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Gamification Transformed:


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Gamification may provide new venues for offering customer experiences. The chapter compares three models of game play analyzed through user experience research. In section 1, the three models are presented: Grind Core, Freemium, and Immersion. These models are differentiated as value delivered, and user experience. Value and experience are defined across four categories: function, emotion, life change and social impact. In section 2, the role of emotion, value, and experience are described to inform how games can be transformative, providing the life change and social impact through the immersion experience model. This chapter is intended to help developers identify what kind of value experience they want to provide their customers, and provide a new view of gamification.
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Chapter 2
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1817-4.ch002
Gamification may provide new venues for offering customer experiences. The chapter compares three
models of game play analyzed through user experience research. In section 1, the three models are
presented: Grind Core, Freemium, and Immersion. These models are differentiated as value delivered,
and user experience. Value and experience are defined across four categories: function, emotion, life
change and social impact. In section 2, the role of emotion, value, and experience are described to inform
how games can be transformative, providing the life change and social impact through the immersion
experience model. This chapter is intended to help developers identify what kind of value experience
they want to provide their customers, and provide a new view of gamification.
Games can offer user experiences that build customer loyalty through providing value to the user. However,
there is some confusion about how to translate great game experiences into gamification. Traditionally,
there have been two views of gamification that are similar (Figure 1).
These two views are problematic. Neither of these views describes which game elements deliver great
user experience, how to provide value to the user, or how to deliver these experiences. For example:
Using game elements in non-game contexts can lead to a confusing user experience. Which ele-
ments of games are useful? Digital experiences require an investment of time and resource, and
adding game elements to an experience may result in a lack of coherence. What if those game ele-
ments don’t deliver a game-like experience? This definition could result in providing chocolate-
Gamication Transformed:
Gamication Should Deliver the
Best Parts of Game Experiences, Not
Just Experiences of Game Parts
Brock Randall Dubbels
McMaster University, Canada
Gamication Transformed
covered broccoli as gamification. Will chocolate make the broccoli better? If there is no game
experience, then is it gamification?
Amplification often depends upon behavioural modification techniques to increase engagement.
In high-value interactions with customers, employees, patients, and partners this approach can
backfire. User research data has shown that behavioural techniques may lead to short-term en-
gagement, but create long-term resentment and feelings of manipulation.
Gamification: A New Perspective
Today the concept of selling experiences has spread beyond theaters and theme parks (Pine & Gilmore,
1998). Customer experience is an interaction that begins with a customer’s first attraction, and evolves
into awareness, cultivation, purchase, and advocacy. Customer experience implies a holistic perspec-
tive, with customer involvement at different levels - such as rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and
spiritual. Customers are able to recall interactive experiences much more effectively and accurately than
passive activities. However, this can also have a negative effect on the customer’s experience. Just as
interactive, hands-on experiences can greatly develop value creation; it can also greatly facilitate value
destruction (Tynan, McKechnie, & Hartley, 2014). This is related to a customer’s satisfaction of their
experience. By understanding what causes satisfaction or dissatisfaction of a customer’s experience, one
can adapt and provide optimal experiences to customers(Ren, Qiu, Wang, & Lin, 2016). Digital games
offer similar interactive high value experiences to customers, and can extend reach and influence by
providing users with meaningful experiences. To provide a meaningful experience, which may provide
a sensational, emotional, and even spiritual experience, research on the user experience can provide
insight and evidence into how the user experiences all dimensions of an experience.
Traditionally, customer value has been examined from the perspective of business requirements and
performance. Many companies now understand that they are providing services to increase the perceived
and experienced value of their product. A customer-based approach that considers value within the broader
context of a customer’s life world (Tynan et al., 2014). Companies that invest in providing excellent
Figure 1. Two views of gamification
Gamication Transformed
customer service are consistently invested in ways to grow and improve how they can add value through
providing experience. When companies use cunning and manipulation to stimulate a purchase, the result
may lead to customer regret, and a decision to take their business elsewhere (Meyer & Schwager, 2007).
Successful companies seek to provide experiences to increase loyalty and enhance enjoyment. The same
is true for user experience research in video games.
However, it is common to see incoherence between the design and the goals of an intended game
experience (Mitgutsch & Alvarado, 2012). This is because game play encourages the user to interact
with the things they might read about in books, or watch on a screen. In games, interactions act as con-
tent – the story is told through experience. For the purposes of this chapter, three experiential models of
gameplay are presented and compared for functionality, emotional value, and experience. The intent of
this comparison is to identify what truly makes game experiences worthy of story, memory, and shar-
ing that experience with others. Games have the potential to provide experiences to users that will build
loyalty. To do this, the experience must provide value to the user. For many companies, the goal is to
provide a transcendent customer experience, which is transformative, and even spiritual. This experi-
ence can generate lasting shifts in attitudes and beliefs, including subjective transformation and flow
experience (Schouten, McAlexander, & Koenig, 2007).
According to Almquist, Senior, and Bloch (2016), user experiences that deliver high value in four
categories specific to their product (Figure 2) will have revenue growth four times greater than that
of companies with only one high score (Almquist, Senior, & Bloch, 2016). A successful brand shapes
customers’ experiences by embedding the fundamental value proposition in every feature (Meyer &
Schwager, 2007b).
Value is additive. Companies that provide value in function and emotion are much more likely to
provide experiences that are life changing or provide social impact. Many games provide value across
these categories, while other provide high-level, even transformative user experiences. Any attempt at
gamification should offer the best what games have to offer:
High-value function,
Positive emotional experience,
Potentially transformation, and
Social impact.
In this section, three game experience models are presented:
Grind Core,
Freemium, and
• Immersion.
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These models are presented in the context of a hypothetical game presented in section four. Two of
the three models are predicated upon a token economy, where the player can collect, purchase, and trade
seeds in place of money.
All three of these experiential models use an engagement loop. An engagement loop refers to rein-
forcement as feedback loops that keep the player engaged in the game. What matters is how the engage-
ment loop is used.
In general, the engagement loop provides motivation through a call to action. An engagement loop
can be expressed in two ways: a compulsion loop (used in Grind Core and Freemium), and Reward Ac-
tion Contingency (used in the immersion model). The call to action provides details how to participate,
and indicates the reward:
A Compulsion Loop: Refers to the game challenge compelling the user into predictable, tedious,
and repetitive tasks, undertaken in order to obtain items. The user participates in non-desirable
activities to obtain a desirable object. The value of a compulsion loop is that it distracts the player
from undesirable activities. The problem with a compulsion loop is that it directs the focus of
the user towards the desirable object, a form of extrinsic motivation. This emphasis on extrinsic
motivation means that after the desirable object is obtained, the reward is delivered, and if is not
absolutely awesome, the user will experience remorse and resentment (Meyer & Schwager, 2007).
In a video game, this focus and reward system takes the player out of the flow of game play, and
Figure 2. The Elements of Value
From Almquist, Senior, & Bloch.
Gamication Transformed
replaces the main quest with goals to obtain items. This can reduce the perceived value experience
that is delivered.
The compulsion loop also serves as a replacement to game content. The compulsion loop acts as
a treadmill, as an habitual, designed chain of activities that will be repeated to gain a neurochemical
reward: a feeling of pleasure and/or a relief from pain (Kim, 2014). The compulsion loop has its origins
in behavioural modification, and has been called a Skinner Box. As the reward becomes more desir-
able, the motivation becomes stronger. The user participates in clicking and other repetitious behaviour
to gather tokens. Those tokens are then used to obtain powerful objects. This technique is a form of
behavioural modification, and has been purposefully integrated into games (Hopson, 2001) to provide
content, increase playing time, and habituate the user. The compulsion loop is one of the core features
of the Grind Core experience model.
Figure 3. Three game experience models
Figure 4. Engagement loop
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Reward Action Contingency: Where grinding is a vicious cycle, the RAC is a virtuous cycle.
The RAC provides reinforcement and reward in service to the game. The RAC provides clear sig-
nals of progress to increase the player’s sense of empowerment, knowledge, control and potential,
and can serve as a conceptual model (Green, Benson, Kersten, & Schrater, 2010). RACs aid the
user in overcoming game challenges, rather than redirecting the user to engage in predictable,
tedious, and repetitious activities motivated by objects. In contrast to compulsion loops, RACs
provide insight through the experience of a canonical example.
A canonical example provides a general experience representative of future activities (Acunas &
Schrater, 2010). By engaging with a canonical example, the user gets a sense of future cause and effect
relationships, and may form a belief system about similar tasks encountered in future play (Andersen,
Zeng, Christensen, & Tran, 2009; Andrade, Ramalho, Santana, & Corruble, 2005; Merrick & Maher,
2007). Although a canonical example is similar to repetition, there is a difference. The RAC must evolve
and change so that it is not predictable. The experience of a RAC offers a generalizable model, which
results in the creation of a cognitive theory of action (Dubbels, 2010). A cognitive theory of action is
simply the user creating an explanation of cause and effect.
In the following hypothetical game, the user must return a magic sunflower seed to save their world.
The user must travel the golden Road, which is fraught with challenge and danger, and plant the seed in
the Sacred Garden. This hypothetical game provides three experience models to play the game: Grind
core, Freemium, and Immersion.
Experiential Model: Grind Core
Some people like the grind, others do not. This model is common in open world game play, where the
player has the option to go where they want, and do what they want. The success of this design is un-
deniable. Many of the top games are open worlds, where the player can step away from the main quest,
and pursue activities that provide opportunities to collect objects, build skills, and recruit companions.
However, many open world games depend upon behavioral game mechanics such as explore and gather,
craft and sell, build and hoard, combat, and much walking around in the world. These activities provide
a lot of content for the user, but may distract from the main quest.
Developers of Grind Core games make the main quest intentionally difficult, and this may require the
user to participate in activities not in service to the story. These activities provide rewards, but require
participation in predictable, tedious, and repetitive activities. One reviewer described this type of game
play as a “junk-hording-crafting grind-loop fetish” (What, 2015). By design, the player is forced into
side quests and related stories.
Gamication Transformed
Game Play Content as Junk-Hording-Crafting Grind-Loop Fetish
The user has arrived at Area 2, and must scale the great stones to speak with the spirit guide. Unable to
scale the stones, the user runs around looking for ideas (clicking things), and he meets a traveler. The
traveler describes a merchant wagon with many amazing objects in Area 3.
Upon finding the merchant, the user discovers the merchant has flying boots, but the user does not
have enough seeds to buy the flying boots. The merchant gives the user a bucket, and tells them to go to
Area 4 and to gather 40 sparkle stones to trade for the flying boots. When the bucket is full of sparkle
stones, he can return and trade for the boots. This is known as a side quest. The user must range far and
wide looking for sparkle stones to trade for the boots of flying.
This is a simple quest, but time consuming and tedious. It is also repetitive, as the player must search
and click to fill the bucket. The user finds no sparkle stones, but discovers a powerful magician camped
Figure 5. The quest of the magic sunflower
Source: Will Cross-Bermingham, 2016.
Figure 6. Grinding and distraction
Gamication Transformed
outside a cave in Area 4. The magician tells the user that sparkle stones are actually found in Area 5, but
it is very dangerous. The magician is very busy, but offers to instruct the user in magic to survive Area
5. For this, the user must bring back food and collect ingredients for the magician. The ingredients are
found in Area 6 and Area 7.
Sound confusing?
Now the user is on two side quests:
1. A side quest for the magic teacher,
2. A side quest for the merchant.
This kind of activity is how grinding takes the place of actual content. Sure, the user has many more
experiences in the game world, but the activities are all predicated upon a token economy (for definition
and history, read Appendix B). The user collects something in the game to trade or create something
else. In this case, the tokens are sparkle stones for the merchant, and food and supplies for the magician.
In this model of game play experience, the user is given an item to collect, and the item can be used
in trade to obtain items to overpower the challenge. To obtain items, the user participates in repetitive,
predictable, and tedious activities to earn tokens that can be used to obtain powerful skills and objects.
As the user begins to shift their focus to the acquisition of powerful objects from the merchant, and
magic ability from the magician, the user my switch their focus to side quests, and provide a very dif-
ferent user experience. The game is no longer about the story, and overcoming the challenges; instead,
the user becomes focused on the desirable items in the token economy, and using them to overpower
the challenges.
Grinding focuses the user on earning objects. This approach actually saves developers time and ef-
fort, as they are no longer required to create game content in service to the story. They simply make the
Figure 7. Map of quests
Gamication Transformed
game challenges too difficult to overcome, and send the user on side quests to earn objects so that they
can overpower the challenges. There is an important distinction to be made between overpowering a
challenge, and overcoming a challenge.
Overpower: To have more strength of force, or effect.
Overcome: Suggests getting the better of adversity with difficulty or after hard struggle.
Games that depend upon overpowering challenges are called Grind Core. Grind Core is named this
because the core of the game play is grinding: the user is engaged in tedious, predictable, repetitive
activities motivated by desirable objects to overpower in-game challenges. The developer does not need
to make clever challenges; the developer just gives the user a bucket to fill with tokens, and the user can
trade these tokens for powerful objects. Grind Core experience models work. They save developers time
from developing content, and use motivational hooks from behaviour modification to engage the user
through compulsion loops (Hopson, 2001).
Grinding and Game Abandonment
According to Snow (2011), only 10% of players finished the final mission of Red Dead Redemption, the
2010 game of the year. Red Dead Redemption took over 800 people and nearly six years to complete,
with a total cost estimated at approximately $80-$100 million, making it one of the most expensive
games ever developed (“Red Dead Redemption,” 2013). Although the game was celebrated by many
Figure 8.
Figure 9.
Gamication Transformed
reviewers, and sold well, it is also known for tedious grinding. One need only search for user comments
with the name of a celebrated title to learn about the player experience. A simple search on a game title
and grinding will provide ample evidence about how users really feel about Grind Core. The following
player quotes comes from the review site Giant Bomb (2011).
According to Yummy Lee and SpawnMan, the Red Dead Redemption game relied upon grinding
for much of its content. They are not the only people in the world that felt this way. Complaints about
grinding are actually pretty common. Fallout 4 is another example of a very popular game that utilizes
a lot of grinding.
People are drawn to these games because of the fantastic open worlds that they can explore. Although
the story, the world, and the in-game items are fantastic, the game often forces the user to seek side
quests to gain objects and skills from the token economy to succeed in overpowering the story challenges.
Developers reinforce grinding by creating very difficult story challenges so that the players must grind
on side quests. Although compulsion loops do provide activities and experience in the world, compul-
sion loops rarely serve to advance the experience of the story. Instead, they create more time on tasks
unrelated to the main quest.
Some People Like Grind Core
Many players do love the grind. For some, the grind is the story. However, the certainty and repetition
of grinding makes the gameplay experience predictable and tedious. If the game is simply repetition
and maintenance, the user may cut their losses and abandon the game. The rate of game abandonment
of acclaimed video games is high (see Appendix A).
However, behaviorist techniques are efficient. By making the main quest difficult, the user must
seek out simple grinding activities to collect skill enhancement, such as super weapons, vehicles, magic
powers, and powerful companions to over power main quest challenges. This is a very effective strat-
egy, because after the user has made an investment of time and effort grinding, they will become less
likely to quit. In behavioural economics, this is called loss aversion. The big idea is that “losses loom
larger than gains” (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979). Quitting the game is a loss of invested time, effort, and
energy. However, when loss aversion is the motivator, the user rarely perceives the game as a positive
emotional experience.
When games utilize compulsion loops, users do report feeling powerful with new skills and objects,
but they also report negative emotional experience (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006). These negative
emotional experiences result from tedious repetitive side quests. Game developers understand the power
of compulsion loops (for more detail on structure, see Appendix B), and their origin in behaviour modi-
fication (Hopson, 2001). The problem is that the user may experience a limited number of the possible
emotional values identified in Figure 1, and when they do, the valence of those emotions is negative (for
more on valence and emotion, see section 6, this chapter).
Experiential Model: Freemium
A hamster ball represents this experiential model. A hamster ball is a hollow plastic ball, which allows
the user to freely roll around in the game world to explore and exercise, while preventing injury, and
allowing the user to roll over any adversaries. In the hypothetical game, the hamster ball makes the user
invincible for an easy in-game purchase of 399 seeds. What do 399 seeds cost? That depends upon the
Gamication Transformed
user agreement. What user agreement? The one that was clicked when the user installed the game. By
agreeing, the game is connected to a credit card in iTunes, Google Play, Steam, Xbox Live, etc. Then
the user can make in-game purchases in the flow of the game play with seeds, rather than seeing the
actual dollar amount (this is another form of token economy). With a token economy, things lose their
determining force, and the consequences are obscured with tokens, rather than actual cost. This form of
cunning is very effective. The user may not understand the cost of a seed until after the purchase, and
thus, experience remorse and resentment after the purchase.
Pay to Stay in the Flow of Game Play
The lesson from the Freemium experience model is that people will pay to avoid grinding, and to stay
in the flow of the game. Freemium experiential models have evolved a “buy-instantly” button with little
disruption. When the user’s health is low, or faces a challenge, such as getting to the top of the Great
Stones, the user’s spirit guide may appear to suggest making a seed offering.
In this hypothetical game, seeds are tokens that can be earned through grinding, or purchased with a
linked credit card. When the spirit guide appears, the user can choose one of the options by pressing a
button. It is super-easy. The user can choose Beanstalk to be easily lifted up, or Seedfriend will give him
a super energy boost to climb. In-game purchases are easy. Now the user does not need to run around
looking for sparkle stones. No tedious, predictable, repetitive searching and clicking.
So, how easy is it to make an in-game purchase? It depends upon the game. But there are many ex-
amples of parental tales of horror categorized in search engines as “you spent what on my credit card!”
Just imagine a five-year old. The child wants to play a game. They go to their parents and point out
that it is free, and the parent agrees. To download the game, the parent enters their iTunes / Google Play
/ Xbox Live password, and the child can begin playing their Freemium game.
But here’s where it goes bad. Within five minutes the child has spent a significant amount of money
on in-game purchases, such as magical seeds, rainbow unicorns, and stealth weapon packs. The follow-
ing are a small sampling of the many real stories that show just how easy it is:
Figure 10. Buy instantly from your spirit guide
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Why does this happen? Game makers understand that users don’t want to think about the purchase,
they want to stay in the flow of the game. They would prefer not to spend time grinding when given the
option to spend money instead. The game is still predicated upon grinding, but the user can pay for the
powerful object rather than grind.
The Freemium experiential model is evidence of the importance of keeping the user in the flow of
game play. However, Freemium still redirects the user to make a purchase. The user makes the purchase
to overpower a game challenge, rather than staying in the flow of the game to overcome it. However,
if the developer has made the challenge intentionally difficult, the user may be forced into a choice to
spend or grind.
There is great benefit to the Freemium model. Game companies are making billions in microtrans-
actions. In-game purchases were the biggest driver of revenue growth for video games, increasing 21
percent in 2015 to reach USD $44.6 billion (“In-Game Purchases and Construction Toys Drive Global
Growth for Toys and Games in 2015 | Business Wire,” 2016). This trend has led to concern about the
messaging around in-app purchases in similar free-to-play games, which has led the European Com-
mission to strongly recommend that apps built on the business model no longer call themselves ‘free’
(“European Commission - In-app purchases: Joint action by the European Commission and Member
States is leading to better protection for consumers in online games,” 2014), and game companies have
begun to take more responsibility for in-game purchases. They realize the short-term profit might lead to
long-term customer distrust and resentment. The emotional values offered for the Freemium experience
model may not increase trust or future loyalty. It may result in a remorseful and even vindictive customer.
Experiential Model: Immersion
This experiential model emphasizes keeping the user in the flow of game play. In an immersion model,
all activity is in service to the goals of the game. Many professional game user researchers are employed
to conduct play testing to make sure that the user enjoys the game play experience. Fisher, Nichols,
Isbister, & Fuller (2014), share that the creators of the Kinect wanted to remove distractions from their
games and to make the games feel “magical”. To do this, the goal was to increase the players’ feelings
of immersion by improving the feeling of being in the flow of the game.
Figure 11. Examples of children spending thousands on in-game purchases
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The Immersion experiential model still uses engagement loops, but they are implemented as Reward
Action Contingencies (RAC). The main difference between a RAC and a compulsion loop is that the
RAC can be overcome, where the compulsion loop must be overpowered. This is the difference between
challenging and difficult:
Difficult: The activity is hard. The user may not be able to advance.
Difficulty is often intentional.
To direct the user to grinding or an in-game purchase.
Difficulty is inadvertent.
The game is too hard, or doesn’t make sense
Challenge: The activity is hard, but can be overcome with correct strategy.
The designer scaffolds the user through reward action contingency (RACs) to acquire and
implement a strategy.
Reward Action Contingency (RACS)
The Reward Action Contingency is a type of engagement loop. Where grinding is the vicious cycle, the
RAC is a virtuous cycle. The difference is that RACs are designed to provide clear signals in the engage-
ment loop that increase the user’s ability to overcome the challenge through strategy, and increase the
user’s sense of empowerment, knowledge, control and potential (Green, Benson, Kersten, & Schrater,
2010). These elements are very similar to grinding, and provide the same motivational hooks. However,
a RAC should be in service to the story, help the user understand the strategy to overcome the in-game
challenge, and avoid predictability, tedium, and repetition.
What a RAC does is to provide insight for overcoming game challenges through the experience of a
canonical example. A canonical example provides a general experience representative of future activities
(Acunas & Schrater, 2010). By engaging with a canonical example, the user gets a sense of future cause
and effect relationships, and may form a belief system about similar tasks encountered in future play.
RAC Example
For example, the user learns from his spiritual guide that he must seek out the Floating World, and
speak to the Queen of Bees. The user must first find the Obelisk in Area 8, leave Polygon, and visit the
Floating World in Area 9. The user undergoes the challenges of finding the Obelisk in Area 8 (Figure
12), transitions to the floating world in Area 9, and learns from the Queen that he will need a powerful
companion. For this, the user must become a Bearfriend.
The bees tell the user that to become a Bearfriend, the user must:
1. Claim the Rune Scroll --which offers translation and meaning of runes -- from the ancient hive.
2. Collect blueflower berries found by the Salmonsage River (area 10).
a. When this is achieved, the queen will give an incantation to the user, which the user must
translate with the Rune Scroll.
3. Return to the Obelisk to mix the ingredients.
a. To mix, the user must recite the incantation in the right order and rhythm by pushing the runes
on the Obelisk.
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4. Bearfriend potion completed.
Does this sound questy? Yes, very questy.
Does it look like Grind Core? Perhaps it is a bit grindy, but the user is still focused on the main quest,
and this challenge can be overcome in service to the story. In this scenario, the user is not filling a bucket
with sparkle stones for the merchant, or gathering food and materials for the magician. The focus is on
moving forward and overcoming a challenge. This contrasts Grind Core and Freemium, where the focus
is on powerful objects to overpower the challenge. Also, the game challenge does not need to be tedious,
repetitive, or predictable. A Reward Action Contingency (RAC) is different, as it is not predictable, and
is designed to help the user over come the challenge through in-game learning, and keeps the user in the
flow of game play, and in service to the main quest.
RACs Are Unpredictable
Although a canonical example is similar to repetition, there is a difference. The RAC must evolve and
change so that it is not predictable. The experience of a RAC offers a generalizable model, which re-
sults in the creation of a cognitive theory of action (Dubbels, 2010). Recall the activity where the user
must collect objects to make the Bearfriend potion? That activity provides a basis for future quests in
service to the main quest as a canonical example. Now that the user has made the Bearfriend potion at
the Obelisk, they must find the Door of Runelock to return to Polygon.
The Door of Runelock works as a RAC, and the Obelisk served as the canonical example; the Door
of Runelock is a variation of the Obelisk, but the Door is a little more challenging. The user recalls that
the Rune Scroll provides a translation, and that the runes have to be chanted in the correct sequence and
rhythm to say something, like “open the door please.
Figure 12. The Obelisk and the floating world of Bees
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The user tries clicking a rune. It lights up. The user refers to the Rune Scroll, and sees that they must
click a sequence of runes on the door. The user clicks the runes for “open the door please”. The door
gives feedback that the runes were not clicked in the correct order. The user clicks “please open the
door”, and the door opens.
This is an example of a RAC. It is similar to previous challenges, but not predictable or repetitive. It
requires that the user utilize prior knowledge in a new way. The RAC can scaffold the user and provide
learning in the flow of the game. RACs are not predictable, and can provide some surprise.
RACS Provide Surprise
Imagine the user has opened the door, but a bear is blocking the passageway. The user remembers what
the spirit guide told him about a powerful companion. The user can choose to try out the Bearfriend
potion and wake the bear up, or the user can try to sneak around him. The user drinks the potion and
wakes the bear.
The bear thanks the user for waking him. He has overslept. Like the user, he must go to the east, of-
fers to escort the user on their mission as long as the user helps him find honey and berries. Good job
Bearfriend. Good thing that potion worked!
The user feels rewarded. The simple actions reinforced by the RAC (from the Bees, Figure 8) have
led to the fulfillment of the side quest Bearfriend. A RAC is different from a compulsion loop, as it
works to provide intermediate goals in service to the larger goal – taking the seed to the garden. The
user now has a powerful companion to share and overcome the challenges of the Golden Road. The
RAC should provide a cognitive theory of action. In this case, the user has seen that the recommended
course of action is a good course of action, and will lead them to their greater goal. However, a RAC is
not predictable. Even though the intermediate goal Bearfriend was accomplished, the terms of the reward
should be unpredictable. Juxtaposition and compromise can provide a range of experience, where the
perfect solution is never available.
Figure 13. The Runelock Door
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Juxtaposition: An Unpredictable Reward Action Contingency
An example of an unpredictable RAC is juxtaposition. For example, the user is beginning to realize that
the bear is very helpful in keeping away adversaries, but the bear also requires a lot of food. At least
half of the game seems to be foraging for the bear (grinding). The short-term gain of the bear actually
provides long-term loss! The player has a moment of realization, and begins to see things from a new
perspective. In this case, the reward becomes a punishment, and the player must weigh the pros and cons
of the bear. At this point, the user has almost reached their destination: the Sacred Garden.
Immersion, RACs, and the Sacred Garden for Game Design
At this point, the user has traveled the most of the main quest, and has the experience of losing focus
on some side quests (Grind Core and Freemium, points 4-7), and then returning to the Golden Road.
RACs (Reward Action Contingency): A Final Look
As an example, perhaps the user needs to cross a brook. As he gathers up his courage to swim across,
he notices turbulence, a fin, and then a close encounter with a large and hungry pike. Pike are willing
carnivores, and eat small creatures like hamsters whenever they can. The user becomes unnerved.
In this challenge, perhaps the game designer seeks to draw from one of the challenges in the novel
Watership Down (Adams, 2009), and use a story within the game to provide a RAC. In the novel, the
rabbits of Watership Down were very enterprising, and drew courage from the lore of a mythical rabbit
named El-ahrairah. Perhaps the spirit guide comes to the user with a message (Figure 17).
The goal is to further the narrative with this story from the guide. Through the story, the player is
scaffolded into building a canonical model that provides a general analogy to help the user. Rather than
making the player grind or pay for the power of flight, the game might highlight a hint.
Figure 14. The bear companion
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One example of such a story-within-a-story comes from the novel Watership Down. In the novel,
the rabbits have a mythical hero that provides the foundation of their culture as rabbits. El-ahrairah is
a clever trickster, which must outwit his adversaries rather than overpower them. The stories serve as
teaching tales and help the rabbits overcome challenges in the story experience:
Once, so they say, he had to get home by swimming across a river in which there was a large and hungry
pike. El-ahrairah combed himself until he had enough fur to cover a clay rabbit, which he pushed into
the water. The pike rushed at it, bit it and left it in disgust. After a little, it drifted to the bank and El-
ahrairah dragged it out and waited a while before pushing it in again. After an hour of this, the pike left
it alone, and when it had done so for the fifth time, El-ahrairah swam across himself and went home.
Some rabbits say he controls the weather, because the wind, the damp and the dew are friends and in-
struments to rabbits against their enemies. (Adams, 2009, p. 14)
As a RAC, the user can follow this example, and the developer can also design multiple paths to solve
the problem. So in addition to the mud bunny, the designer can highlight objects that are clickable, and
encourage the user to play around by clicking on things.
For example, perhaps there is a flat piece of wood that might turn up with a little searching around.
With a combination of clicking and moving, the wood is in the water, and the user is floating across. But
perhaps the user needs an oar? There are many ways to engage the user and create meaningful experi-
ences in service to the main quest.
The idea is to lead the user to take action through a Reward Action Contingency (RAC). This might
involve lots of clicking, but through trial and error they may discover a tactic or strategy that works – such
as floating across on a board, or making a clay replica covered in fur. The user will remember this story,
and find the workload is reduced, and have the sensation of ease and play, leading to positive emotional
Figure 15. The Golden Road
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tone, and a greater likelihood of staying in the flow of the game. Stories come with a grammar that
many people inherently identify. We look for elements such as “once upon a time”, and “happily ever
Figure 17. The Sacred Garden
Figure 16. Learning from lore as RACs
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after”; and in between we ask with anticipation, “and what happened next?” Memory is story shaped,
so stories are easier to remember.
Memory Is Story-Shaped
The presentation of new information should be done in the form simple story, and action should be ex-
perienced in small chunks. Stories are made of predictable structural sequences, and a user might expect
a predictable action based upon their prior knowledge of stories, but stories have the ability to surprise.
The RAC taps into this prior knowledge and may use juxtaposition to subvert the user’s expectations.
For example, the intermediate goals of Bearfriend worked counter to the long-term goal of planting the
seed. The bear created a lot of work for little return on value. The user expectation was that the wise
Queen Bee told the user the intermediate goal; but perhaps the goal was not to keep the bear as a com-
panion, but to show the player that they might be better off trusting themselves to solve the challenges
on the Golden Road.
When a RAC uses story, and invokes the use of trial and error and play, the user is more likely to
predict and act upon their expectations, and infer what comes next in the sequence. The user gathers
limited action and experience, generates tactics, and those tactics may evolve into strategies—this builds
player confidence, skills, knowledge, and generates positive emotional tone (Dubbels, 2008). The use
of a RAC can help to create intermediate goals that highlight process, provide possible solutions to
challenges, and even provide an easier chunk of information to store in memory. They may also serve
to surprise and delight.
The Sacred Garden and Planting the Seed
By now the user has reached Area 14 on the map, and stands at the entrance to the Scared Garden; upon
entry, the seed can be planted. This hypothetical game is intended to show the difference across the
three experiential models through examples. Although the Grind Core and Freemium model are both
very successful models for game play, they may not provide the emotional experiences that provide
value leading to loyalty, and the potential for life change and social impact. The Immersion model is the
gold standard, and may provide the best long-term return on investment. The Immersion model is more
difficult to create, but it has the potential to deliver the positive emotional experiences that add value
to the user experience, and their feelings about that particular brand. This is a powerful way to provide
value through experience.
Summary: Immersion Model for Experience and Value
The Immersion experience model depends upon an engagement loop called a reward action contingency
(RAC). A RAC may involve some tedious activities, but they are not repetitive, they are not predictable,
and they do not change the user’s focus from the main quest. When a user loses goal coherence, the game
can become tedious, repetitive, predictable, and more like work than play. Even though loss aversion is
a powerful motivator, Grind Core and Freemium can quickly lead to frustration and user abandonment.
The Immersion experience model delivers more value, can surprise and delight, and can potentially
lead the user to new perspectives and insights beyond Function and Emotion. The Immersion model
can potentially provide experiences that lead to transformation through the values listed at the top tier
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of the value pyramid (Figure 1). Games can help people look at things differently through experience;
and a user is more like to have a transformative experience in an Immersive experiential model utilizing
RACs. The key to creating an effective RAC, and the creation of an Immersive experiential model is
successful delivery of values of Function (Figure 1), and setting the emotional tone.
The James-Lange theory of emotions posits that emotional experiences start as physiological change
(arousal) experienced via the body’s nervous system to make decisions (valence) about their feelings
(Cannon, 1987). Emotional experience begins with arousal, which is a stress response from the bodies
hormonal system.
There are two types of stress, and these are measured in valence for categorization as emotional
experience (Figure 18).
Distress (White): Negative arousal, negative emotional tone,
Eustress (Blue): Positive arousal, positive emotional tone.
Distress: Negative Arousal as Emotion
Negative activating experiences can lead to distress, and lead to maladaptive social interaction such as
aggression, passivity, and even withdrawal. When distress is triggered, the body responds with fear,
anxiety, and shame; when eustress is triggered, the positive activating experiences lead to enjoyment,
excitement, hope and pride.
Emotions are also triggered when signals from the environment activate prior experience as memories.
If the memory is a story of shame or anger, it may signal a fight-or-flight response. The outcome of this
may result in a deactivating response that is called learned helplessness – giving up (Overmier, 2002).
Figure 18. Spectrum of arousal and emotional response
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Eustress: Positive Emotional Arousal
When people are experiencing positive emotions or states as eustress, they feel like time is passing faster
as compared to when they experience negative feelings (Sackett, Meyvis, Nelson, Converse, & Sackett,
2010). Along with filtering information, emotions can influence the recall of information (Schwarz, 1998)
and the ability to learn new information (Winkielman, Schwarz, Fazendeiro, Reber, 2003). Additionally,
if learning new information is experienced as easy, processing is experienced as pleasant (Winkielman &
Cacioppo, 2001) and the result of this being greater likelihood to recall that information and to process
related information (Winkielman et al., 2003). The use of the Immersion Experience Model uses RACs
(Reward Action Contingency) to create the positive emotional experience that create the feeling of play,
and increase the likelihood of Flow (Skinner and Belmont 1993).
Pleasant activating experiences as eustress do not have deleterious physiological effects. Eustress can
increase physiological parameters of arousal as heart rate, or it can provide deactivation through relax-
ation. Positive emotions influence learning by affecting attention, motivation, use of learning strategies
and self-regulation of learning. When people are experiencing positive emotions or states like Flow and
fun, they feel like time is passing faster as compared to when they experience negative feelings.
Play, Positive Emotional Tone, and Flow
The experience of Flow is a transformative cognitive restructuring. In this sense, Flow is said to provide
the “ultimate eustress experience”, it is a state of being fully present and focused on a challenge, sup-
ported with positive arousal expressed as exhilaration (Hargrove, Nelson, & Cooper, 2013, p. 67). Flow
is much like how children experience imaginative play, and much more likely to happen during play. In
play, the individual may experience ambiguity, and through this, creates the goal structure and imbues
it with intrinsic meaning and motivation. This ambiguity in play allows the user to create coherence in
goals and process, a positive emotional tone, making an immersive game play, where a Flow experience
becomes more likely (Figure 19).
Figure 19 depicts the spectrum between Play and Threat based upon signaling and motivation.
Threat: When signaling is directive-- as in a command or a threat-- there is greater coherence,
and the activity becomes serious and perhaps threatening. When motivation is extrinsic as a threat
of direct or implied consequence, the activity increases in coherence as a threat.
Play: When the signal is subjective, and there is greater ambiguity, signaling am invitation, re-
quest or a conditional statement, the activity is more likely to result in play. When motivation is
intrinsic, where the user creates their goals, and the motivation is internal, the activity is more
self-directed as play.
Flow is more likely to occur when one is in a playful mindset (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). But one
cannot be forced to play. Play is a mindset. It is a mental state of exploration and openness to experi-
ence. In Flow, the user directs the activity and creates their goals. The playful approach to experience is
internally motivated, based upon subjective signals from the context of the activity. The user attempts
to explore, discover, and connect through trial and error. It is through this playful ambiguous process
that the user creates coherence. The more ambiguous the goals and directions, the more likely the user
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will create them through trial and error, feedback, and the creation of intermediate goals that provide
information about progress towards the larger goal.
Threat and Emotional Tone
The opposite is true of threat. Threat is signaled through directive signaling. Directive signaling indi-
cates consequence for failing to comply, and is common in games predicated upon grinding. The user
is being directed through behavioural means, and this does not allow for user agency through play, but
motivates the user through offering desirable rewards. Most grinding content does not evolve to serve to
advance a narrative, and seldom surprises the user. Grinding gameplay is often predictable, repetitive,
and tedious behavior.
Rather than experience the joy of overcoming a challenge, users in grinding games overpower it. Users
commit to tedious repetitive activities to earn desirable game items to overpower game challenges. User
research on this experiential model of games indicates that players feel powerful, but report negative
emotional arousal (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006).
These experiences work together collectively up the value pyramid (figure 1). Functional value will
increase the likelihood that the user will experience emotional value. When functional and emotional
value are both provided to the user, there is greater likelihood that the user will experience something
of life-changing value, and perhaps even social impact as self-actualization. Again, value is additive.
The foundations of the experience must be provided as functional and emotional value to experience
immersion and Flow experience.
Figure 19. The role of ambiguity and play
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One of the core goals of the immersion model is to keep the player engaged in the flow of game play.
Csikszentmihalyi (1975; 1990) describes as Flow as an intrinsically enjoyable, self-rewarding experi-
ence. A review by Dormashev (in Osin, Malyutina, & Kosheleva, 2016) summarized the features of
Flow, presented below:
1. Clear Goals: Clear, step-by-step awareness of the most immediate goals of actions being performed.
2. Immediate Feedback: Awareness of the results of actions undertaken is instantaneous, not postponed.
3. Perceived balance between actual challenges and available skills necessary to meet them.
4. Merging of action and awareness, where actions are consciously represented in an immediate
5. Concentration on the task at hand with effortless concentration of attention on the actions performed.
6. A sense of potential control and confidence of success of current and future actions.
7. Loss of self-consciousness, or self-forgetfulness.
8. Altered sense of time, a feeling that time passes at a different pace than usual.
9. Acute and continuous enjoyment related to the process of activity that makes the experience
The organizing principal of Flow is the feeling of focus. Focus is a narrowing of attention and an
increase in arousal, which decreases the range of cues that an organism can take in and perceive from
the stimulus and its environment (Easterbrook, 1959). This focus narrows our memory and attention
processes, and shuts out thoughts and feelings that are not related to the experience of the activity (El-
liot & Covington, 2001; Elliot, Gable, & Mapes, 2006; Gable & Poole, 2012). It is through this focus
that feelings and emotion exert pressure on behavior and influences learning and perception (Greene,
2014). Focus does increase due to both positive and negative emotional arousal, but Flow is more likely
to occur when experiencing positive emotional tone.
Skinner and Belmont (1993, p. 572), observed that engaged users show sustained behavioral involve-
ment in activities when accompanied by a positive emotional tone. In this affective mode, the users
engage in tasks at the border of their competencies, and are more likely to initiate action when given
the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration. Flow experience is reported as happening
in both positive and negative emotional tone. However, Flow is more likely when the user experiences
positive emotional tone (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). In order to facilitate emotional tone in an experience,
developers should observe the interaction between user and their experience. User experience research
is an important part of creating coherence between the game and the user to create an immersive Flow
User experience researchers learn by observing users play games, and contribute to development as an
iterative process. The game user researcher (GUR) gathers large amounts of behavioral data to share with
designers, who can quickly interpret the data, implement analysis into design, and observe the effects
of those changes for shaping the emotional experience of the user. The GUR studies users to provide a
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comparison analysis (Wixon & Pagulayan 2008, p. 3). This has resulted in greater emphasis on producing
the Immersion Experience Model, which is intended to keep the user immersed in the flow of the game.
Here’s the problem,” Pagulayan mutters, motioning to a computer monitor that shows us the game from
the player’s perspective. He points to a bunch of grenades lying on the ground. She ought to be picking
those up and using them, he says, but the grenades aren’t visible enough. “There’s a million of them,
but she just missed them . . . Pagulayan makes a note of the problem. It is his job to find flaws in Halo
3 that its creators, who know what players should do, might not be able to see. He assesses whether the
aliens have gotten too lethal, whether the revamped Needler guns are powerful enough, and most
important if and when players are getting bored or (as is more often the case) frustrated. Clicking away
on his keyboard, Pagulayan brings up video of one of the first fights in the game, in which a Brute
wields a ferocious gun. Neophyte players are getting massacred. “That enemy can kill the player in
three shots,” he says. “Imagine your mother playing, where she’s barely learning how to move around
in the game — bam, bam, bam — dead. That’s not going to be a fun experience. (Thomson, 2007, p.3)
What Pagulayan is explaining is the importance of leading the player toward success, making the right
tools available (and visible) at the right time to keep the user in the flow of game play. If one wants the
user to have a good experience, the designer must identify the core experience being offered and lead them
through it until the user can take the reins. The goal is to keep the player immersed in the flow of game
play, and not to distract them with Grind Core and Freemium. An important distinction in these models:
Grind Core and Freemium depend upon the user overpowering the challenges. This means to have
more strength of force.
Design features (see Appendix b): Use of compulsion loops and token economy.
Immersion depends upon in-game learning so the user can overcome the challenges by getting the
better from being challenged and responding to adversity with new strategies.
Design feature: Use of RAC.
The goal for Pagulayan’s team is to provide as much value as possible and immerse the user in positive
experience, and avoid the grind. The method used is called Rapid Iterative Testing Evaluation (RITE).
The team designs a prototype, conducts user testing research, applies the user data to make a design
adjustment, tests the adjusted design, uses the research data to make a design adjustment (Medlock,
Wixon, McGee, & Welsh, 2005; Medlock, Wixon, Terrano, Romero, & Fulton, 2002). What is important
in the user experience testing process is to make sure the game challenges make sense. Do they serve in
the interest of furthering the story, or do they distract? Will the game challenges work in service to the
goals of the game? If the core experience is not well defined, the user may become distracted, frustrated,
and never become immersed in play or Flow.
The workload in your game must be dedicated to the core experience you want to offer, not in figuring
out menus for example, or icons. That’s why defining your core pillars and sticking to this vision is cru-
cial to offer a great User Experience (UX). There are always tradeoffs to make, and perfection is hardly
reachable. UX is about making sure the tradeoffs make sense for the experience you intend. That doesn’t
mean your game must not be difficult or not have any challenges, quite the contrary: but the challenges
must be about the core experience and nothing else. Think of it as playing golf with green ball. Might
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be spicing it up for some hardcore golfers maybe? But the golf experience is not about making it chal-
lenging to find the ball. (Hodent, 2015)
The developer must understand the difference between making things difficult as compared to making
them challenging. Making the balls green really adds nothing to golf, except for increasing the difficulty
of finding them. The idea is to use RACs to engage the user, not to use compulsion loops to force the
user to find green golf balls in tall grass.
Research can improve game play experience. By observing and collecting user data, the developer can
adjust to user needs and modify the game design to increase positive feelings, invoke a playful mindset,
and increase the likelihood of Flow. Data-informed design works to increase coherence for the intended
game play experience by scaffolding the player through difficult challenges, and reducing activities that
distract the player from the story, and reduce player immersion.
If the experience is complex, the user researcher can present the data to the development team, and
perhaps make suggestions on how to off-load the work-load challenge onto the game (Dubbels, 2013).
This can increase coherence, and provide a simple, challenging, and immersive experience to the user.
Games can be made simple, challenging, and immersive. A challenging game can be simplified through
off-loading complexity onto the game until the user becomes capable of taking on full control of their
avatar. This is a form of game tuning, which adjusts the level challenge to meet the needs of the player,
and become incrementally more complex as the user becomes more adept. Incremental learning allows
for the player to learn without being overwhelmed. This is achieved through having a coherent core
experience, understanding the user. This approach allows for positive emotional tone, and a greater
probability of immersion and Flow experience.
This chapter presented three views of gamification as user experience models: Grind Core, Freemium,
and Immersion. These models were presented to provide insight into what makes games valuable digital
experiences. The Immersion user experience model was meant to provide the gold standard in game
design, and provided examples of what should inform any attempt at gamification. In order to provide
an immersive game experience, the game should provide value in function, emotion, and potentially,
transformation as life change, and social impact. These categories are not mandatory, but provide a
framework for optimal user experience in games and gamification.
Where Grind Core and Freemium experience models rely upon compulsion loops, the Immersion
model utilizes Reward Action Contingencies. While the compulsion loop will provide short-term gain,
it may result in long-term remorse and resentment. The use of loss aversion and behaviour modification
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techniques are effective and powerful, but not if the intent is to improve return on investment, loyalty,
and increase customer satisfaction.
Users will recognize the use of compulsion loops as way to manipulate them through behaviour modi-
fication. The better approach is to provide value through the user experience, with the ultimate goal of
making a social impact (see figure 1). This can occur through understanding how the user co-creates the
experience. Gamification should deliver a sense of magic to the user. It should be capable of surprise and
delight, and immerse the user in a Flow experience. Gamification should offer users the best of games,
not parts of games to amplify tedious repetitive activities as chocolate-covered broccoli. Gamification
should add emotional value, with the potential for transformation, for both life change, and social impact.
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Game engagement and rate completion are important. Many game companies are taking a serious look
at why players abandon their games through game user research. Abernathy & Rouse (2014), presented
game completion rates at their Game Developer’s Conference talk (Table 1).
Although Table 1 shows a definite reduction in game abandonment, the rate of abandonment is still
surprising. We often think of games as addictive and that people cannot help but play. But it seems that
we might be overly optimistic about the power of games to engage, as compared to the power of well-
designed games that do actually engage.
Token economy and/or leaderboard predate the gamification movement. In fact, the first documented
use of these systems occurred in psychiatric hospitals in the 1960’s (Kazdin & Bootzin, 1972). Prior
to this, token economies had been used in in schools and prisons for behavior modification. In a token
economy, an individual is rewarded with a token when they exhibit the target behavior. The tokens can
then be exchanged for privilege, objects, and other reinforcers.
According to Kumar and Herger (2016) a token economy can offer tokens that reward:
Self-esteem, leadership, conquest, mastery, access, praise.
Fun, discovery, excitement, awe, delight, fantasy, surprise.
Social capital, likes, friends, contribute, charity, groups, status.
Things, points, cash, resources, rewards, prices.
There is a problem with this technique. When the reward system stops, the behaviour stops. Historically,
token economies are very successful in closed institutional contexts such as mental hospitals, schools, and
animal management. However, when an individual leaves the closed loop of the token economy, the user
Table 1. Rate of completion of games on steam
Game Completion
The Walking Dead: Season 1, Episode 1 66%
Mass Effect 2 56%
Bioshock Infinite 53%
Batman: Arkham City 47%
Portal 47%
Mass Effect 3 42%
The Walking Dead: Season 1, Episode 5 39%
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 32%
Borderlands 2 30%
Abernathy & Rouse (2014) .
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reverts back to their original behaviors (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014; Deci, 1971; Lepper & Greene, 1975).
This is also true of gamification. In gamification if an individual is rewarded for a specific behaviour,
they will demonstrate it until the rewards stop. Once the rewards stop, the targeted behaviour stops.
Points are used to indicate progress in token economies. They are a unit of measurement used to track
player behaviour in relation to the targeted behaviour. Tokens are often used to purchase desirable items
and privilege. It is the purchase of desirable objects and privilege that motivate behaviour.
Badges are a form of virtual achievement by the player. There are a number of reasons that badges or
other achievement systems might work. Badges, like leaderboards, provide feedback about performance.
But badges for the sake of badges depend upon the status they represent in the larger community.
Leaderboards display and compare points and badges to increase motivation through social comparison.
Leaderboards bring in the social aspect of points and badges, by displaying the players on a list, typically
ranked in descending order with the greatest number of points at the top. The possible disadvantage of a
leaderboard is that it could be demotivating to a new player. For example, if player A has 10,000 points,
and is on top of the leaderboard, and a new player B has 10 points and is at the bottom, it is likely that
player B may become demotivated and give up playing the game. She, or he, may believe that he/she is
never going to compete with player A, and therefore why should he/she even try? Leaderboards can be
problematic for creating motivation and loyalty.
Constraints can be presented in the form or rules, tools, roles, and choice (Dubbels, 2008). If you look
at a game, it is generally composed of a number of constraints that are structured to create interaction
and experience. Because there are only so many choices that one can make, even in open-world game
experiences, there will always be limitations and constraint on behavior, and especially on how behav-
iour is rewarded (token economy). In true play, “things lose their determining force” and the child may
understand the constraints of a condition but gain the ability to act independently of what they see—
creating new choices (Vygotskiǐ, 1978). In games, all actions are constrained by the programming, and
actual play is rare.
Constraints also refer to limitations such as deadlines, which motivate people to action. According to
Kumar & Herger (2016), the use of time constraints and implications of scarcity increase engagement
with targeted behaviour. They report that when a website limits simple tasks with time constraint, that
customers are more likely to bid on items. However, using this technique to manipulate the user could
cause user resentment.
Narrative can provide an imaginative reframing of an activity. The use of narrative and subjective
language promotes the imaginative powers of pretense and actual play. One such example of this is in
software is Zombies, Run! The user plugs in headphones to a portable device, and a fantasy narrative
ensues. The narrative allows joggers to pretend that they are running in missions in a zombie adventure
story. According to the description at GooglePlay,
Every run becomes a mission where you’re the hero, our immersive audio drama putting you at the center
of your very own zombie adventure story.
The use of narrative as pretense is an important part of learning and expression. In children’s play, a
stick can become an imagined object, such as a horse or a flying machine.
Gamication Transformed
Engagement Loop refers to a combination of the previously described behavioural game mechanics
combined with reinforcement as feedback loops that keep the player engaged in the game. There are
two types of engagement loops:
Compulsion loop,
Reward Action Contingency (RAC).
... For instance, the deterministic view of gamification as a simple add-on, characterized by a software-oriented design based on the Points-Badges-Leaderboards (PBLs) triad on interfaces like Foursquare, LinkedIn, or Nike+, proved ineffective in the long-run. It turns out people get used to -and annoyed by-discernible reward mechanics and constant feedback notifications relatively fast (Schüll 2014;Dubbels 2017). But research suggests that in the correct context and personalizing content from the interests of individuals, game design could prove useful in persuading people to change unwanted behaviors, learn better, experience simulated alternatives, and be prepared for potential futures (see Hamari, Koivisto, and Sarsa 2014;Bozkurt and Durak 2018). ...
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This chapter presents a model for positioning a research problem intersectionally when confronted with issues of automated discrimination. Through the example of gamification as a computational logic embedded in the algorithmic architecture of techno-capitalism, I illustrate the connection of intersectional justice with algorithmic computation as an exclusionary practice, and computer gaming as a techno-culture masquerading behavioral control through the neoliberal principles of fun and immersion — simultaneously always infecting computation with alternatives.
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A serious game can be entertaining and enjoyable, but it is designed to facilitate the acquisition of skills and knowledge performance in the workplace, classroom, or therapeutic context. Claims of improvement can be validated through assessments of successful, measurable practice beyond the game experience, the targeted context of the workplace, classroom, or clinical using the same tools as multiple traits and multiple measure (MTMM) models. This chapter provides a post-mortem describing the development of the initial design and development of a measurable model to inform the design requirements for validation for a serious game. In this chapter, the reader will gain insight into the implementation of lean process, design thinking, and field observations for generative research. This data informs the assessments and measurement of performance, validated through the MTMM model criteria for requirements. The emphasis examines the role of research insights for onboarding and professional development of newly hired certified nursing assistants in a long-term care facility.
A serious game can be entertaining and enjoyable, but it is designed to facilitate the acquisition of skills and knowledge performance in the workplace, classroom, or therapeutic context. Claims of improvement can be validated through assessments successful, measurable practice beyond the game experience, the targeted context of the workplace, classroom, or clinical using the same tools as multiple traits and multiple measure (MTMM) models. This chapter provides a post-mortem describing the development of the initial design and development of a measurable model to inform the design requirements for validation for a serious game. In this chapter, the reader will gain insight into the implementation of lean process, design thinking, and field observations for generative research. This data informs the assessments and measurement of performance, validated through the MTMM model criteria for requirements. The emphasis examines the role of research insights for onboarding and professional development of newly hired certified nursing assistants in a long-term care facility.
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We review the psychological theory of flow and focus on the notion of autotelic personality, arguing that self-transcendence understood within the existential tradition of Frankl and Langle can be seen as a personality disposition that is conducive to flow experience. We present a pilot quasi-experimental study conducted in a student sample (N=84) to investigate the effect of situational meaning and self-transcendence on productivity and flow experience. Students were asked to work on a creative task (which consisted in finding solutions to a social problem) in small groups. Each group was randomly assigned with an instruction presenting the problem as happening either in a distant country (low-meaning) or home country (high-meaning). The outcome variables were measures of flow, perceived meaning, and satisfaction with time. The solutions generated by students were rated by 3 experts. The results showed that the experimental manipulation had an effect on the quality of the resulting solutions, but not on the subjective experience of participants. Self-transcendent individuals tended to experience higher flow under both conditions, however, under the high-meaning condition self-transcendence exhibited a curvilinear association with the experiential outcomes. The findings suggest that self-transcendence can be considered as a candidate trait for autotelic personality and call for more replication studies
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We review the psychological theory of flow and focus on the notion of the autotelic personality , arguing that self-transcendence (understood within the existential tradition of Frankl and Längle as the individual's ability to establish inner relationships with values) can be viewed as a personality disposition conducive to flow experience. The study aimed to investigate the effects of situational task meaning and dispositional self-transcendence on productivity and flow experience. We present a pilot quasi-experimental study conducted in a student sample (N = 82) Students were asked to work in small-group settings on a creative task, which consisted in finding solutions to a social problem. Each group was randomly assigned to an instruction presenting the problem as happening either in a distant country (low-meaning) or in their home country (high-meaning condition). The outcome variables were measures of flow, perceived meaning of the task, and satisfaction with time spent working. The solutions generated by the students were rated by three experts. The experimental manipulation had a main effect on the quality of the resulting solutions, but not on the subjective experience of the participants. A number of significant interaction effects were found, indicating that the associations of self-transcendence with experiential outcomes tended to be linear under the low-meaning condition, but curvilinear under the high-meaning condition. The findings suggest that self-transcen-dence is particularly beneficial to flow in situations with unclear meaning, but very high levels of self-transcendence may hinder flow in highly meaningful situations. Overall, the findings suggest that self-transcendence can be considered as a disposition of the autotelic personality.
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On the basis of a new model of motivation, we examined the effects of 3 dimensions of teacher (n = 14) behavior (involvement, structure, and autonomy support) on 144 children's (Grades 3-5) behavioral and emotional engagement across a school year. Correlational and path analyses revealed that teacher involvement was central to children's experiences in the classroom and that teacher provision of both autonomy support and optimal structure predicted children's motivation across the school year. Reciprocal effects of student motivation on teacher behavior were also found. Students who showed higher initial behavioral engagement received subsequently more of all 3 teacher behaviors. These findings suggest that students who are behaviorally disengaged receive teacher responses that should further undermine their motivation. The importance of the student-teacher relationship, especially interpersonal involvement, in optimizing student motivation is highlighted.
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Traditionally, customer value has been examined from the perspective of the firm. New understandings of customer value from the customer-dominant logic perspective of services emphasise the need to move away from the service-dominant perspective and adopt a customer-based approach that considers value within the broader context of a customer’s lifeworld. This article explores how individual customers make sense of their participation in an extraordinary, commercially-driven consumption experience. A phenomenological approach is taken to understand the lived experience of these participants. The findings of this exploratory study reveal the highly complex nature of value in the experience in the chosen context of luxury driving experience days. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
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In this qualitative study, literacy practices of “struggling” seventh and eighth graders were recorded on videotape as they engaged in both traditional and new literacies practices in an after-school video games club. These recordings were analyzed in the context of building comprehension skills with video games. The students struggled with reading and are characterized as unmotivated and disengaged by the school, which may be at the root of their inability to use comprehension strategies. Playing video games is viewed here as a literate practice, and was seen to be more engaging than traditional activities (such as reading school text, writing journals, etc.). The conclusion of this observation makes connections to current research in comprehension and provides a basis for teachers to use games to develop comprehension and learning.
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This paper provides a conceptual framework for gamification, ludic simulations, and serious games. Central to this framework is the spectrum of design that differentiates work and play. Work and play help define software in purpose as games, productivity software, and entertainment. These categories are informed through cognitive feature analysis of narrative and game play structure. Both can be analyzed to determine the degree of work or play in an activity, as well as issues that influence sustained engagement, which is essential for avoiding game abandonment. To demonstrate the framework for the design and analysis of gamification, ludic simulations, and serious games, several case studies are presented with feature analysis to substantiate the categories.
Conference Paper
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Gamification is a buzz word in business these days. In its November 2012 press release, Gartner predicts that "by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations”. In the same report, they also predict that “by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design”. What is gamification? Does it belong in the workplace? Are there design best practices that can increase the chance of success of enterprise gamification efforts? Janaki Kumar answers these questions and more in this paper Gamification @ Work. She cautions against taking a “chocolate covered broccoli” approach of simply adding points and badges to business applications and calling them gamified. She outlines a methodology called Player Centered Design which is a practical guide for user experience designers, product managers and developers to incorporate the principles of gamification into their software.
This chapter is guides usability engineers to convince their businesses that usability activities are a good return on investment (ROI). The goals of the Rapid Iterative Test and Evaluation (RITE) method are to identify and fix as many issues as possible and to verify the effectiveness of these fixes in the shortest possible time. These goals support the business reason for usability testing; improving the final product as quickly and efficiently as possible. The case studies presented in this chapter suggest that the RITE method was successful in achieving its goals. Applications are available that have a powerful and flexible architecture, which allows for rapid changes to be made to the product. As demonstrated by the case studies, the RITE method has an established track record of success on a variety of commercial products. As such, it follows in the tradition of other methods that have been shown to be effective in real world contexts. This chapter embodies a "case study" approach to examine usability methods.
The budget hotel sector in China has rapidly developed in the past decade. However, very little is known about consumer behavior in this sector. This exploratory study addresses this knowledge gap by adopting a mixed method of in-depth interviews and questionnaire survey. It specifically aims to explore the dimensionality of customer experience with budget hotels and to further examine the influencing factors for customer satisfaction. The results of exploratory factor analysis reveal four factors or dimensions of customer experience, namely, tangible and sensorial experience, staff aspect, aesthetic perception, and location. Multiple regression analysis shows that these four factors significantly influence customer satisfaction in a positive manner.