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- Similar set of thoughts: [[Article notes: Can we forget about [[gamification]] once and for all?]]

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- I played a lot of video games growing up. I played by myself, with friends, with strangers online. My parents always thought that it was a waste of time. Here are [[some of my favorite video games]].

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- They probably asked themselves many times, "what is it about these games that make him play so much?" But that's not what I was thinking to myself. I was thinking about how much I wanted to play, and how I could play it as well as I could.

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- ## Gamification tends to ignore [[behavior design]], or uses [[lazy behavioral science]]

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- [[[[Kurt Lewin]]'s Equation]] says that $$B=f(P,E)$$. In other words, "Behavior is a function of the interplay between [[person-side factor]]s and the contextual factors of their environment"

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- [[An app designer has control over a person's digital context]] "The designer has partial to complete control over the information that is presented to the user, how that information is framed, what choices are given to users, and what information people are paying attention to. As long as the user is paying attention to the app, the designer exerts influence over the user's behavior."

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- "The thing to remember is that game designers have been designing for digital behavior change for longer than just about anyone", so they have have recognized this on some level since the beginning.

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- The player of a game is interacting with the in-game world in order to [get what they want and further their goals]([[[[Expectancy Value Theory]] and its role in [[gamification]]]])

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- Games thoughtfully designs rules and interactions to influence how you get what you want[++](((vq7ICOkbp)))

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- {{[[TODO]]}} While "Games thoughtfully designs rules and interactions to influence how you get what you want[++](((vq7ICOkbp)))", gamification designers act like [[points]], [[badges]], and [leaderboards]([[[[leaderboard]]s are generally ill-advised or poorly executed]]) work in a vacuum and can just be placed on top of what already exists and magically create engagement.

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- We need to consider the role of goals more broadly so that mechanics are simply perceived as being [helpful in furthering their goals](((K2Qwi4e7n))).

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- Before taking "inspiration" from games, gamified apps, and their mechanics, game designers should consider [the context in which those mechanics were implemented](((vq7ICOkbp))).

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- ## Gamification isn't being inspired by games and behavioral science, but rather, by other gamification. [[There could be many genres of [[gamification]]]], but we're essentially stuck with the Foursquare genre.

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- Designers aren't being inspired by games, but rather, by other gamification that has been copy/pasted since FourSquare. Frankly, I think most designers of gamification don't even play games. What FourSquare did in 2009 is basically what’s going on today.

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- [According to a report by Gartner in 2012,](https://centrical.com/will-80-of-gamification-projects-fail/) by 2014, 80 Percent of Current Gamified Applications Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design”

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- Elaborating further on his claims, the report's author said: __"The focus is on the obvious game mechanics, such as points, badges and leader boards, rather than the more subtle and more important game design elements, such as balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy. As a result, in many cases, organizations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience. Some organizations are already beginning to cast off poorly designed gamified applications.”__ #quote

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- In other words:

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- Gamification needs to broaden its toolbelt and get more nuanced in its understanding of the context surrounding game mechanics in games and the underlying behavioral science that drives it all.

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- ## Questions like "is gamification effective?" miss the point.

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- "When I hear people say "gamification does or doesn't work," I have the same reaction that many people would have if someone says "design doesn't work." Gamification isn't one thing as I define it, but rather an interplay between game design, human computer interaction, behavioral science, and [[behavior design]]."

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- Games aren't asking themselves whether they should use a leaderboard or not. They are [asking themselves how people should/could be playing the game](((vq7ICOkbp))), and how mechanics fit into an overall system meant to deliver an experience is far more interesting.

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- Games aren't made up of the additive effect of a bunch of individual mechanics working independently from each other. Instead, they function as a system of interacting parts where the player expresses agency in how they play.

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- Games don't implement mechanics for the sake of those mechanics. [[points]], [[badges]], and [[leaderboard]]s aren't effective in a vacuum. Mechanics affect change in the context of [the problems they are attempting to solve.]([[relations]])

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- ![](https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*uuFBEcNIG7yZ2bgF4nKvEg.jpeg)

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- {{[[TODO]]}} [[stub]]

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- __This is a reproduction of an article I posted on Medium a while ago. I decided to connect it up within my public Roam__

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- ### What’s Appening? Gamification and Playfulness in Headspace

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- Imagine you are on a date and at the end of the night you want a goodnight kiss. You ask, "would you like to kiss me?” They say yes, but let’s say you weren’t too sure if they would, so you sweeten the deal and say "I’ll give you $10 if you kiss me.” Do you think they would still be interested?

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- It’s a silly thought experiment, but it illustrates an important point- if someone is already motivated to do something, adding a reward like money or points won’t make them more motivated. They are probably not thinking, "Oh I get to kiss you AND earn $10? Big win!” [[self-determination theory]]

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- [Behavioral economics research shows that adding external rewards often backfire if you’re already intrinsically motivated.](https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.25.4.191) Why might that be?

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- Well, the first reason could be that paying money for intimacy is generally frowned upon, but that’s example specific.

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- Alternatively, your date could be replacing the question of whether they want to kiss you with the less favorable question of whether $10 is worth a kiss. That can be generalized to more situations.

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- Being offered an external reward takes away one’s ownership of the decision. People can justify it as doing it for the money, and if they’re getting paid, they better be paid enough.

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- [In studies of volunteers who collected donations, the group that wasn’t paid at all collected the most donations, followed by the high pay group, followed by the low pay group.](https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/115/3/791/1828156)

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- [Rewards can work, but they generally only work for short rather than long term change.](https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.25.4.191) As I wrote in my [previous article,](https://uxplanet.org/whats-appening-adding-behavioral-science-to-minimalist-design-d179a67f2b75)

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- "Enhancing and enabling intrinsic motivation is one of the best ways to create long-term behavior change. According to [[self-determination theory]],[*](https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=SePipgh2z7kC&oi=fnd&pg=PA416&dq=self-determination+theory&ots=_NinodN0zT&sig=ToUjQg_nkaSQ7jMByaJ_DhgMa9M#v=onepage&q=self-determination%20theory&f=false) our intrinsic motivation is based on three main drives for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

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- [[competence]] is about a need to improve our skills and knowledge.

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- [[autonomy]] describes wanting to personally identify with the task at hand and be in control of our own actions.

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- [[relatedness]] has to do with wanting to connect to others through our actions.”

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- The big reason that rewards in an app work for short rather than long-term behavior change is that if you stop caring about or receiving the reward, then you stop doing the behavior that it’s trying to encourage. [Variable ratio rewards like I’ve described in my article on Tinder](https://uxplanet.org/whats-appening-how-tinder-influences-you-adb0c0e0c917) can cause the behavior to last longer, but eventually it’ll stop. Even so, when an app is gamified, it usually relies on externally rewarding desired behaviors with points, badges, achievements, and leveling up. This doesn’t create meaningful change, and leads you to eventually stop using the app when you get tired of it.

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- "definition:: I loosely define gamification as the application of principles of game design and behavioral science to influence user behavior so they [voluntarily use the app]([[Products are fundamentally voluntary]])" What so many gamification designers seem to miss is that games aren’t just about points and achievements. They’re about being fun and playful.

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- #c they're doing [[lazy [[gamification]]]]. [[Most [[gamification]] is pretty bad]].

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- Headspace is a guided meditation app that uses game elements that increase and enable intrinsic motivation to create long-term change.[++]([[self-determination theory]]) In this article, I’m going to look at how they do that, as well as how they might be able to do that better.

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- ### **Creating a playground**

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- [Playfulness is about facilitating the freedom to explore and fail within boundaries.](https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-10208-5_1) Players can use the app how they want, engaging with what they want within the app, and establishing their own constraints. Picture a schoolyard playground- there are a lot of fun things that you can choose to interact with. However, if you were forced to use the monkey bars, it might just feel like exercise.

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- According to ["A RECIPE for Meaningful Gamification”:](https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-10208-5_1)

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- "The concept of a space where people can roam, explore, see where others are, engage with those others, and set temporary rules and goals can create a gamification space that people engage with because it’s playful.”

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- Headspace has the roam and explore part down pat. As you can see, you have a lot of options (45 meditation packs, 54 singles, 6 minis, 8 meditations for kids). Normally an app designer might worry about choice paralysis, [where users have so many options that they don’t pick any.](https://keithdwalker.ca/wp-content/summaries/m-p/Paradox%20of%20Choice.Schwartz.EBS.pdf) However, Headspace bunches its packs together into categories (for example, the packs for creativity, productivity, and finding focus are all under "Work & Performance”). This makes it so you first just look for a category that’s interesting, and then you pick a pack within that category that you like, which reduces the options you need to pick from at each decision point.

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- However, they don’t literally ask you to make each of those decisions in order, which is important. They present all of this information to you at once, inviting you to scroll and explore. You’re encouraged to try any that’s interesting to you. If they wanted to make this exploration more playful and fun, they could add art to the cover of each pack instead of just sorting them by color. Another app that has the same layout to encourage exploration is Netflix. Look familiar?

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- ![](https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1200/1*fmhCalhjDsf5u6H4PVqWow.jpeg)Previews of 3 different screens within the app. There’s a lot to discover!![](https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*rjsaZsts3dmCPNfug-niOg.jpeg)The space for exploration in Headspace and Netflix

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- The social interaction in Headspace is "passive,” opting to show you your friends’ meditation stats instead of give you ways to interact with friends. It does not show you which meditations they’ve done, which is understandable for privacy reasons. You can "nudge” your friends to meditate more, but instead of sending a simple "poke” notification, it asks you to write out a text or email without a template, which is a little cumbersome. Due to the lack of interactivity, this "passive” social network does not encourage you to engage more heavily with the app. Headspace needs "active” social interaction so users can actually connect to others by engaging the service more deeply.

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- If I do a meditation that I think my friend would like, I should be able to send it to them. I should be able to make meditation groups, or have groups made for me by Headspace, where we want to complete challenges together each week, cooperating to "meditate for 500 minutes” or "try every Single.”

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- To really nail down playfulness, they need to give users the ability to "set temporary rules and goals.” You know how kids on a playset might try to see who can go down the slide the fastest, start saying that certain areas are theirs, or climbing to the top just because they can? Same concept.

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- Headspace doesn’t do this explicitly, but they could. They could let you "favorite” meditations that you like and put them into playlists. They could give you a template for setting up challenges for yourself. If you set your own goals, you’ll feel more autonomy and be more intrinsically motivated to complete them. Perhaps they could let you write down a short goal for the week that pops up every time that you open the app. [This allows the app to use your desire to behave consistently with your self image for your betterment.](https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X)

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- ### Storytelling that engages your sense of self

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- The use of narrative storytelling in video games is another way that they draw you in without explicitly rewarding you. Narratives allow the player to draw connections between their past experiences, present reality, and future benefits. The challenge comes with giving the player a sense of control and autonomy over the story, rather than just being along for the ride.

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- [There are four main types of narrative that exist in games.](http://summit.sfu.ca/item/209)

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- An evoked narrative sets the game in a world that already exists, like real life.

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- Enacted narratives are non-interactive, think cut-scenes and videos that interrupt gameplay.

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- Embedded narrative is when the story is built into other game elements, like picking up items or exploring a new territory.

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- The most powerful type, however, is an emergent narrative. This allows the player to create the story by making choices that matter, inviting the player to identify with the story. Headspace works primarily through an embedded narrative, as the meditations you choose and the animations you watch determine the story that you’re exposed to. This type of narrative encourages the user to explore, because they know that they’ll unveil more by trying more.

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- ![](https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1200/1*5WIH_ozNEJL3RXyCgQ_Xug.png)

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- There’s a little bit of emergent narrative that is shown to you in the "My Journey” tab on your profile, where it shows you the meditations you’ve done, the landmarks you’ve achieved, and the animations that you’ve unlocked. There could be more though. See the "profile picture” of the smiling cartoon creature? As far as I can tell, you can’t change it. But what if it changed every time that you did a meditation? If you did a creativity one, it might start painting, or if you do one of the running singles, it (you guessed it) runs. This cartoon creature is supposed to represent you, so if it acted like you as well, that would add a playful piece of emergent narrative that connects your actions in real life to what’s happening in the app.

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- ### **Reflection to enhance learning**

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- If a gamification service wants the players to make real changes in their life, then adding reflection as a feature is invaluable.

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- If you want to utilize reflection well in your app, there are three main components: [description, analysis, and application.](https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/289b/34d437ccb17fe2543b33ad7243a9be644898.pdf)

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- Description is about figuring out what happened

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- Analysis is about realizing its connections with your real life

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- application is about ideating about how to use what you’ve learned in new situations.

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- Nike+, a brilliant app in the gamification space, incorporates reflection directly into the user’s journey. After a run, it asks you how you feel, shows you a map of where you’ve run and your running speed, asks you what shoes you were wearing, and what sort of turf you were running on. Then they ask if you want to share your post-run reflection on social media.

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- Meditation is an act that’s basically begging to be reflected on. After you finish, Headspace could ask you how you felt on an emoji scale and if there were any particularly important thoughts that came to mind that you want to jot down. They could compile these thoughts into a "meditation journal” on your profile, adding an extra layer of emergent narrative. Alternatively, they could build it into the way your "Journey” is already displayed, so if you tapped on a meditation you completed that had a little notebook icon, you could read what you wrote.

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- [Reflection is done best when it’s done with others with a shared experience.](http://scottnicholson.com/pubs/completingexperience.pdf) You might miss something that others noticed, and vice versa. Headspace could allow you to share your reflections on Facebook, with people on your buddy list, with meditation groups that you or the app created, or with other people working on the same meditation pack as you. This sort of social reflection causes you to learn more and brings you closer to other people through the app, tying Headspace to relatedness, one of the three main drivers of intrinsic motivation, which will in turn cause individuals to use the app more.

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- ### **Doing rewards right**

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- What little Headspace does with rewards, they do right. Upon reaching certain milestones which aren’t clear to you ahead of time, you unlock animations that teach you how to enhance your meditation practice. This works (and does not reduce intrinsic motivation) for a few reasons.

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- The first is that the rewards are unexpected. Because you did not plan ahead for them, you can’t justify your actions as being just for a prize. As a result, they feel more like a celebration of your work, rather than payment.

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- The second is that it touches on a core driver of intrinsic motivation, the desire for competence. As you meditate more, you naturally improve. Once you start to feel like you might have hit a plateau, Headspace gives you new things to think about that allow you to improve and meditate more.

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- ### **Takeaways**

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- Games are engaging for more than just the rewards they give you

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- You can picture a playful environment by imagining a schoolyard playground, where you can see and engage with a variety of structures and people

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- A game’s narrative and the way it’s exposed can engage and motivate the player

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- Reflection is a key component of the learning process that invites the player to connect their actions in the game to the game’s real-life value and lessons.

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- If you’re going to use rewards, put a lot of careful consideration into how you’re going to do it. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in how to do them right.

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- If I use a [[complex page]][++](((4t319eiua))), then I am essentially linking all of the ideas present within the overall page every time I mention that page.

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- In the example of this page, every time that I reference [[[[complex page]]s are one method for expressing semantic meaning]], it will also show up in the linked references for **complex page.**

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- However, this is unidirectional. It's not the case that every time that I reference [[complex page]], it will show up in the linked references for the page that we're on.

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- [[example]]: "[[[[puzzle game]]s for [[power user]] [[onboarding]]]] is a **complex page name** that tells Roam that whenever I reference that page, the block will also show up in the linked references for [[puzzle game]], [[power user]], and [[onboarding]]. I'm expressing a light hierarchy. "

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- I can say [[social [[self-efficacy]]]] to express that social self-efficacy is subordinate to self-efficacy more broadly.

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- {{[[TODO]]}} More ways of conveying semantic meaning through complex page names to come

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- "definition:: Continuous onboarding is an onboarding that never stops. Users are constantly being shown how to be better at using the app in an attempt to increase [[user involvement]]."

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- # In order for a continuous onboarding to come from the community, new users need to be funneled into a community that welcomes new and experienced users and is filled with people that fulfill nourishing [[[[community]] roles]].

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- {{[[TODO]]}} The community can be intentionally designed. The way that is designed currently encourages and discourages behaviors and roles, whether it was designed intentionally or not. More on this to come.

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- # There is a plethora of goals that need to be accounted for in a [[horizontal product]]

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- This is because [[[[user goal]]s change over time]] as [[the [[skill level]] of each user grows over time]], and there are [[[[individual difference]]s between people in prior [[user goal]]s]].

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- ## The app can only do so much to onboard new and experienced users

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- On its own, a horizontal product is likely incapable of adapting to the plethora of goals that evolve over time for a base of users who had different goals from each other to start with. This is a hard problem for apps to solve.

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- The app can only be so intelligent in recognizing when a user could learn something new.

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- The app can react to certain behavioral signals coming from the user:

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- [[user behavior]] could signal that the user is trying to do something in an inefficient way

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- [[user behavior]] could signal that the user has progressed to a skill level that's necessary to learn a more advanced technique

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- The app can react to declared preferences and clearly expressed **user goals.**

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- The user could do a search for information. This requires the user to at least have at least a fuzzy idea of what they are looking for.

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- The user can describe to the app in some way what their goals are. This can come from "Questions during the onboarding".

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- ## People are able to facilitate continuous onboarding because they are far more dynamic and responsive than a machine, which is necessary given that that there is a plethora of goals that need to be accounted for.

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- ## The app needs help from its users to create a continuous onboarding

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- ### The problem with reacting to declared preferences and clearly stated goals is that people often don't know what they're missing until they are shown. This is due to a failure of imagination.[++]([[the user may have a lack of imagination as to what [[user goal]]s they can accomplish]])

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- Other people are more helpful here than a pre-programmed app onboarding in providing inspiration for other users.

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- Some users may end up content with a static state of usage. [[The user should believe that their actions in the app lead to goal achievement]], and they believe it because they've figured it out for themselves.

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- There's often no need to worry about these users, but sometimes this is simply because [the user doesn't recognize situations for app usage]([[help the user to recognize situations for app usage]])

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- Some users are surprised and delighted when they are shown how to do things that they didn't know that they wanted to do. On the other side of the coin, some users end up frustrated that they can't do the things they didn't even know they wanted to do. When people are exposed to use cases they didn't know they wanted, the user is invited to escalate their level of [[user involvement]].

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- ### Content creators are able to show off powerful ideas that inspire these users. #[[[[community]] roles]]

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- In order to create a **continuous onboarding,** content creators need to work at varying levels (beginner, intermediate, hard) and for various use cases so the breadth of different users all have inspirational and instructional material.

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- Content creators need multiple ways that they can provide for other users. They can make videos or write articles, but can they create templates that anybody can use and go beyond simply the instructional into the immediately practical?

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- [[[[self-efficacy]] can be augmented to be [[social [[self-efficacy]]]] with community support]]

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- ### People are able to understand the meaning of behavioral signals from other users more effectively than a computer

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- People are able to understand what someone is saying when they say that they are struggling, provide more personalized instruction as to how to accomplish a specific goal, and troubleshoot.

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- In the community, we need people that will respond to the questions of others. #[[[[community]] roles]]

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- I hear people say all of the time that they don’t really care about the gamification in the apps they use. They pretty much ignore it.

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- Gamification should be made so that people WANT to pay attention and engage with the app because that furthers their goals.

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- If you take away nothing else from this page, just remember: people can choose to use your product or not. Understanding user goals and enabling them as best as possible makes that choice favorable, and is just good design.

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- What is a game?

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- According to [[Reality is Broken]]:

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- "All games share four qualities:"

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- "Goal"

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- "Something to focus on. It gives the player a sense of purpose."

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- "Rules"

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- "Inform the user know how they can achieve their goals. These rules empower players by giving them a sense of control over the world."

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- "Feedback System"

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- "Feedback shows the user how their current actions relate to their goals. This can help the user notice their own progression and learn the rules of the game."

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- ^^((zaruuQt6J))^^

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- "People can play a game or not, it’s their choice. This means that the user needs to accept the in-game goals as their own, and pursue those."

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- # ^^Just like games, [[Products are fundamentally voluntary]].^^

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- "People can always choose to use the product, use something else, or not use anything at all. That's their [default state of being]([[default behavior]]), and you're trying to get them to do something different in using your product."

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- [[Expectancy Value Theory]]

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- "Broadly, Expectancy Value Theory says that people will do a behavior if:"

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- "The task has a valued outcome"

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- This leads to "Voluntary Participation". People won't voluntarily do a task if they don't think that it's worthwhile.

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- "The relationship between performance of certain actions and achievement of a goal is clear"

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- This leads to "Voluntary Participation". If people don't believe that doing a task leads to the outcome that they are looking for, then why do said task?

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- "Rules" and "Feedback System"s can make the relationship between performance and goal achievement clear

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- "The person believes that by exerting effort, they will be able to perform the steps necessary to achieve the goal"

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- This leads to "Voluntary Participation". If people don't believe that they are capable of some action, then they won't like it as much.

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- [[example]]: if someone asked me to play a game of pickup basketball with them, I probably wouldn't be too enthusiastic about that because have they seen me attempt to play a sport?

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- # [[The user should believe that they are capable of performing actions within the app]][++](((shir6zGgG)))

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- # [[The user should believe that their actions in the app lead to goal achievement]][++](((pJwzQSsgi)))

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- # [[The user should believe that the app will help them achieve a goal that they actually have]][++](((N9SykWJJ2)))

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- Failure is inherent to a [[roguelike]]. In order to be successful, the roguelike needs the player to complete the following loop: start a run, make it as far as you can go, fail, and then repeat. How do roguelikes encourage the player to start over again when they fail? [[failure]]

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- When people think of gamification, they tend to think of points, badges, and leaderboards. They may make claims such as "Gamification is good for this and bad for that" or "gamification should only come in at X stage." This is [[lazy [[gamification]]]]. This is making a claim that gamification is a monolithic thing. Gamification can be done without feeling like gamification, without points, without badges, without extrinsic rewards.

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- ## Restarting after death is easy

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- When I hear people say "gamification does or doesn't work," I have the same reaction that many people would have if someone says "design doesn't work." Gamification isn't one thing as I define it, but rather an interplay between game design, human computer interaction, behavioral science, and [[behavior design]].

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- In Dead Cells, when you die, it immediately starts you over at the beginning without asking you if you'd like to try again.

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- [[There could be many genres of [[gamification]]]]

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- This is like in Netflix, where if you don't do anything at the end of an episode it will automatically move onto the next.

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- The user has the exact same choice as before- they can start the next run or they can quit. However, instead of asking the player to deliberate between those two options, it makes the default option to start again. The player has already started so quitting is turned into an effortful decision. [[choice architecture]]

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- "Some games reward failure, giving you a boost in your next life"

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- During each run, you're killing monsters and collecting money. When you die, it actually allows you to use some of the money that you had left when you died on your next run, making you feel as though you have already started and helping you move past the part at the beginning that you've done a thousand times more quickly. [[goal gradient effect]]

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- Some runs you get such a lucky start that you can't help but give it a shot. At the beginning of each run, they give you three random weapons. Sometimes, you get a combination that is perfect for you and you feel as though you have to play another run because who knows when you'll get another combination that good.

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-

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- In [[instructional design]]

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- definition:: Kurt Lewin's equation, $$B=f(P,E)$$, states that a person's behavior is a function of who they are as a person and the contextual factors of their environment.

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- # [[open-world experience]]

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- Kurt Lewin's Equation is commonly understood as saying $$B=P+E$$. This is [[lazy behavioral science]].

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- ## ^^((25CXpnV79))^^

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- Behavior is a function of the interplay between [[person-side factor]]s and the contextual factors of their environment

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- [[[[metroidvania]]s gate user [[progression]] with soft progression gates]] and with [hard progression gates]([[[[metroidvania]]s gate user [[progression system]] with [[hard progression gate]]s]]). In a nonlinear course, [we could model this progression system](https://twitter.com/RobertHaisfield/status/1265467836249473033?s=20) by asking users to find some password that is unlocked by answering a series of questions that can be found through exploration of new and past learning material. These passwords unlock new areas of the course.

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- Who the person is impacts how they respond to environmental factors and what environments they place themselves within.

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- "[[backtracking]] shows you old material in a way that feels fresh"

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- Environmental factors over time can shape who the person is, and the pressures of the situation can cause people to act in a way that is counter to who they are.

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- Atomic elements of thought gain new meaning based on the context in which it is presented. If it's encountered through a different path than before, then it gains new meaning[++](((5Hi-1xU4J)))

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- We want the learner to uncover new meaning

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- How does this build on [[Mark Robertson]]'s thoughts: "n terms of the idea of a curated path, whether this is online or in-person, curation requires contextualization. Your suggestion towards the thread by [@lalizlabeth](https://twitter.com/lalizlabeth) is appropriate. Roam offers the back-links to track and front-load the applicable contexts."

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- "You gain new abilities that open up new paths over where you've previously explored"

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- Certain pieces of information in the course could be gated behind required lessons learned

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- "[[user skill]] based gates make it so the user can make it further if they have a high enough [[skill level]]"

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- "Requires the user to be able to enter a [[failure state]] and retry and succeed over what was previously a challenge. This makes surpassing the gate that previously made them turn away all the more satisfying."

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- This could come in the form of an assessment where the user needs to demonstrate a certain level of understanding in order to access certain content, but is able to retry after gathering that understanding.

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- {{[[TODO]]}} #[[open question]] Should the player be told explicitly where to find that information, or should the player be given the freedom to explore around and find that information for themselves?

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- {{[[TODO]]}} #[[open question]] should the player be told explicitly what they unlock in order to make paths for exploration more explicit, or would it encourage more exploration, backtracking, and recall to have the user find what they just unlocked on their own? #[[[[backtracking]] is a form of [[Spaced Repetition]]]]

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- {{embed: ((N2dvnnIEX))}}

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- "An important feature of metroidvanias is that they **invite the user to notice clear cues for when to apply what they have just learned, which makes the learning stick.**" So how can we teach skills and make clear cues within the instructional design in order to increase the likelihood that they notice the opportunities they have available to apply those learnings to a situation?

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- {{[[TODO]]}} Relevant to this discussion is the discussion about player agency in [[open-world]] games more broadly, but also Metroid Zero Mission vs. Super Metroid. There were videos on youtube that analyzed every single metroid game. **DIVE IN**

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- "At this point, most users will bookmark the location of the exploration point in their head, and come back to it when they've found what's necessary to make it further."

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- ""Key" based gates require the user to acquire some item or ability from elsewhere on the map."

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- The user could be told where they need to acquire some item in the course, or even be sent on a [[scavenger hunt]] to get there.

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- "Hidden goodies"

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- "These mini-lectures would be linked to relevant mini-lectures so people could see both suggested prerequisites and suggested follow-ups, allowing the learner to explore their curiosity."

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- ### There should be [[aha moment]]s sprinkled throughout the course

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- ^^Create a [[positive feedback loop]]^^

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- The nonlinear course could let you know what atomic lessons you unlock whenever you complete something

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- This could be visually represented in a [[skill tree]] / [[skill web]]

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- "Curation could perhaps look something like skill trees where skills (mini-lessons) can exist in multiple locations at once. This simultaneously shows users recommended paths and gives the user progress markers towards completion. https://twitter.com/RobertHaisfield/status/1261312251924897793?s=20"

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-

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- {{[[TODO]]}} [[social comparison]] to people above you in skill can be motivating, but only if that difference feels achievable.

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- Tactics for hard progression gates

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- A soft progression gate is when a player isn't strictly gated from progressing further, but the gate decreases the likelihood that the user makes it further.

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- On a leaderboard, it often feels impossible to close the gap between yourself and those at the top.

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- "Key" based gates require the user to acquire some item or ability from elsewhere on the map.

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- Tactics for soft progression gates:

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- The leaderboard is then only motivating for people who are already near the top.

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- [[user skill]] based gates make it so the user can make it further if they have a high enough [[skill level]]

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- According to [[The competition–performance relation: A meta-analytic review and test of the opposing processes model of competition and performance]], a meta-analysis looking at 474 studies analyzing the impact of competition on performance ended up finding 0 effect overall.

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- At this point, most users will bookmark the location of the exploration point in their head, and come back to it when they've found what's necessary to make it further.

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- These two competing effects balance each other out:

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- Requires the user to be able to enter a [[failure state]] and retry and succeed over what was previously a challenge. This makes surpassing the gate that previously made them turn away all the more satisfying.

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- Competition only leads to an increase in performance when people have [[approach goal]]s. These are slightly more common in a competitive setting, and even then the effect size is modest.

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- "Mastery loop [[screenshot]] ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRobAndHisNotes%2FJ9Xgls1EYn.png?alt=media&token=32e9627d-b720-4e0d-a278-97d0e6c8caec)"

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- Competition is counterproductive when people have [[avoidance goal]]s. These are slightly less common in a competitive setting, but the effect size is significant.

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- ^^((EEf6MK9S8))^^

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- Can you imagine sending someone a notification telling them to get back on the app so they don't lose their spot?

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- The opportunity to re-engage with something that previously was challenging, perhaps to the point of you failing, gives the user a sense of [[accomplishment]]

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- {{[[TODO]]}} Leaderboards can provide a social target for a goal

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-

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- ### [[example]] In Pokemon, players __want to be the very best, like no one ever was.__ In order to do that, they need strong pokemon.

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- People often want to do better than they've done before. They may want to hit a personal record while working out, do better than they did on a previous exam, or weigh less than they did last week. The player is in competition with themselves.

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- In the image below: The progress bar shows them how close the Blaziken is to level 52. In order to get to the **next level, they need a certain amount of XP**

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- A [[personal leaderboard]] is one way of helping the user to outperform their past self.

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- They use color to signal meaning to the player. **Blue** = experience points they've earned **so far**. **Gray** = **what’s left before the next level**

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- [[example]]: in Lumosity, players are able to see how they performed in each game as compared to their previous best scores.

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- "Feedback shows the user how their current actions relate to their goals. This can help the user notice their own progression and learn the rules of the game."

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- ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FoyivjuiNcg?alt=media&token=151911c2-0016-4d00-a82e-f6a8d09441ad)

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- When the player beats a pokemon that's higher level than their own, they earn a lot of experience points. When they beat lower level pokemon, they earn less. This consistent rule teaches the user how to best achieve their goals.

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- [[example]]: in Loop Habit Tracker, they show the user a personal leaderboard of their previous streaks. By having a personal leaderboard, the users previous efforts do not feel as though they are wasted. This is a clever way of addressing the issue that "Streak counters are only really motivating while you have a streak going. In the early stages of a streak, it is not valuable so people don't mind losing them. Upon losing a long streak, [[loss aversion]] leads to a significant feeling of distress. This can demoralize the user, especially if it will take weeks, months, or longer to recover the streak.[++](((g9lr8L82X)))"

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- [[screenshot]] of pokemon battle ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2F7VQpeiO7Eu?alt=media&token=8e544ff1-c59a-4329-a336-b8d861242b0f)

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- The personal leaderboard also shifts the goal of the user- instead of simply trying to avoid losing their streak, the user is also trying to outperform their past self. With the [[failure state]] of losing their streak, they then may set the goal to do better than last time.

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- ### [[example]] In [[Duolingo]], the user wants to learn a language. In order to do that, they need to practice consistently

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- [[screenshot]] of Loop Habit Tracker![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FMk5IE6iC0w?alt=media&token=4ef85193-7c76-49f0-828a-28617f1a98a7)

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- The progress bar and immediate feedback upon completing the activity makes the rules clear- "I just made half of my progress towards my goal by doing this activity. Great. I need to do a second to complete it. I need to do two activities per day in order to reach my goal."[++](((qOZnVX-NU))) **This is all implicitly communicated through the design.**

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- [[screenshot]] of [[Duolingo]] progress bar

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- ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FIskwHqXLZQ?alt=media&token=806138f4-8a63-4f37-912e-f7aa8ee1a55c)

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- Related thought: [[[[puzzle game]]s, problem solving games, templates, and instruction manuals all teach different levels of understanding]]

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- definition:: Progress monitoring is showing a person the discrepancy between their present state and their goal, while giving them feedback how their present actions relate to their goal.

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- Puzzle games, problem solving games, and instruction manuals all have the user at Point A and trying to get to Point B. In the games, they have to teach you how the game works in order to have you figure out the solution yourself, and they attempt to make it challenging so you have a sense of discovery. In an instruction manual, you need to learn just enough to build it but you don't need to know how the building blocks work. Instruction manuals just wants discoverability, because they want the user to be guaranteed to find the solution.

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- A [[puzzle game]] takes you from Point A to Point B by asking you to figure it out, but they make your end goal clear, they focus your attention on a subgoal (the difficult "catch" that keeps the puzzle from being totally straightforward), and they give you contextual cues to help you figure it out.

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- To do it well, progress needs to be related to a goal that they already have or are bought into. At that point, feedback on how their actions relate to their goal is perceived as helpful information.

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- Defining terms:

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- They are built on mechanics and rules, __things you control and how you interact with the environment__. These serve as your building blocks. They give you puzzles where you need to understand how something works in order to solve them.

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- # The goal state can be described in three main ways

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- A __template__ takes you from Point A to Point B of a problem by giving you the solution.

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- Then __puzzle games__ build on this understanding and help the user develop mastery of the mechanics over time by giving you new puzzles that:

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- ## Target: You want to get somewhere further along than you are now.

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- The user likely gains very little understanding from this, but they have a new tool and process that they can copy and paste that lets them punch above their weight in [[skill level]]

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- show you new situation where a known rule applies

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- Imagine you're running a race. The finish line is your target.

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- An __instruction manual__ takes you from Point A to Point B in one specific way that is a spelled out process for how to do it that the user needs to execute.

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- combine multiple known rules together in a solution

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- ## [[[[progress bar]]s can visually enable [[progress monitoring]]]]

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- The user gains more understanding of the building blocks from this than with templates. However, because instruction manuals are only able to give you solutions to narrowly defined problems, the user may have some difficulty generalizing what they learn to other situations.

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- teach you a new rule

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- {{embed: ((cl8kcEwHM))}}

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- __Instruction manuals__ are a safe way to introduce a new mechanic to users where the user has a low risk of messing up and experiencing a [[failure state]].

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- ### Usually, the learning curve of a puzzle game goes like this.

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- {{embed: ((X0gKoLoMO))}}

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- A [[puzzle game]] takes you from Point A to Point B by asking you to figure it out, but they make your end goal clear, they focus your attention on a subgoal (the difficult "catch" that keeps the puzzle from being totally straightforward), and they give you contextual cues to help you figure it out.

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- You are introduced to the basic concepts of the game, the fundamental rules of the game that dictate how you control your character and interact with your environment, through very simple puzzles and tutorials that are meant to give you a grasp of those building block rules.

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- ## [[Scoring can provide feedback on how performance relates to internally held goals]]

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- A __puzzle__ is a narrowly defined problem, but because the user is generating the solution themselves[++](((-KplflDJc))), they gain a deeper understanding of how to solve the problem again in the future.[++](((EzdSWoRm2)))

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- Those rules are taught one at a time, and then you start to see them together.

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- {{embed: ((Gh7IGr-Kc))}}

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- "Then __puzzle games__ build on this understanding and help the user develop mastery of the mechanics over time by giving you new puzzles that: "

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- They are taught through problem solving, which leverages the [[generation effect]] so people are more likely to remember the solution than if they just read the solution in an [[instruction manual]].

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- ## [[Skill trees can help the user to both set goals and chart their course]]

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- "show you new situation where a known rule applies"

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- They give you a starting point (point A) and an ending point (Point B) and they ask you to figure it out. Usually, they limit the options that you have available to you in some way so that you're more likely to come up with the answer they desire.

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- {{embed: ((BqiAP3yeE))}}

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- "combine multiple known rules together in a solution"

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- So you learn the rules of the game through problem solving, which allows you to more effectively deal with future problems.

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- ## [[[[Past performance]]- Players may want to perform better than their past self]]

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- "teach you a new rule"

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- Once they've taught you the basic concepts, they start to put them together. Now you have to solve a problem using all of the building block rules you've learned at once!

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- "People often want to do better than they've done before. They may want to hit a personal record while working out, do better than they did on a previous exam, or weigh less than they did last week. The player is in competition with themselves."

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- For more detail on how the learning curve generally works, [see here](((ny2Gp7uTy)))

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- Then they start to move on to more and more complex puzzles that require a deeper and deeper understanding of the rules of the game.

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- {{embed: ((D3cua9w25))}}

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- Closely related are __problem solving games__ which similarly accrete user understanding over time, but in these games the problems are more broadly defined and the amount of possible solutions are broad.

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- Often, you'll come upon a solution to a puzzle where you're like, "Oh, I didn't know I could do that!" Then the game starts giving you puzzles where that general concept is the solution, so you start to recognize the situations where you can use it.

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- ## [[[[social comparison]]- People may want to perform better than their peers]]

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- Of __templates, instruction manuals, puzzle games, and problem solving games,__ these gain the deepest level of understanding of the core mechanics, but are also the most challenging.

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- This all comes with a powerful and thrilling [[sense of discovery]] and accomplishment when you figure out things that made you struggle a bit.

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- {{embed: ((LO2o0Gmpg))}}

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- An [[example]] of the puzzle game learning curve being cumulative:

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-

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- There was a really interesting case where I was playing a puzzle game called Pode with my girlfriend, and it gave us a puzzle where one of our characters seemed to need to stand on a pedal in order to open up the door to the next puzzle. However, only one of our characters was heavy enough to stand on it, and we both needed to make it through to the other side, so the solution couldn't be "just stand on it." Eventually we found a weighted block to put on top of the square pedal to weigh it down so we could both move on.

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- What was interesting was that in the next puzzle, they had that same pedal, and she immediately said, "oh, that means we've got to find a cube to put on the pedal."

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- "Incomplete page"

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- Video: {{youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJZBGJOzhUY}}

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- # Flashcards in a Roguelike structure

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- # How to use queries and what they let you do

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- Flashcards are generally pretty boring on their own

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- What are your tools:

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- To many, they feel like a chore that must be completed. "I said that I would review this many flash cards per day so I guess I have to now." [[Apps focus on habits, which encourage minimum behavior rather than as much as possible]]

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- {and: [[page 1]] [[page 2]]}

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- This is a common problem with gamification. By telling people that there's a minimum amount to do each day, people feel obligated. Games generally attempt to make the player want to play as much as possible

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- {or: [[page 1]] [[page 2]]}

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- "Every time you die, you start over at the beginning of the game." "During each life, you engage in a "run," where you attempt to make it further than you made it last time."

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- {not: [[page 1]]}

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- Imagine being shown a deck of flash cards. You want to make it through as many as you can before you fail.

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- You can embed these operations within each other.

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- {{[[TODO]]}} How might we define failure here?

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- 3(15/(2+3))=9

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- Perhaps if you miss three cards in a row, then you have to start over your run.

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- {and: [[page 1]] [[[page 2]] {not: [[page 3]]}}}

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- "This makes it so people are able to experience growing mastery."

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- What do they let you do?

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- "^^[[[[progress bar]]s can visually enable [[progress monitoring]]]]. The "progress bar" is how far you have made it into a run before you hit your [[failure state]].^^" The player will be able to tell how far they have made it by how many flashcards they have been shown before their [[failure state]]

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- Ask your database: What have I written about this?

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- "[[[[Past performance]]- Players may want to perform better than their past self]]"

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- Pull in insights from many areas

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- How do we make it so "Restarting after death is easy"?

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- Let's say I want to prepare for a talk about gamification. I want to pull in my insights on gamification related to [[difficulty matching]], [[failure states]]s and [[user goal]]s, but those thoughts don’t need to be combined into a block. So I’ll write a query for that:

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- "In Dead Cells, when you die, it immediately starts you over at the beginning without asking you if you'd like to try again."

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- ```clojure

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- Maybe we after failing, we immediately start the user over at the beginning, and we show their previous score in a corner of the screen. "The user has the exact same choice as before- they can start the next run or they can quit. However, instead of asking the player to deliberate between those two options, it makes the default option to start again. The player has already started so quitting is turned into an effortful decision. [[choice architecture]]"

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{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[difficulty matching]] [[failure state]] [[user goal]]} {not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- Alternate option would be to show the player their stats first and then ask them if they'd like to continue. If we do this, then the user will have to make an active choice whether to start reviewing a new shuffled deck of cards.

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[difficulty matching]] [[failure state]] [[user goal]]} {not: [[query]]}}}}

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- How do we give the player a boost in their next life?[++](((bPiJLjHUX)))

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- Let’s say that I have two words to describe something. [[Perceptual Control Theory]] is the same as [[pct]]. I could put, on the page for Perceptual Control Theory, a query for all notes that are either or the other.

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- Give the user an extra life if they made it further than they made it in a previous life.

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- ```{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[perceptual control theory]] [[pct]]}{not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- ""[[example]] Ziggurat is a [[roguelike]] game.""

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[perceptual control theory]] [[pct]]}{not: [[query]]}}}}

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- ""During each run, the player attempts to make it further than they did before. The further they make it, the better power ups they earn. However, the player isn't able to use the power ups until their next run, which means that they need to fail first and they may actually look forward to failure.""

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- Or let’s say you want to do the above, but also filter in my mentions of a specific person, [[Warren Mansell]]

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- We could give the student powerups like being able to see the first word of the back of a card (**hint**), gain an extra life, etc.

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- ```clojure

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- ""[[screenshot]] of Ziggurat ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2Ff91VECu9ky?alt=media&token=77778221-7291-46a0-b85f-511102c3593d)""

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{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[pct]] [[perceptual control theory]]} [[Warren Mansell]] {not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- "Each run is similar but with randomized elements so you have a unique experience each time."

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[pct]] [[perceptual control theory]]} [[Warren Mansell]] {not: [[query]]}}}}

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- "Whereas games that are the same each time may lead to memorization of a sequence of actions, the random elements of a roguelike lead the player to mastery over the mechanics."

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- When you want a [[saved view]]. When you look through linked references for something, next time you change it, it’s gone. Here I want to replicate this set of linked references to [[pct]]

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- A worry with normal flashcard decks is that if you receive the same questions in the same order every time, you may just memorize the order of elements, or that you may just memorize the structural elements of a card rather than the actual meaning of it.

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- ```{{[[query]]: {and: [[pct]] [[Warren Mansell]] {not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- Giving the player a random order of cards every time would provide some variation.

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- {{[[query]]: {and: [[pct]] [[Warren Mansell]] {not: [[query]]}}}}

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- Giving the player slightly different wordings for the same flash cards may remove the ability to simply master structural elements of it.

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- Group A is ([[reward prediction error]] OR [[rpe]], OR [[Wolfram Schultz]]), Group B is (pct OR perceptual control theory OR Warren Mansell). I want to see the times that I’ve mentioned any of the terms from Group A in conjunction with any of the terms in Group B.

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- "Each run is similar but with randomized elements so you have a unique experience each time." This makes flashcards less boring, because you're doing it in a different order each time.

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- ```{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[pct]] [[perceptual control theory]][[Warren Mansell]]}{or: [[Reward Prediction Error]][[RPE]][[Wolfram Schultz]]}{not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- [[Games intentionally design for [[failure state]] recovery]]

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[pct]] [[perceptual control theory]][[Warren Mansell]]}{or: [[Reward Prediction Error]][[RPE]][[Wolfram Schultz]]}{not: [[query]]}}}}

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- Show yourself what has been processed and what hasn’t yet been processed.

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- [Using queries to mark your progress processing]([[Creating a content pipeline and tracking your ideas in [[Roam]] with [[queries]]]])

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- [[features rarely make sense to new users without the context of their goals]]. However, there are [[[[individual difference]]s between people in prior [[skill level]]]]. As [[the [[skill level]] of each user grows over time]], so does their vocabulary. With the new vocabulary given my the app, they are able to conceptualize and express desires that they couldn't express before. Because of this, user goals change over time.

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- When there is strong support coming from the community, the question shifts from "what am I capable of?" to "What am I capable of with the help of the community?"

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- In the [[Opus Magnum]] [[example]] below, you'll notice something important- by showing the user the histogram comparing their performance to every other player, that helps the user to set goals for themselves. **Players don't know what good and bad performance is before seeing the distribution of every other player.**

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- User goals also change over time because life circumstances change.

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- I have not yet looked into whether this is an existing concept in behavioral science, but it's a combination of a few common ideas:

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- "[[example]]: [[Opus Magnum]] is a [[problem solving game]] where each problem you get has a million different solutions. After completing a problem, users are compared to the rest of the world based on three histograms, which represent three different scores placed into the context of [[social comparison]]. Further left means doing better than more people. The player has the opportunity to redo the problem and attempt to find a new solution if they are dissatisfied with any of their scores."

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- This means that the behaviors at the beginning of the user journey are more likely indicative of traits of users who are already likely to be successful.

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- [[self-efficacy]] relates to a person's sense of self-identity

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- ^^This social goal is incredibly salient, as demonstrated by:^^ "Aside- I redid the first level for creating water for an hour after I had already beaten it because I wanted to get cycles down."

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- ^^I claim that a necessary requirement of [[retention]] is that the app is able to adapt to changing user goals over time.^^

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- Self-identity is influenced by others (most things are)

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- "[[screenshot]] of Opus Magnum Histograms ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FWAoP-VN4lC?alt=media&token=07ace2c3-9465-4023-be0b-1f6e6490bc55)"

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- This means that we need to track how behaviors over time relate to retention, not just at the beginning.

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- Others can provide instruction and support

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- Depending on the complexity of the app and different use cases, there may be different points in time when the user reaches [[user involvement]] "maturity"

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- ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FdKATvcslLD.jpeg?alt=media&token=d8cf4e73-22ef-44ff-be09-cbe2213dc69a)

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- [[onboarding]]

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- I'm [[Rob Haisfield]], CEO of [[behavior design]] and [[gamification]] consultancy [[Influence Insights]] and behavioral product strategist at a [[startup studio]] called [[Spark Wave]], where I do the same thing as I do with my consulting except for portfolio companies. Generally speaking, this means that I read a lot of behavioral science papers, I play a lot of video games[++]([[some of my favorite video games]]), and I think about how the principles of each apply to the way that apps function. This is all with the aim of enabling users to better accomplish their goals.

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- [[[[continuous onboarding]] can come from [[community]]]]

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- [[user involvement]] is more important than engagement is for growth and is fairly central towards my approach to enabling product design

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- [[New users of an app should start with a project to have a succesful [[onboarding]]]]

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- "User involvement leads to"

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- [[[[puzzle game]]s for [[power user]] [[onboarding]]]]

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- "[[retention]]"

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- [[failure state]]

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- "[[virality]]"

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- "[[adoption]]"

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- I got into this world out of a deep passion and curiosity for learning about why people do what they do and a drive to make an impact. Behavior design is a new field, has incredible potential, and still has much to discover. Gamification has been around for a while, but it has tremendous room for improvement because it's been misapplied and copied in its misapplication since its inception.

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- [[Why I chose to consult rather than get a PhD]]

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- [[Most [[gamification]] is pretty bad]]

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- When making great gamification, it's important to consider

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- [[[[Expectancy Value Theory]] and its role in [[gamification]]]]

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- [[failure state]]s

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- [[difficulty matching]]

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- [[There could be many genres of [[gamification]]]]

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- My general mindset is that there is no one theory that explains everything. The richness of behavioral science and game design is that both have explored a huge amount of different subjects and that the relationships between those subjects are deep. Habits aren't everything. Heuristics and biases aren't everything. Points, badges, and leaderboards aren't everything. I [[follow curiosity unconditionally]], and trust that if I keep track of what I learn well, there's a good chance it will be useful at some point.

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- [[There is no curriculum of everything you should know]]

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- I hope to combine my expertise in behavioral science and gamification to help users improve their lives through products. Your users hire you to help them achieve some goal, but loving your product is a result of your teamwork with the user. [[The role of the user and the role of the app]] means both players need to play.

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- # [[Contact Me]]

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- Email: rob@influenceinsights.io

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- Twitter: [@RobertHaisfield](https://twitter.com/RobertHaisfield)

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- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robhaisfield/

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- My Website: https://www.influenceinsights.io/

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- ## Some nice things people have said about me:

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- [[Adam Taylor]]

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- Cofounder and COO of Fabriq

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- "These days, it's all too easy to think you’re implementing effective behavioral design principals after reading a few articles, or a one-off conversation with someone who’s "done it before”, but Rob provides the kind of expertise that product design teams are unlikely to possess in-house, even if they are well schooled in UI/UX/CX. Rob’s contribution to our "goal & reward” system redesign was not only a crucial correction to our process and the direction we took the work, but it was an educational opportunity for our team(s) that gave us additional lenses through which to view our work that will pay dividends down the line.”

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- [[Spencer Greenberg]]

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- Founder of [[Spark Wave]]

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- Mathematician, Behavioral Scientist, Entrepreneur

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- "Rob has remarkable creativity, and an impressive fluency with applying behavior science principles in a practical way to our products. He has demonstrated his ability to solve tricky user behavior challenges time and again.”

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- [[Eddie Liu]]

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- Founder of UpLift

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- "Rob has brought a valuable behavioral science perspective to our company. He dives deep into the issues at hand and has been crucial in helping us change user behavior in a logical and effective manner."

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- [[Patrick Olsen]]

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- Optimization consultant specializing in strategic optimization, driving teams to increase conversions and hands on CRO

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- "Rob is an amazing behavioral scientist. He simply saw things about our product that we didn't. His communication skills were excellent, and you could truly feel his passion for delivering the best results possible. No doubt I will hire Rob again for future projects. I give him my highest recommendations."

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- {{[[TODO]]}} [[stub]]

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- {{[[TODO]]}} [[stub]]

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- [[[[Kurt Lewin]]'s Equation]] states that "Behavior is a function of the interplay between [[person-side factor]]s and the contextual factors of their environment".

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- Duolingo you have it asking you to maintain a streak. [[streak counter]]

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- [[aha moment]]s don't just "happen" to the users. The user has some agency in making those moments happen

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- The designer has partial to complete control over the information that is presented to the user, how that information is framed, what choices are given to users, and what information people are paying attention to. As long as the user is paying attention to the app, the designer exerts influence over the user's behavior.

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- "It's motivating while you have it, but when you lose it, people may be demotivated and fail to start again. All they had worked for was for nothing, and it may take them weeks to earn it back, making starting over feel tedious. This is a crappy [[failure state]]"

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- [[If a new user starts with a project, they are more likely to experience [[aha moment]]s]]

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- "["Yesterday I fell asleep before I finished the session or I left the app open or something, and this morning the counter had zipped back to 1. I was unreasonably upset about it. I felt like the previous 380-something days had been for nothing. I was useless.”](https://indifferentignorance.com/2016/12/06/introducing-the-whitest-white-girl-problem-ive-ever-had-ft-headspace/)"

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- "Having a project to start out sets the user on the hunt for information", and that information is going to be relevant to their goals

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- "Streak counters encourage a minimum amount of behavior"

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- When the **user has a project,** they are more likely to **do behaviors that are relevant to their goals, making those behaviors more meaningful.** Compare that to **the alternative,** when they are **using the app on an abstract level,** attempting to understand it only through the features, **then they will do meaningless behaviors.**

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- You're only doing 10 minutes per day, that's all it's asking you to do. This makes it feel as though it might be a chore.

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- [[example]] On Twitter, you need to follow interesting people in order to experience the benefit of seeing something interesting

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- Games don't ask the player to play some minimum amount per day. Instead, they make a fun game that people want to play as much as possible.

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- Apps should instead be trying to encourage the user to do as much as possible because they enjoy what they're doing

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- So how would Duolingo encourage users to go through as many lessons as possible?

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- Could Duolingo set up their incentive system and an alternative to the streak counter that instead asks: "Do this much or more?"

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- In a [[roguelike]], "During each life, you engage in a "run," where you attempt to make it further than you made it last time."

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- "This is important because it creates a [[learning goal]]"

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- [[[[Past performance]]- Players may want to perform better than their past self]]

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- [[example]] "A [[personal leaderboard]] is one way of helping the user to outperform their past self."

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- "[[example]]: in Lumosity, players are able to see how they performed in each game as compared to their previous best scores."

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- "![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FoyivjuiNcg?alt=media&token=151911c2-0016-4d00-a82e-f6a8d09441ad)"

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- "[[example]]: in Loop Habit Tracker, they show the user a personal leaderboard of their previous streaks. By having a personal leaderboard, the users previous efforts do not feel as though they are wasted. This is a clever way of addressing the issue that "Streak counters are only really motivating while you have a streak going. In the early stages of a streak, it is not valuable so people don't mind losing them. Upon losing a long streak, [[loss aversion]] leads to a significant feeling of distress. This can demoralize the user, especially if it will take weeks, months, or longer to recover the streak.[++](((g9lr8L82X)))""

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- "The personal leaderboard also shifts the goal of the user- instead of simply trying to avoid losing their streak, the user is also trying to outperform their past self. With the [[failure state]] of losing their streak, they then may set the goal to do better than last time."

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- ^^This is a meta approach at improving the failure state from habit trackers, which still encourage a minimum amount of behavior.^^

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- "[[screenshot]] of Loop Habit Tracker![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FMk5IE6iC0w?alt=media&token=4ef85193-7c76-49f0-828a-28617f1a98a7)"

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- Most apps (intentionally or unintentionally) ignore the user's failure state in their design.

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- If an app enables the user to accomplish only one goal, then the user is lost as soon as the one goal disappears or is accomplished better by using some other product.

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- This is often because the designers aren't even paying attention to what a failure state looks like.

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- By nature, a goal represents a discrepancy between a person's present state and their desired reality. Failure is a natural part of the process. If it wasn't, then the [[intention-behavior gap]] wouldn't be an issue.

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- A fundamental reason why people fail at goal achievement and at maintaining long term behavior change is because they fail to recover and retry.

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- Apps should recognize the points where their users are likely to fail and design them to reduce the likelihood of failure, increase the likelihood that they retry, or make failure still beneficial in some way.

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- This is currently a [[stub]], but you can check my page on failure states for more details.

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- [[Behavioral Science of Great Gamification]]

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-

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-

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- My responses have #c and are indented one level deeper than the base text. If you want to play around with the functionality of Roam in a fun way and see just the threads that have my comments, you can use **page filtration** by clicking on the button just to the right of the search bar and then clicking on `c`

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-

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- Remember, any time you see ++, that means I've used a markdown alias on a block or page reference and you can hover your mouse over it for a second and see the text I'm linking to. For more tips, see [[how to navigate [[Roam]]]]

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- #c **General thoughts on the article:**

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- I’d agree with the claim that the product has to be useful, but I’d say that’s the bare minimum requirement rather than being the sufficient requirement of the product.

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- I also agree with the sentiment that gamification shouldn't be used to sugarcoat bad design.[++]([[The user should believe that the app will help them achieve a goal that they actually have]])

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- I would also claim that gamification/[[behavior design]] ("I sort of just mix behavioral science and game design to see what comes out the other end") can be part of what makes the app useful by helping the user to overcome the [[intention-behavior gap]].

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- I disagree with her claim that it is good for x situation or bad for y situation, because [[[[gamification]] is not one monolithic thing]].

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- Articles like this make me feel like I’m some sort of "gamification apologist” but maybe the problem is that the way that I conceptualize gamification is fundamentally different from the way that gamification is generally conceptualized[++](((alHJo1-L8))) so I’m generally just not talking about the same thing as the people who write these articles. She is arguing against what I refer to as [[lazy [[gamification]]]]. I wish I could just make up a new word and run with that without having to re-educate an entire market, but this is what people search for online.

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- **Full text, comments interwoven and indented:**

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- # Can we forget about gamification once and for all?

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- ![Screen from an old, 8-bit game saying "Game over” and asking user to play again](https://miro.medium.com/max/1400/1*5-sWB0xdoYlH-dyyQqJ_2A.jpeg)

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- If I got a dollar every time I hear about gamification in a client meeting, I would be rich. Very rich. And the funny thing is, I don’t really work on consumer apps. I usually work with big (or potentially big) systems targeted at corporate clients. No matter the target, 80% of initial meetings or plannings include the word that makes me gag: **the holy "gamification.”**

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- My usual approach was not to prove that this is a wrong approach, but rather to quietly deliver user flows, wireframes, and designs in a way that I thought was alright. To provide the biggest value for the user and satisfy the client. But I am tired.

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- And don’t get me wrong. Gamification can work. There are many great uses, education and healthcare being the most prominent. I am here to critique the notion of gamification for the sake of gamification. I am here to critique this weird notion that apps can’t be engaging if there is no gamification. I want to critique the fact that we let clients talk about gamification and comply with their wishes instead of educating them that apps have to be useful to be engaging, and no bells and whistles will change that if the user doesn’t need the product.

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- # **What exactly is gamification?**

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- Let’s get back to academics because it is my firm belief that we read too many blogs and success stories and not enough research. Academically, two texts defined gamification:

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- Deterding et al. (2011) say that [[gamification]] is the use of game design elements in nongame-contexts. #definition

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- Huotari & Hamari (2012) define [[gamification]] as "__a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences to support user’s overall value creation.”__ #definition

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- The latest definition by Landers et al. (2018) makes it roll off the tongue more easily by stating that gamification is using game-like elements to make nongame tasks more interesting.

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- Let’s pause for a second and think about Huotari and Hamari, though: **enhancing a service to support overall value creation**.

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- As Landers (2018) wrote in his paper (aptly titled Gamification Misunderstood: How Badly Executed and Rhetorical Gamification Obscures Its Transformative Potential), there are two types of gamification: **legitimate** and **rhetorical**. Legitimate gamification has a transformative potential when used skilfully. Rhetorical gamification __"is at best novice gameful design and at worst a swindle, an attempt to make something appear "game-like” purely to sell more gamification.__”

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- Landers points to one more important thing: rhetorical, fake gamification comes from a misunderstanding of the term. Sometimes it is just another reincarnation of organizational games, strategy games, serious play, etc.; sometimes it’s an all-encompassing term for engagement.

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- Surprisingly, given the hype that it received in previous years, gamification didn’t amass significant research outside of education and healthcare. I went through two big meta-analyses of existing research so that you don’t have to, and let me tell you: **findings on the effectiveness of gamification are inconclusive at best.**

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- #c "Questions like "is gamification effective?" miss the point."

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- "When I hear people say "gamification does or doesn't work," I have the same reaction that many people would have if someone says "design doesn't work." Gamification isn't one thing as I define it, but rather an interplay between game design, human computer interaction, behavioral science, and [[behavior design]]."

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- "Games aren't asking themselves whether they should use a leaderboard or not. They are [asking themselves how people should/could be playing the game](((vq7ICOkbp))), and how mechanics fit into an overall system meant to deliver an experience is far more interesting."

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- "Games aren't made up of the additive effect of a bunch of individual mechanics working independently from each other. Instead, they function as a system of interacting parts where the player expresses agency in how they play."

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- # **Gamification as a mental shortcut**

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- Oftentimes clients come to us, and they know that people use only a few apps on their phones. They say that their new product has to be engaging, so they want an element of gamification. For that, I blame Medium articles, Harvard Business Review, content marketers, and the likes. I blame consultancies for doing a disservice not only to pure, well-executed gamification but also to clients. Clients are allowed to make this shortcut, but it is our duty to educate them. **This is why they hire us.**

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- Talking about the gamification **blurs the vision of our clients**. I don’t blame them, they want their apps to be used. But it is not the way! It blurs the vision in our discussions because once gamification is mentioned, discussion shifts to finding ways to make sure that users get back. It shifts to famous "hooks” taken straight from Nir Eyal (I hate this book).

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- To quote Bogost from his text ["Why Gamification is Bullshit”](http://bogost.com/writing/blog/gamification_is_bullshit/):

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- __"Gamification is reassuring. It gives Vice Presidents and Brand Managers comfort: they’re doing everything right, and they can do even better by adding "a games strategy” to their existing products, slathering on "gaminess” like aioli on ciabatta at the consultant’s indulgent sales lunch.Gamification is easy. It offers simple, repeatable approaches in which benefit, honor, and aesthetics are less important than facility. For the consultants and the startups, that means selling the same bullshit in book, workshop, platform, or API form over and over again, at limited incremental cost.”__

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- The thing is, if gamification worked, we would see much more of it.

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- Your financial app doesn’t have to be gamified. It has to be useful. Your application for assessing the risk of delayed payments doesn’t have to be gamified. No person who is not an accountant needs to open your accounting app every day. **It is enough that it will be useful.**

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- #c Sort of true, but I disagree with the claim that "it is enough that it will be useful” because otherwise the [[intention-behavior gap]] wouldn’t be a problem. I would rephrase that claim as **"Being useful is the bare minimum requirement of a good product.”** That could be a whole blog post in itself, but I think that bridging the intention-behavior gap from there is part of the role of the [[behavior designer]]

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- And what clients don’t realize — and they don’t have to, it is our role — gamification comes from times when it was ok to get users addicted to apps. When we wanted to maximize the time spent in consumer apps without looking at consequences. We tried to hook them at all costs and keep them coming back.

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- #c Reducing friction[++](((aIyhy7DSz))) is a perfectly valid way of approaching the task of bridging the intention-behavior gap. The problem the author is citing goes back to the idea of just focusing on the wrong end-goal for the behavior change. "Gamification” is just one way to approach that end goal.

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- I think that it is now clear how exploitative that is. It makes us focus on the wrong things. **It makes us focus on bells and whistles instead of improving flows, making it easier to get a job done.**

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- The closest those apps will get to actual gamification is if they create a leaderboard of their employees to push them to work more, for longer and under more pressure. Do you really want to build that, though?

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- And if we ask a corporation for, I don’t know, a loyalty program to create something resembling gamification? They don’t have it. Creating it or modifying existing programs would take too much time, and it is too complicated. The responsibility to make apps gamified is on designers and consultants then. We have to figure out how to make people collect points that don’t make sense. We apparently have to give them badges for the most rudimentary tasks. **Why would I provide a badge for an adult just because he logged into your app?** It’s patronizing.

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- # **Gamification is a smokescreen**

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- Innovation theatre, that’s what it is. We (us, clients, everyone in tech really) feel this pressure to be innovative, to show that innovation happens. Everything is called innovation, even if it’s pure window dressing on our part. Companies make a simple app or digitize a legacy part of the business and call it innovation even though it’s an industry standard.

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- It has to be engaging, so it has to be gamified. Clients don’t really care about usefulness. The fact that they don’t use apps that they don’t need somehow doesn’t register.

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- Whether our products tap into an existing need or create one is a different question. Still, it is not done with gamification. It is not done by addicting users to apps that are supposed to help them work or manage their documents or whatever basic task they have to do.

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- __**We end up with a funny way to solve a problem that is not worth solving, set wrong KPIs to measure success, and wonder why it failed.**__

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- #c I don’t think the problem is with gamification, it’s with focusing on problems not worth solving.

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- I know that we have to sell our services and that talking clients out of an idea is tricky. **But we have a moral obligation to right the wrongs and to deconstruct the hype**.

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- Let’s educate.

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- If it’s not possible to change minds, do what you do — design without gamification or add a progress bar somewhere and call it a day. But please, let’s have those discussions. Let’s educate people about design and engagement, and moral obligations that we have towards users and wider humanity because **design happens without designers**. Design happens everywhere, and any time someone makes product decisions. Those people who you think don’t understand the design, and you can’t stomach the idea of changing their minds, **they will make decisions with or without you**. Let’s help them make better decisions.

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- I will try to.

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- [[Author]]: [[Josh Elman]]

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- [[retention]] [[metric]] [[user involvement]]

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- source:: https://mixpanel.com/innovators/the-only-stickiness-metric-that-matters/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product-update&utm_campaign=innovators_article&utm_content=Innovators&utm_term=

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- source:: https://mixpanel.com/innovators/the-only-stickiness-metric-that-matters/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product-update&utm_campaign=innovators_article&utm_content=Innovators&utm_term=

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- # [[reading question]] What makes great products stick?

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- #c I would say:

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- There is a close relationship between the app and the user.

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- See [[The role of the user and the role of the app]], especially -mLEeUPQp

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- People deeply care about the app because it's been incorporated into their lives on a deeper level. High [[goal resonance]], personal ownership,[++]([[loss aversion]])[**]([[endowment effect]]) [[[[identity]] resonance]], and expectations are exceeded

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- "definition:: User involvement happens when the person is using your service to do the behaviors that make it awesome when their context calls for it. We're essentially influencing user behavior so people do what makes both them and your business happy.​"

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- #quote [[Josh Elman]] "Deeply understanding the individual use cases of everyone who touches the product, and what success means for them"

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- The two use cases he points to for LinkedIn - they wanted users in either category to be successful

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- Find

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- Be Found

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- This approach is similar to what we've done with [[Fabriq]]. I'd say it's still uncertain whether we've identified the right goals, but probable.

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- #quote [[Josh Elman]] they build loyalty at the outset

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- He's saying the same thing that I'm saying, which is that "[[onboarding]] is an opportunity to gain [[user involvement]] and information early."

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- He said: "You have their attention - don't waste it." This relates to what I've said: "[[[[upfront onboarding]] is a shared experience across users]], whereas anything that happens after is not universal."

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- #quote Josh Elman "Your goal should be to maximize the predictability that users will want to re-engage with your product"

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- Re - [[continuous onboarding]], he says "Onboarding goes beyond the first setup screen, or even the first session—^^it’s an ongoing process that continues until someone is using the product effectively on their own."^^

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- The main area that's interesting to me about that is where he says that it goes until people are using the product effectively on their own.

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- ## [[reading question]] How do we define effective use? This might be where my tension with the author is

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- So I think there's a distinction to be made between somebody who's using the product effectively for their current use case and someone who's using the product in a way that fills in their potential use cases. I think that a continuous onboarding should be progressively pushing the user towards greater use cases for themselves, eventually reaching towards [[user involvement]]

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- This needs to be balanced against other priorities. In many cases, it may be enough to simply have effective use for the use cases that users currently imagine, especially for apps where the core use cases are essentially prepackaged for the user (think about the difference between [[Substack]] and building your own blog). Once you start working with more flexible [[building block]] apps, you need to go beyond that. Especially if it's a [[horizontal product]] and basic (but successful) usage is vulnerable to competition copying the basic [[data structure]].[++](((mSd9rPhLr)))

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- #quote [[Josh Elman]] they give users a reason to come back.

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- ## [[reading question]] How might we give people a reason to come back to the app?

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- Before I read the rest of his claim, I just want to unpack how I perceive that

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- Why would we expect users to open up an app if they have no reason to do so?

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- How might we give users a reason to want notifications, or tap into the reasons they already might have?

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- A lot of apps think about "how can we get people to do this thing" but that's already fighting an uphill battle. "It is easier to facilitate people doing something that they want to do than it is to convince them to do something they don't want to do".

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- He says to look for the opportune moments to send people notifications

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- Time - Is there a moment in time that's relevant to the app? For [[example]], the sudden deprivation of face-to-face interactions given [[COVID-19]] makes [[Fabriq]] more relevant to people's lives, giving an opportunity for crafted messaging.

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- Within the product - Bring the user back to some activity in the app

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- This was mainly what I was talking about in my unpacking above.

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- # [[reading question]] What metrics matter for retention?

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- My thoughts before reading this section:

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- [[The role of the user and the role of the app]]

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- Are users doing the behaviors that lead them to be successful?

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- Is the company transforming the behaviors that users do as effectively as possible into value for the user?

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- He says:

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- Don't get lost in [[vanity metric]]s

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- #quote Josh Elman "But at the end of the day, your job is to focus on what these numbers tell you about users who are most likely to stick."

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- I love this quote. It's not about the numbers. It's about the meaning that we derive from the numbers, in concert with any other sorts of evidence that we are collecting.

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- With LinkedIn and Twitter, he knew that people needed to set up their timelines well in order to be successful users. That meant that a key behavior is following and connecting with the right people.

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- I wonder if there should be some added #friction to adding connections on LinkedIn? If people have too many connections, then that means they will likely end up with a crappy and diluted timeline.

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- I wonder if LinkedIn and Twitter should also be reducing #friction and adding #fuel to increase the likelihood that people actually engage in timeline curation.

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- This article talked only about behaviors in the [[onboarding]].

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- It seems as though a simplistic view is being taken - users who do these behaviors during the onboarding are most likely to stick around long term. He may not actually believe this, but this is the impression I'm getting from what's conveyed in the article.

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- However, "[[[[user goal]]s change over time]], so the app must continue to satisfy changing goals to retain users"

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- "This means that the behaviors at the beginning of the user journey are more likely indicative of traits of users who are already likely to be successful."

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- "^^I claim that a necessary requirement of [[retention]] is that the app is able to adapt to changing user goals over time.^^"

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- "This means that we need to track how behaviors over time relate to retention, not just at the beginning. "

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- "Depending on the complexity of the app and different use cases, there may be different points in time when the user reaches [[user involvement]] "maturity""

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- There may be a time component

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- #quote [[Josh Elman]] "How many times did users perform a core action on the expected cycle?”

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- I think that a question that needs to be asked is "Does frequency matter?" In some cases, it does. Often, it doesn't and leads to [[vanity metric]]. Just be conscious of if it is actually important to user success.

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- #quote [[Josh Elman]] "Data, while essential, can cause us to think in averages rather than individuals. But every data point represents a person, and tells a story about how they’re interacting with your product"

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- Ugh, I love this.

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- Goes back to "I love this quote. It's not about the numbers. It's about the meaning that we derive from the numbers, in concert with any other sorts of evidence that we are collecting."

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- Speaks to the value of tracking [[user behavior]] and [[user goal]]s, because that allows us the ability to more effectively tell stories

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- The point about averages rather than individuals is also incredibly salient.

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- In behavioral science research, it's been the trend to look at averages rather than individuals, but that leads to overgeneralizations where we lose meaning by handwaving away [[individual difference]] through random selection of a "general" sample.

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- For [[example]], there is not a single bias or heuristic that affects 100% of the people tested. There's always some people that come up rational. This gets at the idea of individual differences being important, because some marketing message that uses that heuristic likely won't work.

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- I worry that this sometimes happens with products. Let's imagine that LinkedIn decides "If we can get people to add 100 connections during their first two weeks, then they're hooked. We know this because **on average** those are the users who have the highest retention."

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- But what if people who add 100 connections are **simultaneously** the group with the highest dropoff rate because for some people, that was just them being overambitious and they end up with a meaningless timeline? We need to do [[Bayesian Reasoning]] and also dig a bit deeper into the [[individual difference]]s beyond those averages.

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- E4iwV7wO2

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- A big idea that comes related to this article: what about asking "What story do we want the user to be able to tell about the app?" That likely helps identify key behaviors in a way that organizations might find more helpful. **So for the apps that you're working on, what stories do you want to hear from users?**

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- Digging in just a touch deeper: **How will you be able to track whether those stories are happening?**

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- o8h0jx4s9

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- hXj9ah1bb

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- annotations::

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- Source: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2012/01/06/how-trello-is-different/

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- The biggest difference you’ll notice (compared to our previous products pitched solely at software developers) is that Trello is a totally [[horizontal product]]. Horizontal means that it can be used by people from all walks of life. Word processors and web browsers are horizontal. The software your dentist uses to torture you with drills is vertical.

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- [[vertical product]] is much easier to pull off and make money with, and it’s a good choice for your first startup. Here are two key reasons: It’s easier to find customers. If you make dentist software, you know which conventions to go to and which magazines to advertise in. All you have to do is find dentists. The margins are better. Your users are professionals at work and it makes sense for them to give you money if you can solve their problems.

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- Making a major [[horizontal product]] that’s useful in any walk of life is almost impossible to pull off. You can’t charge very much, because you’re competing with other [[horizontal product]]s that can amortize their development costs across a huge number of users. It’s high risk, high reward: not suitable for a young bootstrapped startup, but not a bad idea for a second or third product from a mature and stable company like Fog Creek.

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- #quote The great horizontal killer applications are actually just fancy [[data structure]]s.

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- #quote most people just used Excel to make lists. Suddenly we understood why Lotus Improv, which was this fancy futuristic spreadsheet that was going to make Excel obsolete, had failed completely: because it was great at calculations, but terrible at creating tables, and everyone was using Excel for tables, not calculations.

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- #quote Spreadsheets are not just tools for doing "what-if” analysis. They provide a specific [[data structure]]: a table. Most Excel users never enter a formula. They use Excel when they need a table. The gridlines are the most important feature of Excel, not recalc.

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- #quote Over the next two weeks we visited dozens of Excel customers, and did not see anyone using Excel to actually perform what you would call "calculations.” Almost all of them were using Excel because it was a convenient way to create a table.

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- #quote Word processors are not just tools for writing books, reports, and letters. They provide a specific [[data structure]]: lines of text which automatically wrap and split into pages.

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- #quote PowerPoint is not just a tool for making boring meetings. It provides a specific [[data structure]]: an array of full-screen images.

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- #quote Some people saw Trello and said, "oh, it’s Kanban boards. For developing software the agile way.” Yeah, it’s that, but it’s also for planning a wedding, for making a list of potential vacation spots to share with your family, for keeping track of applicants to open job positions, and for a billion other things. In fact Trello is for anything where you want to maintain a list of lists with a group of people.

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- **It’s delivered continuously.** Rather than having major and minor releases, we pretty much just continuously push out new features from development to customers. A feature that you built and tested, but didn’t deliver yet because you’re waiting for the next major release, becomes __inventory__. Inventory is dead weight: money you spent that’s just wasting away without earning you anything.

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- **It’s not exhaustively tested before being released**. We thought we could get away with this because Trello is free, so customers are more forgiving. But to tell the truth, the real reason we get away with it is because bugs are fixed in a matter of hours, not months, so the net number of "bugs experienced by the public” is low.

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- **We work in public**. The rule on the Trello team is "default public.” We have a public Trello board that shows everything that we’re working on and where it’s up to. We use this to let customers vote and comment on their favorite features.

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- #comment Public roadmap lets you set up a [[learning loop]]

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- **This is a "Get Big Fast” product, not a "Ben and Jerry’s” product**. See Strategy Letter I. The business goal for Trello is to ultimately get to 100 million users. That means that our highest priority is removing any obstacles to adoption.

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- **Trello is free.** The friction caused by charging for a product is the biggest impediment to massive growth. In the long run, we think it’s much easier to figure out how to extract a small amount of money out of a large number of users than to extract a large amount of money out of a small number of users.

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- **The API and plug-in architectures are the highest priority.** Another way of putting that is: never build anything in-house if you can expose a basic API and get those high-value users (the ones who are getting the most value out of the platform) to build it for you. On the Trello team, any feature that can be provided by a plug-in must be provided by a plug-in.

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- This page is adapted from a blog post that I made early in my career: https://uxplanet.org/whats-appening-adding-behavioral-science-to-minimalist-design-d179a67f2b75

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- Everyday, you have a million things that you could be doing with your free time. You could scroll through Facebook, watch Netflix, talk to a friend, the possibilities are endless. Since the Kindle reading experience (like most reader apps) is focused on letting you read rather than encouraging you to read, the only reason that a person will open Kindle is if they’ve decided at the moment to use it. In order to make reading come to mind and be somebody’s first choice of things to do, it needs to be made more engaging. This is a dynamic app, not a static book. We can do that.

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- Enhancing and enabling intrinsic motivation is one of the best ways to create long-term behavior change.

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- "According to [[self-determination theory]], our intrinsic motivation is based on three main drives for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.[[competence]] is about a need to improve our skills and knowledge. [[autonomy]] describes wanting to personally identify with the task at hand and be in control of our own actions. [[relatedness]] has to do with wanting to connect to others through our actions."

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- Though every person is, of course, unique and will likely weight the importance of each of these components differently, an imperfect rule of thumb is that the more of these that you can align with the app, the more intrinsic motivation you can build for your users.

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- Perhaps when you’re reading a book, you could see how many other people are reading the same book, making you feel like you’re a part of a community.

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- Perhaps you could see how many people have read the book already, and are rewarded for doing obscure readings.

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- If a certain part of the book is confusing or thought provoking, you could post a question or discussion topic. Once you finish a chapter, you could see the questions that other people posted and post your own responses, connecting you even further to the community. #[[[[self-efficacy]] can be augmented to be [[social [[self-efficacy]]]] with community support]]

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- Maybe if people like your answer, they could give it a smiley face.

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- If you get enough smiley faces, you could earn certain ranks, like "Top commenter.” This would allow you to demonstrate your [[competence]] both to yourself and others while giving and receiving support, creating a sense of belonging in your community.

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- Push notifications could let you know when other book club members post questions at parts that you’ve already read, driving you to answer them to show your [[competence]], gain a stronger grasp of the material, and connect with others. You could of course be notified when someone answers your questions, which causes you to open Kindle out of curiosity.

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- Additionally, you could be notified when others post questions within 50 pages of your current point, making you want to hurry up and get there so you can talk with your friend about it.

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- [[relatedness]] is strongest when you’re connecting to similar others, so a "Book Club” feature could let you form a group with friends and family. In a smaller group than before, you could leave questions and comments for the other book club readers to see and respond to. Since you feel a strong connection to the other members of the group, you want to be able to see and reply to their questions, driving you to read more.

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- By linking reading to a [social activity]([[relatedness]]), such as engaging with community questions and talking with your friends who are reading the same book, reading becomes something exciting that you aren’t just doing for yourself.

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- Push notifications are important because they cause us to think about the app and possibly open it. In the moments when we open the app, we draw connections between the situation we’re in and the app, and over time,[ some of those situations become triggers](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVDN2mjJpb8) for thinking about and opening Kindle, ingraining it into our daily life.

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- For those that don’t want to read socially, [[autonomy]] and [[competence]] could be tied in by letting you set daily or weekly reading goals in terms of page numbers or time spent reading.

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- Since you create your own goals, you feel as though you’re in control of your own behavior.

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- When you complete your goals, you’re demonstrating your [[competence]] to yourself.

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- If you aren’t consistently reaching your goals, the app could ask you if you would like to reduce the size of your goal a little to make it more doable and let you win. #[[Games intentionally design for [[failure state]] recovery]]

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- If it told you how many days or weeks in a row where you attain your goals, this adds in the power of the [[endowment effect]] and [[loss aversion]], where we put in great effort to avoid losing what we own. Push notifications could then be added to say something to the tune of "You’ve kept up with your reading goals 6 days in a row! Would you like to keep the streak going?”

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- Note: My thoughts on streak counters have changed since originally posting the article. See "[[example]] of Hollow Knight and [[streak counter]]s"

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- One missing element of this that I've noticed since originally writing is the role of identity in this. Should comments and questions be anonymous, or should you be able to gain familiarity with other users who are reading the same books as you? I lean towards a consistent identity, but there are challenges that would arise with scale.

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- Scale problems could be addressed by placing you into random small-medium sized groups of up to a few thousand people that are arranged to maintain at least a certain number of actively posting participants.

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- **In my work I deal with a flood of information and manage many concurrent projects. **I run a behavior design and gamification consultancy called Influence Insights. I’m also a behavioral product strategist for a startup studio called Spark Wave. In both roles, I work with multiple products simultaneously, applying what I learn and know about behavioral science, game design, and product design to apps so users are more likely to engage in the behaviors that make them successful in the app.

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- Behavioral Product Strategy is the art and science of understanding users better through the lenses of the behavioral sciences in order to make better product decisions. It can be ignored at your own risk, since [[Every app is designed for behavior change, intentionally or unintentionally]].

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- definition:: The feedback loop of applying behavioral science theory and findings to influence [[target behavior]]s[++](((CTx1I2--q))) in real world situations and learning from the outcomes.

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- [[[[Expectancy Value Theory]] and its role in [[gamification]]]]

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- When user behavior doesn’t lead to user success, I’m tasked with understanding why said behavior isn’t already occurring, framing the problem in a useful way, and generating creative solutions.

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-

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- It is important to design for behavior change because [[Products are fundamentally voluntary]] and [[Every app is designed for behavior change, intentionally or unintentionally]].

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- [[failure state]]

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- I’m frequently taking in a lot of information from varied sources, while considering many diverse problems at once. I’m meeting with an assortment of different people who all possess their own interesting perspectives and questions. **As a result, my database is chaotic, but that chaos has just enough structure to enable systematic synthesis and ideation when needed.**

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- My goal in designing for behavior change is usually to increase [[user involvement]].

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- [[difficulty matching]]

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- **In a recent project, I was tasked with designing the onboarding system for [GuidedTrack](https://www.guidedtrack.com/)**, a basic programming language/app that allows social science researchers with no coding experience to develop flexible experiments and basic apps. We’re doing an official launch soon (anybody can use it today, but we haven’t started marketing it yet). Before we launch, we want proper onboarding.

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- Roam, better than any other tool, allows me to allocate my attention in many different directions while ultimately consolidating when needed. For every project I work on, I take many sorts of notes:

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- Meeting notes, which are tagged with [[meeting notes]], the people who were involved, the date, and the topics of discussion within the outline.

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- Notes on my research into topics related to behavioral science and game design. These may or may not have been directly done for a specific project, but almost always end up useful.

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- Freewriting sessions, where I flexibly jump from thought to thought, topic to topic, and project to project, generating many ideas at once in Daily Notes. This is one of my favorite ways to work.

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- At this point, I have hundreds or even thousands of blocks that could help me come up with ideas about onboarding for GuidedTrack, many of which aren’t directly related to GuidedTrack. **It’s time to structure chaos**.

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- This means:

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- I need to narrow it down. There’s a massive amount of notes I could sift through and I have limited time, so I want to make sure my review time is as useful as possible.

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- This isn’t a sprint. Finding the best possible solutions to multifaceted questions takes days, even weeks. The point of this process is to provide inspiration/clarity, limit wasted review, and crucially, allow me to pick up where I left off.

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- I start by making a page. I call these pages Looking Lenses, but you could think of it as a multi-step saved search process.

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- I pull up my [[open question]]s related to [[GuidedTrack]]. I’ve been documenting these whenever they come up. I find that understanding a problem and designing a solution comes with many questions. When they’re project specific, I turn them into todos. This gives me a starting point rather than a blank page. I’ll spend some time writing responses to those questions, developing the questions into new formulations, and adding any new questions that I have.

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_1a.png)](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_1a.png)

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- Some example questions include:

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- How does [[onboarding]] relate to [[search behavior]]?

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- What are {[[GuidedTrack]] [[user goal]]s}, and how does that relate to their {[[first ten minutes]] or [[continuous onboarding]]}?

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- What [[user feedback]] have I seen from [[GuidedTrack]] users?

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- What [[onboarding]] solutions have I seen work for other apps?

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- What other details of the [[GuidedTrack]] [[persona]]s do I need to consider?

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_2a.png)](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_2a.png)

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- These are the sorts of questions that can be turned into queries, which are basically a search into your database using the power of logical operators. I keep a list of tags of related ideas on some of the more general pages, like search behavior or onboarding. This helps me improve my queries or develop better questions. For example, maybe I don’t explicitly link onboarding and search behavior, but I link onboarding and information foraging theory. Tags metadata helps me to keep track of those possibilities so I can set up my queries to capture that for the sake of this search, [[Information Foraging Theory]] and [[search behavior]] are referring to the same thing.

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_1_1a.png)](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_1_1a.png)

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- Some of the main ways that I use queries in this context:

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- 1. Saved searches! Sometimes it’s more agile to simply look through the linked references for a page, but after, I’ll turn them into queries. This way, I know what I’ve already looked through and can pick up where I left off when I revisit this page.

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- If a search works out to be unfruitful, then I’ll delete the query and explicitly write down: "Asking my database for _ was unhelpful for the purposes of this project.” My database is massive and I’m only about five months in – I want to get a better sense for my database by keeping track of what does and doesn’t work.

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_3a.png)]

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- 2. Queries also allow me to ask more meaningful questions than linked reference filters do. [[[[query]] syntax and logic: how to ask your database questions with queries]]

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- As I’m processing my queries, I’m keeping track of the specific blocks that seem most relevant to the goal of this research project and block referencing them into an outline in the sidebar. If I recognize a common theme between blocks, I group them together under a heading. I’ll also add a layer of commentary next to block references, providing myself context for why it was included in the outline if it’s not self-evident.

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- These outlines give me a deeper understanding of how previous pieces of thought map together and where the gaps are. If I need new information, I document my searches on the web on these looking lens pages as well.

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- It’s my personal preference to have the outline on the saved search process page, and control-shift-o to open that block in the sidebar. Fun trick – you can rearrange your outline easily through drag-and-drop by opening the outline in the sidebar next to the outline.

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_4a.png)]

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- If answers start to come up at any point, I feel no shame in stopping or pausing the process to write in the additional thoughts section of the looking lens page. The point of this is to help me find clarity, not to lock me into a process. This approach works beautifully for that purpose.

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- Following a process like this, you end up with something that models a conversation. Your queries represent questions to your past self. Block references are the best answers. Your comments are the responses. Congratulations, the answer was within you the whole time. These are the most valuable pages I have.

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- My system is still being built and subject to change. To see an early version of how this was being conceptualized a few months ago, see here: [youtu.be/bV-MONEphRs?t=2677](https://youtu.be/bV-MONEphRs?t=2677).

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- Below is an image of what these pages end up looking like (reproduced, sanitized, and reduced in size for viewing by the public).

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_5a_r.png)]

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- [![](https://www.roambrain.com/wp-content/uploads/robert_haisfield_systematic_creativity_5b_r.png)]

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- [[example]]s of building block based apps, where instead of giving you specific use cases, they give you the building blocks to create your own use cases:

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- [[Roam]]

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- [[Notion]]

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- [[Airtable]]

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- [[GuidedTrack]]

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-

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- [[Why I chose to consult rather than get a PhD]]

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- definition:: a complex page is a page where you page titles are linked within the page title. Double brackets within double brackets.

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- definition:: Continuous onboarding is an onboarding that never stops. Users are constantly being shown how to be better at using the app in an attempt to increase [[user involvement]].

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- [[Why I chose to become an independent consultant rather than get a job]]

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- [[[[complex page]]s are one method for expressing semantic meaning]]

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- With [[horizontal product]]s:

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- [[Why I chose to consult rather than build and launch more products myself]]

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- [[example]]: [[How [[Roam]] knows how blocks are related to each other]]

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- The user's goals 1 week in will be less complicated than their goals 1 month in. [[[[user goal]]s change over time]] as [[the [[skill level]] of each user grows over time]], because [increasing skill level gives users the vocabulary]([[features rarely make sense to new users without the context of their goals]]) to express what they want to the app in a way that the app will understand.[++](((AwwSENg6D)))

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- An upfront onboarding can only teach the simplest skills.

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- A progressively more challenging and varied onboarding can keep up with a user's growth.

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- A twitter thread I've written about one of the fundamental problems of [[onboarding]] [[horizontal product]]s:

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- Apps like [[Notion]], [[Airtable]], and [[Roam]] are all powerful/flexible and require learning and expansion of use cases over time to wrap your head around them. Given that, why do they all just use an [[upfront onboarding]]?

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- The goals that users have six days in are going to be different than the goals they have 6 months in[++]([[[[user goal]]s change over time]]), and how much they are able to do will be different as well.[++]([[the [[skill level]] of each user grows over time]])

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- This means that the goals an upfront onboarding will be able to address won't teach a user how to solve their 1 month goals. This can lead to frustration for the one month user who has more advanced use cases in mind but is incapable of making them a reality.

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- The range of total potential use cases varies from app to app. The important thing to continuous onboarding is to think about how someone would be able to find, discover, and execute the sets of actions that enable each user's potential use cases.

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- If a continuous onboarding adapts to the goals the user seems to be trying to accomplish, shows them how to do it, and shows them new things they can do now, the onboarding can keep up with an individual user's growth over time as well as the different goals of different users.

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- Some people gravitate over time towards a more clearly defined workflow, and some towards a more varied and experimental set of behaviors. I like to design to encourage more experimental sets, because that leads to the app accomplishing many goals. That leads to increasing [[user involvement]], which is sticky. It also deals with the fundamental reality that the users skills change over time, and being stuck in the patterns from their early usage will lead to a dissatisfying product.

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- [[[[continuous onboarding]] can come from [[community]]]]. Sometimes apps like these have continuous onboarding in the form of a [[community]] of supportive users who create content, but not everyone is going to participate. A question arises: How can we support continual learning in-app & how might we drive more to a well-designed community?

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- In games, they enable you to learn how to play a more and more complicated game by presenting you with increasingly difficult and varied obstacles & giving you all of the tools to overcome them. They add new tools when needed, and they show more varied uses of each tool. This is well illustrated in [[[[puzzle game]]s for [[power user]] [[onboarding]]]]

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- Games give you a real feeling of progression by making you increasingly capable throughout the lifetime of your usage. Feeling capable in an app for behavior change leads to people being generally more successful in their usage and persisting longer when they run into obstacles.

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- Video: {{youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2To62BcMdI}}

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- {{[[TODO]]}} related to [[status quo bias]]

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- Wanna watch the talk that first interested me in behavioral economics?

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- How to make a content pipeline in Roam using queries

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- {{youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X68dm92HVI}}

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- Why keep track of content in Roam?

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- After I watched that video, I read [[Predictably Irrational]].

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- Here's an interesting idea! [[blog]]

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- After I read [[Predictably Irrational]], I made a major in [[behavioral economics]] at my university.

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- **All:** Here I'm going to do a [[saved view]] of all of my blog and video ideas that shows me all of the blogs and I'll process it into blogs that are premises, worth developing, in development, published, and unprocessed. This view is all of them. Way too many to deal with, I need to process it.

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- Between the summer of sophomore and junior year, I worked in his lab, the Center for Advanced Hindsight.

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- ```{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} {not: [[query]]}}}}```

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} {not: [[query]]}}}}

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- Standup note writing

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- 3 Folders: Joke Premises, Jokes to Develop, and Jokes to Perform

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- Current processing for content:

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- [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[inProgress]] [[published]]

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- I would like to bring in all of my information from "blog" "content" and "video," since those both refer to what's actually important here.

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- {or: [[blog]] [[content]] [[video]]} #archive

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- {not: {or: [[query]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[inProgress]] [[published]]}}

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- **Unprocessed:** Here I'm going to do a [[saved view]] of all of my content ideas that have not yet been processed. If it doesn't have any of my processing tags on it, it goes in here.

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- ```clojure

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{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]}{not: {or: [[query]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[inProgress]] [[published]]}}}}}```

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} {not: {or: [[query]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[inProgress]] [[published]]}}}}}

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- **Develop:** Here I'm going to do a [[saved view]] of all of my blog and video ideas that are worth developing. These are my prompts.

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- ```{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} [[develop]] {not: {or: [[query]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[inProgress]][[published]]}}}}}```

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} [[develop]] {not: {or: [[query]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[inProgress]][[published]]}}}}}

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- **In Progress:** Here I'm going to do a [[saved view]] of all of my blog and video ideas that shows me all of the content that I am currently working on.

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- ```clojure

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{{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} [[inProgress]] {not: {or: [[query]] [[saved view]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[published]]}}}}}```

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- {{[[query]]: {and: {or: [[content]] [[blog]] [[video]]} [[inProgress]] {not: {or: [[query]] [[saved view]] [[archive]] [[premise]] [[develop]] [[published]]}}}}}

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- What the underlying logic lets you do:

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- Pick up where you left off

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- Progressively summarize a project that spans over time

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- definition:: Allow the user to select the level of difficulty of their experience.

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- [[stub]]

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- [[stub]]

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- When well executed, the user is able to change their level of difficulty later, since they may not know what each level of difficulty means ahead of time.

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- Once we’ve set the behaviors involved in enhancing [[user involvement]] in motion, we create a virtuous cycle of involvement. This is because the user’s positive behaviors lead to increasing involvement while their increased involvement motivates them to do more of the positive behaviors that lead to increasing user involvement. People internalize the value of the app more deeply over time, so [[Designing for user involvement has positive effects on conversion, retention, and virality]].

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- "User involvement leads to"

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- [[example]]: Steamworld Heist lets you select your level of difficulty before you start playing. You can change your level of difficulty at any point, but harder difficulties have greater rewards. People in general like to see greater effort lead to greater reward, regardless of what app they are using.

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- "[[retention]]"

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- [[screenshot]] of Steamworld Heist ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FgEBZ18PsKr?alt=media&token=4f44721f-69a2-4a9b-8a7a-e7daef4579d6)

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- "[[virality]]"

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- [[example]]: [[Duolingo]] allows you to select how much you would like to practice a language per day, and allows users to change it later.

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- "[[adoption]]"

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- [[screenshot]] of Duolingo difficulty lecel selection ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FDC60zOORkZ?alt=media&token=eaa437c9-b4b6-4e3d-af0d-977b57d79752)

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- [[game]]s generally care a lot about getting the user into a [[flow state]]

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- [[model]] of flow state ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-and-Roam-Team%2FfkMI1FAIt-?alt=media&token=46219431-887f-4f2e-8d69-1dad0056c15e)

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- A **flow state** is often characterized as optimal human experience. It's an experience where you are fully focused and energized in what you're doing, often experiencing a high level of creativity and losing track of time.

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- The general emotional experience that is being described here is that when users are being asked to do things that are too far above their skill level, they experience [[anxiety]]. When they are asked to do things that are below their [[skill level]], then they experience [[boredom]]. Both of these are [[failure state]]s where the user might drop off.

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- ## I use this when I think about effective push notifications

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- My thoughts on this sort of mesh flow with the [[Fogg Behavior Model]]

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- A push notification is essentially an ask. Whenever a user receives a push notification, they are being asked to do something. Additionally, push notifications are ephemeral. If you receive a push notification and you don't respond to it immediately, then it will generally fade into the background and be forgotten.

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- If what they are being asked to do is too challenging to do in the present moment or they simply don't care enough, then they won't do it and it will be forgotten. If this happens too often, then the user may fall into the habit of ignoring push notification.

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- The app doesn't know what is going on in the lives of the user in the moments when they send a notification, so if there is only one behavioral response to that notification, then the app is betting on serendipity.

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- A possible solution is to simply do low-effort asks, but this may lead to the user getting bored

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- Another possible solution is to give the user multiple possible responses to a notification that account for varying levels of motivation, skill, and ability

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- An [[example]] of this is how some email apps let you snooze an email to return to your inbox after a certain period of time when you're ready to deal with it

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- ## I use this when I think about [[onboarding]] to encourage [[high [[user involvement]]]]

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- There are [[[[individual difference]]s between people in prior [[skill level]]]] when they come to an app.

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- Somebody might start to learn how to use the app and they pick up on it quickly.

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- [[example]]: "Academics who come to [[GuidedTrack]] already knowing how to do statistical programming in R or Python will likely have an easier time getting started than those without that prior knowledge."

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- Perhaps they start using it and they just "get it."

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- Somebody might not pick up on it quickly.

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- The app should be able to provide value to users of different skill levels

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- [[the [[skill level]] of each user grows over time]]

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- [[horizontal product]]'s like [[Roam]] and [[Notion]], which both disrupt the user's expectations in many ways and have immense flexibility/power, will not be fully grasped or utilized during the user's first few weeks, much less first few days.

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- The app should be able to provide value and develop with the user over time in order to avoid drop off

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- Taken together, "The app should be able to provide value to users of different skill levels" and "The app should be able to provide value and develop with the user over time in order to avoid drop off" is pointing towards a need for [[continuous onboarding]]

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- # [[example]]s of how games and apps deal with the challenge of difficulty matching in many different ways.

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- ## [[dynamic difficulty]]

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- ## [[linear difficulty curve]]

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- ## [[scoring based difficulty]]

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- ## [[difficulty level selection]]

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- definition:: Dynamic difficulty is when the difficulty level dynamically adjusts in response to the user's demonstrated skill. Highly skilled behavior leads to higher difficulty, low skilled behavior leads to lower difficulty

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- [[example]]: Resident Evil 4 is a zombie survival game where if you are playing well, then they'll send more zombies your way and the zombies do more damage. If you have died multiple times in an area, then the opposite occurs.

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- [[screenshot]] of Resident Evil ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2F2RaI-UHSnT?alt=media&token=bcada96c-3284-4b27-8439-07bfcfc05bc2)

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- [[example]]: In [[Duolingo]], a language learning app, they give you a placement test upfront where if you perform well then you'll skip to a later point in the user journey so more skilled language speakers don't get bored. This isn't exactly dynamic difficulty since it comes upfront rather than adjusting based on revealed skill, but I'll include it anyway.

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- [[screenshot]] of Duolingo placement test ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FeELtFFPzKf?alt=media&token=878092e0-976a-48fc-bde2-6ebe53262b61)

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- definition:: The endowment effect refers to an emotional bias that causes individuals to value an owned object higher, often irrationally, than its market value.

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-

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- As described in [[[[Kurt Lewin]]'s Equation]], people’s behavior is influenced by who they are and what their context is. While the user is paying attention, the app controls the user’s digital context. As such, app design exerts significant influence over user behavior.

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- source:: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/endowment-effect.asp

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- Behavioral product strategy means making product decisions so that people use the product in the best ways possible to deliver meaningful value to the user and the company. [[I design for successful goal achievement and playstyles that are appropriate for the user]].

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- In other words, a bird in the hand is better than a bird in the bush.

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- It can be dangerous to design with only one playstyle in mind. As I outline in [[The hard problem of onboarding horizontal products]], there are a lot of different user groups. Additionally, [[There are individual differences between users in preferred playstyles]]. If you have a mismatch between the user’s preferred playstyle and the behaviors the app is designed for, then you’re fighting an uphill battle since [[Products are fundamentally voluntary]].

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- definition::

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- Imagine that you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. You're in a restaurant, you're hungry, and the waiter would like to know what you want. You don't know what anything is on the menu, but you see someone eating something at the table next to you and it looks good so you point at that.

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- definition:: A failure state is when users fail to reach their goal in some way. Closely related to [[friction]]

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- Authors:: [[Allan Wigfield]], [[Stephen Tonks]], [[Susan Lutz Klauda]]

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- Exploratory search is when people have a vague/fuzzy idea of what they're looking for and where to find it.

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- Features in an app are essentially a new vocabulary that new users have not yet learned.

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- Some causes of user failure include:

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- Broadly, Expectancy Value Theory says that people will do a behavior if:

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- "New users don't know the vocabulary, so they don't know where to look for help and they don't know the meaning of what they are seeing."

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- Lack of knowledge

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- The task has a valued outcome

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- In order for new users to experience a successful [[onboarding]] of an app with unfamiliar vocabulary, you need to first find a common language through which both the app and the user can communicate. More often than not, that language is the user's goals.

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- Obstacles in real life

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- The relationship between performance of certain actions and achievement of a goal is clear

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- It's generally better to teach features in the context of a task than in the abstract so they have a reason to consume the information[*](((2-O35bx2g))) and they have a situation to practice #[[generation effect]]

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- Struggle to pick up where they left off

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- The person believes that by exerting effort, they will be able to perform the steps necessary to achieve the goal

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- [[user feedback]] can help you determine what their vocabulary is so you can communicate with them more effectively.

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- [[usability]] obstacles

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-

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- "**If people start off with using an app at an abstract level, then they will deprive themselves of the common language that they could have for communicating with an app.** On the flip side, [[If a new user starts with a project, they are more likely to experience [[aha moment]]s]]"

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- Forgetfulness

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-

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- Too challenging[++]([[difficulty matching]])

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- [[negative possibility space]]

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- # It is essential for behavior designers to account for failure states

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- "Most apps (intentionally or unintentionally) ignore the user's failure state in their design."

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- "This is often because the designers aren't even paying attention to what a failure state looks like."

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- "By nature, a goal represents a discrepancy between a person's present state and their desired reality. Failure is a natural part of the process. If it wasn't, then the [[intention-behavior gap]] wouldn't be an issue."

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- "A fundamental reason why people fail at goal achievement and at maintaining long term behavior change is because they fail to recover and retry."

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- # [[Games intentionally design for [[failure state]] recovery]]

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- Index pages:: [[Methods for learning and thinking]]

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- definition:: Friction is anything that slows the user down or gets in their way

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- author:: [[BJ Fogg]]

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- This is one of the main benefits that I've found with [my decision to consult rather than go into academia]([[Why I chose to consult rather than get a PhD]]).

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- [[screenshot]] of the model: ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FuCftDPW4O-.jpeg?alt=media&token=22676b8c-00e1-45ab-ba95-ba9eb1779991)

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- If I furthered my career into academia, then I would be doing a ton of readings, but those readings would have largely come from the prescriptions of professors.[++](((BodWR0udR)))

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- This model isn't based on experimental evidence, but is rather a bunch of formalized common-sense assumptions. Use it as a set of rules of thumb that are generally good to follow and don't pretend like it's all the psych you need to make a good product and you'll be fine.

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- In consulting, I'm still reading many papers and books (even the occasional textbook), but it's determined by my curiosity. I'm allowed to be autodidactic and read about what I think is interesting.

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- Not much scientific evidence behind this model specifically, but seems like it’s essentially a formalization of [[Friction and Fuel]]/[[3Bs]], positive pressures/negative pressures, etc. with some common sense assumptions built in. they’re all saying more or less the same thing- cost/benefit!

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- When I follow my curiosity unconditionally, my assumptions are the following:

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- Using it well- don’t assume this is all that you need to know about behavioral science to make a good product. This is essentially formalized common-sense.

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- I don't know when it will be useful, but there's a good chance it will be someday.

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- Ability

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- If it's not useful on its own, there's a good chance it will be useful through the way that it paints my understanding of other things that I know.

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- "Make it simple, remove steps. This is what UX designers do best."

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- If I learn out of a sense of curiosity, I'll put more work into learning than if I were learning out of a sense of obligation.

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- Does the user have the necessary skills, energy, time, or other resources to do some behavior? Has the user built up the necessary amount of [[self-efficacy]]?

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- [[There is no curriculum of everything you should know]]

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- Motivation:

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- If I learn only what I feel obligated to learn, then that means I'll have learnt what everyone else has learnt. [[If I read what everybody else is reading, then I'll think like everybody else]], so I'd end up bored and blend up with the crowd.

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- This is the part where UX designers tend to struggle.

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- Self-efficacy is one way to boost motivation, see [[The user should believe that they are capable of performing actions within the app]]

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- Implications of the model

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- If motivation is higher than ability when the user is prompted, they will do the behavior.

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- I’d rephrase this as if motivation is higher than ability when the user is prompted, they are more likely to do the behavior than if not.

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- diminishing marginal returns:

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- If ability is already high, then making things a little easier will not make as much difference in the frequency of the behavior as increasing motivation

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- if motivation is already high, making it a little more motivating will not make as much difference as increasing ability and making it easier.

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- [Motivation goes up and down in waves]([[motivation waves]]) and motivation is harder to increase than ability.

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- This means:

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- We should make things as low friction as possible in order to make our prompts more successful.

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- If a user is experiencing high motivation, prompting them to do something easy is a waste.

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- try to do [[motivation check]]s in order to give people the right activities at the right moment.

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- definition:: I loosely define gamification as the application of principles of game design and behavioral science to influence user behavior so they [voluntarily use the app]([[Products are fundamentally voluntary]])

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- # [[example]]s of how games deal with failure states in many different ways

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- I sort of just mix behavioral science and game design to see what comes out the other end

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- ## Some games make failure incredibly punishing, but give the player a chance at redemption

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- [[The relationship between [[gamification]], game design, and [[behavior design]]]]

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- # [[example]] of Hollow Knight and [[streak counter]]s

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- [[Most [[gamification]] is pretty bad]]

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- In a streak counter in a meditation or fitness app you count the number of days in a row that you do an activity, and you experience failure when you lose a streak

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- [[[[gamification]] is not one monolithic thing]]

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- {{embed: ((44-0eaMyd))}}

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- "When I hear people say "gamification does or doesn't work," I have the same reaction that many people would have if someone says "design doesn't work." Gamification isn't one thing as I define it, but rather an interplay between game design, human computer interaction, behavioral science, and [[behavior design]]."

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- Streak counters are only really motivating while you have a streak going. In the early stages of a streak, it is not valuable so people don't mind losing them. Upon losing a long streak, [[loss aversion]] leads to a significant feeling of distress. This can demoralize the user, especially if it will take weeks, months, or longer to recover the streak.[++](((g9lr8L82X)))

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- **Perhaps the challenge here is that when I talk about gamification, I'm talking about something __fundamentally different__ from how most people conceptualize it.** The points, badges, and leaderboard system people are used to saying is [just one genre of gamification]([[There could be many genres of [[gamification]]]])

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- In [[Hollow Knight]], they wanted to make a challenging game because they wanted players to feel the accomplishment of beating something that previously beat them.

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- So you’re exploring around this map, killing monsters, earning money.

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- When you die, you lose all of your money, and go back to your last checkpoint.

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- Sounds super demotivating, right? Well, the same thing is basically happening in a streak counter. You work up days in a row, and then upon failure, you have to start over again. Sound similar in structure?

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- **Hollow Knight** does something clever to deal with this. When you die, you leave a "shade” where you died, lose all of your money, and go back to your last checkpoint. In order to get all of your money back, you need to get to the shade and beat it. If you die again before then, then you lose all the money for good.

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- ^^Dark Souls game designers wanted players to try again after failing. In order to encourage that behavior, they gave players something to lose from failing and a chance to regain it all from trying again to get to the point where they lost everything.^^

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- ## In some games, the failure state is not punishing

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- This happens in two main types of games:

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- The game is very challenging, so the player will fail often.

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- [[example]]: Celeste is an extremely hard game. You’re going to die a lot, so failure is made non-punishing and the end is generally in sight so you don’t get frustrated. It’s expected that each life is not gonna last very long. Repeated failure is the game designers attempt to clearly communicate what went wrong to the player so they can adjust their behavior and become better at the game.

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- In this screenshot, when the player lands on the rectangular platform, the platform will move quickly on the gears and if they jump they'll go flying into the spikes. They learn pretty quickly that momentum is conserved and that they should wait until the platform stops moving.

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- [[screenshot]] of Celeste failure ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FTzlKnbU2Dz?alt=media&token=349df1d2-5241-4f2f-839c-507a037a7180)

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- [[screenshot]] of Celeste growth mindset ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FpEQ3-ALRnq?alt=media&token=760432cd-65b6-4120-8a07-72ac0b391193)

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- {{[[TODO]]}} Failure is also made non-punishing for games that are meant to be easy

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- ## {{[[TODO]]}} Some games challenge you to make it further next time

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- "Roguelike games generally have a few common principles:"

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- "Every time you die, you start over at the beginning of the game."

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- "During each life, you engage in a "run," where you attempt to make it further than you made it last time."

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- "Each run is similar but with randomized elements so you have a unique experience each time."

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- ## Some games reward failure, giving you a boost in your next life

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- ### [[example]] Ziggurat is a [[roguelike]] game.

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- During each run, the player attempts to make it further than they did before. The further they make it, the better power ups they earn. However, the player isn't able to use the power ups until their next run, which means that they need to fail first and they may actually look forward to failure.

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- [[screenshot]] of Ziggurat ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2Ff91VECu9ky?alt=media&token=77778221-7291-46a0-b85f-511102c3593d)

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- [[example]] [[[[failure state]] in Dead Cells]]

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- ""Some games reward failure, giving you a boost in your next life""

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- "During each run, you're killing monsters and collecting money. When you die, it actually allows you to use some of the money that you had left when you died on your next run, making you feel as though you have already started and helping you move past the part at the beginning that you've done a thousand times more quickly. [[goal gradient effect]]"

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- ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FN5rstKoXaR.png?alt=media&token=c3f11f3e-8a4f-4902-a6eb-fe3bdd8fb4a5) [[screenshot]] of Dead Cells

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- ### [[example]] Sundered is a metroidvania game where dying is your only opportunity to access a shop with upgrades. Like Ziggurat, the player may look forward to death.

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- [[screenshot]] of Sundered ![](https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/firescript-577a2.appspot.com/o/imgs%2Fapp%2FRob-Haisfield-Thinking-in-Public%2FN7MWhI-dFl?alt=media&token=3bacb2d2-bcc1-4f5a-89c3-84523b667ac1)

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- definition:: The **generation effect** is a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one's own mind rather than simply read. Researchers have struggled to account for why generated information is better recalled than read information, but no single explanation has been sufficient.

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- Index pages:: [[clients]]

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- {{[[TODO]]}}

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- source:: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_effect

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- GuidedTrack is a basic programming language meant to allow people with no programming background to code complex experiments, deploy social science interventions as basic apps, and even prototype startup ideas.

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- [[apps with [[retention]] accomplish multiple [[user goal]]s]].

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- It's kind of ironic that I copy pasted the definition of the generation effect from Wikipedia.

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- GuidedTrack is primarily meant for startup founders and academics in the social sciences, but it is a [[horizontal product]] so the use cases are broad and there are many different personas.

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- However, [[the user may have a lack of imagination as to what [[user goal]]s they can accomplish]]

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- There are [[[[individual difference]]s between people in prior [[skill level]]]]

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- "Some users may end up content with a static state of usage. [[The user should believe that their actions in the app lead to goal achievement]], and they believe it because they've figured it out for themselves."

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- Academics who come to [[GuidedTrack]] already knowing how to do statistical programming in R or Python will likely have an easier time getting started than those without that prior knowledge.

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- The problem here is that "If an app enables the user to accomplish only one goal, then the user is lost as soon as the one goal disappears or is accomplished better by using some other product."

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- [Integration with the community]([[[[continuous onboarding]] can come from [[community]]]]) helps the user to brush up against use cases and features that they weren't aware of before so people are able to recognize situations in which they could use your app in more ways.

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- [[apps with [[virality]] accomplish multiple [[user goal]]s]]

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- People are more likely to mention an app to their friends if bringing it up is perceived as helpful by the other person or it increases the status of the recommender. [The recommender should believe that the app will help the recipient achieve a goal that they actually have]([[The user should believe that the app will help them achieve a goal that they actually have]]).

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- In order to do this, it should be incredibly clear to the user what sorts of goals the product is capable of solving. This comes from a familiarity of how the app works for them, how the app is used by others, and what the features of the app are capable of doing when combined. Basically, we're looking to increase [[user involvement]].

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- In [[[[puzzle game]]s for [[power user]] [[onboarding]]]], you'll find multiple accounts of how they teach situation recognition.

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- "There was a really interesting case where I was playing a puzzle game called Pode with my girlfriend, and it gave us a puzzle where one of our characters seemed to need to stand on a pedal in order to open up the door to the next puzzle. However, only one of our characters was heavy enough to stand on it, and we both needed to make it through to the other side, so the solution couldn't be "just stand on it." Eventually we found a weighted block to put on top of the square pedal to weigh it down so we could both move on."

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- "What was in