Gamification is quite often misunderstood by many to infer that a layer of rewards has been added to a current system, process or product(s) to encourage engagement by users (e.g. employees, customers, etc.). However, this inference deeply undermines the true meaning of gamification and the value that gamification can bring an organization.
While rewards will offer initial engagement due to what is termed extrinsic motivation, motivation driven by external rewards, such as badges, leaderboard status, points in a loyalty scheme etc., to drive long term behavioral change, there needs to be intrinsic motivation, an internal emotive reason to carry on engaging, such as accomplishment, mastery, pride, belonging, acceptance, social validation and peer recognition. Fuzzy Logic believe that a good gamified experience includes both these elements and that to truly leverage the full potential of gamification, companies and developers need to work together to add meaningful layers to the gamified experience.
You will often hear about ‘layers’ when researching gamification. Game layers are essentially loops, a term we take from the gaming world, these being the actions and rewards that encourages a person to engage with a game, experience or app, with one overarching core loop being the main actions and rewards driving the whole experience. The person takes an action, is rewarded and feels good, so they repeat the action and the loop is closed.
At Fuzzy Logic, we look at the core loop as made up of three loops, the basic loop, the medium-term loop and the long-term loop. For example, Facebook’s core loop, it’s basic reason for people to use it, is to post updates, enlarge your circle of friends, get likes and to be part of a bigger community. This is all driven by core emotions of acceptance, belonging and social acceptance, among others. This topic could be a blog post all of it’s own!! So now let’s break down the core loop into it’s three loops.
The first loop would be to post updates. The reward for that action is getting a ‘like’. This makes us feel good and the loop is completed – we’ve performed an action, there was a reward, we feel good, and so we repeat. However, over time, this good feeling will dampen as the sense of euphoria is less heightened with each repetition. The mind needs more than action, reward, repeat to keep it engaged in the medium term. Enter the next loop, the medium term loop.
The medium term loop expands on the previous loop giving the user a bigger picture and a longer term goal. Returning to Facebook, the medium term loop would be to add friends and view their profiles. This in turn expands the number of people looking and liking your posts as well as introducing one to one interactions through comments and messaging. The rewards include more likes for your posts, maybe some comments and one to one messages. This all boosts the core emotion of feeling accepted. Once again, you feel good so you repeat that action.
The long term loop is to grow your friends list, gaining more likes, more comments and more one to one engagements, with the reward being to feel part of a community, tapping into the core emotions we mentioned before of social acceptance, peer recognition and belonging.
Facebook expands on each of these loops with additional elements such as the ability to add pictures and tag someone and create events to invite others to. Emoticons and reactions offer varying ways of ‘liking’ or giving a quick opinion on something. This doesn’t change the basic core loop, it just expands it and drives people to immerse themselves further into their Facebook world. We all know how addictive Facebook can be!
The above may be simple way of defining and breaking down the concept of loops, but we here at Fuzzy Logic like to keep things simple. That doesn’t mean we don’t understand and employ ‘the detail’ however, and there are ample resources on the internet about all of the above as well as this great paper on the concept of RECIPE for Meaningful Gamification. We invite you to read more on these topics to educate yourselves further, we find it all fascinating!!!
What we would like to do though, is help you understand how you can translate the above into a meaningful gamified experience for your business or organization. So where to start? Well, we’d like to suggest some points for you to think about. The starting point is having a good understanding of the needs of your employees or customers. Start from the point of view of what benefits them, what core emotions are you trying to tap into and therefore what motivates them. Your reasons for needing to gamify in the first place, a way to better engage staff with the onboarding process perhaps or an experience to help clients interact with your business and products better, is of course important, as are the benefits that the amplified engagement will bring you. However, starting from this point will lay mockery to the whole idea of gamification and waste your resources. As we explained above, gamification is all about engagement at a personal level and therefore the most important thing is to understand this from the end-users point of view. These needs, emotions and motivation will help us define the core loop as well as the three inner loops to help layer the experience.
There is also the concept of rewards to think about which is driven by your understanding of your staff or customers’ motivations. Are you looking to use extrinsic rewards to drive short term change, or are you looking at also combining this with intrinsic rewards for longer term engagement and behavioral change?
Taking the above initial insights, which we can also help you figure out, we will work with you to start planning the layers and loops and encompass the rewards systems. Our expertise is gaming behavioural psychology and we love nothing more than to take a seedling of an idea and create an experience that speaks to the user’s inner soul and encourages true engagement because they want to and not because they have to, answering the organisations needs as well as the users.
So get in touch to discuss your gamification project, however small the seedling of the idea may be!