Working Gamification: Octalysis Framework

5 min


Hello, Habr! My name is Roman, and I am a product! Recently, I have been fond of the topic of gamification in digital products. This concept has long been popular, and, probably, there is no person from the IT world who has never come across this topic in one form or another. Hundreds of articles have been written and translated on gamification, however, to my surprise, there is little information in the Russian-language segment about the Ostalisis framework developed by Yu-kai Chou. And he is damn good! Well, we will fix it!


One of the problems of gamification is that many companies think that it’s enough to simply add game elements (and let’s put achievements on the site?) Into the product, and all this will magically instantly turn into a kind of game and begin to motivate people to waste their time and hard-earned money. rubles on your product. Oh, if only …

Actually, Yu-kai Chou went further: he decided to figure out why it works in some cases and not in others, and at the same time created an excellent framework so that we all can use it. He identified the eight main drivers of motivation in games, gave them a name, and combined them into Otalisis. Below I will briefly go through each of the drivers.

Epic Meaning & Calling

This driver works when a person believes that he is doing something more than himself, and / or was “selected” for this action. An example of using such a driver is a game Free rice, a quiz where users, correctly answering a question, see an advertisement, the proceeds of which go to charity in World food program. People not only play, but also understand that by their activity they help those in need.

If we are not talking about games, then the most recognizable example of the Epic Meaning driver is Wikipedia. Users from all over the world are ready to spend their personal time to fill it with articles and moderate the articles of other participants, without receiving any rewards for this, content only with the feeling that they are doing a really useful thing.

How to use:

You can add a global mission to save humanity or cats, in which users can take part or emphasize that users consider themselves to be an elite, possessing something unique, as Apple does.

It’s not necessary to add a “world mission” to your product, you can come up with your own. Most games begin with a narrative that explains why players should play the game. Why not do the same with your product?

Development & Accomplishment

Here, a key factor in motivation is the desire of people to develop their skills and themselves as a whole, overcoming difficulties. It is the word “overcoming” that is very important here, since an badge or trophy received without effort will not be valued like a badge earned by one’s own sweat and blood and, of course, brains. This driver is one of the most popular in the design of gamified systems and underlies many PBLs (points, badges, leaderboards).

How to use:

Progress bars, achievements, ratings.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

One of the main drivers that makes LEGO and similar constructors popular everywhere. People not only need ways to express their creativity, but also the ability to see their results, get feedback (it doesn’t matter: from you, through schedules, achievements, or from other users of the product through reviews, likes, reposts). Involvement in the creative process can be a pretty powerful driver that will force users to return to your product again and again. Add the opportunity to share your creativity with others, and your viral channel can give a good boost to MAU.

How to use:

Likes, sharing, comments, views, ratings.

Ownership & Possession

Probably my favorite driver. It is derived from the human desire to accumulate wealth. People tend to desire to own something, and having got what they want, improve it, thereby increasing their wealth. Moreover, by investing in improving something, users are even more attached to the object of their ownership. So, for example, setting up your personal virtual office for yourself (adding widgets, graphs, changing the background color), users will feel more attached to it, as opposed to a boxed solution. Examples of this driver are avatars, all kinds of collections (real and virtual), virtual goods. Ownership is very closely intertwined with other drivers, especially with Scarcity & Impatience and Loss & Avoidance, which I will write about below.

How to use:

Avatars, collections, customization from scratch (customization).

Social Influence & Relatedness

This engine includes all the social elements that drive people, including social reactions, communication, as well as competition and envy. When you see a friend who has some kind of cool skills, in your opinion, you strive to reach the same level.
In addition, this driver is based on the desire of people to bring us closer to the people, places or events to which they relate. If you see a product that reminds you of your childhood, causes a feeling of nostalgia, most likely this will increase the chances of buying it. This driver is widely and universally used in eCommerce: “Bestseller”, “They also take this product”, user reviews and dozens of other examples that you come across almost every day.

How to use:

Badge “Hit of sales”, a selection of products based on the choice of other users, leaderboards, “Success stories” from users, reviews, chats.

Scarcity & impatience

The rarer the thing, the more difficult it is to get, the more valuable it is for us. This statement underlies the Scarcity & Impatience driver. The fact that people cannot get something right now makes them think about it all day. This driver is used universally both in the digital world and beyond. Limited Time Offers, seasonal discounts, virtual goods, available only the first 24 hours after registration, registration by invitation only – all these are the mechanics of this driver.

How to use:

Countdown timers, limited supply, man-made shortages.

Unpredictability & curiosity

This driver is driven by our natural curiosity. The unknown haunts and motivates us to action. Our brain is so structured that if he does not know what will happen next, he is obsessed with trying to solve this riddle. Remember the school desk, when someone tells you that he knows one secret, but can not reveal it to you. This is crazy, right? Unpredictability & Curiosity is dangerous because addictive people can become addicted, as is the case with gambling, which is based on unpredictability. Another striking example from the life of this driver is our beloved Kinder surprise and hundreds of its modern counterparts. If we talk about video games, then this driver found its expression in lootboxes, and their widespread distribution only confirms the effectiveness of this mechanics.

How to use:

Lootboxes, Easter eggs, unexpected rewards.

Loss & avoidance

Fear of loss is a strong motivator. This driver is well used to retain users when they have spent enough time in your product / game and can lose all the progress accumulated by overwork. The most powerful example of this driver is probably games with virtual farms, where you must harvest before it wilts. This makes millions of users around the world not to forget about the game and constantly return to it day after day.

In the digital world, this effect is well observed in social networks, for example Instagram: by stopping using this service, you can lose all the photos, and on Facebook lose the contacts of many friends and acquaintances.

How to use:

Discount for the next purchase, which will “burn out” in an hour, loss of the “super” status in case of a long absence (regular writing of interesting articles on Habr, so as not to lose points in the rating).

I hope I managed to interest you in this wonderful, but far from the only gamification framework. In the author’s book “Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards” or his blog, you can find a lot of techniques based on this framework.
Also subscribe to my telegram channeldedicated to this topic, or write to me at telegramif you have interesting examples and ideas. Or just chat on this topic.

References: Yu-kai Chou Blog


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