In the past 9 years that I have been working in Gamification (I remember the old awkward days of telling people “I specialize in making your products game-like” only to hear back, “Why would our customers want to play games?”), I’ve seen many attempts of Gamification that only turn out to be gimmicky, unsustainable, and simply adding no value nor ROI to products.

As Gamification is becoming the hot buzzword these days, more and more agencies are slapping on the word “Gamification” as one of their expertise, even though many of them have never truly dived deep into a game before. Just like “creating a Twitter profile and a Facebook Page” was what many did for Social Media Marketing a few years back, right now company’s are throwing PBLs – points, badges, and leaderboards – everywhere without remembering that most games have PBLs in them too, but only a small selection of games are actually fun.

Games are not fun because they have PBLs. They’re fun because they appeal to our Core Drives.

While it brings me great joy to see my lifelong passion becoming a trend, it also brings me sorrow to see a great amount of “bandwagoners” rush into the industry, just to give it a bad rap. To prevent Gamification from just being that unsustainable “fad” that will come and go, I published a Complete Gamification Framework called Octalysis so that people can use and actually do good gamification work in the industry.

Octaylsis is a very actionable framework that can help anyone analyze a product/campaign and better gamify it. It has three levels of mastery to learn but anyone with a level 1 knowledge can start to design their products to appeal to peoples’ core drives in a much more human-focused way.

Level 1 Octalysis starts off with the 8 Core Drives that motivates us to do anything:

  1. Epic Meaning & Calling
  2. Development & Accomplishment
  3. Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
  4. Ownership & Possession
  5. Social Pressure
  6. Scarcity & Impatience
  7. Unpredictability & Curiosity
  8. Loss & Avoidance


Every successful game appeals to at least one, if not all, of these core drives. Each core drive then has dozens of Game Mechanics that appeal to it, such as Milestone Unlocks, Juicy Feedback, Appointment Dynamics etc.

These 8 Core Drives are then graphed onto an Octagon Chart, with the Right Brain Core Drives – drives that are related to creativity, social, and curiosity – on the right, and the Left Brain Core Drives – drives that are related to calculations, ownership, and progress – on the left.

I also listed the more positive core drives on the top as “White Hat Gamification” drives, and the more negative core drives on the bottom as “Black Hat Gamification” drives.

Nowadays many people are arguing about whether gamification is about inspiring people or manipulating people, and truthfully all that can be summed up with Octalysis’ concept of White Hat and Black Hat Gamification: White Hat inspires while Black Hat manipulates.

With Level 1 Octalysis, people can quickly evaluate various products in the market and see where can they improve on. Below are a few examples:








My goal for publishing this is for everyone in the Gamification industry to actually do good Gamification work. Gamification is my passion because it has the ability to turn the mundane into something fun and exciting. I believe it is the solution to make everyone love their work, love school, love helping each other, and feel good about themselves. This is the key to creating a productive society that never ever works, but only plays.

Gamification, or Human-Focused Design, is not a fad. It’s the future. Lets make that future happen together.

Written by Yu-kai Chou, Co-Founder of RewardMe