Coursera  Gamification  Class:  Week  2  Review   By  Sudarshan  Gopaladesikan     Game  Thinking     1. Why  Gamify?   a. Why  do  we  even  look  towards  game  design  to  help  solve  our   problems?   b. Dodgeball—check-­‐in  app  for  bars.  Predecessor  to  Foursquare.     i. Problem—How  to  reach  critical  mass  of  users  so  that  it   becomes  “viral”?  People  will  only  use  if  they  see  that  many   others  are  using  the  app  as  well.     c. Foursquare,  the  popular  check-­‐in  app  solved  Dodgeball’s  problems  on   5  levels:   i. Engagement  gap   1. To  close  the  gap  between  populations  who  really  use   the  service  and  those  who  don’t,  Foursquare  made  each   “check-­‐in”  an  enriching  experience.   ii. Choices   1. Foursquare  gave  users  the  ability  to  make  a  lot  of   choices  within  the  app.  The  ability  to  check-­‐in  was   coupled  with  the  ability  to  share  achievements  and   compete  with  friends.   iii. Progression   1. Foursquare  offers  progression  within  the  app  through   providing  a  user  level  and  a  tier  of  badges.     iv. Social   1. Foursquare  made  it  social  by  allowing  people  compete   for  “Mayorship”  among  other  badges  and  achievements.   The  ability  to  share  notifications  was  a  hit  as  well.   v. Habit   1. Foursquare  made  the  behavior  of  “checking-­‐in”  a  habit   because  “checking-­‐in”  meant  so  much  more  than  a   simple  button  press.  It  meant  competing  with  friends,   gaining  credibility  in  locations,  and  having  fun  while   doing  it.     d. I  would  just  like  to  point  out  something  designers  should  be  aware  of   when  it  comes  to  giving  user  choices.  In  reference  to  the  popular   Barry  Schwartz  book,  Paradox  of  Choice,  he  argues  that  giving  people  


  2   too  much  choice  leads  to  regret,  missed  opportunities,  and  creates   frustrations.  A  simple  frustration  from  a  gamified  environment  could   lead  to    negative  associations  with  your  product,  brand,  or   organization  -­‐  something  we  all  want  to  avoid.       2. Thinking  Like  a  Game  Designer   a. “I  am  a  game  designer.”   i. This  is  your  state  of  mind.  Your  Zen.  Approach  your  real  world   goals  as  if  they  are  games  and  those  involved  are  “players”.   b. Different  than  being  a  game  designer   i. Thinking  like  one  doesn’t  necessarily  make  you  into  one.  A   game  designer  focuses  on  many  more  sub  dimensions  than   gamification  needs  to  worry  about.     c. Different  than  thinking  like  a  gamer   i. You  are  the  designer,  not  the  gamer.  The  gamer  plays  the  game,   and  it  is  your  job  to  think  about  the  “nuts”  and  “bolts”  on  how   to  create  an  immersive  experience.     d. In  a  gamified  environment,  your  players/users/customers  will  want:   i. To  feel  like  the  game  revolves  around  them.   ii. The  game  offers  autonomy  while  giving  the  player  the  ability  to   make  meaningful  choices.     iii. The  game  is  constructed  by  rules  and  systems  in  such  a  way   that  it  gives  the  user  maximum  freedom  to  explore  in  the   gamified  environment.     e. The  key  is  to  get  your  target  audience  to  play,  but  also  have  them  keep   playing.     f. I  like  approaching  how  to  think  like  a  game  designer  as  a  gamer   actually.  When  I  am  replaying  a  game  that  I  found  immersive  and   addicting,  I  try  to  take  a  step  back  and  analyze  why  is  it  that  I’m   getting  pulled  into  the  game  in  the  first  place.  Try  it  sometime.  You   will  be  surprised  to  see  how  many  elements  a  game  designer  has  put   to  make  games  FUN,  even  in  games  as  simple  as  Tetris  and  Bejeweled!       3. Design  Rules   a. Pathway  of  the  Player  (in  reference  to  social  utopia  games  like   TapZoo)   i. Onboarding   1. How  to  get  the  player  into  the  game?  TapZoo  uses  a   simple  step  by  step  interactive  tutorial  that  lets   someone  set  up  their  zoo  so  they  can  make  profit.     ii. Scaffolding   1. The  “level-­‐ups”,  training  wheels,  or  hints  in  the  game.  In   TapZoo,  the  ability  to  create  animals  that  bring  in  more   revenue  help  you  level  up  faster.     iii. Pathways  to  Mastery  


  3   1. There  has  to  be  a  path  from  scaffolding  to  mastery.   Mastery  is  defined  by  having  a  lot  of  knowledge  and   skill  about  a  game.  (ex.  Strategy  on  how  to  build  most   profitable  zoo)   b. General  elements  of  good  game  design  for  Onboarding:   i. Guides   ii. Highlighting   iii. Feedback   iv. Limited  options   v. Impossible  to  fail   c. Balance  is  key.  A  game  has  to  be  balanced;  otherwise  it  will  be  unfair   for  one  of  the  players.     i. Take  chess  for  example.  The  game  starts  out  balanced,  but  once   someone  loses  enough  pieces,  the  game  becomes  clearly   unbalanced.  It  is  at  this  point  where  a  game  comes  to   conclusion.     ii. To  keep  the  game  going,  balance  is  required.  Take  Runescape   for  example.  With  so  many  attributes  such  as  (attack,  defense,   thieving,  crafting,  slaying,  magic,  etc.),  there  is  something  for   everyone’s  skill  level.  Other  elements  such  as  surprise  gifts   give  the  player  momentum  to  maintain  this  balance.     d. Create  an  Experience   i. The  turntable  fm  example  used  in  class  was  great.  Although  the   activity  was  just  listening  to  music  on  your  laptop,  it  was   transformed  into  an  experience  because  it  has  a  nice  UI.     e. The  only  drawback  that  I  see  to  creating  an  experience  is  that  it  might   be  too  distracting  from  other  activities  the  user  wants  to  do.  We   should  give  autonomy  to  the  user,  and  sometimes  think  about   gamified  environments  that  operate  silently  and  when  the  user  is   ready.     f. The  process  of  starting  with  limited  options  and  slowly  scaffolding  to   an  increased  selection  of  options,  it  is  important  to  remember   iteration.  Drawing  from  the  advantages  of  the  agile  software   development  cycle,  working  in  an  iterative  process  will  keep  the  flow   of  the  game  balanced.       4. Tapping  the  Fun   a. FUN   i. Winning,  problem-­‐solving,  exploring,  creating,  chilling,   teamwork,  recognition,  triumphing,  collect,  surprise,   imagination,  sharing,  role-­‐plying,  customization   b. Not  much  to  say  here.  These  are  all  great  examples  of  things  that  are   fun.  However,  surprise  is  a  special  example  that  should  be  taken  into   special  consideration.     i. The  vast  majority  of  today’s  gamification  efforts  are  simply   based  on  positive  reinforcement  (do  something,  get  reward).  


  4   However,  the  stock  market  isn’t  entirely  based  on  that,  yet  it  is   powerfully  addictive.  The  reason  is  because  of  unpredictability.   We  as  humans  sometimes  make  sub  optimal  opportunity  cost   decisions  because  we  like  to  pay  a  price  to  be  unpredictable.       5. Understanding  Fun   a. Nicole  Lazzaro’s  4  Keys   i. Easy  Fun   1. Fun  that  is  not  taxing.  Easy  to  access.     ii. Hard  Fun   1. Fun  that  is  achieved  after  doing  something  challenging.   On  the  path  to  mastery.     iii. People  Fun   1. Social  games  are  fun  for  a  reason.     iv. Serious  Fun   1. Fun  can  be  derived  from  doing  something  satisfying   that  is  meaningful  to  the  community  and/or  you.     b. Mark  Leblanc  8  Kinds  of  Fun   i. Sensation   ii. Fantasy   iii. Narrative   iv. Challenge   v. Fellowship  (Social)   vi. Discovery  (Exploring)   vii. Expression   viii. Submission   c. The  economic  principle  of  marginal  utility  well  applies  to  having  fun.   Certain  events  are  fun,  but  only  for  a  while  or  for  so  many  times.   Because  of  that,  game  design  should  try  to  appeal  to  many  different   types  of  fun  to  keep  that  balance  so  the  game  doesn’t  break.       6. Finding  the  Fun   a. Fun  can  be  found  anywhere,  it  is  just  a  matter  of  being  able  to  find  it.     i. Subway  station  had  electronic  stairs  that  played  the  piano   when  stepped  on.  Creates  a  fun  interaction.     ii. The  deepest  trashcan  gives  the  illusion  that  you  are  dropping   your  trash  into  the  depths.  That  idea  is  fun.     iii. LinkedIn’s  progress  completion  bar  taps  into  the  goal-­‐oriented   side  of  us.  We  are  driven  to  finish  the  bar,  and  the  feedback  is   our  constant  motivator.     b. The  concept  here  was  that  fun  can  be  subtle.  This  type  of  fun  would  be   derived  from  imagination  fun—one  of  the  types  of  fun  Prof.  Werbach   refers  to.  I’m  sure  it  has  more  types  of  fun  associated  with  it  (esp.   examples  like  LinkedIn)  




  GAME  ELEMENTS     1. Breaking  Games  Down   a. Here  is  a  list  of  useful  elements:   i. Points,  quests,  resources,  avatar,  social  graph,  progression,  and   levels   ii. Tic-­‐Tac-­‐Toe:  board,  tokens,  players,  competitive,  turns,   win/draw  states.     b. A  game  is  derived  from  elements  but  creates  an  experience  (the  play).     c. The  game  element  of  using  a  board  in  tic-­‐tac-­‐toe  can  be  extended  to   the  idea  of  having  boundaries.  As  a  game  designer,  it  is  very  important   to  determine  where  you  want  the  player  to  explore  and  how  to   explore.  Boundaries  of  the  game  create  the  game’s  “magic  circle”   d. To  draw  in  from  psychology,  the  idea  of  using  turn-­‐based  mechanisms   is  interesting.  Research  into  reinforcement  schedules  should  be  done   to  see  if  turn  based  apps  would  benefit  having  variable,  fixed,  and/or   ratio  intervals.         2. The  Pyramid  of  Gamification  Elements   a. Dynamics—The  big  picture  aspects.     i. Constraints   1. The  constraints  are  the  boundaries  that  make  the  game   meaningful  under  a  particular  context.  The  constraints   allow  players  to  play  a  certain  way  so  that  they  arrive  at   meaningful  decisions.   ii. Emotions   1. Emotional  expressions  are  normal  when  playing  a   game.  Capturing  certain  emotions  are  key.     iii. Narrative   1. This  could  be  an  immersive  story  or  could  be  the   element  that  makes  the  human  feel  like  they  are  in  the   center  of  the  game.   iv. Progression   1. How  does  the  user  feel  like  an  amateur  to  an  expert.     v. Relationships   1. Who  does  the  user  get  to  interact  with  throughout  the   experience?   b. Mechanics—These  are  the  elements  that  drive  the  game  forward   i. Challenges,  chance,  competition,  cooperation,  feedback,   resource  acquisition,  rewards,  transactions,  turns,  win  states   c. Components—The  specifics  of  the  game  that  make  up  higher  tier   elements.   i. Achievements,  avatars,  badges,  bosses,  collection,  combat,   unlockables,  gifting,  leaderboards,  levels,  points,  quests,  social   graph,  teams,  virtual  goods.  



3. PBL  Triad   a. Points   i. Keep  Score,  determine  win  states,  convert  to  rewards,   feedback,  display  progress,  data  for  designer,  and  all  are  on   same  point  system  (equal)   b. Badges   i. Representations  of  achievement,  credentials,  flexible  (can   mean  anything),  style,  signal  importance,  collection,  social   display   c. Leaderboards   i. Global,  local,  friend—style  leaderboards.  However,  this  zero   sum  competition  sometimes  demotivates  people  from  playing.     ii. Serves  as  feedback  for  competition,  useful  for  those  who  are   really  competitive.     d. The  one  thing  I  want  to  mention  about  the  PBL  model  is  that  this   model  as  well  as  other  pairs  of  elements  can  help  businesses  and   companies  move  towards  a  paperless  resume.     i. Similar  to  the  Mozilla  Open  Badge  Project,  if  people  were  to   receive  scores,  feedback,  and  credentials,  they  should  be  able   to  “show-­‐off”  their  work  for  potential  real  world  benefit.       4. Limitations  of  Elements   a. Elements  are  simply  parts  of  the  game.  They  are  not  the  whole  game   itself.   b. Not  all  rewards  are  fun;  not  all  fun  is  rewarding   i. This  points  towards  the  notion  that  external  rewards  may   damage  initial  motivation  for  why  a  user  participates  in  a   certain  action.  A  right  balance  of  rewards  is  needed.   c. There  is  no  cookie  cutter  solution  to  gamification.  The  constant  use  of   PBL  is  creating  a  mass  library  of  gamified  environments  that  use  PBL.   Just  like  video  games,  repetition  is  boring,  and  we  need  to  focus  on   dynamic  gamification  implementation.     d. Other  than  elements,  think  about:   i. Meaningful  choices   1. What  choices  will  the  user  make?  Are  they  ensured  to   be  meaningful?   ii. Puzzles   1. Are  there  puzzles  that  make  the  “game”  challenging?   iii. Mastery   1. Is  there  a  path  to  mastery  so  I  can  claim  myself  to  be  an   expert?   iv. Community   1. Am  I  by  myself  in  this  endeavor  or  are  there  people  with   me?  If  so,  how  do  I  relate  to  the  other  players?   v. Different  types  of  Users  


  7   1. To  cater  to  the  diversity  of  the  world,  how  can  my   gamified  environment  cater  to  as  many  different  types   of  players  as  possible?     e. I  agree  with  the  main  point  that  elements  aren’t  everything.  A   gamified  environment  should  not  put  so  much  focus  on  the  elements   so  that  it  forgets  about  creating  the  experience.     f. To  create  an  good  experience,  think  about  how  satisfactory  the   freedoms  would  be  to  a  player,  given  the  game’s  constraints.     5. Bing  Gordon  Interview  (A  few  key  ideas  I  found)   a. We  as  a  society  have  all  grown  up  with  games  as  a  normal  medium  of   media.  Because  games  are  all  around  us,  we  are  familiar  with  its   shapes,  forms,  and  existence.     i. This  puts  pressure  on  CEOs  and  companies  to  understand   gamification  to  create  successful  workplaces  for  Gen  Y   workers.     b. Feedback  is  a  2  way  street.  As  much  as  the  designer  works  on   providing  feedback  to  the  user,  the  user  also  can  provide  feedback  to   the  designer.  This  2  way  street  should  be  important  to  recognize.     c. Bing  made  one  mention  about  risk/return  analysis  when  designing   golf  courses.  In  the  notion  of  cognitive  psychology  and  rational   decision  making,  humans  make  tons  of  irrational  and  sub  optimal   decisions.  Creating  mathematical  temptations  with  risk/return   analysis  is  a  great  way  to  engage  users.   i. This  states  that  game  theory  can  be  a  playful  experience.  As   game  theory  is  relies  on  mathematical  models,  gamification’s   use  of  game  theory  is  the  use  of  the  human  brain’s  irrationality   to  make  the  game  unpredictable  and  exciting.     d. Play  is  key   e. If  gamification  is  the  solution  to  finding  out  how  to  communicate,   learn,  and  build  relationships  more  effectively,  then  let’s  take  the  time   to  understand  it.      

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