Tag: intrinsic motivation

There is a big scam in technology that is almost universally played by platform providers of all kinds – and we pretty much always just go along with it, undervaluing ourselves and making them richer at our personal expense.

It happened to me, just today when my mobile service provider sent me this SMS:

Based on yr last call to us, how likely r u to recommend [us] to a friend/colleague?

Why do they expect me to provide them with this information? Because I probably will. Because most people do (or enough do, to make the results statistically meaningful).

But why would I do that? What’s in it for me?

Well, there are some intrinsic motivations that could drive my response:

  • The will to express myself, to be heard
  • The will to be cooperative
  • The will to feel like I am an instrumental part of something that I am involved in

Great.  Satisfaction of these intrinsic motives does sustain behaviour. The persistence of  platform providers in trading on these motives is evidence of that fact. +play does the same thing in its gamification designs, hitching a ride on things that players are already primed to do by their intrinsic motivations.

But wait.

Presumably, my response is of value to the provider. I doubt that they would go to the expense of asking for it, collecting the response, compiling it, interpreting it, etc., if it was worth nothing to them. And being a business, that boils down to it being worth money to them. So, what is my cut?

My mobile service provider is neither my friend, my family member nor a charity that I support. It does not fall into any category in my life to which I gladly donate my personal property. It is immeasurably financially richer than I am now or will ever be but by asking me help them improve their service, they are expecting me to make a donation to them! They pay their employees to make guesses as to what kind of service I want but they won’t give me any form of extrinsic value for giving them actual facts about it?

I think that is fundamentally disrespectful to me as a ‘valued customer’ and suggests that their view of me is actually just, ‘an asset to be exploited’. I know a mobile service provider is not an app but it reflects a highly prevalent attitude I see in technology providers of all types.

Listen guys, without me (and all your other customers), you wouldn’t exist. If our information and opinions are important to the sustainability of your business, acknowledge that in some meaningful way. We deserve better.




We’ve been banging on a bit around here lately about what is and is not gamification, so its great to see something published that definitely qualifies as gamification as we know it. The added bonus is that it lays out a general method for gamification design in its pristine glory for all to see. (The devil, of course, is in the detail – you can do all this and still get it wrong. But this is how to go about it with some chance of getting it right).

What specifically does it get right? Well, pretty much everything but in particular we liked seeing:

  1. It starts with people and correctly identifies the over-arching power of interpersonal relationships as something to be recognised, respected and leveraged. Sure, it objectifies people as ‘players’ and ‘personas’ but it does think about their inherent motivations, suggesting Bartle’s useful analysis as a framework. (Amy Jo Kim has some useful things to say on this as well).
  2. It defines objectives. It could do more to specify how these need to be actual, observable player behaviours but I think you can read that between the lines.

Wrap this methodology in a snug blanket of empathy and integrity and you’ve got a good basis for doing some meaningful and effective gamification. Which, of course, does not involve turning everything into a game, or even a game-like experience.

Read Adrish Bera’s sweet little post and enjoy. Thanks Adrish.


“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – Juliet Capulet

Simple Machines by Tinybop is an app for teaching physics that is beautifully executed, with appealing illustrations, sounds and an intuitive interface. User feedback is immediate and multi-sensorial, providing clues, cues and a sense of accomplishment. Most of all, it is fun to play. Yes, play. Simple Machines is no didactic appification of classroom physics demonstrations. It is by all appearances, a game.

And yet Tinybop project lead Colleen Hampton is quoted in a Fast Company article on Simple Machines as saying,

“We don’t include gamification because we’re purposely building open-ended games . . .”

I guess what Ms Hampton is referring to is the absence of points, badges, leaderboards, levels, boss fights and many of the other mechanics of videogames that are often utilised in gamification designs.

I applaud her and her team for leaving these competition-inducing elements out – I think far too much emphasis is placed in education on competition as a motivator and the drive to win can eclipse the drive to learn. Simple Machines does exactly what we believe good gamification should do – subtly reinforce the intrinsic motivation of the user, in this case to achieve competence with a novel task (and learn some physics along the way).

More could be done to make Simple Machines a compelling activity, such as provide the characters that appear in the game with more identity and integrate the various tasks within the game into an over-arching narrative through which the characters proceed as proxies for the users.

But it is still a great app – and a good example of gamification, despite what Ms Hampton says.