Gamification Model Canvas Framework. Evolution. Part 2/2

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This is the second part of the article about our research on the evolution of the Gamification Model Canvas framework (GMC) by Sergio JimĂ©nez. On the previous post -that you can read here– motivation theories and behavior change models were reviewed in order to set common topics with the GMC, then to generate a model for player profiling support the Canvas didn’t have.

In this second part of the article we worked in new hypothesis for an analysis framework of player profiling and motivations thanks to the overlapping of both the revision of psychological models and the GMC. This, in turn, allows us to generate a functional hypothesis to improve the player profiling processes and also new intuitive tips for decision making for the following layers of any gamification project with GMC: dynamics, aesthetics, components and mechanics.

What are you going to find in this article?

  • Different attempts to connect the conclusions from the analysis about the motivational models with the GMC
  • Introduction to final motivation-GMC model, that we call FPS which is the main engine for our approach to a gamification framework
  • Functional Hypothesis to modify and improve the GMC
  • Some general conclusions about the research
Gamification World Congress Canvas Workshop
Attendees using Gamification Canvas Evolution Prototype during the workshop at Gamification World Congress 2015. Pic by @Considiom

Evolution 1:
Player profiling and decision support model on sequential Gamification Model Canvas’ layers (Aesthetics, Dynamics and Components). Part 2 of 2

1. Hypothesis for a Users-Motivations Analysis Framework

Following the steps in the analysis and construction of a users-motivations framework are explained. This framework is called FPS (Fogg Persona System).

1.1 Progression Based on Motivation Theories

Thanks to a remix of different theories and models of motivation we analyzed above it is possible to generate a gamification feedback or tactics model. It is impossible to categorically affirm these motivation theories and models are wrong or right but acceptable depending on the case or in contrast to user’s desires or circumstanses (from extrinsic to intrinsic)

If we state the extrinsic appeals to our most basic desires, that is, to achieve the most basic and instinctive needs (rewards, won objects, feeding, immediate pleasure, etc.) and in the other hand the intrinsic appeals to relationships with others and with ourselves (the gift, the care, self-improvement), maybe we could also be capable to stablish a scale of user types and motivations thanks to the previously the analyzed theories.

Gamification-Motivation Model 1
Image 1. First approach: If we take into account the different motivation theories we can stablish both links with proactive learning paths (from newbie to designer) and triggers related to previous motivators, this way the user could accomplish with the behaviors set by the Initiator
1.2. FBM (Fogg Behavior Model) Based

An hypothesis of user analysis in gamification based on Fogg’s model would follow the following steps:

1. To analyze the simplicity/difficulty elements to face
2. To analyze the motivation parameters where the user lays (aesthetics)
3. To select which triggers (mechanics) would be the most appropriate to drive the behavior change

This approach poses certain challenges, especially if we want to transcend as a continuous model instead of a discrete one, that is, to analyze the timing and rhythm of user interaction with the gamified platform on any phase or state. This would also include the difficulty balancing to create low states / engagement with the gamified experience and the trigger elements to use in order to connect with motivations and aesthetics.

The integration with the Model Canvas is still pending: It remains to be resolved the link between triggers and the gamification setup itself. The canvas defines the aesthetics with 8 motivators (without any taxonomy to help us in decision-making process) which are easy to be mistaken with dynamics. FBM defines three levels of motivators depending on the user’s response range and its hierarchy.

Gamification Model Canvas:
Objectives/Revenues > Users > [Behaviors] > Aesthetics > Dynamics > [Mechanics]

Gamification Basic Flow

Fogg Behavior Model:
Type of Behaviors > Simplicity > Motivators > Triggers

Fogg's Behavior Model

A plausible integration solution would be adding the behavior type analysis (point, lapse and path) and the simplicity/complexity into the behaviors stage of the Canvas as well as pairing motivators to aesthetics, generating this way a taxonomy of aesthetics related to different motivation hierarchies.

Finally, gamification have to create some mechanics with components acting as triggers of dynamics closely related to the simplicity analysis in the behaviors stage. This way a user would be defined not exclusively by its own motivators (intrinsic) but also by its simplicity circumstances (extrinsic)

1.3 Persona Model

According to Talia Wolf in an article for TNW News “a persona is an identify that reflects one or more of the user groups you are designing for. A particular project may have one single persona, or several personas that you are trying to design for […] A persona defines the use case and needs to be developed by conducting interviews, surveys, user testing, user research, and other activities.”

Persona UX Design Model is a method used in gamification to design for a target user . After 30 years of videogames industry, genres emerges generating their own user types, that is the reason why actually Bartle’s categories appear mixed in games which allow to explore, to socialize, to win and to achieve goals, all balanced by the actions of the user itself. Despite videogames are still based on a core genre (strategy, role, adventure, etc.), usually are also flexible enough to let users reflect their own sub particularities by playing them.

Bartle’s Model (1996) has been interpreted and remixed by some interesting authors, maybe one of the most important innovators on the field of user profiling and gamification is Andrezj Marczewski. Marczewski introduces a Z axis of motivations (from intrinsic to extrinsic) into Bartle’s profiles in order to complement the X axis (from acting to interacting) and the Y axis (from users to system).

Marczewski's 8 types of gamification users
Image 3. Marczewski’s 8 types of gamification users according to a third axis of intrinsic and extrinsic and based on Bartle’s taxonomy. Source:

Even though the current Marczewski’s model contains an annex for disruptor users we would like to keep focused on the most basic profiles. According to Marczewski, users are divided in two big groups defined by this new Z axis, extrinsic and intrinsic motivated users, as follows:

  • Intrinsic side:
    • Philanthropists
    • Achievers
    • Free Spirits
    • Socializers
  • Extrinsic side:
    • Self Seekers
    • Consumers
    • Exploiters
    • Networkers

Marczewski’s model doesn’t stablish any scale between the ends of the cube sides (see illustration no 3) depending on a possible degree of motivation but depending on users’ willingness to act or interact with other users or with the system (following Bartle’s).

A persona model is needed in gamification to design more seductive (in Fogg’s term) mechanics, that in turn generates dynamics to impact in user/players’ motivations. However these models usually remain static, that is, they don’t walk with the user in its own progress from the very first states of the interaction/action and how dynamics and aesthetics influence the motivations and simplicity conditions of the user. If the gamification cycle is short, these models could work properly, on the other hand it could cause effectiveness decreasing.

Our opinion is motivators and profiles are not linked forever. It is more interesting to deeply review the different modularities between the different extremes (from extrinsic to extrinsic) and how the motivations work over the user’s decisions of act/interact.

Revision of Marczewski’s and Bartle's models
Image 4. Example of different motivations for a same kind of profile (Explorer) according to our revision of Bartle’s and Marczewski’s models

Following Foog’s motivation model instead of assigning a role to a certain type of motivation, we have preferred to assign a type of action to some motivations, giving the initiator (the gamification experience designer) the option to generate different triggers and therefore mechanics for one or more users. In the example shown in Illustration 1, a user could be an “explorer” for different motives ranging from the extrinsic (to find food) to the intrinsic (to feel the beauty of travelling) or a combination of both.

In our particular Persona model, groups can’t be closed or encapsulated elements and neither we can assign fixed/immovable roles (explorer, consumer, achiever, etc.) to specific motivations, but rather to check why a specific dynamic has been generated and what relations has got with different motivations.

1.4. Model FPS (Fogg Persona System)

Our final model for a user profile analyses integrates both Fogg’s simplicity elements, motivations and also Self-realization theory and a vertical scale of progress of the user or group of users (Persona model) following both Amy Jo Kim and Kurt Squire ideas of “The Player’s Journey”

We incorporated this progress scale because we think one of gamification frameworks’ more common mistakes is not to analyze the user as one with evolution capabilities, the gamification processes almost ever are circumscribed to point or lapse behavior change types, but not to path or trajectories.

We understand in the majority of cases gamification campaigns are sort and a long term behavior change is not the purpose, in any case it is needed to take into account that according to “player’s journey” mature users can be used as leaders for new users and as encouragers for long term engagement.

High productive and short range engagement occurs initially –according to Fogg- by an overwhelming and short term seduction appealing to our more extrinsic motivations independently of the action or dynamic (to explore, to socialize etc.). These actions or dynamics can be related to different motivations, that is, the same action/dynamic can not be necessarily connected to a particular personality or profile (extrinsic or intrinsic) but to a profile with a different level of motivations that will execute the action/dynamic according to its own interests (which can be extrinsic, intrinsic or part of both) at the time.

Fogg Persona Model Engine
Image 5. Final Overlapping Model. Fogg-Persona Model Engine is where all Fogg’s Behavior Model, Persona concept, Player’s journey and Self-Realization theories converge to give us the map/engine to set a new and better gamification framework

2. Functional Hypothesis for a Players > Aesthetics > Dynamics relationships framework

Below we present the changes related to the Gamification Model Canvas according to our conclusions obtained during the research. Changes affect the following canvas layers: Players, Aesthetics, Dynamics and Components.

2.1. The GMC Level index

Thanks to the FPS Model (see Image no. 5) we have realized there is a need for an index of user’s engagement/involvement according to how extrinsic or intrinsic its motivations. This “extrinsicity – intrinsicity index” is the result of mixing Fogg’s motivators (pleasure/pain, hope/fear, rejection/acceptance/self-realization) and Maslow’s motivators (physiological-safety-Love-belonging-esteem) as we can see on Image 7 on the previous article.

This index is represented as a visual element on each card in order to help decision making processes (not exclusive) allowing us to determine the best compatibility among the rest of the Canvas’ layers (simplicity, aesthetics, dynamics and components). This index we call Gamification Model Canvas Level or GMC_Level and has three levels: Low, Medium and High acting as a very helpful visual tooltip to connect every step of the gamification process.

FPS Model and Gamification Model Canvas Level
Image 6. Relationship between the FPS Gamification Engine and Gamification Model Canvas Level
2.2. Players (Tipology and Evolution)

Reflecting the progress of the user/player within the gamified experience and according to “hero’s journey” we find three basic types of users: newbie, master and designer with different roles according to their relation to the system. Each relationship depends on the expectation placed upon the system, the emotions obtained and options for interactions.

On the other hand and following Bartle/Marcezwski’s ideas we added the user’s typologies related to personality and how the personality is reflected within the game system or gamified project. As we observed Marczewski pointed this depends on how extrinsic/intrinsic players’ motivations are.

From both models complementary hypothesis have been made which help the user profiling according to its engagement and evolution within the system combined with user personalities. For the Canvas we would like to emphasize that one of the most important innovations is the fact we consider the user/player not like an static one but one who is circumscribed into the “player’s Journey”, that is, walking a path and evolving its relationship with the system and at the same time its own interests and personality. In this way a “newbie” user could develop “killer” skills and in the future develop “achiever” skills as a more engaged into the system “master” user.

Gamification Model Canvas Players profiling hypothesis
Image 7. Functional Hypothesis for Players Profiling in Gamification Model Canvas
2.3. Simplicity

Fogg’s theories highlight the “elements of simplicity” as having a strong impact on the behavior change acceptance and for us that means that they also have an important role into the behavior change acceptance during the gamified experience. These elements have also been turned into cards and labeled according to their corresponding “GMC_Level”.

Our elements of simplicity corresponding to Fogg’s are:
Time, economics, physical exertion, brain cycles, non-routines, social deviation and a new one we called “break the ice”.

It is needed to analyze the elements of simplicity for each type of user/player in our gamified experience design process in order to find out the best solution in each case. It is important to know users/players motivations but it is also important to know their problems and obstacles to change their behaviors.

Gamification Model CanvasSimplicity elements analysis hypothesis
Image 8. Functional Hypothesis for Simplicity elements analysis in Gamification Model Canvas
2.4. Aesthetics

In the Gamification Model Canvas the aesthetics are the main motivators. These aesthetic experiences act as emotional rewards in an order of preexisting motivators or propensities from the user/player side. What the player obtains from the match between what is needed to feel satisfied (desires) and what is offered (triggers), that is aesthetics.

Users’ aesthetics cards are also part of the “GMC_Level” index, that is why there are lower level aesthetics (related with Pleasure/Pain) and higher level ones (related to socialization or self-realization).

Depending on the case each aesthetic experience card is also marked or tagged with a user/player types code (according to Player Profiling hypothesis’ tokens as you can see on Image 7). These recommendations are not based on any mathematic/empiric method but the result of our own previous experiences in gamification and workshops with the Canvas framework. This way there are aesthetics as “Challenge” that relates well with killers, achievers and self-seekers. This visual help is not exclusive, that is, a gamificator has the free will to take the risk of assigning an Aesthetic to a different profile and obtain optimal results.

Gamification Model Canvas Aesthetics Layer hypothesis
Image 9: Three example cards from the Functional Hypothesis for Aesthetic Layer in Gamification Model Canvas
2.5. Dynamics

Dynamics are actions, verbs the users/players will want to do in order to get the desired aesthetics. Because they are actions we decided to remove the timeless nominative designations from the original Canvas cards replacing them with expressions of actions (verbalized) in order to express a more dynamic event the user/player is involved in.

For example, card named “status” becomes “to make grow the status” because it is a dynamic where the user/player participates actively. At this phase of the gamification we don’t know yet how to achieve it but we are interested in trying to encourage the user/player to take time and effort to make his status grow within the system. This could lead to new cards and tokens, connecting some elements (as status) with actions (to make grow, protect, etc.) in further reviews.

Dynamics also have got tags related to the different user/player profiles depending on their motivational mature level.

Gamification Model Canvas Dynamics Layer hypothesis
Image 10. Three example cards from the Functional Hypothesis for Dynamics Layer in Gamification Model Canvas
2.6. Components

In the Gamification Model Canvas components are elements which combined generate the mechanics of our gamified experience. Just as the rest of layers and graphical aids, we have introduced the same indexes and tags for the components, also generating a new use hypothesis when the previous layers have been set.

Gamification Model Canvas Components Layer hypothesis
Image 11: Three example cards from the Functional Hypothesis for Components Layer in Gamification Model Canvas

3. Conclusions

In order to resolve the confrontation “user” versus “initiator” where initiator is the starter actor who desires to change user’s behaviors through Gamification, it is needed to review and contrast the existing different theories and models of motivation. The conclusions of a preliminary analysis of at least three of them drive us to point:

  1. Fogg emphasizes that it is not possible to motivate or demotivate, for this reason Fogg prefers to use the verb “to seduce” instead of “to motivate”. This seduction is possible thanks to what he calls “triggers”. In gamification we can also use Game Mechanics (which can act as triggers) which, at the same time, produce dynamics, which produce aesthetics, which appeal to user’s motivations at the same time they could act as facilitators over the elements of simplicity.
  2. In most cases gamification frameworks don’t take into account the aspects which difficult the behavior change. In Fogg’s framework these aspects are called “elements of simplicity” and are very important in order to help us seduce users as their own motivations.
  3. It is extremely complex to categorize users into groups (Persona) of identical “doers” but it is possible to categorize users into levels of immersion and personal development within a gamified system (from newbie to master for example). This is why we find categorizing systems excessively hermetic and static, even when some authors point that a user could have some facets from different categories these categories are not absolute, that means a user could have got different percentages from different categories and this could evolve over time.
  4. Beyond categories, it is more important for us to know the user motivations, however it is impossible to know them in advance. Usually a gamified ecosystem is designed according to designer’s intuition and thereby it should raise possibilities of action variables and analysis capacities of answers in order to determine what motivates a user during its gamification life cycle during, thus progressively modify triggers and mechanics to continue influencing these motivations and also on the elements of simplicity.
  5. To categorize a user type as extrinsic or intrinsic doesn’t response the complexity of the motivation behind. Why do we say this? A user might act as an explorer by at least four different motives, by reacting to extrinsic or intrinsic interests indifferently. Also, to categorize a user as one or another type doesn’t reflect the natural plasticity of motivations that he could exhibit depending on the mood or circumstances at the time. That is why in order to design our gamification we should ask ourselves: Which triggers and dynamics do we offer to the user to encourage them to connect to their different motivations and to avoid the elements of simplicity acting on them? Instead of asking: What can we do for an explorer user? Or, in what range of motivations can we intervene within an exploration dynamic?
  6. We propose a FPS model (Fogg+Persona System) to analyze possible user’s motivations and elements of simplicity according to the desired behavior changes, the state of the user according to its relationship with the system, the elements of simplicity, the possible motivators and how to intervene in the two last ones.
Gamification Model Canvas v2.0. Player Profiling. PDF Version
Gamification Model Canvas. 2.0 version. Player Profiling by
PDF Version

4. Work Done

Several lines of thought related to motivation and user profiling have been analyzed. Among these there are some motivation theories as Incentive, Drive Reduction, Arousal and Humanistic theory, the Fogg Behavior Model and the Pyramid of Needs by Maslow. Also Bartle’s and Marczewski’s User Types have been reviewed that served as the basis for testing different types of user/action types with the motivations scale.

*Some of the ideas to produce an accessible and complete new version of the Gamification Model Canvas Tool Kit is to set a Crowdfunding Campaign. If you are interested on this initiative, please contact us through: Linkedin, Twitter or Where we are section or leave us your data in the following form. Thanks a lot!!

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