Gamification: Case Study Plan

Last winter I took a wonderful class on Gamification through Coursera taught by Kevin Werbach. This is my solution to a scenario from the class.

Fictional Scenario:

You are approached by Rashmi Horenstein, the CEO of ShareAll, a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

ShareAll’s mission is to make shared use of products and services as common as individual purchases. ShareAll’s patented technology makes it easy for consumers and business to share any product or service.  ShareAll has also developed a global virtual currency, called Shares, which can be used to purchase access to any asset in the system. Shares can be exchanged for real money, and users can generate more Shares by sharing items or volunteering their time to complete tasks for others.

ShareAll charges a small transaction fee whenever Shares are generated, traded, or spent. Therefore, the more activity, the more money ShareAll makes. Horenstein tells you that she cares about the social benefits of sustainability.  However, ShareAll is a for-profit company, with investments and partnerships from some of the world’s largest corporations, so profits matter. Horenstein believes gamification could significantly help ShareAll’s business.


Business Objectives

ShareAll has stated the following goals for its business:

  • Increase the use of shared goods through ShareAll – This includes building a vibrant community and building trust between users
  • High profits – This  involves an large number of “Shares” being generated, traded and spent.
  • Educate and engage users in the social benefits of sustainability

Gamification can help ShareAll accomplish this by highlighting the advantages of access versus ownership, motivating people to engage in this community and adding an additional element of fun to the already rewarding opportunity to have unique experiences and connect with new people.

Target Behaviors

  • Offer products and services – In order to develop a vibrant community, there needs to be people offering services and goods. The offering needs to be extensive and varied to attract a variety of users. This generates “shares” being traded and redeemed. Goal/quest setting and experience point rewards will encourage players to engage in this.
  • Buy products or services – In order to sustain a vibrant community, there need to be people who take advantage of the goods and services offered. This generates “shares” being generated and traded. Goal/quest setting and experience point rewards will encourage players to engage in this.
  • Develop complete profile and leave feedback/recommendations on offers taken advantage of – A part of building a community of trust involves players sharing information about themselves and others sharing feedback on products and services. Trust is important to sustaining the community and developing a pattern of use as opposed to a one-time trial. Players will receive experience points for completing their profile and posting feedback.
  • Contribute information and experiences to the community – In order to educate and encourage people in the community, it is important to have information about the positive aspects of access versus ownership, the social benefits of sustainability, and positive experiences of users. This will include site blogs and resources to target these topics. Players become involved in developing posts for the site blogs when they have achieved certain experience levels. This promotes advocacy among frequent users. Additionally players will also have personal statistics showing how they have engaged in the site and participated in being a part of this community. Players will receive badges as they achieve in this area and have the option to have certain data reported as a part of a leader board of connections.


The players that will be engaged in ShareAll will be very diverse in age, background, ethnic status, economic status and have different goals, but the players will exhibit one or more of the following:

  • People with goods or services to offer – recognize that they have resources that they are not using and could generate money or be traded for different goods or services.
  • People who are searching for short-term access to a good or service – recognize that access can is sufficient for them to enjoy a good and more practical/cost effective.
  • People more interested in experiences/opportunities than materialism.
  • People who are interested in meeting new people and developing new relationships as a part of offering or using other people’s goods/services.

Activity Loops

Experience Points – As users engage in different aspects of the site, they will receive points that build up their character profile. Points will be awarded in different character elements such as Adventurer, Merchandiser, Socialite, Influencer, etc. As players engage in different aspect of the site, they gain experience points which would improve their “character”. For instance, purchasing a snorkeling trip guide, would earn you adventurer points, offering to guide a snorkeling trip would earn you merchandiser points, connecting to the guide (or friends) and posting about the experience on your profile would earn you socialite points, and leaving feedback about the snorkel trip of the sellers offering would earn you influencer points. Players would develop their profile based on there interests and activities. Higher levels of points would be earned for setting and accomplishing  goals/quests. As people achieve higher experience levels in these areas, they would earn the opportunity to write a post(s) to the site blogs in the area related to their character element. This would take regular users and give them opportunities to be site advocates. Users who reach this status and have published blog posts would receive “share” currency for the post. High experience in Adventurer or Merchandiser would also lead to a reduced transaction fees.

Goals/Quests – Users can select up to three quests/goals. These might be things such as stay at five different rental places in five different places, provide 50 rides to others, or provide feedback on 20 different offerings. Users would set these goals and they would be a part of their profile that could be viewed by people they have connected with (or by anyone based on profile privacy settings) so that others could help them or offer encouragement. Achieving these goals/quests would earn the player experience points and certain goals/quests would also include a “share” reward. Some of these “share” rewards would be sponsored by the site while others might be designed and sponsored by ShareAll’s strategic partners, whether they be businesses, organizations, or individuals that want to reward a particular behavior.

Tracking – The site would track certain statistics that would be available to the player such as money made from offerings, money saved from purchasing access versus owning a good and other usage statistics such as number of connections, feedback left, transactions, etc. For those who wanted to, they could share parts or all of this information with connections and have leader board comparisons for different information. These statistics would generate different badges that would become a part of a person’s profile.

Social Connections – Players would develop a profile. This profile would include general information about the person but also would provide the opportunity for the player to share other information such as goals, interests, etc. The player also could post about different experiences from offerings on the site such as their experience with a user from an offering they posted or there experience from an offer they took advantage of. These posts would be on the profile available to people who view their profile (per privacy settings) and also available in their connections’ news feeds. This allows connections to follow your experiences and comment on them. Completing profile elements and posting earns the player experience points for the socialite character element.


Some of the ways the ShareAll community will bring people together and provide players fun include (but are not limited to):

  • Helping other people meet goals and experience new things.
  • Develop new social connections with people they engage in transactions with and further connections with friends.
  • Open the door to experiences and opportunities that would otherwise not be available to them.
  • Develop their ShareAll character in ways that interest them and reflect their engagement of the site.
  • Learn about other’s experiences through the site blogs and learn how they are building a communal, sustainable community.

Deployment Tools


  • ShareAll will be deployed via a website that also has a corresponding app. Users will sign up to be a part of the service and be able to create a profile. Users will be encouraged to complete the profile and begin to earn experience points. As users engage in different activities such a offering goods or services, purchasing goods or services, connecting with friends, and leaving feedback on transaction experiences, they will earn experience points in the appropriate category. All users will be able to see other’s username and the different levels of character trait development. As players attain certain levels in different character traits, they will be rewarded with opportunities to contribute to the appropriate site blog. If their high levels are in traits that are based on transactions, they will also unlock a lower transaction rates.
  • Players will also have the opportunity to select up to three goals/quests at a time and achieving these will boost their experience levels. Some of these goals will be sponsored by the site or by different strategic partners and will also include a “share” reward. For instance an automotive company may want to sponsor a goal/quest involving ride sharing or an individual may want to sponsor a goal that involves volunteering for a specific organization for 100 hours. This provides an opportunity for strategic partners to be a part of the system, engage users and encourage certain behaviors that benefit them. Players will be able to make these goals public, shared with connections, or private on their profile. When goals are shared, others can encourage others with their goals.
  • Through the player’s profile, the player will be able to follow other players or specific offerings, share experiences and comment on a connection’s experiences, see statistics on money made, saved, and others helped, etc and invite connections to compete on these statistics.
  • Gamifying the site will motivate players participation through the different game mechanics, create a vibrant community that is highly profitable for ShareAll and educate players on the benefits of access and sustainability.

Gamification: Exploring Narrative

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.” Muriel Rukeyser

Narrative is a part of the fabric of life and has been used as a teaching tool in all cultures. In early civilizations, stories were passed down generation to generation and these stories contained information and wisdom the people needed to survive and grow. Story continues to be a big part of our lives, whether it is the stories of the people around us or fictional stories. They are a key component in information and ideas we have learned and according to a study done at North Carolina University, narrative has an impact on motivation in learning.

Narrative is also a key element in game design. Think of games you enjoy, many of them involve quests or narrative. Game quests generally fall into types such as delivery, find, destroy, collect, master a skill, escort/defend. Between a web seminar and blog post by Allen Partridge and starting to play Wizards 101, the idea of narrative and gamification has been in my thinking.

ScreenHunter_96 Sep. 27 13.01Currently, I have  scenarios for the learner. These scenarios are typical job situations, from the scenario, the learner has to collect information and then they are given a tutorial on how to accomplish the tasks needed. This is followed by opportunities for them to have practice and then there is an assessment of the goals. The quest, so to speak, is to complete the task for the customer (in this case back ordering material).

From my recent experiences, I have been inspired to consider how I can use embed narrative throughout the lesson, beyond just presenting a scenario. One of the key ideas to keep in mind when doing this is to make sure learning objectives and game-play objectives are aligned. Gamification needs to add learning value, not just to take the learning and place it into a random cute scenario.

I realize that wrapping up my scenario at the end will also allow me to show customer feedback and the role of customer service and the employees ability to perform tasks efficiently to improving the bottom line. I look forward to weaving this and other narrative feedback into the storyboards I am currently working on.

Some keys to remember:

  • The narrative objectives need to fit the learning objectives. In the end, it is the learning that needs to take the starring role.
  • Narrative can help provide a framework and a scenario that allows you to provide feedback elements.
  • The “quest” doesn’t have to be complex to be engaging.

Applying Game Design Characteristics to Training

In recent years, the words gamification and gameful learning have been showing up across the industry. This has caused some to chase after turning their learning activities into games, others to make it game-like, and still others to throw up there hands and walk the other way.

Challenge Creates Learning Opportunities

There are a few elements that are key to keep in mind when developing learning. First, people learn when they are presented with a challenge. The challenge brings purpose to their learning and people want to do something purposeful. These challenges are sometimes artificial such as a test, or sometimes real-world, like learning new processes for a new job or a new skill that someone has chosen to pursue.

All kinds of resources and strategies can help learners meet these challenges. The greater the motivation the person has for accepting the challenge, the less the particular learning tools and strategies have. The motivation provides the purposefulness. If the learner has little desire or motivation to learn this new skill then the learning activity needs to provide greater engagement and purposefulness.

Game Design Characteristics that Promote Learning

Games provide many characteristics that promote opportunities for learning. Here are a few that I am focusing on adding to my learning activity design:

  • Scaffolded challenges leading up to a “game goal”
  • Exploratory environment and choice
  • Constant feedback and the freedom to fail without negative consequences

Applying Challenges, Exploration and Feedback

Let me walk you through a few characteristics of a recent eLearning activity I have created. My goal is for my learner to be able to successfully order material a customer needs and deliver it to the customer. This involves several possible strategies available to the employee and these strategies are broken up into different modules but already you can see the framework of a over arching goal with smaller goals leading up to it.

Let’s look at one particular module that guides the learner through allocating that material to a purchase order. Depending on the type of customer, the learner can follow two paths. Each one presents a scenario that is similar to a situation they might face on a day to day basis. initially the module is a demonstration that gives them opportunities to make choices. This lets them explore with out actually doing the tedious work of entering information.

At different points in the scenario, the learner collects information and makes choices. based on these choices, the learner is provided feedback as to whether that is the best choice and when a different choice is better. The learner can make a choice that is wrong for this scenario but before being guided back to the best choice, they learn when the choice they have made works best.

User Path Choice

The learner is also presented with Tell Me More boxes as they complete the main scenario. These boxes let them learn more information about special circumstances if they want to learn more.Tell Me More Box This adds additional content for those who need it while not cluttering up the basic procedure for those who are new to it or only use the basic process. Because the Table of Contents allows the user to easily move to different parts of the module, the user can always explore these at a later time.

Now the learning module does not look like a game. It would be a poor game at best and the point wasn’t to make it look or feel like a game. The key was to incorporate some of the same characteristics that are successful in game design to the eLearning module.

Haw are you using game design characteristics in your training activities?