Gamification – Homework #3

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes —

Vaneeesa Blaylock Gamification Design Proposal

TO: Cheyenne Kendrick
FROM: Vaneeesa Blaylock
RE: Gamification Proposal for GDP

Our customers are among the smartest, most competitive, technologically savvy consumers in the marketplace. Because they have a high degree of professionalism our gamified program won’t want to look like a brightly colored, screaming children’s game, nor have the easy surface fun of Rock Band. Instead our campaign, “Reader’s Edge” will steadily build on their desire to compete and win. Reader’s Edge will allow our readers to build a professional portfolio as they read, and compare their achievements to specific friends and colleagues, and also to our larger userbase.

Because readers, let’s call them “players,” will come to our online experience to achieve and compete, Reader’s Edge will allow GDP to take back our role as provider of career advancing content, a role which our more visible distributors have to now taken for themselves. This improved GDP brand awareness should increase player loyalty while simultaneously capturing the consumer behavior data that our distribution partners have been less than forthcoming with.

Almost all of our reader-players work in environments where both collaboration and competition are valued. Reader’s Edge will capitalize on both of these impulses, allowing players to gain status by bringing in new players, by recommending titles to other players, and by writing reviews and application notes on titles. It will also provide a constant stream of metrics on how their participation compares with friends and the larger community, as well as status boosts based on the satisfaction of other players with the quality and relevance of their recommendations and reviews.

Below I will outline the Reader’s Edge in 6 segments, or “6 D’s of Design”
1. Define business objectives
2. Delineate target behaviors
3. Describe your players
4. Devise activity loops
5. Don’t forget the fun!
6. Deploy the appropriate tools

Our principal Business Objective is increased market share and increased sales. Within this we’d like to increase our player’s brand awareness, engagement with GDP books, and their brand loyalty. GDP would also like to improve our position with content distributors. By selling more units GDP will ultimately be more valuable to these partners, yet in the current scenario they are part of the roadblock to this mutually desirable end via the difficulty they present in accessing either our customers themselves, or the rich data about them.

The pipes that bring water are important, yet they’re nothing without the water itself. Our goal here is not to take on the herculean task of building our own aqueduct, but to engage GDP readers in a fun activity that brings the readers to the lake and reduces some of the hegemony of the pipe makers.

Our player-readers are business professionals, computer programmers, and other professional and technical readers. Our players are among the smartest in the population and will likely welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that and display the results. Our players are driven, motivated, and highly competitive, yet they also collaborate with others every day: both Zero-Sum Game Elements and Non-Zero-Sum Game Elements will appeal to them. These are players who will strive to be better than average.

To now these players have had greater awareness of the reader device manufacturer and distribution channels than they have of GDP. If you will, they’ve had more awareness of the brand of the kitchen faucet than they have of the quality of the water. With Reader’s Edge GDP will give them a tour of the lake as they engage in both friendly competition and cooperation with their colleagues and professional community.

With physical books a series is easily recognizable and meticulous readers will sometimes start with a series because of content quality, and then stick with it, in part, because of the consistency of the appearance on their bookshelves. Physical books are not only repositories of knowledge, they are also on-the-shelf trophies or status indicators. With Reader’s Edge, GDP books looks to bring the status and recognizably of paper books to the quality of our eBooks.

We’d like our player-readers to buy more GDP eBooks. Given the quality of our authors, the rapid changes in the marketplace, and the relentless need for continuing education, we are very much providing a real and valuable service. Therefore we don’t want target behaviors that stray from the overarching goal of bringing quality GDP content to our engaged readers. We don’t want to create tangential games away from the focus on GDP content or that take up a lot of our busy readers’ time. However by offering a compelling online space where they can rate, review, and recommend both the eBooks themselves, and also rate their player-reading colleagues’ reviews and recommendations, we allow them a social and capstone experience to their otherwise solitary reading experience.

Players will be able to quickly rate and annotate relevant materials and make recommendations for specific friends as well as for classes of other player-readers. An eBook experience can now be as social as the individual player-reader chooses to make it. A variety of tools will allow them to capture a text snippet from the book and send it as a recommendation to a colleague or to all readers looking for a specific use case. The depth, vision, and capacious trajectory of a book-length work can at last meet the speed and interactivity of communally accessed and shared web content.

We will employ two types of “loops:” Engagement and Progression. In our engagement loops Motivation, Action, and Feedback all lead to each other in a continuing circle, but not a spinning wheels circle, but one that advances up a ladder or Progression of steps.

The heart of Reader’s Edge is to make reading an easily shared and interactive experience. Players can share book reviews as well as recommendations for friends, types of readers, and can flag snippets as relevant or useful. All of this activity is then rated by the friends and members of the field who benefit from it. In essence it is peer review turned into a game element and used as a status display. In this way I can read, learn, and share that learning. Reader desire to show their intelligence can be amplified through peer recognition of the value of the reviews. The feedback of the “helpfulness” scores on a reader’s posts can motivate a new round of even more useful referrals, ratings, and reviews.

As players advance in colleague satisfaction and Reader’s Edge levels these results can be displayed in a number of ways: in their profile on GDP Reader’s Edge, they can also be exportable to LinkedIn where peers and potential employers can see their status, as well as to the Mozilla Open Badge Framework where their accomplishment “backpack” can be portably carried and displayed in a variety of contexts of the reader’s choice.

Reader’s Edge will be fun! But it won’t be the fun of Rock Band. It won’t be the fun of watching wrestling. It will be the engagement and satisfaction that befits a smart, driven, reading audience. Think Stack Overflow, more than Foursquare.

In the prototype phase Reader’s Edge will be accessed via any device: phone, tablet, laptop, desktop. Ultimately we seek device-direct participation in Reader’s Edge. A player might want to visit their Reader’s Edge Profile Page for the most elaborate metrics on their progress vis-a-vis their friends and competitors, but all functionality can be available without leaving the reading device or the reading screen. If Sara thinks Brennan should know about the paragraph she just read, she can swipe across it and send her recommendation. She can set her “degree of concentration” or “degree of interaction” so that she can receive no interruptions, or a notice when a friend of Brennan’s level sees her recommendation and “pays” her with value points, or a notice when any user rewards her contribution with value points. She can check her standing vs Brennan and others with a simple swipe. Reader’s Edge lets our readers quickly and easily access the metrics they want, without pushing the distractions they don’t.

The Reader’s Edge program will not only increase sales and market share, but will also have the longer-term benefit of reducing reader dependence on the “brand of the faucet” as they become increasingly aware of the quality of our “water.”

A closed beta test of Reader’s Edge will allow us the opportunity to quickly deploy prototypes, collect data on their efficacy and engagement, and then iterate toward a massively scalable platform.

Thank you for considering the Reader’s Edge platform. A first-gen prototype can be available for GDP internal dogfooding within 30 days of green light.

Gamification Design Project - Gamified Reading System - illustration from Sony Reader

Prompt: Project Part III: Gamification Design Document

Now that you know the essential concepts about gamification and game design, it’s time to use them. For this final task, we ask you to bridge this gap as you meld creativity and structure to match peoples’ needs with technical feasibility and business realities.

You are approached by Cheyenne Kendrick, the CEO of Go Digital Press (GDP), a global publisher of electronic books for devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and iPad. She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize publishing. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

GDP concentrates on the trade segment of the book market, i.e. non-fiction publications that would traditionally appear in bookstores, rather than mass-market paperbacks. Approximately 50% of its titles are targeted at business professionals; 25% are educational resources on technical topics such as computer programming; and the remainder address a variety of different subjects.

As a pioneer in e-book publishing, GDP faces the challenge that many users, even in the U.S., do not yet own reader devices. As of April 2012, only 21% of American adults reported that they had read an e-book in the past year, although those numbers are increasing rapidly. Kendrick tells you that another concern is that the device manufacturers and their associated distribution platforms control the sales process, making it difficult for publishers such as GDP to obtain data or develop direct customer relationships. On the positive side, an e-book is a flexible digital asset, which can offer interactive features beyond any physical book. Kendrick asks you to propose a way to gamify the distribution or consumption of e-books, or both.

Provide a detailed description of your proposal, organized according to the design framework described in the lectures in Unit 7:

1. Define business objectives
2. Delineate target behaviors
3. Describe your players
4. Devise activity loops
5. Don’t forget the fun!
6. Deploy the appropriate tools

Format: Maximum of 1500 words. A normal answer will have descriptive text, and/or a set of bullet points, for each of the six sections of the design framework.

6 D’s of Gamification

Professor Werbach’s six-step gamification design framework is described in lecture unit 7. To help with your final written assignment, below is a summary of each element.

Your submission should be organized around these six tasks. However, this is not a precise template. You could start with an overview of your system, for example. And you don’t need to address every specific question below; they are just offered to illustrate the design steps.

Define business objectives. Why are you gamifying? How do you hope to benefit your business, or achieve some other goal such as motivating people to change their behavior? The first written assignment focused on this step of the process, so you may wish to look back on your earlier submission and the peer assessments for guidance. As you state your objectives, emphasize the end goal or goals of your gamified design rather than detailing the means through which you’ll achieve this goal. Basically, if your gamified system does what you intend, what specific positive results will it generate for your organization?

Delineate target behaviors. What do you want your players to do? And what are the metrics that will allow you to measure them? These behaviors should promote your business objectives, although the relationship may be indirect. For example, your business goal might be to increase sales, but your target behavior could be for visitors to spend more time on your website. As you describe the behaviors, be sure to explain how they will help your system achieve its objectives. The metrics should in some fashion provide feedback to the players, letting them know when they are successfully engaging in the intended behaviors.

Describe your players. Who are the people who will be participating in your gamified activity? What is their relationship to you? For example, are they prospective customers, employees at your organization, or some other community? And what are they like? You can describe your players using demographics (such as age and gender), psychographics (such as their values and personalities), Bartle’s player types, or some other framework. You should show that you understand what sorts of game elements and other structures are likely to be effective for this population. For example, you might discuss whether a more competitive or cooperative system would be better for this player community.

Devise your activity loops. Explore in greater detail how you will motivate your players using engagement and progression loops. First, describe the kinds of feedback your system will offer the players to encourage further action, and explain how this feedback will work to motivate the players. (Remember: rewards are only one kind of feedback.) Second, how if at all will players progress in your system? This includes how the system will get new players engaged, and how it will remain interesting for more experienced players.

Don’t forget the fun. Although more abstract than some of the other elements, ensuring that your gamified system is fun remains as important as the other aspects. In order to fully explore this aspect of the design process, consider how your game would function without any extrinsic rewards. Would you say it was fun? Identify which aspects of the game could continue to motivate players to participate even without rewards.

Deploy the appropriate tools. By this point, you’ve probably identified several of the game elements and other specifics of your gamified system. If you haven’t already, you should explain in detail what your system would look like. What are some of the game elements involved and what will the experience be like for the players? What specific choices would you make in deploying your system? For example, you might discuss whether the gamified system is to be experienced primarily on personal computers, mobile devices, or some other platform. You might also describe what feedback, rewards, and other reinforcements the players could receive. Finally, think about whether you’ve tied your decisions back to the other five steps in the process, especially the business objectives.


(points scaled x4)

There is only one component to the score for this assignment. You may optionally also provide free-form feedback to the student.

The submission should be the student’s own work. If you conclude that a substantial portion has been copied without attribution from another student or an online resource, assign a score of “0” to both components.

0 No answer or completely irrelevant answer.
1 Addresses three or fewer of the six sections of the design framework.
2 Addresses four or more of six sections of the design framework, but fails to describe a gamified system that the grader can envision.
3 Describes a gamified system and addresses four or more of the six sections of the design framework, but does so in a way that is obvious or vague. For example, “The players are the readers of e-books published by GDP.”
4 Describes a gamified system and addresses all six sections of the design framework, but fails to adequately explain how the proposed system would address the goals identified in the problem.
5 Describes a specific, realistic gamified system and addresses all six sections of the design framework in a manner that is generally thoughtful, consistent, and insightful.

Gamification / Human Grading Page


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