“Always focus on building authentic engagement; there are no shortcuts.”
—Kevin Werbach, For the Win
Gamification is a hot topic. It’s not just a trend but a debate.
I’ve worked for companies creating software to implement customer experiences based around loyalty and gamification as well as companies implementing gamification into their community strategy. When Kevin’s Gamification course launched on Coursera, I signed up in a heartbeat. While I’d like to say I didn’t add to the 90% of those who don’t complete MOOCs, I did.
However, I did pick up Kevin’s book and read it cover to cover, multiple times. If you’ve been tasked with creating a gamification strategy, I’d recommend you do the same.
Getting users to accumulate points and badges isn’t a reason to implement a gamified system; it’s something that happens within one.
Think gamification is only points, badges and leaderboards? Think again.
Don’t think of gamification as a cheap marketing trick; think of it as a deep and subtle engagement technique.
As you’ll learn in For the Win, gamification goes far beyond marketing and requires an understanding of both game design and business strategy. It also requires studying human behavior and how we respond to extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.
By the time I was done reading For the Win, I not only had a much deeper understanding of human behavior and game design, but I was also equipped with a plan to begin building gamification elements into our own community strategy.
If gamification is a topic that matters in your world, pick up this book to learn how to level up your game:
- Level 1: Getting into the Game: An Introduction to Gamification
- Level 2: Game Thinking: Learning to Think Like a Game Designer
- Level 3: Why Games Work: The Rules of Motivation
- Level 4: The Gamification Toolkit: Game Elements
- Level 5: Game Changer: Six Steps to Gamification
- Level 6: Epic Fails: And How to Avoid Them
A Word from Kevin
I was able to reach out to Kevin about this review to share a bit with you from his perspective.
What is the #1 takeaway you hope readers will find in your book?
Don’t be afraid of fun! Gamification is an emerging business practice that can be applied in virtually any context to produce significant benefits. It draws on a long and deep history. However, it needs to be approached thoughtfully and systematically. Otherwise, gamification efforts will flop or even be counter-productive. For the Win combines insights from game design and psychology with a set of business frameworks that make it easy for anyone to apply gamification effectively.
What inspired you to write this book?
I could see that gamification was taking off. When I taught the first-ever MBA course on the topic, demand was off the charts. Over 80,000 people, mostly professionals, signed up for the first session of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) I did through the Coursera platform. However, I had to organize all the material myself. There wasn’t any gamification resource that combined rigor with accessibility. For the Win distills down what my co-author and I have learned about gamification in our research and teaching, so that business practitioners can put it to work.
What book (or author), other than your own, would you recommend to Community Managers and why?
Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus. The best book I’ve read explaining the transformative human implications of social media and social software. I’ve had the good fortune to know Clay for almost 15 years, and he’s been consistently ahead of the curve in explaining how technology changes the way we interact with our friends, co-workers, and communities. I can’t think of anything more important for community managers than understanding the dynamics of groups, and how they intersect with technology.
What is one random thing about you that most people don’t know?
I studied Russian in college and spent a summer in Moscow the year before the Soviet Union fell.
About Kevin Werbach
Kevin Werbach is an associate professor of Legal Studies at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the founder of Supernova Group, a technology consulting firm. He co-led the review of the Federal Communications Commission for the Obama Administration’s Presidential Transition Team. A pioneer in the emerging field of gamification, he is the co-author of For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business.
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