How we rapidly increased community engagement through gamification

We had an inspiring conversation with Yu-Kai Chou a few weeks ago.

He is one of the top gamification experts in the world. He’s even done a TED talk about it.

Yu-kai has created what is called “The Octalysis Gamification Framework.

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.

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If you’re building online courses, educational experiences or a team, then check out this post from Yu-Kai’s blog 😉

Our conversation with Yu-Kai really affirmed for us that we’re on the right track with all of the ways we apply gamification in our courses, however he also showed us where we don’t do it, but need to.

In this article, we dig into how we applied all 8 of the human core motivations in a recent Great eCourse Adventure community challenge.

The “Screw it, I’m Gonna do it Challenge” and applying the Octalysis Gamification Framework

Our goal with the “Screw it, I’m gonna do it” challenge was to apply all 8-core drivers to a community challenge to see if it would increase engagement, inspiration and completion rates by our students.

The basis of the challenge was to dedicate one full day per week for the next four weeks on a passion project that our students had been putting off for far too long.

The reason we chose this project was because the two of us had been putting off passion projects of our own for a really long time, because we were too busy with the Great eCourse Adventure, life and other work.

Creating this challenge actually forced us to get our shit together and create better systems and schedules for our businesses, which we’ll write about another day.

Before we dive into the juicy details, I just want to say that, by applying the 8 Core Motivations to this challenge, we have increased the amount community engagement and participation we’re now getting by 3-4 times its normal amount.

We are so excited by what we’re witnessing, we can’t wait to apply the Octalysis Framework to all of the other aspects of our businesses and lives. Thank you so much Yu-Kai Chou for the great work you’re doing.

Here’s how we applied the 8-Core Drivers to our “Screw It, I”m Gonna Do It Challenge”

Epic Meaning & Calling

Epic Meaning & Calling is the Core Drive where a person believes that they are doing something greater than themselves or they were “chosen” to do something. For our challenge, we had our students choose to complete a passion project that they’ve been thinking about, putting off or wanting to do for a long time. Talk about meaningful, right?

The challenge was for them to launch that meaningful project within 30 days. Many students chose projects that didn’t have to do with their current business, and are experiencing tons of residual momentum in all areas of their life because of the choice they made to do the thing they are extremely stoked about.

Our community forum (AKA the campfire) has never been more lit up with enthusiasm and conversation amongst our students.

Development & Accomplishment

This is the internal drive of making progress, developing skills, and eventually overcoming challenges. Aside from the obvious satisfaction of finally doing the thing they want to create and having it exist in the world within 30 days, we incorporated several other motivators to inspire action.

Each participant who successfully completes the challenge will get:

  • 10,000 bajillion (our community currency). This is the largest amount of bajillion we’ve ever rewarded.
  • “The Ring of Destiny,” a limited edition badge (AKA backpack supply).
  • Plus ONE winner will be crowned the champion of this challenge, based on criteria we laid out, which will allow a fancy crown to show up in their profile under “Backpack supplies” for everyone in the community to see.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is when users are engaged a creative process where they have to repeatedly figure things out and try different combinations. In the constructs of this challenge, we eliminated the need for their project to “make them money” and encouraged everyone to ONLY do something they are wildly excited about.

This freedom took the perceived risk out of the equation and all of a sudden, everyone is motivated by this sense of creative expression, fun and passion.

More people than ever are suddenly showing up and sharing themselves in the community forum, when before they may have held back or stayed silent. It’s been so incredible to witness the shift that’s taken place.

Ownership & Possession

This is the drive where users are motivated because they feel like they own something. This is where our students will get to take pride in finally having done something about that passion project they’ve been thinking about for so long and to be able to share it in the world within 30 days. No longer will it just be a good idea.

That, and every person who completes the challenge will get the Ring of Destiny and 10,000 bajillinon. Cha-ching!   😉

Social Influence & Relatedness

This drive incorporates all the social elements that drive people, including: mentorship, acceptance, social responses, companionship, as well as competition and envy.

Everyone participating in the challenge is required to make at least ONE progress update in their forum thread every week, sharing with everyone what they did, what they’re excited about, where they’re struggling and to be fully seen in their creative process.

The challenge is also a competition, where one person who does the best job (based on our criteria) will be crowned champion. This is causing people to show up and kick some serious ass that one day per week.

What we’re noticing too through the nature of the challenge, is that everyone is being super helpful and supportive with one-another; offering feedback, encouragement and brainstorming ideas and genuinely showing up to help.

Scarcity & Impatience

This is the drive of wanting something because you can’t have it. We gave everybody a small window of time to sign up and commit to the challenge. Plus, it’s only 30 days long, so there is a clear beginning and end in site.

Given that so many people jumped on board, especially in the final day of signing up, we think the fear of missing out (on their dream) inspired the best in them.

So on that note, the scarcity of creating a window of time to get in and do the damn thing was extremely beneficial for all.

Unpredictability & Curiosity

Generally, this is a harmless drive of wanting to find out what will happen next. The Great eCourse Adventure was designed with mystery in mind. We love making our students wonder what’s going to happen next on their learning journey and we generally do this through story and entertainment. For this particular challenge, we have a bonus super duper grand prize for the crowned winner.

We also posed the question to everyone: “What if you were to start dedicating one day per week to this big passion of your’s? What could you create in 30 days? Where could you be with it in 365 days? What if it all starts here with this Screw it, I”m gonna do it challenge? 

Asking the questions makes them curious enough to dive in and say, “Yeah, what if?” 

Loss & Avoidance

This core drive is based upon the avoidance of something negative happening. This one is obvious. They have been putting this passion project or idea off for a long time, and yet it keeps showing up as something they need to and want to do.

Where loss and avoidance came up for everyone is them saying, “If not now, then when?” That fear of never doing it definitely came up for some, based on what we read in the community campfire (forum).

In Summary

We are making new strides in our community by applying the Octalysis Framwork and we’re really excited to explore other ways that we can apply it to our sales processes, marketing and goal setting.

We will definitely be sharing more discoveries as they’re made, for this was only experiment number one!

How could YOU apply one or more of the 8 Core Drivers to your business or courses to generate more connection and engagement?

Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas!

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