Lotteries as a Game Mechanic… Fun or Manipulation? (Part 2)

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

In a previous article, I wrote about the evolutionary psychological aspects of the game mechanic of lotteries. In this article, I want to share some of the cool uses of lotteries to change behaviors. While these examples are not about employee engagement and learning, I think you’ll find them interesting, and hopefully they’ll generate some creativity on how you can use lotteries as a game mechanic in your programs.

In my previous article, I noted that lotteries are enjoyed by most people except for those who place a high emphasis on Savings and Tranquility (the need to be safe). For them, the risk outweighs any pleasure gained from anticipating a large windfall. 

Lotteries are certainly popular, especially when the pots reach tens of millions of dollars, but when we discuss lotteries as a game mechanic, we find that lotteries are about more than simply rewarding with cash. The fun comes from...

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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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