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Periodic Table of Gamification

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Whatever one may understand by the term gamification methodology, one thing it is 100% not: The one solution for every approach. So we don't offer a list here that you can simply tick off step by step and then you have - whatever - gamified.
Gamification Periodentafel Roman Rackwitz

Periodic Table of Gamification

But what we are happy to show here is a presentation and explanation of our approach to the development and control process of gamification for our customers. Of course, we learn with each new project and our internal research is always ongoing. Therefore, the methodology presented here should be understood as ’not set in stone‘. Whenever possible and appropriate, we will make updates at this point.

The Start

Roughly speaking, the preparation & analysis phase begins with point 1. In order to be able to clarify at an early stage whether gamification is or can be the appropriate approach for a customer enquiry, the answers to the following three questions help us:

  • Can it (the desired activity to be gamified) be learned, or can it be improved?
  • Will the activity itself, the person involved, and its effect be measured?
  • Is it possible to give feedback in a reasonable time and in an individual way?

Why exactly these three questions are so important for the successful use of gamification will become clearer as the process progresses. At this point it should be said that if one of these questions is answered with „no“, a solution must be found before proceeding further.

All three questions must be answered with „Yes“ to provide a suitable basis for the use of gamification!

If the positive answer is simply not possible, then there are alternatives that can be used to trigger gameplay, but not as gamification, but with the help of related tools, such as a classic reward system, the use of competitions, simulations, serious games, and the like.

The next step is the analysis of the situation. This means, of course, that one looks at the situation for which gamification should be used. This can be directed inwards, e.g. a very specific process such as deficiency handling or customer service, a general process such as project management or further training, the use of a specific software or be directed outwards such as customer loyalty, marketing campaigns or recruiting.

In addition, it is also important to take the context into account. Which corporate culture is present, which requirements must be observed, to what extent do legal frameworks play a role, do overlaps with other areas exist, and more.

Second step

After this preparatory work we can start with the actual implementation work. For this purpose we use the period table from our gamification methodology. The task now is to create the appropriate framework conditions. So we prepare the playing field.

We have described here what these framework conditions roughly look like. The 5 pillars also form the backbone of our gamification methodology.

But let us start at the beginning. Here the period table (as of 05.12.2017) is shown in more detail:

Periodic Table of Gamification

Before we enter here, one thing must be reminded again:

There are several schools of thought in Gamification.

Therefore, the approach presented here should not be seen as representative for the topic of gamification in general.

But it is definitely representative for MY personal gamification philosophy, and thus of course also that of our gamification agency Engaginglab GmbH! We call this particular school of thought ‚Growth Gamification‚.

Working with gamification means working with the unknown and therefore we are making a bet that we can build a plan.

The variables are so diverse and complex that there can be no blueprint. Experience helps and knowledge. But a tool that works in the same way when used immediately and again and again…No, no chance!

The Periodic Table of Gamification (PTG) contains a summary of the most common building blocks used by us in gamification design.

The PTG uses building blocks that were developed in our company and also general elements that have been recognised in the industry for many years.

PTG uses building blocks that were developed in our company and also general elements that have been recognised in the industry for many years and are used to implement gamification. Like the Self-Determination-Theory by Deci&Ryan or some mechanics from the Game-Mechanics-Playdeck by SCVNGR.

Application of the periodic table of Gamification

Gamification Periodentafel Roman Rackwitz
Gamification periodic table by Roman Rackwitz

(It should be noted that the labels (A, B, C, D, E) do not necessarily represent the order in which the individual sections must be approached).

Usually starting from the top left (A), any steps and applications of individual elements from the periodic table are controlled using the gamification compass (E).

(The Gamification Compass contains guidelines developed by us to question and adapt any decision in the gamification design process according to our experience and sustainability standards).

This is a method in which the steps achieved (A,…,D) form the basis for further development steps, while the overall project must at all times comply with the compass.

This form of planning process is suitable for gamification where the individual elements may have strong dependencies, must be flexible and adaptable and yet must not violate predetermined principles (E).

Point A

Here the given situation is determined and recorded on site / by the customer.

KPIs & specifications

Gamification Periodentafel Vorgaben

Every project comes (I have only experienced one project that was different here) with the goal of improving or achieving something specific. So you always have an indicator (KPI) as a guideline, which the customer uses to evaluate you. Success or failure therefore depends on such an indicator. Whether this is considered by us to be meaningful or not, does not count. It is by this key figure that we are measured and therefore it is of course the North Star for us.

In addition, there is the list of the available resources (Re) with which the respective persons involved carry out their everyday life. Here we refer mainly to the resources knowledge, material, software, skills, free space and time. Often these resources are also defined, or partially restricted or even supported by the individual specifications of the participating organisation (CG). Particularly with the analysis and processing of the combination Re+CG, much can be achieved in the further course of time for a suitable basis for the introduction of gamification.

Due to the above-mentioned points KPI, Re and CG, a rough picture emerges of the behaviour of people in their everyday life that is being promoted, the less and above all the framework within which we can roughly move in the further course of the project and where we will come up against limits.

To ensure that these limits are not necessarily reached, the management of the company should be behind the project from the very beginning. If this is only a pure departmental project or a similar approach, then these limits usually become the coffin nail of the project. The potential of gamification can then only be used in a very subdued manner.

Point B

Here we come to the most important, but also the most misunderstood area of gamification methodology. For we see gamification primarily as a framework that allows for an interactive activity of autonomous elements that follow the semantics of a certain logic. This logic is defined by point B and, in the long term, especially by point E.

Entirely in keeping with the model of ‚people in the game‘, we also aim to empower employees in their environment so that they can exercise tactical decisions and responsibilities in real time. The nature of the infrastructure is the key here. And it is this quality that will now be decisively established in point B.

The 5 principles of Gamification

Gamification Periodentafel 5 Säulen

In the past years we have repeatedly looked at and examined situations in which we came across people, teams and institutions in which a strongly developed self-organised behaviour, with at the same time lasting motivation for further personal development, could be recognised. Throughout the process we found the same framework conditions that defined these situations. We have called these basic conditions The 5 principles of Gamification. It is also these 5 principles that are especially present in those activities that people like to carry out with intrinsic motivation. So activities like sports, music, games and hobbies.

These 5 principles seem to form a kind of ‚playing field‘ for humans, in which they are most likely to succeed in satisfying their intrinsic needs. This is the reason for the intrinsic motivation to do something and above all the desire for personal development and cooperation to master challenging problems.

This is also the basis for ‚collaborative individualism‘. I personally consider this to be the key to future success in knowledge companies.

The intrinsic needs

These needs (competency, purpose, autonomy & relatedness) name the four biggest drivers for satisfaction and long-term commitment of us humans in one thing / activity. So this is the core of our focus. Any gamified activity should always make the fulfilment of these 4 elements its main task. Intrinsic motivation commitment then follows much more easily.

It is not without reason that we have placed the point of competence at the beginning. Because one thing we have learned after all these years: Even if the three areas meaningfulness in doing, autonomy in acting and all this combined with a team/friends are well fulfilled, but the feeling of one’s own competence or one’s own valuable contribution to the action is missing, the other three areas lose their importance again.

In the end one thing counts: We all want to develop ourselves further. It is not without reason that the absence of personal development is the second most frequently mentioned reason for us humans to quit. (Gallup Engagement Index)

„I’m stuck here, I can’t get anywhere. I have to go somewhere else.“

So we get the first, strategic, intermediate step. Through a successful integration of the 5 Gamification principles (5 pillars) we work on the nature of the available infrastructure, so that in the end the targets can be achieved and adhered to (point A). At the same time, we always aim at the experience of M.P.A.R.

If the two goals are contrary to each other, the focus should – in the sense of a long-term perspective – be more on satisfying the intrinsic needs of the people involved. Keeping the effective balance is the challenge of any gamification design.

Building on this basic work, the appropriate decisions can now be made in the points C & D.

Point C

With the results of A + B always in mind, we turn to point C. For us, this is a point in time when a foundation is laid within the gamification design, which decisively determines the further tonality of the concrete implementation. We ourselves refer to point C as the gamification pattern. While A + B have focused on the user focus, the gamification pattern decisively determines how the system (gamification project) interacts with or adapts to humans.

The structures that are used here are then ultimately filled with elements and mechanics through point D. This is how behavioural and game psychology meets realistic structures. One could also say ‚Structure becomes Strategy‘ (quote: Anton Seidl).

Example: ‚Structure becomes Strategy‘:

The elements 46-49 refer to the behavioural model ‚The Hook Model‘ by Nir Eyal, which helps us here in context from an extrinsically triggered first contact, over a short to medium term intrinsic reward, to a long term intrinsic motivation.

The elements 52-55 (according to Gabe Zichermann) allow a systematic approach. Thus we decide what kind of feedback is given to the users in the course of their ‚progress‘ within the system.

Both approaches have long been used by us within the gamification methodology. Over the years, and based on our experience with them, we have adapted them to the requirements of our gamification philosophy. This has created a native parallelism between elements 46-49 & 52-55, and we do the same with almost all other elements that we have not developed ourselves.

Their use helps to develop a long-term strategy for how the gamified system and the human being progressing within it interact together. So how do you promote development, what are feedbacks on individual progress, and more.

Point C – and thus part of the gamification pattern – also includes the second part, the

User Development

Important: The order in which the gamification pattern and user development are presented does not necessarily correspond to the real implementation to do. Both areas of point C (green + blue) are mutually dependent on each other and must therefore be worked on in a revolving manner.

Elements 68 and 69 help us to prioritize and weight the existing actions of a person. In doing so, we break down an existing activity and continue to do so until we arrive at the action that is solely necessary to carry out an activity positively. This is then the Core Path. All other actions that are performed by the same person and thus indirectly lead to the success of the Core Path fall under the Side Path. This also means that all Side Path actions are perceived as useful and desirable especially when the sense behind them is recognized that progress within the Side Path automatically supports progress within the Core Path.

We’ve shown how such a break-down can be used to determine the core path using Mario World as an example:

Any victory in the game against enemies such as turtles, fire-breathing flowers, or even collecting coins and other objects will increase your chances of advancing in the actual level to ultimately fulfil the story of the game and save the princess. But the real core path, in Mario World, is to go from left to right. Jump & Run. Side Paths, such as overcoming enemies and collecting extra lives, are designed solely to support the Jump & Run activity. Why? Jump & Run alone would be boring. The player would quickly master the task and leave the game due to boredom.

Side Paths are therefore the best way to provide complexity and variety. The things to avoid 100% are monotony, predictability and therefore boredom in the system.

Role development

In particular, the interaction of possible side-path variants results in different roles (element 70) that can be assumed by the participants. This is especially true when side paths are characterised by different requirements of the skills needed to cope with them. This approach thus allows the creation of a system that is also open to different characters.

Intrinsic motivating activities like games, sports and hobbies are almost ever easy to start but hard to master.

This is what the other three elements of user development stand for. Onboarding, Familiarity and Mastery represent the challenge and progress process within the gamified activity. This is done from the perspective of the participants and their speed. It is not a question of, for example, pre-defining the most efficient path and then guiding all users towards this path. (This is more commonly called nudging?).

 

Although this is understandably very desirable from a company’s point of view, it is contrary to human behaviour. One thing is especially important to internalize here: When we say ‚hard to master‘, we mean it. There must be no shortcuts or the buddy bonus. With every µ (Mü), with which the highest goal, the master challenge, the final opponent, …, becomes easier, the appreciation of the participants towards the whole system dwindles. The easier a task is, the less possibilities to be proud of its completion. The easier a task is, the less justifiable is the effort for personal progress to master it. And much more.

This is where most attempts to use gamification in the long run fail!

So far structure and strategy - Now the tactics

Now it gives an insight into the part of a gamification designer’s work that you usually read about in connection with game mechanics. These are then often listed in long lists…and that was it. But how do these also relate to each other? Are they all the same? Do they complement each other, do they hinder each other? Which fit together well and which do not? Are there hierarchies within the mechanics? And according to what logic do you use them? These are the most frequent questions that interested people and companies confront us with. And of course quite rightly so. Even we, who are constantly travelling around the world and are always regularly invited guests at gamification conferences, hardly hear anything from our colleagues here. Why that may be so, let’s leave it at that. But exactly for this reason we would like to give an insight into our work with game mechanics.

Start

To begin with, we have to remember that a lot of work has already been done on the gamification concept by the time you start using the game mechanics. In the run-up (points A & B), a lot of work has already been done with the customer to work out in detail what the goals are, where he wants to go, which activities/tasks are concretely involved, how are they prioritized and above all: what does the user himself get out of it?

(Status: 31.01.2018)

More on this later!

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Engaginglab is one of the oldest gamification agencies worldwide. Through our own school of thought on the subject, called ‚Growth Gamification‘, we have created a gamification approach for the 21st century. Learn more about it on our website.

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