Monthly Archives: January 2014

Octalysis certification in Gamification : Currently at Pinnacle of Gamification courses.

Octalysis Certificate

I earned “Octalysis Certificate of Completion” this past week, in this post I will not be talking about what is it, incase you are unaware of it, you can read it here. I will talk about how it is different from other free/almost free gamification courses and what you really need to do to achieve it in first attempt, a bit more in depth of what is needed than what is mentioned on the original certificate page of Yu-Kai’s website.

Among the many available courses teaching gamification (some free ones linked here), those I have completed which give a certificate at the end are Gamification of Coursera in 2012, two courses from Udemy (not free) and the last one is Octalysis. The Udemy courses are just like you pay and receive a certificate of completion almost nil actual evaluation, other than a small power point presentation at max, and you become dearer by roughly 50 USD. The coursera course from Wharton Business School is still a decent as firstly it is free, and also it covers most of the content of the Udemy courses, which make spending 50USD or more on Udemy and other sites not worth it, unless you desperately need a completion certificate. The coursera gamification course provides a strong foundation of what gamification is, how is it being used currently, what basic behavior concepts it banks upon, precautions while designing and ending with a 6 step gamification framework which is very broad. An added advantage of the coursera course is it give you a chance to make three assignments which are peer reviewed, not by an gamification expert.

The plus point of other than Octalysis courses is that they are systematic, series of lectures arranged in a sequential manner. You progress from one end to the other, and you get a certificate. With octalysis you are on your own, all the resources you need are present on the site of Yu-Kai, but you need to figure out yourself which one is helpful for the current assignment. It has no weekly lectures or peer evaluation like that of Coursera, but what it offers is an evaluation directly from the maker of the model.

This certification will help you in taking your Coursera knowledge to the next step, as in the coursera course there will be repetitive use of game elements and other buzz words, but there is no actual drilling down to what mechanics are and what makes them so irresistible to be used, and which mechanics are good in the long run, and which mechanics will bring you initial gain, but they are not good for the long run.

Coming to the things you need to do to get this certificate smoothly:

  1. Log on to Yu-Kai website, with any of the your social media accounts, and be among the top player for that month, else you just need to pay 50$ US to Yu-Kai for assessment, read details here.
  2. Watch the 17 videos that Yu-Kai has himself made, present on his site, linked here.
  3. When you reach an video of core drive, after watching it reinforce your knowledge, by reading the related texts, linked here.
  4. You will be needing to click through each drive to enter more detailed page for each, for e.g. for the first core drive Epic Meaning and Calling you will be reading this page., similarly for the other 7 drives.
  5. Use the Octalysis tool.
  6. The subject for your analysis, be such that you are comfortable with it, in and out, you should have devoted some good amount of time previously playing with it, so that you understand the business and the rules behind the subject.
  7. Keep in mind mechanics of  your subject  may have overlapping drives, so instead of making them exclusively linked to one core drive, you must think if it is overlapping with another, if yes, then mention that in your submission.
  8. If possible attached visual clues which made you think that a drive is used here, Yu-Kai may not be familiar with your subject, these clues will speed Yu-Kais’ evaluation and also help you in better communicating your analysis (hint: use any tool for screen shots)
  9. Remember that basic of Gamification is to drive behavior of your players, so unless you specifically mention why this mechanic under a particular drive is influencing which behavior your analysis will not be complete, and you will be falling under high probability of rejection.
  10. Provide all the possible URL’s so that the content looks genuine and is easily reachable, giving just a homepage link and leaving rest toYu-Kai will only delay your evaluation, and may give him a chance to discover something that you might have missed and make a basis of your rejection.. 😉
  11. Be patient, sometime your evaluation can come in 1 week sometime in 1 month. For details about different type of evaluation and feedback possible read Yu-Kais’ instructions linked here.



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Ebay sellers getting strongly sucked into Black Hat Gamification

As we know Ebay uses Gamification heavily to drive business. Sellers and buyers are rated after each purchase. For me as a buyer, rating does not matter much, as my most purchases are prepaid, money is locked in with Ebay, and once I confirm the receipt of good Ebay releases the payment to the seller. Nor, I am a heavy buyer which will get me special access if any which I am not aware off.

Recently I purchased a workout supplement from “sehdevesupplements” who has a more than 98% positive feedback and one of the star sellers. I have made several purchases earlier with this seller, but a recent Capture

purchase went terribly bad. I got a near expiry product, raised my claim for a replacement, when I returned the good I was told by Ebay that the seller will not be able to ship as the product is out of stock with them, and my shipping cost will be reimbursed to me in the form of Ebay coupons and the money bank to my account from which transaction was made.

As the seller and buyer ratings are transaction based, hence I evaluated this transaction as negative, Main reasons being, seller should have checked before shipping for the expiry date, should have honored the replacement (I checked price from other sellers for fresh stock was 500 INR or roughly 10 USD higher), or atleast made a proxy display for customer satisfaction by some other means. In return to the negative rating, the seller got so pissed off that the seller sent me a hate mail outside Ebay mode, as the seller had my email from previous purchases.

CaptureAfter I sent a reply justifying my ratings I get a more harsh reply “never saw such a harassing customer ever before.” All for not getting a 5 star rating. The seller did not think for once about the earlier purchases I made.

This is a point when a well design gamification system is going wrong, ratings are good and meaningful but when they take over the seller neglecting customer satisfaction, it turns BLACK. Though Black hat is not a bad gamification, but here the seller forgot while chasing for current ratings– getting driven by core drive no. 8 of Loss Avoidance– that there can be many more ratings that I could have given if there was a better customer satisfaction in the future. Not only the seller lost my business but also made a bad repo.


  1. After implementing a gamified system, check if it is being gamed by the players, it is possible that the tricks that players show, were not chalked out while the initial system was designed.
  2. Is it causing discontinuities among the players.
  3. Punish a good player to show as an example to other players.
  4. Change the rules, as soon as the first pernicious discontinuity comes into the light.

PS: To learn more about white and black hat gamification see Yu-Kai Chou’s blog, linked here.


Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Gamification, Gamification Marketing


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Compelling story : Better nut cracker than 100 signup points for your gamification platform.

hook_ver1_xlgYou may be the one who has just adopted gamification as a new strategy for getting more retention on you blog, or e-commerce website, or even for your company’s new software training module. The most common problem with a gamification platform that I see these days, is as soon as I land on the inter-phase, it shows 100 sign-up points, just verify your twitter or facebook account and have these 100 points in your wallet. This is very poor onboarding for a new player. Reason being :

  1. The player has just come to your site, without even giving time for having a look on your home page, he/she is thrown a bait of 100 meaningless points.
  2. There is no connection that you have made with this player, that will make the player return for feel attached to your site/blog etc., you haven’t established any empathy, that makes the player understand and share your importance.

If you have been to a retail store, a clever customer representative, will never start bargaining with you on the final price. This rep will first form a connection with you, will make you feel comfortable within the store, and after that this rep will show the skills of clever selling, making you pay more than the adjacent store. Hence this rep, has hooked you to the store, not only for this purchase, but for future purchases as well.

Lesson to draw from the above example is, your platform should not start with “here collect these 100 points”, but a compelling story, which will make your new player empathize with your system. And this story that I am referring to is not a long tale, or a lengthy video torture for the player, within the first 10 minute on your platform. Ths story can be anything even two words, a good mission statement, or even just a picture, yes the aesthetics do matter a lot as well. If the story is compelling, the onboarding will not only be easy, but will be memorable for the new player, making a small space in the mind of the player, playing in the players’ mind long after the player has moved from your system.

This story has to be carefully designed, as the player will forget the 100 meaningless sign-up points, but if a successful connection was made via your story, the player will return to your system, and drive further engagement, he/she will be intially hooked. Stories can be of various types, but the basic essence it must pass to the player is that he/she is the center piece of the story, he/she is in power, and this place was developed / customized for the player only. Once you make this happen, your gamification strategy will pass the initial failure stage (onboarding); the scaffolding and end game is a different story altogether, will take that in another post later.. 🙂

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Gamification, Gamification Design


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Confession of my engagement with a gamification platform: from fun to gaming within the rules

 taking_gamification_to_the_next_b2b_levelTo drive user behavior two of the best gamification blogs and many others use a gamification platform offered by BeatUp (name changed for anonymity). Posts have been written by the owners’ of blogs on why they use a gamification platform, but I am writing this post from a player perspective, who actually competes in the rankings.

The first stage of onboarding was fun. As soon I permitted the platform, to use one of my social network it gave me a meaningful booster and welcomed me to the setup. It showed that I have taken the initial step towards desired learning which was to know more about gamification. During the newbie days of my visit to the blogs and interacting with the platform, I was some 200 or more rank below than the top player, i.e. top player might be having 1,500,000+ points, and I was having some 400+ points. But each point addition that I was having, was a meaningful addition to my score, as the points and badges were not for free but with gamification post/video/comment that I interacted with.

Slowly, I started to enjoy the system, and started to compete in small badge/point achievement missions, like to watch 10 videos back to back. So, ordinarily I may stop after 5 or 6, but since I was learning, and the badge progress bar showed me that I can get a badge for watching 4 more, I stayed glued to the system. Doing this I was gaining new gamification knowledge and on the other hand I was climbing up the leaderboard, which in my view point, showed other players that I am a regular visitor to the site (Game technique of Envy), and I am very active as well. Staying on top for a day was fun initially, then staying on top of the board for a week showed my achievement to others, all was good till this stage, I was playing fair till now and making progress gaining gamification content.

The game turned bad now, the moderator of the blogs linked the ranking to some meaningful reward hoping for increasing activity, at this point fun became obsession, and weekly top ranking was no more engaging monthly was needed, but all-time top spot was what I wanted. The new materials started to dry up, as I had no new activity to do, and still I was way behind the number one player. So, I dived in figuring out how the system actually gives points/badges, can it be gamed. And to my luck it was possible. I learnt for example by giving 50 unique visit to the site, I will get 10,000 points, so I simply opened 50 tabs and opened the website 50 times in 10 minutes, and boom 10,000 points or write 10 comments and get 5,000 points so I checked that whether writing random comment like “qweqw ere qew” is counted, and it did, so boom 10 random comments I got another 5,000 points and in no matter of time, I learned all the rules and became number one player, or atleast top 10 before I stopped playing across various sites.

Though I have stopped doing it now, but by this post, I hope the gamification platform designers will learn something and prevent further exploitation of their platform or do not make activities contingent upon points which promote players to do the same things that I did.


Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Gamification, Gamification Strategy


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