Coursera Gamification MOOC – Written assignment 3 – Gamifying e-books.

Now that Kevin Werbach’s Gamification MOOC is done and dusted, I thought I might share the final assignment that I put together for it. It centres around making use of his six step gamification design model and how this might be applied to encouraging sales and direct interaction with customers in an e-book business. (It’s around 1500 words but I think it covers the material pretty well – if I do say so myself. I’ve included the comments from other markers as well)

Project Part III: Design Document

Now that you know the essential concepts about gamification and game design, it’s time to use them. For this final task, we ask you to bridge this gap as you meld creativity and structure to match peoples’ needs with technical feasibility and business realities.

You are approached by Cheyenne Kendrick, the CEO of Go Digital Press (GDP), a global publisher of electronic books for devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and iPad.  She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize publishing.  She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

GDP concentrates on the trade segment of the book market, i.e. non-fiction publications that would traditionally appear in bookstores, rather than mass-market paperbacks. Approximately 50% of its titles are targeted at business professionals; 25% are educational resources on technical topics such as computer programming; and the remainder address a variety of different subjects. 

As a pioneer in e-book publishing, GDP faces the challenge that many users, even in the U.S., do not yet own reader devices.  As of April 2012, only 21% of American adults reported that they had read an e-book in the past year, although those numbers are increasing rapidly.  Kendrick tells you that another concern is that the device manufacturers and their associated distribution platforms control the sales process, making it difficult for publishers such as GDP to obtain data or develop direct customer relationships.  On the positive side, an e-book is a flexible digital asset, which can offer interactive features beyond any physical book.  Kendrick asks you to propose a way to gamify the distribution or consumption of e-books, or both. 

Provide a detailed description of your proposal, organized according to the design framework described in the lectures in Unit 7:

1.     Define business objectives
2.     Delineate target behaviors
3.     Describe your players
4.     Devise activity loops
5.     Don’t forget the fun!
6.     Deploy the appropriate tools

I’ll begin with a detailed description of the gamified system to be used for GDP e-books and then use the six points of the design framework to explain the decisions that I made in developing it.

The gamified system.

E-book customers click a link in the first page of their e-book that takes them to the GDP website, where they sign up for or sign in to their free GDP game account. This gives them access to their profile page where they can add information about themselves and the e-books that they are reading as well as seeing their badges and game reputation points.

On the main page, they can see a number of leaderboards relating to points earned for subject mastery and for social engagement and they can also access a discussion board with other GDP readers. This discussion board provides a space for readers to discuss specific books (including providing feedback/suggestions to the publisher and authors), broader topic related areas, opportunities for collaboration and contribute and discuss quiz questions.

A key element of the GDP game is the use of online self-marking quizzes that enable reader/players to track their understanding of the material covered in the e-books. These will be broken down to cover individual chapters, sections of the book and the entire book.

Reader/players will be able to complete these quizzes both before and after reading the chapters, sections and books to get a sense of how much their understanding of the content has improved by reading the chapter/section/book. Questions and answers in the quizzes will be randomised and can be added to by members of the GDP game community. (Questions voted on in the discussion board)

If reader/players achieve certain scores in the quiz, they will get badges and points that recognise their mastery of the content. Some of these badges could carry some form of accreditation meaning that the reader/player’s achievements can be acknowledged in the wider world.

The GDP game system will be integrated with other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so that reader/players are able to more widely promote their activities and progress and demonstrate their competence in particular areas.

Points and badges will also be awarded for useful participation in the GDP community discussion board, for contributing quiz questions and for sharing their activities in social media

There will also be some tangible extrinsic rewards for reaching particular goals in line with conventional loyalty programs. These will include discounts on e-books or free e-books for a certain number of purchases but also for reaching particular levels of mastery in content areas as well as supporting and expanding the GDP community.

Define Business objectives

The primary objective is to increase sales through customer loyalty and recommendations.

Delineate target behaviours

Reader/players read more e-books, more frequently, and to then buy more.

They participate in community activities that allow them to demonstrate and share their knowledge and to communicate with other readers about what they are reading as well as with their non e-book reading friends and colleagues.

They spend more time on the GDP website, learning more about other e-books that are available.

These behaviours will be measured by tracking the time spent reading the e-books (to avoid having people just skim through them for rewards), quiz completion and quiz results, discussion board contributions and links created to other social media sites.

The reader/player will get feedback in the form of points and badges reflecting scores on quizzes and the ways that they have demonstrated their understanding of the e-books that they have read. They will also get points for participation in the community and buying e-books.

Describe your players

The reader/players are current e-book customers and our prospective customers. They mainly read about business and technical topics and so we assume that they are seeking to learn more about these fields and are likely to be working in these areas (or wanting to work in them). Their main motivation is their own education and developing higher level skills and knowledge that will benefit them in their work lives.

In terms of the rewards that motivate these people, this suggests that they are interested in the status (respect from peers), access (ability to carry out more tasks) and power (greater responsibility at work) that this knowledge can give them in their daily lives. This needs to be reflected in the game. There will be some reader/players of course that simply read these books for their own personal pleasure but I believe they won’t object to the extrinsic rewards available.

While it would be wrong to make too many assumptions about the readers, the business world can be a competitive environment and having elements that enable players to exercise their competitive side should be appealing to many of them. At the same time, readers that are aware of the benefits of networking in business and in developing knowledge could find cooperative options equally appealing. Creating a gamified system where people can progress at an equal rate in ways that match their personal motivations seems to be a useful approach to take.

If we look at Bartle’s player types, it is likely that the e-book customers could fall into two of the four. As these people are making the effort to improve their knowledge to enhance their professional status, there will likely be a set of Achievers. These people will be catered to through the use of points, badges and leader boards that showcase how much they have read and how they have increased their knowledge.

For the Socialisers, who see the benefits in networking, sharing knowledge and working with other e-book readers, the community aspect of this gamified system should be appealing. By creating a community of players through the GDP website, they will be able to interact with other e-book readers, network with people in the same industry or business and share the things that they have learnt. They could gain rewards, points and achievement badges in the system by collectively building user-generated quizzes that can be discussed in forums and voted upon.

Describe activity loops

The main engagement loops relate to the reader/player’s principal motivation for buying the e-books in the first place, i.e. enhancing their knowledge of business or other technical areas. Completing the pre-reading quiz will motivate the reader/player to read on by showing them what they don’t yet know and completing the post-reading quiz will motivate them by letting them see how much they have learnt in that chapter.

So the feedback from the quiz results motivates the desired action of reading more and learning more. This motivation should be more effective that other rewards because it is performance contingent. This should be as effective at motivating a new-comer to the game as a more experienced player.

Searching the GDP website for more e-books, buying them and participating in community activities in the discussion board are also engagement loop based actions that will be motivated by feedback in the gamified system. In this case, through extrinsic motivators providing a sense of status (reputation points and the leaderboards) as well as tangible rewards (discounts on future purchases or free e-books).

The progression loops in this gamified system are those that keep the reader/player coming back and engaging with the GDP game community. They tie closely to the sense of mastery that the reader/player gets from having their learning recognised through the points and badges, which they are able to use outside the GDP game system in professional social networking environments such as LinkedIn.

Progress bars will also provide visual indicators of how close the reader/player is to achieving particular goals that give them badges, points or even tangible rewards.

Don’t forget the fun

This game system provides a combination of serious fun, hard fun and people fun.

Serious fun because the activity is meaningful and through their contributions to the GDP game discussion board, the reader/player has the opportunity to contribute to the quizzes that help other reader/players to learn. They can also provide feedback that is used by GDP to improve the quality of the e-books.

Hard fun because of the sense of personal achievement in mastering new topics and People fun because of the social component of interactions through the discussion board.

Deploy the appropriate tools.

Reader/players can access the game through any Internet enabled device, including their e-book reader. (See the initial description of the implementation of the game for more information about this stage of the design process)

What I liked was…
self → Keeping the focus on the intrinsic reasons and higher extrinsic reasons for buying the books – learning
peer 1 → The overall structure, good analysis of the targets and what motivates them.
peer 2 → Great ideas and well written generally.
peer 3 → I like idea that Questions and answers in the quizzes will be randomised and can be added to by members of the GDP game community. Espessially I like the pre-reading quiz motivated the reader/player to read on by showing them what they don’t yet know
peer 4 → I liked it fro the start till almost the end. Very similar to mine (like most of the assigments i read) but yours was a lot well written. I couldnt done it better myself! I wish i could give you 6/5 but cant 🙂 5/5 from me Well done!!
What could have made this submission better was…
self → 500 words more
peer 1 → Better evaluation of business goals, for example: consider to make GDP independend from manufacturers associates as their control the sales channel.
peer 2 → There were a few misspellings, and I felt that the Deployed Tools kind of missed the mark with regard to detailing the 3 layers of the Game Elements pyramid although many of the ‘components’ were covered throughout (See Module 4 Chapter 2 for explicit treatment of the Pyramid of Game Elements).
peer 4 → I am not sure about the tools. I think we should tell there which tools from the “element pyramid” we used e.g points, dadges, rewards etc.
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