot of product designers
see their product as one experience, which
kind of makes sense. One product, one experience. But from the viewpoint
of motivation, I think that’s a big mistake
because your users on day one, their motivation is very
different from day 100. The reason why they’re
there are different, even the features they
see are different. So I break down
the user experience into the four phases. Discovery, why would
they even want to start? Onboarding, how do you teach
them the rules and tools to play the game? Scaffolding, which is the
regular journey, where you come back every day,
do the same actively loop over and over again. And endgame, how do you
retain your veterans? A lot of companies don’t design
for the endgame, which I think is a big mistake because
your veterans are your best monetization vehicles, best
evangelists, best community moderators. But in their world,
in their perception, done everything there is to do,
they’ve been there, done that. So have you designed anything
to keep them in the system, so they can contribute
value back into it? So every single phase, you think
about what core drives motivate people forward. And remember, if there’s
none of those core drives, no blue area, no motivation. They just drop out. They don’t even go
to the next phase. So discovery. Why would people
want to sign up? Well, sometimes
people sign up because of a weak sense of
unpredictability and curiosity. I heard about it somewhere,
let me try it out. But once they satisfy their
curiosity, they’re done. Then there’s some companies
optimize– a lot of companies optimize– with
social influence. Try to get your friends, hey
it’s the best thing ever, sign up for it. Some companies do epic
meaning and calling. Oh, I heard kiva.org makes
the world a better place. I want to make a difference,
let me try kiva.org. Loss and avoidance, a lot
of times enterprise products are like that. Oh, you know my boss said that
we have to use this software, and I don’t want to
lose my job, so I’m going to use the software. It’s amazing. It’s black hat, it’s amazing
I’m bottom-lining that activity, but is it the best type of
excitement and engagement going to the product? Probably not. So you think about all these
core drives in the discovery phase and onboarding, how
do you teach them the rules and tools to play the game? That’s when you bring the
epic meaning and calling about why they should play. But more importantly, you want
to think about development and accomplishment. People don’t want to
interact with smart products. They want to interact
with products that make them feel smart. There’s some products that are
just amazing, well-designed, you respect it, but when you
touch it, you feel stupid. So you don’t want to do it. For some people
it’s like Photoshop, or like this DJ panel. You respect that,
you think it’s smart, but you don’t want to touch it. And so, the example I give–
hopefully not offending anyone– is Google+. We know that Google spent a lot
of engineering and resources into Google+, a lot
of money went into it. Everything takes you to Google+. Your Gmail, your YouTube,
all takes you to Google+, but most people when they
get there, they’re like, oh I don’t get it,
it’s confusing. And they’re gone. So I think this is an example
of function focused design. Great technology,
great functionality, but no human focused design. So that’s something
you want to think about in the
onboarding, in terms of how to get engaged
people, what core drives are you triggering. So once you understand
that, you can bring another level, into
level three octalysis and apply to different
player types. So here we have [INAUDIBLE]
four player types, achievers, explorers, socializers,
and killers. You don’t have to
do this, you can be your own personas like
marketers versus engineers, or domestic market
versus foreign market. The key here is that
different types of people are motivated differently. So have you considered how
different types of people are motivated by
different core drives? And it’s hard to
please everyone, but at least with this framework
you can kind of understand, oh well maybe there’s something
for everyone at every stage. You can look at things like,
well for the achievers, discovery feels good,
onboarding, they’re motivated, scaffolding, they drop out
because there’s no motivation. Explorers, discovery is great,
but onboarding is confusing so they’re gone. Socializers, let’s
say they don’t even want to start because there’s
no socializing features advertised. And the killers, as
a random example, could be the people who are
going through discovery, onboarding,
scaffolding, endgame, and they’re in the endgame,
showing up the noobs or pwning them, whatnot. So it’s about just
really thinking about different types
of people dropping out and what type of motivation. So now that we talked
about the framework, let’s go back to that game
that you thought about at the very beginning. That game that you
thought about, what core drives were in that game? Was there a sense
of unpredictability? Is there a dice roll, is
there a flip of a card? Is it a social game, social
influence relatedness? Is there strategy,
creativity involved? Is there an element where you’re
accumulating things, ownership and possession? Is there epic
meaning and calling? Is there a storyline,
a narrative to that? And so the useful
thing about that is that allows you to understand
what motivates you more. What core drives motivate you? And people think, I realize
every game I play has core drive one, four, and five. And also, the jobs
I pick usually are more focused on
those core drives too. So it allows you to
understand yourself. So this is useful when
people are thinking about it. I think we’re a
little short on time. Want to reserve some
time for questions. We have a quick video, and
then we’ll have the questions. So a quick example of these
core drives come into place is an example of the
speed cam lottery. So quick video, and
then I want to hopefully have some time for questions. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] -I’m Kevin Richardson. I’m the winner of
Volkswagen’s Fun Theory award. My idea was the
Speed Camera Lottery. Could we get people to obey
the speed limit through fun? [MUSIC PLAYING] I really believe that fun
can change human behavior for the better, and
I was really thrilled to see that my idea, which
started as a scribble submitted into this competition,
might even become reality. [MUSIC PLAYING] The Speed Camera Lottery
would do two things. One, it would photograph
speeders, give them a citation. And that money goes in a pot. But if you’re obeying
the law, your picture will also get
snapped, and you’ll be entered into a lottery
and win some of that money from those speeders. [MUSIC PLAYING] [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] YU-KAI CHOU: OK. So a lot of you will
look at that that’s a very creative solution. I wonder how I can create
something creative like that. And so, through that
octalysis framework, we’ll see that we
are able to come up with things that are
creative, such as that or hopefully better. So you always start
off as a problem set. Let’s say the
problem is how to get people to obey the speed limit. Well, without any
human intervention, the motivation is core drive
one, epic meaning and calling. I don’t want to be a dangerous
driver and harm society, so I don’t want
to drive too fast. So that puts some kind of limit
to how fast people are driving. The problem is,
most people don’t equate being a fast driver
to a dangerous driver, so a lot of people are speeding. So the government comes in and
adds loss and avoidance core driver eight into it. It’s like, oh well, if you
speed and we catch you, we’re going to give
you a very heavy fine. So again, that bottom-lines
a lot of that activity, a lot less people are speeding. However, as we know,
people are still speeding. So then there’s some innovative
solutions, like empowerment of creativity and feedback,
where you’re drive and you see that little
feedback mechanic, this is how fast you’re driving. But is doesn’t
give you a ticket. So it’s like
empowerment creating– oh I see there’s a score, if
I speed up my score weakens, if I slow down my
score increases. That’s cool. So it does some type
of behavioral change. However, there’s two things. One, the win-state
is not very clear. So it’s like, oh wait, what
is the speed limit again? Like, did I win? I’m not sure. The second is
sometimes people try to get the highest
number they can and they speed up even more,
which is the opposite result. So then the speed cam lottery
comes in and introduces a few other core drives to it. They add the ownership
and possession. We know we can make money
when we’re driving legally. So that old guy that
says, oh, making money, that’s amazing, right? So that’s motivating him. But we also know that whenever
there’s a lottery program, there’s a sense of
unpredictability and curiosity. So that younger guy, he says,
oh I doubt I’ll ever win, but this is kind of fun. So that unpredictability
is motivating him. We also know there’s a
strong sense of development and accomplishment. When you drive by, it
gives you’re either a green thumbs up. Yay, you reached the
win-state, you obeyed the law. Or a red thumbs down. Boo, you disobeyed
the law, you failed. And most people,
when they drive, they want to see themselves
as a green thumbs up, instead of a red thumbs down. There’s also a sense of social
influence and relatedness. And most people miss that. There’s two senses. One is that you can
see that the speed cam lottery is implemented
on a very busy street. So everyone else
can see your score. And no one wants
people to say, boo, he’s the loser that
disobeyed the law. Most people want
others to say, hey, he’s the guy who
reached the win-state. He obeyed the law. That’s great. So that changes behavior. The other one is a really subtle
competitive dynamic thing. When I show this video
to a big crowd, including you guys I guess, when it
says, oh the speeders– or if you obey the law,
you get to win some money. And everyone’s quiet. And then he says,
from the losers. And everyone starts laughing. And it’s like, why
does it matter? Why does it matter where
the money comes from? Why can’t we just be
happy with getting money? No, because our brain has
this competitive dynamic. It’s like, oh, haha! Suckers! The losers have to
pay the winners. Hahaha. That gets people excited. So that’s where that
motivates behavior. If you take a step back,
if you look at the video– I think I’m going
to quickly summarize that– the video designers also
have goals about their video. They want everyone to watch
the video, like the product, and share. But have you wondered
why they waste time at the beginning doing this,
hello, I’m Kevin Richardson. I’m just a nobody and I can’t
believe this became grade. And why do they show you all
this time just of drilling? The conventional
wisdom is that we want to make videos short,
short, short, right? That’s better because we don’t
have long attention spans. It’s better that the
video’s less than a minute. However, that whole thing, that
[DRILL SOUND] all that stuff took a minute. So why? Well, the first thing is that
social influence relatedness. If it just says, hey look,
Bill Gates did something cool. We’re think, oh that’s
great, but I can’t relate. But when you see that
guy, it’s like, that guy’s kind of like a nobody. I could be that guy. Suddenly we have this
relatedness attached to it. When they’re doing
the [DRILL SOUND] that’s the unpredictability. There seems to be
analog solution, they’re building
something in the street. What is that? Raise curiosity. And have you ever wondered why,
in all of these viral videos, they always show random
bypassers on the streets? Oh, that’s amazing solution. Oh, that’s so cool. It’s getting some relatedness
because our brain, when we see something new, we don’t
know what to think about it. But when we see other people
think, oh that’s amazing, then it must be amazing. So it doesn’t matter
if you’re trying to get people to
obey the speed limit, or trying to create a video
that everyone’s sharing virally, or getting your employees
to work more collaboratively and build a product your
users can’t live by I thinking through the eight core
drives, instead of just technology and
functionalities, I believe you’ll have a better
product, better experience, and longer term engagement. So basically, there’s– if
you look at, read my book, all these things. There’s things later on. You can look and learn about
things like octalysis strategy dashboard, how
things come together. Like I said, I have
my book on Amazon. This link takes you to Amazon. The book is $26. For people here, I can
sign it and sell at $20. I have my three day
workshops coming up, if you’re still interested
in learning more. So the latest link is always
yukaichou.com/workshops. And this year, I’m launching
a Kickstarter campaign called Octalysis Prime, which is
a journey about learning about these things. But anyway, thank you very much,
and look for to some questions from you guys. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Thank you
very much for this. When you are designing
for a fixed audience– so in the workplace
we might have a team or a large
group of people that we need to try and design
and engage with– how do you find out which of these
elements, or these factors are going to be
the most powerful for that particular audience? YU-KAI CHOU: OK. So there’s two elements
to think about. You think about the nature
of the core drive itself. So again, we know black
hat drives urgency. So if it’s a one time
sales conversion, the event is black hat. So usually in the
discovery phase, you do a lot of
white hat marketing because you want people to
feel good about your brand. But then the black hat– the
conversion event is black hat. It’s about there’s exclusive
offer, scarcity, five, four, three, two, one,
time’s running out and you get people signed up. But once they join
onboarding, oftentimes you want to think about white hat. We talk about development
and accomplishment, making them feel smart. The epic meaning and calling. And then the scaffolding. So you want to think about
the goal of the phase. Because each core drive–
the whole thing here is that none of
these core drives are more powerful
than the other, they just do different things. They have different
consequences also. It’s to understand what they do. So that’s one aspect
to think about. The second one is how do
you pick the player type? So different types of people
are motivated differently, and you want to think about what
core drives motivate them more. So sometimes, when we designed
for international customers, when we design for
Scandinavia, their culture is all about empowerment
of creativity and feedback. It’s about freedom,
happiness, fun. But for the Germany clients,
they’re are all about ownership and possession, in terms of
we need to stay organized, focused, fun is bad. Japan is high on epic
meaning and calling, giving yourself up to a
higher vision and [INAUDIBLE] or your organization. So sometimes, you just have
to see what they’ve already been doing. So they’ll tell
you at times, well it looks like they
respond really well for unpredictive [INAUDIBLE]. It’s always a testing process. What I like to do is I like
to see what games they like to play with the user base. Because the games are a
pure voluntary environment. It’s like a petri dish
with hundreds of millions of test subjects in that. And so if you learn about what
games they play, it’s like, oh, this person plays
games that always involve unpredictability
or social influence. This person’s a social
influence person. Or this was always
play games that has epic meaning and calling. OK, well let’s implement some
of that into the experience. So there’s multiple
ways to look at that, and each case is a
little different, but I think, again, it’s
about what phase you’re at and what kind of nature of the
core drive you’re trying to do. And also, what already
appeals to them. Other questions? Yes. AUDIENCE: I feel a
little manipulated after learning all of this. Just a little bit. But how much does this go back
to the primordial lizard brain functions that are
almost automatic, as opposed to more a
cognitive, that we actually think about it. And secondly, do you think
that, in the future, as people get smarter and realize
they are being manipulated, that there’s more sophisticated
techniques that will come in? YU-KAI CHOU: OK. So there’s two things. One is the question, the
other is more about probably the ethics of this knowledge. So first of all, your neo-cortex
is the crocodile brain. So the black hat core drives
relate to the crocodile brain. So it’s about the
instinctual stuff. It’s about loss and
avoidance, fight or flight, unpredictably exploring
new grounds, or scarcity. Which is why it
drives obsession. It drives short term, but
we don’t feel good about it. The white hat core
drives are more about the neo-cortex,
things that we want to do, we intend to. If we spend time doing
the white hat things, it will make us happy. But however pursuing
our faith, or making the world better,
learning new skills, makes us happy, well we end
up spending all our time doing is the black hat stuff. Oh, the deadline’s coming up. Oh, this exclusive offer. What on Pinterest? What’s on Facebook? So if you say, oh, well we
want to engage our employees by giving them a
higher sense of meaning and purpose for their
work, a path to mastery, giving them more
time and creativity, a compensation pack
that makes sense, a collaborative environment. Most people won’t be like, oh
you’re trying to manipulate me. People think, sign me up. I want to be in
that environment. But it’s the black
hat stuff that’s the sales, the fundraisers. Like oh well, if you don’t do
it, you’re going to get fired. That’s when people are like,
oh I don’t feel great about it. You also can match that
core drives to– you guys know Maslow’s hierarchy, where
it’s like the bottom is also black hat, it’s about
survival, and the white hat is about actualization,
things like that. In terms of ethics, I get
asked quite a bit about that. So first of all, this is not
mind control, in the sense that it’s a sense of motivation. Because when it says, oh this
increased behavior by 100%, it pretty much meant, before
it was 9% conversion rate and now it’s 18%. So still, 82% of the
people still can say no. But it’s about
people on the fence, it just nudges them
towards a direction. And so some people
are like, well, is this a benign
form of manipulation? And my answer is actually yes. It is a form of manipulation. But everything in life
is a manipulation. Saying please is a
form of manipulation. You weren’t going to
do something for me, I said please, and then
you did something for me. And nothing about
the transaction changed, basically I
used social influence. And saying thank you is
like emotional reward. But we’re not only are against
people saying please and thank you, we actually expect it. And so my key principle about
it is, there’s two things. One, there needs to be
opt-in to be influenced. You need to agree
to be– you don’t have to agree to the
proposal, but you agree that they can pitch. So let’s say you have a
charismatic friend, who tries to get you to a party. And you don’t want
to go to the party, but you implicitly
listen to his pitch. And you know he’s charismatic. So you opt-in to being pitched. The second thing
is transparency. Your users need to
know what you’re trying to get them to do. If you tell them you’re
trying to get them to a party, but you’re actually trying
to get them to do drugs, there’s no transparency there. So if they know what you’re
trying to get them to do, and they agree that
you can pitch them, you can try to persuade
them, then I think it’s OK, at least from my world. If you think about
things like hypnosis, the ultimate manipulation,
full compliance. People are OK with hypnotism
because one, there’s opt-in, I agree to be hypnotized. And then two,
there’s transparency. Hopefully I know what
you’re trying to do. And so I live by
these two principles. And there’s also
another nothing. There’s what the core drives
are trying to get people to do. So that’s the good or bad. And then there’s
the nature of it, which is the white
hat versus black hat. So again, you can motivate
people towards genocide with epic meaning and calling. You can also motivate people
to exercise and help the world with loss and avoidance. So there’s the purpose of what
the motivation’s for, and that could be good or
bad, but then there’s the white hat versus
the black hat. That’s how you feel about
the type of motivation. So we’ve turned down lots
of inquiries and engagements from big tobacco companies, and
gambling, and whatnot, alcohol. We don’t judge
people’s lifestyles and we respect their
success, but we just thought, if we were really
successful at what we did and suddenly more
people became addicted to smoking and drinking
and gambling, that’s just not the impact we
want to make on the world. So that’s a lot of times
where we draw a line. Hopefully that answers a good
amount of your questions. Thank you. Any other questions? No? OK. Well again, thank you
so much for being here and especially being live,
because I know a lot of people like to just watch
the online one. And I’ll be around, if
you want to talk more, or you want me to sign a book. I’m just happy to
be here and help. Thank you.


  • Very good talk. I shared with my team, as I feel this is as valuable to game designers than other people. Thanks for the nod to RuneScape 😉

  • 21:00 "Hopefully no one's on the Android team over here".
    Did he forget he was talking to Google who literally made and run Android?
    That's hilarious.

  • AAAAAAAAAAAA It hurts me when I saw not many people were asking question by the end, I have SO MANY questions.
    I wish I was there :'(

  • Hi everyone, this is a self note ( might not be accurate )
    1. epic meaning & calling: even in a simple navigation app, you can focus on the fact that users are helping the community get rid of traffic
    2. development & accomplishment: points & badges
    – badges has to be meaningful otherwise it's insulting
    – ebay has great gamification ( sellers level up , buyers feel they won because of the bidding system )

    3. empowerment of creativity & feedback: chess & other classic board games stayed for 1000s of years because there are almost infinite ways to play them ( a lot of creativity can be exercised in the game )
    – kids learn hundreds of cards in collectible card games & they memorize how each card interact with the others,
    — this is larger than the periodic table
    — but the difference is the motivation
    — each new card is an opportunity to be stronger ( unlike memorizing new elements of the periodic table )

    4. ownership & possession:
    – the alfred effect : when a service knows your preference, you don't wanna switch it
    – one game allowed you to capture specific monsters only in specific seasons, keeping players coming back to own the full collection ( even though the monsters where not strong )

    5. social influence & relatedness:
    – groupon had a great system where you only get the discount if many people participated in the system ( like how many players fight a monster to destroy it )
    – amazon: 60% of their sales comes from the recommendations section " people who bought this also bought "
    – people trust the reviews from normal people more than dedicated reviewers
    – signs that mention many people stole wood will increase percentage of people stealing it.

    6. scarcity & impatience : if you can't have it, you want it.

    7. Unpredictability & curiosity
    – easter eggs

    8. loss avoidance

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