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  • Austin Brailey

Gamification In Action (This Stuff Gets Results)

Updated: Oct 27, 2021



Don't let the front cover fool you, this book is awesome!


Yu-Kai Chou defines the 'Core Drivers' of game dynamics, behavioural economics and motivational psychology. He also gives a whole bunch of great examples!


Buy: Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards


Swedish Speed Cameras


Cool example...


Getting people to drive within the speed limit generally relies on them doing the 'right thing' to keep others safe, but people don't always equate fast driving to 'dangerous driving'.


So, the Swedish Speed Camera Lottery added additional 'Core Drivers' by:


  • Entering safe drivers into a cash lottery (now people have a chance to 'win')


  • Displaying obvious green thumbs up or a red thumbs down (they get an instant 'score')


  • Clearly displaying their 'score' to other drivers (so they can compete but also feel the judgement/social influence of others)


The result? It reduced average speed of passing drivers by 20%.


Other Highlights

There is so much in this book, but here are my key takeaways:


  • The U.S. Armed Forces now spends more money on recruitment games than any other marketing platform.


  • Volkswagen generated 33 million web visits and 119,000 new ideas through its People’s Car Project to design the ‘perfect car’.


  • Nike used gamified feedback to drive over 5,000,000 users to beat their personal fitness goals every day of the year.


  • With 'Beat the GMAT', students increased the time they spent on the website improving their test scores by 370% through a gamified platform.


  • In 10 days, Foldit gamers solved an AIDS virus protein problem that had confounded researchers for 15 years.


  • According to the Entertainment Software Association, 70% of major employers are already using gamification to enhance performance and training their companies.


“Do games really have the power to motivate? Consider this: many feel that children today do not have strong work ethics… but when it comes to playing games, these same kids have what most people would consider amazing work ethics...
"They’re doing grunt work for fun... they do it because they see the big picture, they see the why.”
Yu-Kai Chou

  • Kids memorise stats and numbers or ‘Pokemon’ and ‘Magic: The Gathering’ cards, but not the periodic table, why? There is an immediate purpose in playing cards (to play and beat friends), whereas the immediate reason for memorising chemical elements is much more abstract.


  • It is interesting to note that some of the best historical examples of gamification, such as eBay or Woot.com have not been categorized as gamification by most people in the industry.


  • According to one MIT study, obscenities that are randomly inserted on Wikipedia are removed in an average of 1.7 minutes. Unpaid guardians are motivated by the greater cause.


“Just because I understand the motivation of the behaviour doesn't mean I am exempt from it."
Yu-Kai Chou

  • Why do people over-bid on ebay? Because they're chasing a 'win' over other bidders.


  • People do not take actions that are necessarily the most economical, but actions that make them feel the smartest.


  • LinkedIn’s progress bar didn't take developers many hours to code, but improved LinkedIn’s profile completeness by 20%, an impressive change considering how they have spent millions of dollars on achieving this same goal. Check out the parody of the common progress bar!


  • Choice perception is important. We don’t like admitting the choice we made before was wrong but we have no problem criticising the decision of someone else.


  • 'The endowment effect': A wine lover becomes very reluctant to sell a bottle of wine from his collection for £100, but would also not pay more than £35 for a wine of similar quality.


  • Studies indicate that people feel more attached to their cheap IKEA furniture even compared to their expensive high-end furniture, primarily because they spent more time building the IKEA furniture with their own hands. That feeling of personal ownership motivates them to talk about their furniture more too.


  • Opower discovered that the best way to motivate households to consume less energy was to show them a chart comparing them to their neighbours. With the approach, Opower reportedly reduced 2.6 terawatt hours of electricity through 16 million households worldwide between 2007 and 2013, the equivalent of $300m.


  • In Poker the worst hand a player can get is not the smallest hand at the table but the second largest hand.


  • Our inability to cope with sunk costs pushes us to take irrational actions.


  • We are twice as loss-averse compared to seeking a gain.


  • If a user feels confused/stupid, they would rather just dismiss it altogether instead of feeling incompetenent.