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The Definitive Guide to Gamification

Yu-kai Chou

Reading time: 1 hour and 14 minutes

Last updated: October 17, 2021

First published: October 17, 2021

How can you drive user behavior for your product or service so that you increase sales, raise funding, or increase daily usage? The answer can be found by learning Gamification through the Octalysis Framework: understand the brain, learn motivation triggers, and deploy Extrinsic, Intrinsic, Black-Hat, and White-Hat motivators to influence human behavior.

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The Definitive Guide to Gamification

by Yu-kai Chou

The Definitive Guide to Gamification

Yu-kai Chou

Reading time: 1 hour and 14 minutes

Last updated: October 17, 2021

First published: October 17, 2021

How can you drive user behavior for your product or service so that you increase sales, raise funding, or increase daily usage? The answer can be found by learning Gamification through the Octalysis Framework: understand the brain, learn motivation triggers, and deploy Extrinsic, Intrinsic, Black-Hat, and White-Hat motivators to influence human behavior.

Hello Explorer! We’re Yu-kai Chou and Jun Loayza, and we worked together to bring you this fully loaded, all-encompassing guide to Gamification.

Jun (left) and Yu-kai (right) - how it all started 

(at the end of this guide you’ll see where we’re at now)

About the authors: Yu-kai is the creator of the Octalysis Framework and has used his knowledge in Gamification to help companies around the world. Jun leads Product at Google and hosts a podcast to help fathers be better parents.

Why learn Gamification?

You may be thinking, “Why should I learn Gamification? I’m not building a video game.” But are you... 

  • … trying to get people to pay for your service? 
  • … trying to get more signups for your product?
  • … trying to get people to donate to your cause?
  • … trying to get students motivated to learn your material?
  • … trying to raise funding from Angels or VCs?

If so, then Gamification is for you. Ultimately, we’re going to teach you about the human brain and what triggers human action. We’re going to teach you how you can turn any design or system into a more human-friendly one. And these teachings will not only apply to your professional life, but to your personal life as well. For example, instead of trying to enforce rules on your children so that they “obey” you, you will learn how to influence them into wanting to clean their room, eat their vegetables, or brush their teeth.

The inspiration that lead to Octalysis -- the Gamification Framework

As a kid, Yu-kai absolutely loved playing video games: he completely immersed himself into RPGs (role playing games) such as Diablo II, staying up until 4am (avoiding homework) to grind his way to level 60.

Yu-kai invested hundreds of hours into video games with little to show for it in real life. Disillusioned by what he felt were hundreds of hours of wasted life, he contemplated:

“There must be a game where the more I play, the stronger and better I get in real life.”

It was then that it hit him… “Duh! There’s a game that we’re all playing right now whether we know it or not – the game of life.” If Yu-kai could figure out how to level up, gain EXP (experience), and get his friends to join him, then he wouldn’t need to play video games anymore because real life would be so much more fulfilling!

Every player in the world starts their life with granted stats and abilities. The player can then choose how to gain experience, level up, and unlock new abilities.

For example, we went to college, which allowed us to gain a lot of experience through classes, friends, and professors.

After college, we chose to start our companies, which allowed us to gain even more experience through building teams, managing people, fundraising, and building products.

It was through our technology startup that we founded in Mountain View, CA that Yu-kai began to unlock the secrets of Gamification, which led him to create Octalysis — the complete Gamification framework.

The Octalysis Framework catapulted Yu-kai’s career:

Yu-kai is at the cutting edge of the field of behavior design.

– Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

How this guide will impact your life

After reading this guide, you will …

  • … understand the drivers behind human motivation
  • … have the power to change human behavior and drive specific results for your projects
  • … be able to influence friends, family, and colleagues by using Extrinsic or Intrinsic Motivation
  • … know when to use Black Hat techniques to drive immediate action or when to use White Hat techniques to make users feel good about their actions

This guide has three main sections:

Section 1: Foundations of the Octalysis Framework

The first step is to understand the foundations of the Octalysis Framework by learning about Human vs Function Focused Design, White Hat vs Black Hat Motivation, and Extrinsic (Left-Brain) vs Intrinsic (Right-Brain) Core Drives.

Section 2: Octalysis Level 1 - The 8 Core Drives of Human Behavior

In the second step, we will go through each of the 8 Core Drives in the Octalysis Framework. 

Section 3: Octalysis Level 2 - The 4 Phases of a Player’s Journey

In the third step, we’ll do a deep dive into the 4 Phases of the Player’s Journey, where you’ll learn why it’s important to design for the evolution of a user -- the motivations for a user on day 1 are drastically different to the motivations of a user on day 100. 

During this journey, we will refer to you as an Explorer, an Octalysis Explorer to be exact. This is because learning Gamification and Octalysis really is a process of discovery and exploration -- as you learn new things, you’ll begin to see the world in a brand new light, which is really amazing.

Join the Octalysis Explorers

Every journey is better with friends and a community that supports each other. Follow along with us on Twitter and join the thousands of Octalysis Explorers sharing their knowledge with the community. Follow us on Twitter: Yu-kai and Jun.  

I challenge you to collect them all!

In each section of this guide, you’ll receive a clue about where to find the Secret Code. The challenges will get tougher and tougher as each section progresses, so stick with it to receive your reward upon completing this guide. 

The secret code for today is easy because I'm going to give it to you right now.

Secret code: It'll get harder

More info

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