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  • Dr. Philipp Busch

4 perspectives to gamify a system

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

To design a gamified system in a user-centerd way, you need to take different perspectives of your user into consideration. Thinking of each layer will give you a better overview what to integrate into your system and how it should look like. The 4 perspectives are:



Source: Busch 2018


1) Psychological Core

This core of basic motivators exists in each human beeing. Of course, the different motivators do have different shaping in the individuums, but in general they appear in each person. There are tons of theories about the psychological core of a human beeing. The follwoing models are worth having a look at:

- Self determination theory to explain intrinsic motivation

- Behaviorism to explain extrinsic motivation

- Octalysis Framework by Chou to combine extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (especially recommended for gamified projects)


2) Culture

The culture we grow up with is one of the biggest influencers in our life. It offers us a set of values and norms and tells us what is acceptable in the society and what is not. Of course, at a certain point we start reflecting on our culture and question it, but until then we are already shaped to a certain degree. The culture is also important for gamified systems, since it can help you a lot how you want to create the social interaction. Is your audience more collaborative or competetive? Do they have a high or low tolerance to uncertainty? How important is the status of seniority? A good and classical start to dive into cultural science is the work of Geert Hofstede with his cultural dimensions.


3) Target group

The target group is the specific group you want to design your system for. The more detailed you can define them, the easier it will be for you to decide which game elements to implement. Think of attributes like age, gender, social background, job, position within a company and even things they enjoy in their freetime like hobbies. In fact, hobbies are not easy to find out but can give you great advantages for the acceptance of your approach - for instance: your target group loves to play golf. Why not thinking of a golf-related theme for your system? Furthermore, think of the accpetance of direct vs. indirect game elements. If your target group is not used to the field of games and more conservative, it might be clever to start with hidden game elements and intensify the experience step by step. On the other hand, if your target group is open for experiments, you can easily use direct game elements. You could also think of building a persona. In this technique you create a made-up character that stands as a representative for you target group, combining all the important aspects of your audience. It might sound silly, but it helps you keeping the focus on your target group.


4) Use case

The final layer is the use case of your gamified system. What is the shape of your gamified experience? Is it a 1 day workshop, a weekly meeting or an online learning platform? How are the participants interacting with each other? Is there space to break hierarchy between them? Is it a face to face situation, a synchornous or asynchronous online experience? Where will they use the product? On the mobile in the bus or in the office on a Desktop-PC? Is it a workshop that your participants are forced to participate in or are did they willingly apply for it? These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself thinking of the use case of your system. Try to put yourself into the shoes of your participant and think of her/his expectations - and how you can exceed them.


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