Coursera Gamification Course: My Third and Final Assignment

Gamification Course Verified Certificate - SmallHere is my submission for the third and final assignment in Professor Kevin Werbach’s excellent (and, I will mention yet again, free!) Gamification course on Coursera.  To have the best sense of the progression of the course, I would suggest that you start by reading my first assignment, and my second assignment before exploring this one. Both build up to the length and depth of this final assignment.  My assignment submissions are all copyright 2013.  If you like the way I approach these projects, consider engaging me to consult on your next initiative!  I love putting my mind to challenges like this one.

The Final Assignment:

This last challenge was about a fictional web site, “ShareAll,” that is in the collaborative consumption space (like ZipCar, Uber, etc.)  We were told that the company already has a patented technology that will allow people to share any product or service easily via their web site.  We were also given the following specifics:

  • They have a global virtual currency called “Shares” that people can use to purchase access to any of the assets listed on the ShareAll site.
  • Shares can be exchanged for real money.
  • Users can generate more Shares if they share their items or volunteer their time to others.
  • They want to make shared product/service use as common as standard purchases.
  • The company charges a small transaction fee when Shares are: generated, traded, or spent.
  • Profit is their priority, but the company has a genuine desire to offer social benefit, as well.

The submission had to address the following aspects of Professor Werbach’s recipe for successful gamification:

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

Since we were limited to 1500 words, I framed my response as a direct answer to the points noted above.

My Submission:

1) ShareAll’s defined business objectives:

  • Maximize profits by maximizing Share (global currency) transactions
  • Render shared use of products and services (the “assets”) on ShareAll system as habitual as making standard purchases
  • Encourage asset sustainability across local and global communities

Justifying a gamification approach to meet these business objectives: A gamified web site and matching mobile app would be an ideal way to accomplish these objectives.  It would offer:

Motivation: It would offer extrinsic value to participants in terms of free or discounted access to desired products and services, and other tangible and intangible system rewards as noted below.  It would also intrinsic value by building a highly engaged local and global community with trusted relationships, a sense of personal autonomy and competence, paired with relatedness and shared commitment to sustainability and helping others.

Meaningful Choices: The site/app will offer a variety of choices in assets, and how they can obtain and leverage them, as well as choice in how they access the site (pc, tablet, smartphone), appealing to the widest audience possible.

Structure:  We can use the “rules” of the system functionality we design to promote and reinforce the desired transactional and sustainability behaviors.

Potential Conflicts:  ShareAll has no conflicts with other rewards structures, giving us complete freedom to design a system maximizing both profits and sustainability.

2) Delineating target behaviors:  

  • Habitual generating of new Shares by sharing or trading assets
  • Habitual spending of Shares to use others’ assets
  • Habitual earning of Shares by volunteering time
  • Enhancing Reputation on site over time to encourage longtime use
  • Habitual participation in social/recreational site elements to deepen community involvement
  • Regularly enlisting new participants via influencer marketing

The key here is to encourage habitual behaviors, steadily increasing ShareAll profits through earning, trading and spending Shares.  Specific success factors (for example: a certain number of transactions/month, total transaction value/month, community projects completed/month, etc.) will be defined by ShareAll.  We can validate that the behaviors are manifested and contributing to ShareAll’s objectives by tracking analytical data including: logins, DAU/MAU, virality, activity volume, successful referrals, social interactions, and more.  Participants know they are doing well by number of Shares, points/badges/leaderboard, and Reputation ratings earned (as well as by how much fun they’re having!).  They can also track communal accomplishments via statistics like overall emissions reductions (shared vehicles), carbon footprint savings, cost savings compared to non-collaborative consumption sites, and more TBD with ShareAll.

3) Describing participants (players):

Demographics: Since ShareAll is a marketplace for all asset types, there is no limit to your target audience (other than local legal age restrictions).

Psychographics:  We’ll appeal to all four basic aspects of participant motivation.  Examples:

Compete:  Earn points to unlock more levels, earn merit badges, and leaderboard standings based on number and types of assets shared, assets leveraged, and participants helped/expertise demonstrated.

Collaborate: Share opinions and solutions with neighbors in posts and chat rooms.  Weekly community challenge of a real-world problem from anywhere on the globe: invite participants in teams of three or more neighbors to devise a sharing-based solution leveraging site assets.  ShareAll picks best proposed solution, posts congratulatory article on the site’s Helping Hand page about how team partnered to create their solution, and contributes toward implementing the proposed solution.

Explore: Site prompts participants with suggestions for exploring sharing new asset types and new ways to volunteer, based on their profiles and activity pattern.

Express:  Award points for donating original music, art, and avatars to the global neighborhood for customizing neighbor profile pages.  Earn points and enhance Reputation by contributing helpful comments and suggestions on posts, “voting up” helpful answers from others, and volunteering.

4) Devising activity loops

We’ll leverage Engagement Loops and Progression Loops to onboard participants quickly and keep them coming back regularly.

Engagement Loop examples:

  • Site invites registration and promises “Your first share is free!”  Participant creates profile, and is automatically awarded a “New Neighbor” badge, Share currency for a first transaction, encouragement to make their first transaction, and an asset search and listing window on ShareMarket page (described below).  Participant completes first transaction, immediately receives a new Share and Neighbor Points, plus information on points needed for next badge/level, along with a high-level notation of sustainability impact and encouragement to continue making transactions.
  • Each login, site offers fields to search for or offer assets.  On completing any Share transaction, “Congratulations” message praises participant, notes any Shares/points/badge earned so far, encourages progress to next level, and offers search/listing fields again.

Progression Loops:  Over time, Participants grow along two feedback-based Reputation paths:

  • Sharing Path (transactional feedback): from “New Sharer” to “Share Buddy” to “Super Sharer” to “Share Master.”
  • Hero Path (volunteering/community assistance feedback): graduating from “New Neighbor” to “Good Neighbor” to “Great Neighbor” to “Neighborhood Hero” (mentor).

5)  Don’t Forget the Fun!

To encourage habitual site usage, we’ll incorporate multiple Fun types (Easy, Hard, People, Serious), employing principles of positive psychology, for example:

  • Appealing visual design, customizable site colors and profile page, original music, images and avatars shared by participants
  • Point, badge collecting, leaderboard, and level system
  • Chat rooms for socializing
  • Team problem-solving opportunities for social causes
  • Surprise, time-limited sharing-themed challenges with special rewards

6) Deploying Appropriate Tools

Here are examples of elements for deploying this gamified web site and mobile app strategy:

Public pages, including:

  • “About Us” page: While for-profit, ShareAll’s mission is to encourage communal good by making sharing assets (sustainability) a default behavior locally and globally.  Narrative metaphor: Global Neighborhood.  Participants register as “neighbors”.
  • “Success Stories” page displays recent posts, photos, and videos of ShareAll participants and their sharing and sustainability successes around the world.
  • FAQs page answers common questions and encourages visitors to register for their first free Share.
  • “How ShareAll Works” page explains:
    • Easily share, trade, or “buy” access to any Products or Services on site using Shares as currency.
    • Generate Shares (with small per-transaction fees) by sharing assets, and volunteering time.  Option to convert Shares to cash (at much lower value, encouraging Share retention for transactions, and maintaining sharing focus).  Option to buy Shares if needed.
    • Reputation: Sharing Path and Hero Path (as detailed above)
    • Other Rewards: bonus points for every X transactions (10, 25, 50, 75, 100, etc.), and for every month of minimum transaction activity (example: 5 transactions) on site. Bonus points awarded randomly each month to one participant in leaderboard top ten.
    • Members-only pages, including:
    • Neighbor Profile page: Award Share (enabling first transaction) for registering on site (option to use Facebook, Google, or Twitter login) and completing simple profile, including name, city/country (not street address), hobbies, interests, and favorite charities.  Option to view other profiles listing same charity, and a listing of other registered neighbors in participant’s geographic neighborhood group.  Profile Progress Bar shows % completed.  Extra points: uploading personal photo instead of system avatar.  Welcome message generated on completion also offers asset search/listing window to encourage transaction.  Activity Stream feed shows recent activity from neighbors friended/followed on site, and a Social Graph provides a comparative overview with your neighbors.  Tell-A-Neighbor program offers 1 Share for influencer marketing leading to each new registration.  Ability to share accomplishment updates via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    • Dashboard: Visible on all pages; option to place on top, bottom, right, or left of screen.  Shows total Shares in participant’s account, pending requests to use that participant’s assets, sharing offers matching participant’s own request(s), recent transaction history, points and badges earned, leaderboard status (with easy opt-out), and Reputation path status.
    • ShareMarket page: Easily search for or post assets, and create asset requests.  Points for adding helpful comments; option to “vote up” others’ comments
    • Helping Hand page: Points for participants posting sharing opportunities for charitable good, both in local and global neighborhoods.  Posting of weekly global sharing challenge contest sponsored by ShareAll.  Postings of questions and answers from other neighbors.
    • “Grapevine” Chat Rooms page: Registered neighbors chat in any topic room to encourage community; Randomly-selected daily “Neighbor Profile Spotlight”.
    • “Express Yourself!” Gallery page: Neighbors earn points sharing their own original music,  images, and avatars, and for each time neighbors use them on their own profiles.

I recommend a Pilot period (example: 3-6 months) with a select number of neighborhoods around the globe to obtain and study a representative set of actual system usage/behavioral data, and survey feedback to determine what best motivates participants to make transactions and encourages sustainability.  We would then adjust the system and launch it to the general public.  Remember that running such a site is an organic, growing process.  Details of rewards/levels system may need to evolve with the active population to keep the site fresh and continue to meet the stated business objectives.  Also, based on name and branding recognition, we should consider pursuing an ongoing celebrity endorsement from (pardon the pun) Cher!

Peer Feedback on My Submission:

As with the two prior assignments, each submission is graded anonymously by five randomly-selected peer students.  All five of my graders gave me the top score of “5” yet again for this final assignment.  And here is their written feedback (again, one left no written feedback):

peer 2 → Good description. Covered multiple aspects of the gamified system and all the key elements have been incorporated. Good work!
peer 3 → Tools
peer 4 → Excellent all around – I am sure it is one of the best. “Award points for donating original music, art, and avatars to the global neighborhood” – That is a great IDEA!!!!- it hits a loophole in the current intellectual rights system and the loophole should be exploited more.
peer 5 → Excellent writing assignment. This student clearly demonstrated understanding of the concepts taught in the class and presented them well. I liked the last paragraph which proposed a short term pilot period and even a touch of humor about the celebrity endorsement. (Which is actually not a bad idea if you could actually get Cher!) It was so thoughtful and well done that I’m guessing this student writes proposals for a living. 🙂

Once again, I really appreciate all the great feedback I received from my peers in this excellent course.  And, no, I don’t write proposals for a living, but I’ll take the compliment!  If you have interest in exploring how Gamification might enhance your own projects, I would urge you strongly to check on Coursera to see when Professor Werbach is offering the next session of this terrific, thought-provoking course.  And if you’d like to talk about how you can incorporate subtle elements of Gamification in your eLearning and classroom training, get in touch with me.  There are so many possibilities.