When Karl Kapp was looking to motivate his son to brush his teeth, he tried a “star chart.”
It’s a pretty common parental tool: do a chore and you get a sticker. For those like Kapp, they might call it an example of extrinsic motivating gamification. The trouble with extrinsic motivation is that it fades. After a few days, his son was bored by the star stickers.
“Good gamification isn’t about games, it’s about game elements,” said Kapp.
Kapp is an expert in gamification, the design theory that puts game concepts in non-game settings, like classrooms or ecommerce websites. He’s an author, consultant and an instructional technology professor at Bloomsburg University northwest of Philadelphia.
Kapp was in Wilmington Friday night for a Delaware Innovation Week keynote hosted by InsiteHub, the Newark-based software company behind a suite of tools for learning and knowledge management in companies. Kapp is a friend of John Royer, the founder of InsiteHub, which itself employs gamification practices, and Tori Storm, the firm’s director of customer experience. The event was attended by 50 inside the ground floor event space of the Hercules Building, home of #DIW16 title sponsor and tech incubator 1313 Innovation.
Here are some lessons Kapp shared:
- Common tools of gamification have their flaws. For example, leaderboards are best for small groups with members who know each other. Otherwise, “they only interest the top 10 people and then the 11th doesn’t care.”
- Similarly, point systems work when they give users feedback about their process. Badges are good for keeping non-linear progress.
- Before you get to the game elements, gamify the instructions you offer users. Kapp has used comic book formats and storytelling to encourage their use.
- “Create open loops” when designing customer experience. What asks: do you want more of our service? For example, after a customer buys something, you might prompt them with a question like “do you want to see what other customers buy?”
- Create stories and competition. For example, some companies use membership as a way to create demand. And traditional “mail is anticipatory,” he said.
- Want a group to try a challenge? Tell them they probably can’t do it. “We want to solve problems,” Kapp said.
Watch this 2014 TEDx talk Kapp gave for more.