Lotteries as a Game Mechanic… Fun or Manipulation? (Part 1)

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

Recently I read some interesting research on the use of lotteries to change behaviors. While the results of these different programs are significant, people criticized the use of lotteries as manipulative, even when this game mechanic caused people to do helpful things such as save for their futures and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. 

I will discuss the successful use of lotteries as a game mechanic in a following article and encourage you to consider using lotteries to engage employees and learners, but I thought a pre-amble that hopefully sidesteps the “moral” associations of lotteries would be helpful. 

Elsewhere I’ve argued that what makes a game mechanic “fun” is its appeal to specific (intrinsic) motivators. For instance, Badges appeal to the motivator of Saving (the need to collect). The reason some people like Badges and others don’t care for...

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Level-up Learning: Five Levels of Gamification Design

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
CMO, Sententia Gamification

There is an oft-quoted and perhaps overused prediction by Gartner that 80 percent of gamification efforts are destined for failure. (At least that was the prediction in 2014.) Given the prevalence of the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule), we could say that, hypothetically, only 20 percent of gamification efforts in the Learning and Development space will be successful

Why will so many gamification efforts be unsuccessful if not outright failures? Could it be that designers and instructors simply slap some game mechanics on a program and declare it gamified? Instead of examining their programs and learners, and then strategically interweaving game mechanics, they settle for some points, badges, and leaderboards and wonder why they see very little changes. That’s like placing a cherry on top of a dish and declaring it a sundae. That one ingredient does not magically convert Brussel sprouts into a delectable dessert.

This is...

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4 Levels of Measurement for Your Next Gamification Project

Written by Monica Cornetti
CEO, Sententia Gamification

Let's talk Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. In its simplest form, a KPI is a type of performance measurement that helps you understand how your HR or L&D department is performing. If everything is important… nothing is important.

To be effective, a KPI must:

  • Be well-defined and quantifiable.
  • Be communicated to all stakeholders.
  • Be crucial to achieving your goal.
  • Be relevant to your program.

The trouble is, there are thousands of KPIs to choose from. If you choose the wrong one, then you are measuring something that doesn’t align with your goals. How, then, should you go about selecting the right KPIs for your program?

The best way to accomplish this is by researching and understanding the most important KPIs. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of which ones are specific to your program and which ones will be of no benefit or will not be impacted by your program.

Remember:  If everything...

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What Makes Story So Powerful? (Part 2)

By Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

When we hear someone else telling a story or sharing a metaphor, our brain quickly searches for similar experiences we’ve already had.

You probably haven’t been to Kakadu National Park. You probably haven’t even been to Australia. And if you have been, you probably haven’t ever been in Northern Territories, Australia. And if you have, did you leave Darwin? Or were you way down south at Uluru Rock? So you literally can’t relate to my story.

But when you read that story, your brain scrambled around looking for similar experiences you’ve had. Have you been to a national park? Have you seen petroglyphs? If you’re in the US, that “40c” reference threw you, but you understand hot and humid. 

When our brains search for similar experiences, we activate a region called the insula, which is an emotion part of the brain. This allows us to associate the proper...

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What Makes Story So Powerful? (Part 1)

By Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

A few years ago, I was exploring petroglyphs and ancient dwelling sites in Kakadu National Park in Northern Territories, Australia. In my usual fashion, I didn’t follow a prescribed path, and I didn’t take the time to read any interpretive signs. I had a lot to see, and not much time. 

As I jogged around one interesting rock formation, I was confronted by a huge painting on the cliff face. Panting and sweating (it was 40c and humid), I glanced over the drawing and instantly understood the story, or at least the broad strokes of it: The big creature with the claws and teeth (and huge vagina) gave birth to a more comforting creature, who was the mother of all humans, or at least the tribe who owned this origins story.  

In other words, people from more than 20,000 years ago, who spoke a language I don’t speak (and probably no longer exists), told I story that I could understand. 

...

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A Long View of Gamification and Learning

Uncategorized Aug 27, 2018

When you mention your intention to gamify of learning program, have you ever run into resistance? Have you ever had a higher-up say, “We’re serious people doing serious work,” or “We don’t pay them to have fun”? (Have you asked to go to a gamification conference, say, GamiCon, and struggled to get it paid for?)

Their resistance is probably to the term “game.” It feels like play and frivolity. In fact, learning through play appears to core to human experience.

The route most people L&D professionals took to gamification went something like this: Over here, I have these disengaged learners in a boring training program; over there, people play video games for hours. What if I took some of the fun and engaging (if not addicting) elements of games and applied them to learning? 

Makes sense, right? 

Then, as we begin studying why games are so engaging, if not addicting, we understood that certain things are happening...

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Awards and Motivation

Uncategorized Aug 24, 2018

A lot has been written about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in popular books and articles, but scientists are not so sure such a differentiation exists. There is no part of the brain dedicated to extrinsic awards and another part that comes from within. Dopamine, for instance, is released, regardless of whether someone gives you a reward or if you are the only one aware of your accomplishment. 

Or to put it another way, the carrot and stick only work if you like carrots and fear sticks. 

If a company owner wants to “bribe” employees by incentivizing them with bonuses for performance, those bonuses are only motivating if the employee desires more money. And why would an employee want more money? Maybe to better care for their family—an intrinsic motivator; to be able to buy a nicer car—the desire for status, an intrinsic motivator; to save for retirement—the intrinsic motivation for feeling safe and secure. The extra money itself is not...

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The Reiss Motivation Profile and Gamification

Uncategorized Jun 13, 2018

Think of how much you played as a child. You exerted a tremendous amount of energy, and spent as much time as possible, playing games. Why such a commitment? Because it was fun!

Ultimately, we were motivated by "fun," though we differ in our definitions of fun. Our brains have receptors for different "pleasure" chemicals and hormones. When certain desires are satiated, we are rewarded with associated brain chemistry that signal that what we just did was enjoyable or fun. However, we each have different numbers of these receptors. For instance, a sociopath lacks receptors for oxytocin, and extreme sports are only attractive to those with ample adrenalin receptors.   

When it comes to gamification, and Learning and Development in general, we need to realize that what is fun for one person will not be fun for another person. This type of person might find this game mechanic, but that person over there will be repulsed by the same mechanic. Think of the variety of...

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The Pitfalls of Motivational Interviews

Uncategorized Feb 08, 2018

Beginning Warning

What motivates your learner? The answer is more complex and complicated than you may think, certainly more complex and more complicated than popular business books would lead you to believe. 

When it comes to assessing the motivational profile of learners, the first and biggest hurdle is Self-Hugging—yours and theirs. Remember, you assume everyone is like you, and they assume everyone is like them. Therefore, when you interview a learner, you will assume they have similar motivations as you, and you will tend to ask questions from your frame of reference. 

For them, they won’t perceive that their motivations are different from other people. If they are very different from you, they may not hear the question the way you meant it, and they will respond according to what they heard and what they assume about you. 

The cycle will continue because you will hear their response from your frame. You may assume they are saying one thing, when...

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Four Types of Gamification for Learning

With a nod to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, it’s important to know WHY we are gamifying a program or process before we begin to actually gamify it. If I could anticipate what he would say (at least a few years ago) about the WHY of gamification, I believe Sinek would say our WHY will determine HOW we will gamify the learning program which will determine WHAT game elements and mechanics we will apply to our program. 

I’m sure the idea that there are four types of gamification didn’t originate in my brain, but I’ve given some thought to the below categories recently, and I’d like to begin a discussion and an awareness when we engage in the gamification of learning. Also, these types are not separate and distinctive; there are grey areas in between. So be kind and generous in your replies (and let me know whom I should be attributing to below categories to). 

  1. As a Cosmetic: Here you simply add game elements, visuals, and other design...
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