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Actionable Gamification

Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards

About the Book

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

               -Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

This book is not about why gamification is amazing. It is not about how gamification is the future and how inspiring life could be with it. It is not necessarily for the late adopters who are simply curious about what gamification is. It also does not focus on what the gamification industry is doing as a whole, especially when that is continuously changing every month. Rather, this book is about *implementing good gamification design* into your products, workplace, and lifestyle.

It is a deep exploration into what makes a game fun and how to apply those fun and engaging elements in real-life productive activities. It is about how you can use gamification and scientifically proven methods to improve your company, your life, and the lives of those around you.

Effective gamification is a combination of game design, game dynamics, behavioral economics, motivational psychology, UX/UI (User Experience and User Interface), neurobiology, technology platforms, as well as ROI-driving business implementations. This book explores the interplay between these disciplines to capture the core principles that contribute to good gamification design. I will be sharing my observations in multiple industries and sectors based on my 12-year journey of passionately and relentlessly pursuing the craft of Gamification.

Chapters of this book tend to build on previous chapters, so skipping around is not suggested. That said, if you have been an avid reader of my work and viewer of my videos, you might already have a firm grasp of the 8 Core Drives within the Octalysis Framework. In that case, feel free to skip to a section that you want to hone in on.

If you are extremely busy (which chances are - you are) and aren't sure if you want to commit to this book, I recommend starting off with Chapters 3, 5, 10, 14, and 15 to decide whether you would like to read the entire book.

Within the book, there will be many every-day scenarios to illustrate the potential of these Core Drives and the flexibility of their applications beyond traditional “gamification” examples. I myself still constantly gain new insights and revelations when I reflect and speculate upon the various possibilities contained in the 8 Core Drives. I hope you do too.

As this book is titled “Actionable Gamification,” my goal for this book is to become a strategy guide to help my readers master the games that truly make a difference in their lives. If you absorb the contents of this book, you will have literally obtained what many companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to acquire.

My ultimate aim is to enable the widespread adoption of good gamification and *human-focused design* in all types of industries. I care deeply about creating a world that is sustainably more enjoyable and productive. In that world, there no longer will be a great divide between what people have to do and what they want to do - our lives become better as we spend time enjoying everything we do.

I'm excited for you to dive into the contents of this book so that we can start to build a world that harnesses the *power of play together*. Let's begin.

Yu-kai Chou (Written February 14th 2014) 

“Yu-kai’s reputation precedes him in the field of gamification. His Octalysis framework is both elegantly simple and intricately complex. His book is not only extrinsically rewarding to read, but intrinsically motivating to apply; it’s wickedly effective, and yet divinely true. Octalysis brilliantly unified all these seemingly conflicting aspects of gamification into a single cohesive framework with a hidden twist in the middle of it—it’s sensational.”

                   -Michael Wu, Chief Scientist @ Lithium

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Reader Testimonials

Susie Wee
Susie Wee

SVP and CTO of Cisco DevNet at Cisco Systems

"I’ve been following Yu-kai’s work on gamification for years and have enjoyed his deep insights and actionable recommendations. Octalysis is a powerful and pragmatic framework to understand human nature and positive motivators that encourage people to do their best work. It should be required reading for anyone building, managing, or collaborating with a team, community, or ecosystem."

David Webster
David Webster

Partner and Executive Director at IDEO

"Yu-Kai’s Octalysis framework is a powerful addition to the tool kit of any creative professional. It provides a designer-friendly structure to connect information and insights with just the right amount of rigor to provoke fresh ideas."

Anthony Di Iorio
Anthony Di Iorio

Co-Founder of Ethereum and CEO of Decentral

Yu-kai and his team are the masters of the gamification domain. The Octalysis framework is invaluable throughout our product launch process, from ideation, mockup, competition analysis to our user interface audit. We believe gamification will be at the forefront of many enterprise and B2C software and Octalysis is leading this movement. We would recommend them to anyone looking to gamify their product or service in a meaningful, engaging and fun way.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: When the Surreal Blends into our World
    • How a Game changed my Life
    • The First Game I Designed
    • Why Gamification?
    • Human-Focused Design: The Better Term for Gamification
    • The Conquests of Gamification
  • Chapter 2: The PBL Fallacy
    • A Story about Social Media
    • An Obsession with Grunt Work
    • Secondhand Sushi Making
    • A Trojan Horse without Greek Soldiers
    • The Threat and Opportunities in Gamification
    • The Story of the Good Designer vs. Bad Designer
  • Chapter 3: The Octalysis Framework
    • A Gamification Design Framework for Everyone
    • The 8 Core Drives of Gamification
    • Left Brain (Extrinsic Tendency) vs. Right Brain (Intrinsic Tendency) Drives
    • White Hat vs Black Hat Gamification
    • How to Apply Level 1 Octalysis to Actual Systems
    • Quick Intro to Level II Octalysis and Beyond
  • Chapter 4: Putting Gamification in its Place
    • The War on Words
    • Semantics vs. Value
    • Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable
    • Explicit Gamification: Games that Fulfill Non-Game Purposes
    • Implicit Gamification: Human-Focused Design that Utilizes Game Elements
    • Implicit vs. Explicit Gamification
    • 4 Application Fields of Gamification
  • Chapter 5: The First Core Drive - Epic Meaning & Calling
    • The Core Drive High Above
    • The Encyclopedia that Pwned Me
    • Newton’s Legacy is Beyond a Fruit
    • Mjolnir is Not Just a Tool
    • Your Parents are Bigger Than You!
    • Game Techniques within Epic Meaning & Calling
    • Core Drive 1: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 6: The Second Core Drive - Development & Accomplishment
    • Development & Accomplishment in Games
    • The First Gamification Site that I was Addicted to
    • “I overpaid for my product. Take that, suckas!”
    • Never make Users Feel Dumb
    • Star of Bethlehem - Guiding Users Forward
    • Limitations of eBay’s Design
    • Wait, that’s not new!
    • Game Techniques within Development & Accomplishment
    • Core Drive 2: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 7: The Third Core Drive - Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
    • The Computer Game that Became a National Sport
    • Gamification Fatigue?
    • Tic-Tac-Draw
    • The General’s Carrot in Education
    • Folding into the Crowd
    • The Elysian Stairs to Health
    • Empowerment and Creativity in the Corporate Space
    • Draw a Gun for Bad Endgame Design
    • Game Techniques within Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
    • Core Drive 3: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 8: The Fourth Core Drive - Ownership & Possession
    • Wait, it’s mine? Hold on, I do care then!
    • Stamps of Sanity
    • How Stoned Can You Be
    • The First Virtual Pet Game
    • The Endowment Effect
    • Identity, Consistency, and Commitments
    • Game Techniques within Ownership & Possession
    • Core Drive 4: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 9: The Fifth Core Drive - Social Influence & Relatedness
    • The Mentor that Stole My Life
    • We’re all Pinocchios at Heart
    • The Average Person is Above Average
    • Social Influence vs. Epic Meaning within a Team
    • Corporate Competition as an Oxymoron
    • Game Techniques within Social Influence & Relatedness
    • Core Drive 5: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 10: The Sixth Core Drive: Scarcity & Impatience
    • The Lure of being Exclusively Pointless
    • The Value of Rare Pixels
    • The Leftovers aren’t all that’s Left Over
    • Persuasively Inconvenient
    • Curves are better than Cups in Economics
    • “This guy’s not expensive enough.”
    • “I Don’t Feel Good When My Pocket Is Too Full After A Purchase”
    • Game Techniques within Scarcity & Impatience
    • Great! So now what?
    • Core Drive 6: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 11: The Seventh Core Drive - Unpredictability & Curiosity
    • And, Now it’s Fun
    • The Core Drive in a Skinner Box
    • Sweepstakes and Raffles
    • A Lucky Day with Lucky Diem
    • Suspense and Mystery in a Blender
    • Faking your Way to Virality
    • Google’s Curious Second Button
    • Woot! Creates Midnight Cinderella’s
    • Game Techniques within Unpredictability & Curiosity
    • Core Drive 7: The Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 12: The Eighth Core Drive - Loss & Avoidance
    • Cropping your Losses
    • Affection Held Hostage
    • “Why don’t you take all my money?” in Poker
    • The Good Chasing the Bad
    • Zombies Make you Skinnier
    • Flipping other Core Drives Off
    • Ultimate Loss vs Executable Loss
    • A Caveat: Avoiding the Avoidance
    • Game Techniques in Loss and Avoidance
    • Core Drive 8: The Big Picture
  • Chapter 13: Left Brain vs Right Brain Core Drives
    • Using Octalysis in the Real World
    • Left Brain vs. Right Brain Core Drives
    • Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation
    • Slight Semantic Differences with the Self-Determination Theory
    • Motivation Traps in Gamification Campaigns
    • The Problem with Educational Systems
    • Pay to Not Play
    • How Market Settings Reverse Social Settings
    • The Advantages of Extrinsic Motivation Design
    • How to Make an Experience More Intrinsic
    • Left Brain vs Right Brain Core Drives: the Bigger Picture
  • Chapter 14: The Mysteries of White Hat and Black Hat Gamification
    • Origins of the Theory
    • The Nature of White Hat vs Black Hat Core Drives
    • Zynga and Black Hat Gamification
    • Black Hat with a Clear Conscious
    • Gamification, Manipulation, and Ethics
    • When to Use White Hat Gamification Design
    • Careful Transitioning between White Hat and Black Hat
    • No Buyer’s Remorse from TOMS
    • What about Core Drives 4 and 5?
  • Chapter 15: Understanding Other Gamification and Behavioral Frameworks with Octalysis
    • Scientific Research and Game Studies
    • Octalysis View of Self-Determination Theory
    • Richard Bartle’s Four Player Types
    • Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys To Fun
    • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory
    • Fogg Behavior Model
    • Jane McGonigal’s Theories
    • The World is Your Playground
  • Chapter 16: Level I Octalysis in Action
    • Octalysis Review of Facebook
    • The Score is a Smoke Screen
    • Octalysis of the Speed Camera Lottery
    • Octalysis of the Waze Navigation App
    • The Endgame Phase of Waze
    • The Next Step: Identify Potential Improvements for Waze
  • Chapter 17: Designing a project from scratch with Octalysis
    • Redesigning
    • The Octalysis Strategy Dashboard
    • Level I Octalysis Ideation Process
    • Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling
    • Repeating the Octalysis Process
    • Summary of Level 1 Octalysis in Action
  • Chapter 18: The Journey Goes On
  • Wall of Gratitude
    • Those who directly contributed to the book
    • Those who impacted who I am today
  • Notes

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