After covering gamification in a few articles, I've been getting lots of feedback requesting more information. I've been doing a bit of research recently and came across the Yu-kai Chou & Gamification Blog. If you're interested in gamification in general, you should definitely add this blog to your RSS feed. What I found particularly interesting to the eLearning community, however, was Yu-kai's gamification framework for increasing user engagement and motivation.
Judging by the feedback I received on my article How to Incorporate Gamification Elements, I think the question eLearning developers are facing is not whether to add gamification elements at all, but how to determine which gaming elements will be most helpful to encourage motivation, keep learners interested, and achieve the desired learning outcomes. A further problem is in recognizing what is missing. Here's where I think Yu-kai'sOctalysis Framework could be useful.
What is the Octalysis Framework?
Visually, the Octalysis is an octagonal chart diagramming the Eight Core Drives of Gamification (covered next). These core drives can be divided by White Hat and Black Hat Gamification (more on this soon) as well as Left Brain vs Right Brain drives (more on this too--stick with me here). In practice the framework can help you and your team visualize which gamification elements your eLearning deck could be missing (or is chock full of).
Here is what the framework looks like:
Image source: http://yukaichou.com/
What are the 8 Core Drives of Gamification?
As you can see in the framework diagram above, there are eight criteria that form what Yu-kai believes lead to optimum motivation and engagement in a game setting. While I don't think this aligns completely with eLearning goals, I do think that if you are employing game elements into your learning, then this is an excellent foundation for assessing whether you have covered all of your bases.
Epic Meaning and Calling (Meaning)
A good example of this is when someone contributes to a site like Reddit or Wikipedia. The feeling of contributing to a "greater good" is generally what is fueling contributors. A desire to be the most helpful, influential or intelligent is the drive here.
Development and Accomplishment (Accomplishment)
This drive focuses on acquiring skills (or another desirable acquisition-a badge perhaps) or achieving some given task. Receiving a badge on Foursquare for frequenting a coffee shop more than other users is an example of this. So is using Google to look something up and quickly gain knowledge.
Expressing of Creativity and Feedback (Empowerment)
Artistic play in general is a good example of this drive. In many ways [the briefly popular] Draw Something was a good example of this, as many people played as a means of showcasing their artistic abilities.
Ownership and Possession (Ownership)
This is often the drive behind games such as Farmville, where you construct your own farm and badger your friends for more supplies to make the farm bigger and better. Another obvious example: Monopoly.
Social Pressure and Envy (Social Pressure)
According to Yu-kai, "[t]his drive incorporates all the social elements that drive people, including: mentorship, acceptance, social responses, companionship, as well as competition and envy." Most any social game or site where you can see the progress of your peers falls into this category.
Scarcity and Impatience (Scarcity)
This drive is similar to the Supply and Demand business practice. People often want what they can't have. This was a major contributor to the initial success of Facebook: in the beginning the drive to join was that only Ivy league schools could be a part of the network, then only college students, and then, eventually, anyone over the age of 13. This is also a drive in games like Farmville where you must wait and return several hours later to harvest a crop.
Curiosity and Unpredictability (Unpredictability)
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but humans are still drawn to (and often excited to) stick around to see what happens next. Good examples of this: gambling and games with unexpected things that pop out and want to eat your brains.
Loss and Avoidance (Avoidance)
This is the drive that says "I've come this far, why quit now?" even if there is, perhaps, no other real reason to continue. Games like Farmville where players amass digital possessions often appeal to this drive. Even if that farm means nothing in real life, it may be hard to walk away once you've invested so much time (and maybe even money).
Left Brain versus Right Brain
Beyond the eight Core Drives, the Octalysis is further divided by the side of the brain each drive appeals to. The drives on the right are considered right brain, meaning they are geared more toward "creativity, self-expression, and social aspects." If you are designing a learning course for a group of artists, for example, you may want to make sure your gamification elements appeal heavily to these drives.
The drives on the left are considered left brain, meaning they are more about "logic, calculations, and ownership." If, for example, you are designing a learning course for a group of scientists, you may want to make sure your gamification elements appeal more to these drives instead.
Image source: http://yukaichou.com/
White Hat versus Black Hat
The Octalysis framework is also divided in half horizontally. The drives at the top are considered "White Hat" in that they are generally more positive. Skill mastery, artistic expression, achievement, etc. are typically seen as positive motivations-or carrots. In addition, they may have a slightly better moral valence: Being compelled to leave informed posts on Reddit because you want to answer people's questions about civil unrest in your country (meaning) will probably leave a better taste in your mouth than being addicted to tending a virtual farm or garden because a friend of yours has a bigger one (envy).
The drives on the bottom half of the Octalysis are considered "Black Hat," and although they are sometimes negative to experience or may be questionable as motivations, they can still lead to positive outcomes. Social pressure and envy may lead to a morally uplifting result, for example, if you're being socially pressured to help out the same charity that all of your friends are supporting. It is not bad to succumb to this social pressure even if your initial motivation was merely to do what your friends are doing. So as Yu-kai points out, just the fact that a method of impelling motivation is labeled as Black Hat does not necessarily mean it always leads to bad results.
Nevertheless, it might also be interesting to think about White Hat versus Black Hat motivators along the lines of intrinsic (driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself) versus extrinsic (performance to attain an outcome) motivations. Adult learning principals, for example, encourage us to recognize that adult learners may be motivated more by internal rewards such as an increase in self-esteem than by external rewards such as an increase in salary.
Image source: http://yukaichou.com/
When designing your eLearning, it pays to be aware of what the motivators are in your gamification elements.
As you review your training methods according to the gamification Octalysis, do you find that you are using more White Hat or Black Hat motivators? Are you missing some potential drivers that would be appropriate and useful? Are you emphasizing too much of one side of the brain while missing out on the other? Does the question of intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards concern you? I look forward to reading your comments.***
AJ teaches a live, 3-hour class that offers tips/tricks for improving the look and feel of your PowerPoint presentations: Slide Sprucing: Remodeling Lackluster PowerPoint Slides for eLearning and Presentations.
A great post about Octalysis! I LOVED reading your explanation of everything and thought you did a much better job than I did ;-)
Feel free to reach out to me again if you have any questions regarding interesting game mechanics that can be applied to eLearning and the like! :)
Posted by: Yu-kai Chou | December 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Awesome information! thank you. The 8 core drives make much sense to me and some validate my online course design. As a Psychology Instructor and having internalized much of what you spell out, I can definitely see how these drives work in the students. Their comments are what leads my incorporation of elements and types of learning games I use. One thing that I've wondered about is retention of the information we are learning. The Octalysis may be the tool I am looking for to assess which drive is being used and if all of the drives were addressed, and to what degree? All the learning styles, preferences, and two-sided brains are in the classroom. I believe I should attempt to reach all of them and encourage the less developed styles to grow.
Posted by: linda e amos | December 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I found your comments about the different sides of the brain very intriguing. I hadn't thought of the brain having it's different thoughts and appeals towards things. It makes me question what I'm doing, and if it's because of my left or right brain?
Posted by: Gillian Walter | August 14, 2013 at 04:54 PM