Today I will talk about something different.
First of all, you should take a look at our consultancy page https://gamificationplus.uk/gamification-consultancy/.
There is a new button that prompts you to play a game in order to get a copy of our gamification project design framework. That’s the subject of this blog post, the new framework we designed with Pete to share our experience on designing gamification projects and hopefully help more people design their own projects better.
The need for that framework initially came from the fact that our clients were frequently asking us about our process. How we design gamification projects in order to understand if we are the right match for them. Initially this framework was supposed to be only for them. After we talked about their projects we would send an email with what we need from them and attach the framework to demonstrate our process. Building this framework though it seemed to us that more people could benefit from it. We decided to share it with everyone and see if it would prove useful to the gamification community.
I will try and briefly analyse the seven stages we came up with and give you more insight on how to use this framework.
Stage 1: Assess Objectives
As I always say to people, when we start a gamification project we need to have a clearly defined goal. A clearly defined goal does not mean hard figures necessarily. We may set “improve teamwork” as a goal which is hard to measure with numbers. Improving teamwork is a quite clear goal though and gamification can help. If there are more than one objectives then we need to make a list and prioritise. We must define the most important results in order to design our gamification accordingly.
Gamification is not always applicable and sometimes we have to say to clients that there may be another way to solve their problem, better than gamification. We have seen a lot of cases where it did and we know we can come up with a solution that will add the customer and help them resolve their problem.
Stage 2: Gather Intelligence
This is the stage where the client needs to give us information about them. To design a gamification solution you need to know what tools you have to work with. Not all organisations have a mobile application or an intranet. They may want to use their website as a gamification tool or their social media channels or a combination.
Another important thing is, what do they already measure in terms of their performance and engagement. If they want to develop a tool like a mobile application, do they have any wireframes we can take a look at? What will this application do and what technologies do they have in place that we could use? These are very important questions so we are time efficient and design a solution using the right tools.
Stage 3: Define the Target Behaviours
Now we have to go back to stage one and take a look at the list of objectives we made. To achieve each of them, the players need to perform a list of actions. We call these actions User Behaviours. These user behaviours work the same way as in games. In order to finish a level you need to perform some actions using the tools the game gave you. These actions is what we want our users to motivate to do in our system.
A business objective may have a short or long list of target behaviours to be achieved. In order to monitor these behaviours we need to set up the right metrics. How will we measure engagement and where the players is along the way? How do we know our gamification is working? We need some metrics to examine that. Of course stage 3 is a loop and we keep performing it until we have analysed all business objectives and we have a list of target behaviours and metrics for every objective we set.
Stage 4: Player Type Strategies
This stage is all about our users. Who are these people that will use our gamification and how will it add value to them? If it’s not useful to them then it’s very possible they won’t be engaged for a long time. We start by defining the demographics and their motivations. If you have a broad audience then maybe users will have different motivations in your system. You need to design incentives for as many players as possible.
At the same time we know all about the player type theories and we analyse users from that perspective too. We choose to deploy game mechanics that motivate these player types and make sense in our system. You want to motivate achievers but at the same time, you don’t want to introduce competition to your project so a leader board would not be the right game mechanic for you. Analysing users and designing the right game mechanics for each one can be one of the most challenging parts of gamification.
Stage 5: Design a Prototype
Prototyping is extremely important. I have designed a whole workshop to show people how to prototype games in a couple of hours (https://gamificationplus.uk/game-prototyping-workshop/). In prototyping you need to be fast and decisive. Make something out of nothing and see how it feels. Does it make sense to you now that it materialised or not? Maybe you need to iterate, prototypes are good for that. Take a piece of paper and a pen and try to get feedback from people. Build a bigger prototype and get feedback again until you feel you are ready.
Then we strongly suggest a very detailed specifications document that will demonstrate all aspects of your projects to the team that will build it.
Stage 6: Production
Picking the right team to execute your plan is extremely important. Your team may be other company employees or outside contractors. The important thing is to have all skills you need to bring the project to completion and to be able to collaborate with them efficiently. Project management is extremely important in gamification the same as on everything else that happens in a company in order to meet the deadlines and requirements that have been set.
Don’t forget to test and play test your systems again during production. Recently I was watching an interview of the core team that made the new Nintendo hit Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and they said that every few months they stopped productions to play test the game and make sure it’s still fun to play. Roll it out with a bang and make sure to celebrate!
Stage 7: Follow up Planning
After you roll it out you have to watch for disruptors. People that will try and break the system and will reveal all the soft points and the problems it may have. This is good for you because you get the chance to repair what’s broken or needs improvement. Listen to feedback from players, good or bad, it’s extremely important. See what’s working and what’s maybe not performing as you wanted it to. Develop these improvements and implement them as soon as possible to improve your systems and show users that you care.
Finally, if you plan to run your gamification for a long time you definitely need fresh content every once in a while. Think about what new tools or content you could give your players to keep them engaged and interested in the long run.
That was all the advice I had to give you on how to plan your gamification projects, I hope you find this framework useful and please send us any feedback you have about it or photos of you using it!
And don't forget to play our game and get your framework!
I think this is great, I particularly like the idea of prioritising objectives from the beginning. Having a clear primary objective really helps with everything else.
On step 6 and 7 it’s important expectations are set right. I find that play testing is rarely sufficient to iron out all the kinks. People adopt different behaviour patterns when “it’s for real”! That means a process of iteration is necessary. So step 7 can be ongoing for a while!