Seven Steps to Gamification Success

Hello my heroes. Glad to have you here!

At GamiCon21V Pete Jenkins from GAMIFICATION+ spoke about his Gamification Design Process consisting of seven steps I’ll guide you through in this post. Starting with things that can go wrong with Gamification, followed by the seven steps, and ending with a summary as well as an opportunity to get your own copy of the framework! You’ll find 5 of Pete’s Pro Tips along the way as well!

What Can Go Wrong with Your Gamification?

During his career of over nine years Pete encountered many potential pitfalls for Gamification.

wrong objectives identified
delivered over budget
roll out / launch fails
ineffective rewards
the game is too much fun
can’t get the budget
no buy in from stakeholders
players don’t finish the game
wrong behaviours encouraged

A lot can go wrong in a project as you see, that’s exactly what the following process is for not to happen!

You might be wondering what is wrong with the game being “too much” fun. Well, it’s important to have fun involved indeed. But in the end, Gamification is about changing behaviours in real life and not to play the game itself.

An effective design process keeps all these risks in place and when executed properly make them the more unlikely to happen.

So without further ado let’s dive into Pete’s seven stepped way to Gamification Success!

Seven Steps to Gamification Success

The steps in order are

  1. Assess Objectives
  2. Gather Intelligence
  3. Define the Target Behaviours
  4. Player Type Strategies
  5. Design a Prototype
  6. Production
  7. Follow Up Planning

All of them will be tackled in the next paragraphs! And right now, we will start with the first one, my reader heroes.

Assess Objectives

This step is all about assessing the key business objectives that shall be taken into account while designing the Gamification.

Often companies are either unaware of the concrete metrics/objectives they want to alter/achieve or have a lot of them wihout a good priorization.

Assessing the objectives includes four sub-steps.

Agree Key Business Objectives
List All Objectives
Prioritise Objectives
Assess if Gamification is applicable

So this is really about figuring out and boiling down the objectives of the company. This is also the point as step 4 shows to make a decision if Gamification is applicable to these objectives or if they aren’t (yet) ripe for it.

These steps don’t always have to be on a big scale but can also be performed for small projects, such as designing your business cards, for an event or small processes like travel expenses.

Pete’s Pro-Tip #1

Play some games. A wide range of games. Also the ones out of your comfort zone.

This will give you an overview and experience with Game Mechanics to use, first hand!

Gather Intelligence

The second step Gather Intelligence is all about what is already existing in the organisation.

  1. What plans does the company already have?
  2. What metrics are already measured-> This makes it a lot easier because getting in new metrics is hard
Organisation’s Development Plans
Existing Metrics
Specifications and Wireframes
Existing and Planned Technology Platforms

Keep into account how and what the company want to develop in the future, what their current status is, which specifications, designs etc. have already been created and which metrics are already measured, that are in relation to the objectives (This one really is a time- and resource-saver!).

Define the Target Behaviours

After we have defined the objectives and gathered information about what is going on in the company, the next step is to define the target behaviours, the desired actions. What do we want the user/player to do? This process is done for every objective listed. Additionally, we will define the metrics to track these behaviours (take a look at the already defined metrics here!).

The four substeps of defining the target behaviours is as follows:

Select Business Objective
List Target User Behaviours
Define the Metrics
Repeat for Each Objective

Pete’s Pro-Tip #2

Ask yourself while defining each of the target behaviours of the user:

“Where is the user when they need to change behaviour? In which physical, intellectual, emotional state are they at these moments?”

Player Type Strategies

After we got the target behaviours our next stop is to take a closer look at the target groups and strategize for them. This is done by first defining the demographics, then identifying what motivates the users and choosing game mechanics based on the motivations (for example like seen here through utilizing existing player types).

Define the Demographics of the players
Identify User Motivations
Choose Game Mechanics for Each Player Type

Demographics of each target group might be:

  • Age ranges
  • Sex
  • Income range
  • Education level
  • non-basic elements like weight, height, glove size, diet, number of close friends, etc.

Next follows the identification of the motivation of the players. A useable framework here is SAPS (Status, Access, Power, Stuff). Though here not only look at the category but also on what specific elements trigger motivation! At this point, a good approach is to use focus groups to especially identify uncommon motivators that might be unique to our target groups.

When using custom or existing player types to categorize the players a good option is to use surveys to figure out to which extent the specific groups are represented. For example, you can use the six-player types by Andrzej Marczewski.

With this information now you can focus on the player-types that are represented most in the target groups and brainstorm game mechanics to use for these types.

Pete’s Pro-Tip #3

If you can’t get people to do a survey to find out player types simply ask:

“What is your favourite game, and what do you enjoy most about playing it?”

Design a Prototype

While thinking about the game mechanics it is probably tickling in your fingers to try things out, and realize some stuff! And this phase is exactly about that.

Finding a theme to cast the game mechanics in, building a prototype from this and playtesting it! During that, it’s also a good time to create specification documents including the player journey, aesthetics and which emotions the player might be experiencing.

Find a Theme
Build a Prototype
Play Test It
Create a Specifications Document

One thing to keep in mind while designing a prototype and which game mechanics to use when is that not every player is at the same point of its journey. A good approach here is to divide the journey into four parts, resulting in the four-phase player journey. Namely:

  1. Discovery: Starts when people hear about the experience and ends when people signup/first use it.
  2. Onboarding: Onboarding is about teaching users the rules and tools to play the game.
  3. Scaffolding: The typical thing people have in mind when thinking about the player journey. Doing the same or similar actions on a regular basis.
  4. Mastery/Endgame: The user has done most everything there is to do at least once. At this phase, the player builds up to mastery!

One last thing before getting to Pete’s Pro-Tip #4, fictional themes make designing the experience way easier and faster! It’s good to start with a fictional theme to design. More often than not this theme can be extracted later when necessary (no fictional-themes, explicit-gamification wanted), while maintaining the game mechanics.

Now let’s take a look at the next tip!

Pete’s Pro-Tip #4

Play with others and share your thinking. Play test with your audience!

Ideas will evolve faster and teams will adopt and take ownership of the game when launched.

Production

The next step is about production. Choosing the team, testing, play testing and rolling it out. All in all this phase is about project management.

Choose Your Team
Project Management
Testing and Play Testing
Roll it Out

When choosing a team there are many advantages in using employees of the company, but of course, this is not always possible since they need to be allocated time and resources to do this. Nevertheless, this is really a different project than their day to day job which makes it really special for them!

In prototyping and production the following tip is very helpful!

Pete’s Pro-Tip #5

Deliberately take aspects of games and look at them through lenses to identify gaps and make a richer deeper game.

A rich collection of lenses was created by Jesse Schell. You can either download the free app or get the cards.

Follow Up Planning

After the production and rollout remain the Follow Up Planning. So making sure no one is disrupting, sabotaging the game and the implemented features are monitored and changed/disabled when needed. To keep the experience fresh it is important to deliver fresh content and new features to improve the experience.

Watch Out For Disruptors
Assess Effectiveness Overall, And For Each Game Mechanic
Develop Features for Improvement
Plan Regular Fresh Content

Depending on the circumstances one option might be to develop the content upfront, but not releasing all features at the beginning but deliver these “new” features in the months to come.

If you find disruptors who want to cheat, crash the game inside the company, try to put them into the project team and make them co-creators! This will really bring a new perspective to the Gamification.

And this finishes the Seven Steps for Gamification Success by Pete Jenkins! Only one last thing is left now, my heroes!

Getting the Framework Sheet

Now we are really getting to the fun part here!

You can get a copy of the Framework Sheet by playing a game on Pete’s website. 

I hope you enjoyed this summary and can put in in use.

Reach out to me, so we can look together out how we can use Gamification in your company to solve problems and engage people!

Stay heroic!

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