The key scale in gamification is thinking like a game designer. In other words, viewing your business problem or other kind of challenge. In the same way a game designer would think about the challenge involved in creating a game. So what exactly does it mean to think like a game designer? Jesse Schell, in his book, The Art of Game Design, a book of lenses, urges anyone interested in becoming a game designer to utter five words. Now, he was talking about anyone who wants to go into the actual field of game design. But the five words are relevant for people who are thinking about applying game design lessons through gamification as well. And the words are the following, I am a game designer, pretty simple. It reminds us that game design is a state of mind. And hopefully it reminds us that game design is something that pretty much all of us have already done. Kids on the playground make up games all the time. Making up games is something that comes naturally as human beings. But, like a lot of things, we don't necessarily think about it in a systematic way. We don't realize that it's something that's a skill that we can cultivate. So thinking like a game designer first of all involves resolving that you are going to look at your problem in the same way as a game designer. So if your goal is to get more people to come to your website. Or your goal is to figure out how to pick the best employees. Or your goal is to try to promote innovation within your company, whatever it is, think about that as a game. It's still real, it's still important. But, if that were a game that the particpants were playing, and you were designing what would you do? Now two caveats about what this means. The first is it doesn't necessarily mean to think like a game designer that you're actually going to become one. Game design is hard and it has many different facets, especially if we're talking about modern video game design. It requires tremendous technicial skills in different areas. It requires illustrations and sound and storytelling. And many other aspects that require serious skill in different areas to do. You don't have to do all of those things. And frankly, you don't have to do any of those things specifically, to employ game design techniques in gamification. I often talk to people in companies who get scared when I say. Gamification means putting yourself in the shoes of a game designer. Because they say oh, I haven't gone and gotten a master's degree in game design. Or developed the skills that it takes technically to build a game. That's not the point. The point is if you're going to approach things through the lens of game design. You're going to have an orientation towards the problem that's different than if you were approaching them. Through another way i may say just as a business manager. Third point is that thinking like a game designer is different than thinking like a gamer. Thinking like a gamer, means playing a game. And as I've talked about we're all gamers pretty much, we all play games in one way or another. If you're playing a game, you're typically not thinking about the structure of the game. That's what the game does. It creates this immersive experience, this state of flow that carries you along. And you don't really want to pull back the curtain and think about the nuts and bolts of how the game got made. On the other hand, if you're the game designer that's exactly what you're focused on. What you care about is not the experience of what it feels like. That's the ultimate objective, but in order to get there. What you have to do is think about the components that you need to put together to create that experience. So that's what thinking like a game designer means, always paying attention to the structures and the frameworks of the game as opposed to the experience. The game is not the experience. The experience is what it feels like to play the game and yes, that's ultimately the objective. But the game involves all of the structures that it takes to create that experience. So, how do you think like a game designer? The key starting point is to think about the people that are involved in your game as players. Whether those are customers, employees, some community that you're trying to mobilize. Or some population that you're trying to encourage to engage in some behavior change, whoever it is. You need to say, these are my players, because words matter. And when you think of someone as a player, it's subtly different than thinking about them as say, a customer, or even worse, a consumer. What's a consumer? It's someone who consumes, and so therefore the producer puts something out there, and the consumer passively consumes it. Customer is a little bit more active. People in the computer industry like to use the term user. People in certain retail industries now use the term guest. That has that nice notion that you're inviting someone into your house. All of those have certain subtle implications for the nature of the relationship. In game design. The relationship is between the designer and a player. So, what does it mean for someone to be a player? Well, the first thing it means is that players are the center of the game, the game revolves around the player. Even though the game was built by a company or group of game designers. To serve some purpose, which maybe is just making money for that company. From the players' standpoint, it's about them. You as the player are the one who is in the middle of the game, and the world revolves around you. Whatever is happening in that game, it's all about you, the player. So think about how to build your business in a way that the player is at the center. Second, try to realize how players need to feel that they are in control. So, a, a game creates an environment where player feels autonomy. I'll talk more about this when I discuss self determination theory and some of the psychology around games. But the point is, the player needs to have the sense, not only that everything revolves around them. But that they can make choices and the choices have results. Again, meaningful choices, as we mentioned before, in talking about the nature of games. So think about how do you create an environment so that your customers, users, whatever you call them, feel like they're the ones who are driving? And that the choices they make by their own free will have some real impact. That causes some meaning, and meaning doesn't necessarily mean financial benefit. It means something that they care about that they are willing, at that moment, to think of as being valuable. Finally, what do players do? They Play. That's kind of evident in the word players, but it's important. And as I've talked about, play is not the same things as games. Play is a sense of free motion within a set of constraints that exuberates energy that doesn't necessarily have to have a purpose. If you think of your customers or users as players. You'll try to think about ways where they have that freedom to feel like they are at play. The goal of a game designer is to create that sense of play for a specific purpose. And the purpose is one, to get into the game. To get them playing. And two, to keep them playing. Related, but distinct challenges. So if you think like a game designer, the first thing that you stay up at night thinking about is how do I get people in? How do I make it enticing. And how do I create an experience that makes it easy and simple and smooth for someone to get into the experience. And secondly, once they're in, how do I keep them there? And not, how do I trick them. But how do I create an experience that will genuinely engage them for an extended period of time. If you do those things, then you are thinking, not just like a business person or a manager of some other process. But like someone who's designing a game.