Featured post

Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework


Octalysis: Complete Gamification Framework

(This is the Gamification Framework that I am most known for. Within a year, it was organically translated into 9 different languages and became classic teaching literature in the gamification space worldwide. If you are interested in commercially licensing the framework, please visit our Octalysis Group Licensing Page.)

Gamification is design that places the most emphasis on human motivation in the process. In essence, it is Human-Focused Design (as opposed to “function-focused design”).

Gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and engaging elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities. This process is what I call “Human-Focused Design,” as opposed to “Function-Focused Design.” It’s a design process that optimizes for human motivation in a system, as opposed to pure efficiency.

Most systems are “function-focused,” designed to get the job done quickly. This is like a factory that assumes its workers will do their jobs because they are required to. However, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in a system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do certain things, and therefore optimizes for their feelings, motivations, and engagement.

The reason we call it gamification is because the gaming industry was the first to master Human-Focused Design.

Games have no other purpose than to please the individual playing them. Yes, there are often “objectives” in games, such as killing a dragon or saving the princess, and sometimes saving a dragon, but those are all excuses to simply keep the player happily entertained.

Since games have spent decades (or even centuries depending on how you qualify a game) learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and that is why we call it Gamification.

Continue reading

Hotel Gamification Case Study: LuckyDiem

Hotel Gamification

Gamification of the Retail and Hospitality Industry

When I’m not under confidentiality agreements, I love promoting my clients and the work they are doing. Some of my clients work in marketing and hustle to implement good gamification design to significantly improve key marketing metrics for a variety of businesses.

One example is the New York Based company LuckyDiem. LuckyDiem takes brand promotion marketing to a whole new level by utilizing Unpredictability and Curiosity in concert with other Core Drives.

Using a series of game devices such as slots, trivia questions, and wheels of fortune, LuckyDiem’s mobile platform allows any brand to engage their customers and turn their target market into loyal evangelists.

Sound like a marketing cliché? The numbers below tell a compelling story.

Gamified Loyalty Program for Hotel Chain La Quinta

On one project, LuckyDiem worked with La Quinta Inns and Suites – an international hotel chain consisting of over 700 properties and franchises – to supercharge their loyalty program through a new gamified campaign called Play & Stay.

In a publicly available case study, La Quinta sent out emails to 83,600 potential customers on their email list promoting the Play & Stay game. Out of the 83,600 email recipients, 2000 people signed up to the LuckyDiem promotions program, which is a 2.4% email conversion rate. These are fairly average email marketing numbers. No additional promotional effort was conducted after that.

Strong ROI on the Gamification Campaign

The amazing thing is, within a three-month period, those 2000 users eventually led to 10,700 new referral signups, representing a K Factor of 5.3K  (or a viral coefficient of 530%). 34% of their users returned every single day and spent an average of 3.75 minutes on the game and contributed to 23,000 unique user invites, 10,000 new Facebook Likes and 4,500 new Twitter Followers for La Quinta.

More importantly, these users turned into customers.

14.1% of the users ended up becoming paying customers, with LuckyDiem’s platform generating 1,784 new bookings for La Quinta, leading to a 712% sales lift against the control group. That’s a tremendous win for any established chain or company that is already extremely successful in their own right.

What was in the Hotel Loyalty Gamification Campaign?

LuckyDiem first launched with a general slot machine game that most people are very familiar with. Users click the big Spin Button (remember from Core Drive 2 principles that the button is called a Desert Oasis – a large Win-State action that visually attracts the user to it) and get a chance of winning points or collectables.

To play, users needed virtual tokens, which is a good utilization of Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience. Tokens are recharged regularly, with an additional wheel of fortune game that can generate more tokens once the initial ones run out.

 Hotel Gamification

On top of that, there are “instant grand prizes” as big as “10 Free Nights” that could be won with every spin. The small chance of winning the grand prize did not deter people very much, as the hope of winning a large prize was enough to make the experience fun and addicting.

Because the prize was so enticing, people were more motivated to continue playing, while being content that their general La Quinta points were accumulating as they played (a combination of Core Drive 2 and Core Drive 4). These techniques are called Lotteries and Rolling Rewards.

Hotel Gamification


They utilized other game techniques such as Boosters to double scores whenever the player answered trivia questions regarding the hotel brand or shared the game with their friends. This not only added a shade of Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback and Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness,  but also built positive associations between the brand and their users.

 Hotel Gamification Prizes

Finally, the reward was dangled in front of the players, including an image of the reward as well as a large action button to redeem it.

Retail Gamification 

If you have been studying my work, you will know that the much of the above is merely the “shell” of a game, and though a fantastic success story, if you simply copied their game devices and mechanics for your own project, you may not experience the same success. The deep work is embedded within months of planning, hard-gathered research, and many hours of interface design and balance tweaking.

But in the end, thoughtful design and implementation created a wonderful and engaging user experience that drove strong results for La Quinta.

Ariana Arghandewal, a writer for FrugalTravelGuy.com, wrote about La Quinta’s  Play & Stay game in an article:

“Warning: This game is extremely addictive. […] You can win La [Quinta] points, additional spins, tokens that essentially increase your spins, free nights, and more. I initially dismissed this, as I don’t anticipate staying at a La Quinta anytime soon, but this game is highly addictive and I’ve already earned 3,000 points by playing it for the past two days.”

 As you can see, even when a person thinks that she doesn’t necessarily care about the prizes, the Human-Focused Design motivated her to play for a lot longer than she intended. As we see from the numbers above, many users like her ended up becoming paying customers.

Most of my clients like to keep the work I do for them confidential, so when I get an opportunity to obtain a public quote with fantastic metrics that’s aren’t inflated, I quickly jump on that opportunity (remember we talked about Brag Buttons?):

“Yu-kai’s Insights were instrumental in helping LuckyDiem supercharge our client La Quinta’s bookings per user by 206% and incremental revenue per user by $157 (132% Lift) against the control group. Being able to achieve a viral coefficient of 530%, I would recommend any business to work with Yu-kai and learn his Octalysis Framework.” 

-Andrew Landis, Founder & CEO of LuckyDiem

Now it’s your turn

Do you have any case studies with huge ROIs using the Octalysis Framework, or have simply tried to use gamification in the retail/hospitality space? I would love to learn about it. Share your experience in the comments section below!

What is Gamification

Gamification President

If you want to make Gamification actionable, Check out my Complete Gamification Framework called Octalysis and my Gamification Book: Actionable Gamification

What is Gamification?

For those who been following my blog regularly, its pretty apparent that I have been writing heavily into the topic of Gamification. This may be an unfamiliar word for many of you. What is Gamification?

This post is a quick overview to explain what is Gamification about and clear up a great deal of misconceptions in the industry.

Gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities. This is what I call “Human-Focused Design” as opposed to the “Function-Focused Design.” It’s a design process that optimizes for the human in the system, as opposed to pure efficiency of the system.

Most systems are “function-focused” designed to get the job done quickly. This is like a factory that assumes that the workers within WILL do their jobs. However, Human-Focused Design remembers that people in the system have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they want or do not want to do things, and therefore optimizes for their feelings, motivations, and engagement.

The reason we call it gamification is because the gaming industry was the first to master human-focused design. Games have no other purpose than to please the human inside. There are “objectives” in the games, such as killing the dragon or saving the princess, but those are all excuses to simply keep the player happily entertained inside. Since games have spent decades learning how to master motivation and engagement, we are now learning from games, and that is why we call it Gamification.

Games have the amazing ability to keep people engaged for a long time, build relationships and trust between people, and develop their creative potentials.

Unfortunately, most games these days are simply focused on escapism – wasting your life away on something that doesn’t improve your own life nor the life of others (besides the game makers of course).

Imagine if there is a truly addicting game, where the more time you spend on it, the more productive you would be. You would be playing all day, enjoying it, and your career would be growing, you would be making more income, having better relationships with your family, creating value for your community, and solving the hardest problems in the world.

That is the goal I strive for and the potential I see that Gamification could fulfill.

What Is Gamification in relationship to the Gaming Industry?

Many people think Gamification is a branch of gaming. Upon hearing the term, some people respond with, “Oh I don’t play games.”

That’s a complete misconception on what is gamification all about.

So what is Gamification really? Gamification does not involve games. It is simply absorbing the fun elements in a game (what we call Game Mechanics or Game Techniques) into real-world applications. When you see the progress bar on LinkedIn, or when you Tumblr listing out a Leaderboard on the best content, do you think, “Oh I don’t play games. This is not for me.”? Of course not! Continue reading

Engagement Platform Captain Up Releases New Funny Video

Captain Up is not afraid to use quirky humor and make some fun out of itself

If you haven’t noticed, I have a widget on the right side of my site that adds some fun game elements to the experience. It’s powered by Captain Up. Initially, I put it up as an experiment for PBL tools, but my readers loved it so much that they no longer wanted me to experiment me on other platforms, haha….

As you can see, you get dozens of points for various actions, but there are other Core Drives like Mystery, Meaningful Choices, Social in it, and the top users have over 400,000 points!!

Captain Up has this really quirky culture. It’s energetic, fun, and not afraid to make fun of itself. This is in big contrast to most platforms out there that must pretend to be overly professional and dull/boring. I respect that of them.

They released a new video that really emphasizes on their strong suite, which is how plug-and-play they are in improving engagement for games and websites. It literally took me about 5-10 minutes to setup my system, and another 30-60 min to customize the way I want – since I am a control freak for my experiences.

Anyhow, enjoy the laugh!

Top 10 Social Gamification Examples that will Literally Save the World

Social Gamification

New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & my Gamification Framework: Octalysis. You can also check out my Gamification Book: Actionable Gamification

Gamification Examples that can really make the world better

As a Gamification Pioneer, one of the most common responses I get when I tell people about Gamification is some version of, “Interesting. But how can something like video games really create value in real-world important things?” In other words, “I’m going to be polite to you, but I think this is a gimmicky fad that has no impact.”

Instead of trying to convince people with the same arguments over and over again, I’m going to settle this issue here once and for all – Gamification not only has real-life value and impact, it even saves lives and could ensure our future as a race!

Last Week I wrote about Old Spice’s Genius Gamification Marketing Campaign DIKEMBE MUTOMBO’S 4 1/2 WEEKS TO SAVE THE WORLD. While I think it is brilliant and does a lot of things well, I can assure you that it does NOT really save the world, outside of making more men smell like an adventure and bake gourmet cakes with the kitchens they made with their own hands.

But the 10 Examples below will blow your mind away and show you why Good Gamification, or “Human-Focused Design” (as opposed to Function-Focused Design”), undeniably has a role in “adding more lives” to our future.

Gamification Example 1: Puzzle Game Foldit made breakthrough in AIDS Research that Scientists couldn’t solve

By 2009, AIDS has already killed 30 Million people, or close to the equivalent of the State of California. As of 2010, there are still 34 Million people that have contracted HIV. For 15 years, many of the top PhD Scientists in the world were trying to decipher a crystal structure for one of the AIDS-causing viruses called the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV), but could not solve it.

Luckily, the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science (yes, such center exists) collaborated with the Biochemistry department and created FoldIt, an online puzzle video game about protein folding. Foldit utilizes a game-like puzzle interface that allows people from all over the world to “play” and compete in figuring out various protein structures that fit a researcher’s criteria.

To everyone’s surprised, with over 240,000 “players” registering for the game and competing viciously against each other, a solution to the structure of the M-PMV was found in 10 days, creating a major breakthrough in the AIDS research field. 15 Years vs 10 Days? I would say for this alone Gamification added extremely concrete value to the world and could one day save a loved one.

Gamification Example 2: RPG Diary Game Pain Squad helps Patients Combat Cancer by providing both Purpose and Data

Continue reading

My talk at Google on Octalysis Gamification

My talk at Google on Octalysis Gamification

Earlier I had the pleasure to do a speech at Google regarding my work on Octalysis Gamification. It is probably the most complete 1.5 hour length content of my work (the next level up is my 4 hour Workshops, 3-Day Workshops, reading my book, and the upcoming Octalysis Prime.

For those who have already heard me speak many times and have read my book or blog posts, some new and interesting information make come in the form of the Q&A, at 1:19:40.