Gamification – The Great Motivator

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Some people see games as a waste of time. I don’t know why. I see life as a game. My world is filled with choices, challenges, goals, incentives and rules—just like any game. I “gamify” my own life by setting goals and incentives and challenging myself to take on impossible tasks.

I’m always asking myself, what’s the biggest thing I can accomplish? What’s the biggest challenge I can take on? What will motivate me the most? I think everything in life can be made into a game.

At their most basic level, games are structured play. They engage because they have a purpose. In Monopoly, for example, the goal is to capture real estate. In chess the goal is to capture the king. In poker it’s to win chips. In Minecraft and SimCity, the purpose is to build communities. In Grand Theft Auto it’s to win points. All of these games are addictive because the purpose of the game is to either build value or capture value.

But for a game to be addictive for the long term, year after year, the players must be sustainably engaged by the process and motivated by an enduring physical or psychological payoff.

It’s no coincidence that cryptocurrency networks are as addictive as games. They have been designed that way. Motivation through gamification is the key to accomplishment—and to understanding why decentralized networks are so popular and so compelling.

What is gamification?

Gamification is simply the process of taking the key elements of games and applying them to real-world activities.

Gamification isn’t new. In fact, it’s been used as a business management tool for decades. Companies like Nike and Under Armour have built structured game thinking into their marketing and product development efforts. Under Armour customers can set fitness goals, and then visually track their progress to reward themselves. Loyalty programs provided by companies like Samsung and Salesforce offer badges and monetary rewards. Smaller companies like 99designs use prizes to motivate designers to submit designs and win prizes.

What is new is the integration of game thinking and game mechanics into a new set of decentralized platforms that enable trustworthy transactions through trust-less consensus. Gamification is critical to my own company. It’s built into every one of our products and services at Decentral. It also helps me think better and accomplish more.

As gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou notes, “games have the amazing ability to keep people engaged for a long time, build relationships and trust between people, and develop their creative potentials.”

Yu-Kai says that while people are incentivized by different things, they all have similar core drives. These include accomplishment, empowerment, ownership, meaning, scarcity, unpredictability, social influence and avoidance. Yu-Kai has integrated these eight drivers into a formal framework called Octalysis.

Octalysis isn’t an abstract theory. It’s used to increase customer engagement and motivation by dozens of healthcare, education, fitness and training companies around the world. The products I’m developing at Decentral build on the Octalysis framework. Octalysis—and gamification in general—is a way to systematically appeal to people’s desire for engagement, inspiration, feedback and recognition.

Gamification, along with economics and technology, are absolutely foundational to the success of decentralized networks. But true success won’t be achieved unless mainstream users hop on board. For this to happen, another key element must be added to the mix: great design.

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