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Gamification 5 – Psychology & Motivation I

ScreenCap of Gamification Lecture 5 by Kevin Werbach / Coursera / Wharton School

PHILADELPHIA, 14 September –- Gamification with Kevin Werbach of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, Week 3!

Gamification is a technique for motivation, so it ties very directly into psychology. This unit introduces the behavioral psychology concepts relevant to gamification.

Class Notes — Part 5 — Psychology & Motivation I

5.1 Gamification as motivational design
Psychology is essential to what makes gamified services effective.

**Motivation** – moved to do something
reasons we do things can be complicated and counterintuitive
lots of people work really hard at low paying jobs
we all do things for other reasons than rewards
we do things like sports, even if we don’t win, because they’re “fun”

ScreenCap of Majorleague Baseball Badges, 2011, from Gamification, 2012, by Kevin Werbach / Coursera, Wharton School
2011 – “Badges”

What motivates us? – It’s complicated! 😛

Apple Store – highest grossing retail chain in USA – different idea for computer store, not fast, but linger with the products – think about motivation in a systematic way…

5.2 Behaviorism
2 major traditions on psychology:
Behaviorism – what people do
Cognitivism – mental states

ScreenCap of Gamification by Kevin Werbach - image of "Behaviorist Program" showing human consciousness blocked off in a "black box" and the external observing of behavior

Internal mental states are not scientifically testable –> behaviorist program: put person in a black box, and test out in the world

–> powerful, but major limitations

Classical Conditioning – Pavlovian Conditioning – Stimulus Response
Operant Conditioning – B. F. Skinner – not just association of 2 things, but a feedback loop: Stimulus –> Response –> Learining

consequences of actions

Gamification by Kevin Werbach: illustration of a rat in a Skinner Box

Behavioral Economics
people make “mistakes” consistently
– Loss Aversion
– Power of Defaults
– Confirmation Bias

ScreenCap from Gamification lecture by Kevin Werbach of Coursera and the Wharton Business School

5.3 Behaviorism in Gamification
Feedback – immediate reaction – know how well you’re doing!

Conditioning Through Consequences
(operant conditioning loop)

Farmville > “Appointment Mechanic” – having to constantly check in and tend to your virtual farm – behavioral approach

ScreenCap of Gamification lecture 5 by Kevin Werbach, showing Farmville crops withering and dying from lack of water

Typical of PBL types of Gamification – behavioral feedback loop

Rewards – real and powerful, but only one piece in the toolbox

Dopamine (pleasure, learning)

5.4 Reward structures
Foursquare – rewards for all sorts of things – checking in, 10 checkins, every day checkins, etc

What kinds of behavior do you want to incentivize

ScreenCap of Gamification lecture 5 by Kevin Werbach: Cognitive Evaluation Theory

Categories of Rewards > Cognitive Evaluation Theory
• Tangible / Intangible – eg Money / Badge (physical Boy Scout Badge is still “tangible” (physical)
• Expected / Unexpected – we love surprises!
• Contingency
— Task non-contingent
— Engagement-contingent
— Completion-Contingent
— Performance-Contingent

WoW Fishing – a lot of complexity that can go into Reward Design

ScreenCap of Gamification lecture 5 by Kevin Werbach showing World of Warcraft fishing achievements screen

5.5 Reward schedules
Continuous Rewards –
Fixed Ratio Rewards – every N times you get the reward
Fixed Interval Rewards – based not on activity level, but on time
Variable – reward on no fixed schedule

Continuous – least interesting – not really a reward then
Fixed (Ratio, Interval) – brain picks up on pattern
Variable – most interesting – our brains love surprises

our brains are really good at picking things out – we respond powerfully to unexpected, variable schedule rewards

• Competitive / non-competitive
• Certain / uncertain

ScreenCap of Gamification lecture 5 by Kevin Werbach showing different schedules of reinforcement: Continuous, Fixed Ratio, Fixed Interval and Variable

Slot Machine
– tangible rewards
– variable rewards schedule – reward comes just enough so you don’t give up (DRL) – person playing holds out that hope – if I just put in a few more coins I’ll win that jackpot

Addicting people can be dangerous and potentially harmful to people!
There’s a real danger of going down this behavioral path.

Optional Materials: David Freedman, The Perfected Self, The Atlantic, June 2012

^^Great Article! Here’s a photo from it:
Image of greasy hamburger plate being transformed into a healthy salad by an iPad augmented reality display

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

3 thoughts on “Gamification 5 – Psychology & Motivation I

  1. Thanks very much for posting these notes. I’m taking the course now, and I somehow lost all the notes I took on this section and I haven’t taken the quiz yet. I didn’t want to go back and watch the videos all over again 🙂 The screenshots are helpful too!

    1. Hey Lauren, that’s awesome. I really enjoyed the class. A lot of interesting / useful / powerful ideas for me. Also, I think Gamification can have a dark side socially, and Werbach really focused on pro-social applications, which I liked.

      The was the first MOOC I’ve ever taken. I felt good keeping up with it. Now I’m more interested in meeting class peers that I can have ongoing discussion and collaboration with. I took a really nice one “Practice Based Research in the Arts” from Stanford / NovoED. The actual instructors were kind of MIA in that course, but there were 2 things that lead to a really great result anyway:

      1 – collaborative teams of 6 students. Really a rich experience!
      2 – short guest-artist-of-the-week videos with activities for our group to do. Great activities and also great reasons to bring the group into a more connected space.

      Here’s a group website we launched at the end of that mooc:

      How’s the class going for you?
      Have you taken other MOOCs?

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