Gamification by Design


I just finished reading a new O’Reilly book by Gabe Zichermann & Christopher Cunningham (site here) entitled Gamification by Design and I strongly encourage you – yes you – to read it. Just in case you thought that gamification has anything to do gaming, let me assure you: that it doesn’t. Some of the easiest examples of gamifaction are frequent flyer miles, badges on foursquare or the progress bar on LinkedIn. Gamifcation is a methodology that taps into human nature, therefore making your product or campaign, a must have. (This part sounds really “salesy” but this is the ultimate goal.)

There are too many things of value in the book to touch on in this post, but one of the things that stuck with me were player types. Gabe & Christopher define four types

  1. Explorers – This person is exactly who you think they are. They’re someone that likes to go out and find things and bring them back to the community. (Important part there.) If you’re a product manager or a marketer, you love this type of player. They will be the first to try your app/respond to your marketing efforts.
  2. Achievers – Again, they’re exactly what you’d think. These users take a deep dive into your offering and become experts of your product/offering attempting to master every challenge.
  3. Socializers – This is the most common type of player and the game serves as a backdrop for the social interaction.
  4. Killers – Also known as griefers, are like achievers but not only must they win, someone must lose and preferably as many as possible. (Reminds me of trolls.)
I believe there is some overlap between the player types listed above and some customer types (below) I mapped out many moons ago in this post:
  1. Champions – People who purchased the product/service on a regular basis and are good marketers.
  2. Affluents – People who purchase the product/service regularly but are not good marketers
  3. Advocates -People who don’t buy very often but are responsible for numerous referrals
  4. Misers – People who are good at neither

As you would suspect, most people have more than one of the player traits. According to the book, the percentages are as follows:

  • 80% socializer
  • 50% explorer
  • 40% achiever
  • 20% killer
The focus of this book is building game mechanics into your mobile application AND as you read it, you will come up with amazing marketing strategies/tactics. (Assuming you’re a marketer.) If you’re  a product manager, this book will also impact your thinking as well.
Great read!

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.