Gamification 2.0

From points, badges and leaderboards to event driven engagement engines

Gamification 1.0 was pretty cool. Tons of sales, bug, step and tree challenges got set up and proved that people plug into the core principles of points and badges. Hurrah!

But that was a different era. An era of relative comfort. Nothing was broke. Now it’s all breaking and we’re getting woke. Things are morphing fast as we fly through the COVID portal. Digital has become preeminent as we work from home, liking it or not. Some employees now demand to spend more time with friends, family and themselves and don't want to return to the office. “Yeah, I like my friends, family and me. I like just hanging out with me. Give me digital tools to WFA” — work from anywhere. On the flipside there are others saying, “I really miss my team” I don’t know why, I just do” Introverts/Extroverts. This is one example of the many polarities that exist within behavioural economics that suddenly, Chief Marketing Officers and Chief People Officers must embrace and find answers for within the primarily digital world that their employees and customers now reside within. If they don’t, they will get out competed by those that do. They will lose the phygital game.

As we do understand, more and more of us are realising that Ease of Use as a design pattern is no longer enough. As Jakob’s law states, when we arrive at a user experience, we expect it to be similar to the one we arrived from. On mobile this means social media and games a lot of the time. We are all engineered to be social and have fun, even the Introverts. Social ensures we have babies and look after each other. Fun ensures we build skills to overcome challenges. “Come on team, it’s boring here, let’s go fight Sparta, it will be fun!

Fast forward since Gamification 1.0 and we’ve got our work cut out:

  • Pandemics
  • Planetary Health
  • Poverty
  • The financial model
  • ……

Everywhere we look there are opportunities for leadership and rallying people behind big challenges, being purpose driven. David Attenborough believes that there is not only valour and criticality in these challenges but a LOT of money to be made. Those who get this right, the leaders who shift to engaging customers around big ideas will mop up. Those who hang onto old world game rules of kill or be killed, will be killed. Those that change the world for a sustainable future, building systems optimized for People, Planet and Profit, the 3 P’s, will take the big prizes. What is most exciting about now is that we have much that we need to succeed:

  • Problem and Opportunity
  • Agency — Game theory, data and data science

Problem and Opportunity

In addition to the macro challenges above, Financial Institutions, Utility Companies and Governments are all swimming in a sea of sameness and noise. Everyone’s products look the same with a lot of noise competing for customer attention. Products are bland and people are looking for change. To win, organisations must differentiate more than ever, leveraging customer data for success and telling a different story, otherwise the only winners will be Facebook and Google and their digital advertising revenues as customer acquisition and retention costs explode.

There is a lot of opportunity. In banking, PFMs and Barefoot Investor disciples all have a rear view mirror lens of life and overlay their beliefs on how people should behave. “You drank too much coffee this week” Really? Who are you to judge? These attempts at financial coaching are pithy and neglect how people operate. So much more can be done that is more inclusive, less judgmental and more supportive of bigger wins than a few round up coins on coffee. Game theory blends behavioural economics and cognitive bias to cover a much broader, more inclusive range of human beings.

Lending remains a big revenue driver for banks. Today the business model is predicated around price which always ends up being a balance sheet game; Institutions with the biggest balance sheets get the biggest advantage. When we apply game thinking, we shift the focus away from price and towards customer success, orienting the value proposition and the systems around paying off loans faster. This creates market momentum and more opportunity; systems optimised for the 3 P’s.

As we all become concerned about where the products we consume originate from, energy companies, investing in green energy, need to shift customers fast to these new systems, leveraging their distribution, payment and service systems. The potential of smart meters get unleashed when we bring people together around energy generation, distribution and payment.

In the public sector, governments are challenged by conspiracy theorists and others that require the activation of communities. Opportunity lies in tuning these organisation’s systems and value statements for the 3 P’s, differentiating and then driving engagement through game theory to get everyone in on the game.

Agency — Game Theory + Data

Decades of war games and game thinking generally have tuned game theory to help us understand how to map out the challenges, skills, rewards, win states, competitions, archetypes and habits and why the form factor is so powerful. We also have more data and more data science. We have more data than we’ve ever had. By the time we get to 5 o’clock tomorrow we’ll have more than even the smartest person you know can tell you, without looking it up on the internet. Data science is so good that we can now take all that data to build game engines that are uniquely adapted to the individual, tune them in real time and embed them within the digital fabric. Don Tapscott’s “market of one” is in hyper drive.

Science and Deep Thinking

All of this comes together in Gamification 2.0. Gamification 1.0 burned out. It burned out because it was hijacked by marketers with short term funnel thinking. Too eager to meet their short term goals, they got found out. Gamification 2.0 aligns sustainable strategies (3P’s) with deep game theory to engage employees and customers on the journey to success and allowing organisations to play bigger.

Science, deep thinking and a longer perspective has shifted the focus from quarterly goals to playing the long game. It is built for organisations that see beyond themselves and into the future. It isn’t for everyone but it is for the big minds. Fortune favours the brave.

Game Design + Game Engine

Here’s how the data driven hyper personalised game engine works. Customers sign into digital applications, designed for Ease of Use, creating digital footprints. These footprints are enhanced by troves of data from third parties. Information architects have found new ways, including data lakes in the cloud for economically storing this data, the vast majority of which, until now, went unused. Game theory harvests this data and puts it to use to create player archetypes. Richer than personas, player archetyping explores human motivations and biases to understand why people do what they do.

This framework opens to door to richer, useful, feedback across a broad array of game mechanics, personalised for player type at the right time through an event driven architecture and flow. It goes beyond goals and moves to habit forming and changing. These inputs are fed into the main application platform to drive a personalised, dynamic and relevant customer experience. In the background, AI learns more about the players, refining the archetype model at an individual level as data is constantly recycled through the system. Game engines, fueled by data, create experiences that are as increasingly unique as the individual experiencing it. We yearn to be recognised, wanting experiences that map perfectly to our tastes, our prejudices, our views. It is the experience designer’s job to recognise and deliver this. When a game engine produces tailored experiences, players are more likely to become hooked as they feel understood. Game thinking suspends judgement and tailors the experience irrespective of moral perspective. The alternative to a personalised game engine is an army of designers and ideation experts trawling the internet for new ideas who are expensive and slow.

There is a very good reason why the very largest majority of digital engagement minutes are awarded to games and social. We are hardwired for fun and social, they fire our reward systems with boots of dopamine every time we break through, win and level up our social standing. Enterprises that have their digital hygiene complete with digital service layers and API’s in place are very well placed to level up their propositions to combine profit, people and the planet, building a virtuous circle of success through the application of Gamification 2.0.

To get started, embed game design into the application and service design processes. Rather than simply thinking about making your products easy to use, think about how to make them fun and social to use. Game design asks a new set of questions about players, who they are, what winning looks like, what challenges they need to overcome and what various types of motivation can be applied to their biases. The outcome will be gamified player journeys that take customers on a path of mastery, collectively and individually.

Once these are crafted, a game engine can be integrated within the digital application platform to consume the vast array of behavioural data and expose it as a set of personalised game mechanics within the experience. For more information, please visit

Moroku GameSystem is a SaaS platform that provides differentiation from competitors and value for customers through meaningful digital engagement