Actionable Gamification


People take any and every action because of 1 or more motivations: meaning, empowerment, social influence, unpredictability, avoidance, scarcity, ownership, accomplishment. In this book, Chou dives into each of these motivations and how to think about implementing them in games and in life.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Epic meaning & calling – This drive is where players feel they are part of something larger than themselves, such as contributing to a community or having a unique role
  2. Development & Accomplishment – This drive involves the internal desire for progress, skill development, and overcoming challenges, often recognized through achievements like badges or trophies
  3. Empowerment of creativity and feedback – give them intrinsic motivation to want to learn and play and develop
  4. Ownership and possession – Players are engaged through creativity, experimenting with different combinations, and receiving feedback on their creations
  5. Social Influence & Relatedness – It includes social elements like mentorship, acceptance, companionship, competition, and nostalgia, motivating players to connect with others and their experiences
  6. Scarcity & Impatience – This drive taps into the desire for things that are limited or unavailable, motivating players through the anticipation of acquiring them
  7. Unpredictability & Curiosity – This drive arises from the desire to find out what happens next, keeping players engaged with the unknown and unexpected
  8. Loss & Avoidance – Based on the motivation to avoid negative outcomes, this drive can include avoiding the loss of previous work or missed opportunities
  9. Other
    1. Bonus: Sensation is a hidden 9th core drive.
    2. Make sure to understand the difference between left brain or right brain motivations – aka extrinsic / intrinsic rewards or black hat / white hat. Black hat techniques create urgency but burn users out. White hat techniques create long term motivation but typically have little urgency. You need to find the right balance

What I got out of it

  1. These drives explain the psychological factors that make games engaging and can be applied to non-game contexts to enhance user experience and motivation. This was one of the more practical and concrete books on motivation and gaming that I’ve come across.

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