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(Below is a snippet of Gamification Book: Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. If you want this weblog put up, you’ll LOVE the e book.)

The eighth Core Drive of Octalysis Gamification

For a video walk-through, take a look at: Episode 17, Loss & Avoidance

Loss and Avoidance is the eighth and remaining core drive in my Octalysis Framework. It motivates by means of the concern of dropping one thing or having undesirable occasions transpire.

An idea inside many widespread video games is to remain alive with a view to advance to the following spherical. Depending on the sport’s design, dying or injuring your character signifies that you’re now pressured to start out over or lose one thing important – be it cash, cash, the variety of lives you might have, or different setbacks that make it tougher to succeed in the Win-State.

This aversion in the direction of loss is clearly not restricted to video games. There are many conditions in the actual world the place we act based mostly on concern of dropping one thing that represents our funding of time, effort, cash, or different sources. To protect our ego and sense of self, Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance generally manifests itself by means of our refusal to surrender and admit that every little thing we’ve got completed up so far has been rendered ineffective.

Even new alternatives which might be perceived as fading away can exhibit a type of Loss & Avoidance. If folks don’t act instantly on this momentary alternative, they really feel like they’re dropping the prospect to behave without end.

A standard instance may be seen within the coupons that arrive usually within the mail. Let’s say you obtain a coupon that offers you a ten% low cost to a preferred chain retailer that you haven’t any curiosity in visiting, and the coupon is labeled to run out on February twelfth.

Your mind could also be completely sure that, in the event you let the coupon expire, the very subsequent month you’ll obtain the very same coupon that expires on March twelfth. But you would possibly get an annoying feeling that you’re by some means dropping one thing in the event you don’t use the coupon earlier than the expiration date. Rationally it shouldn’t matter, however you might be compelled to consider the provide a bit of extra. As a end result, you turn into a bit extra more likely to go to the shop for a reduction that you could be not really care about.

Cropping your Losses in Farmville

Many social video games successfully make use of Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance to encourage gamers in the direction of taking the Desired Actions. In the now acquainted instance of Farmville, if we take a look at the early a part of their onboarding stage, we are able to see that avoidance design was already built-in into the system, inducing customers to “log in” a number of instances every day.

The first couple of minutes of Farmville appears very optimistic because the participant spends time creating their avatar and begins engaged on their farm with an preliminary pool of free *Farm Cash*. However, Farmville quickly calls for that every participant keep their crops and livestock by means of routine farming chores – principally within the type of coming again and clicking on the crops and livestock to reap their merchandise.

If you don’t return to reap your harvest inside a given variety of hours, as decided by the crops’ profiles (you’ll be able to select which crop to plant, which performs into Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback), you’ll lose your invested exhausting work and be proven demoralizing photographs of crops withering and dying. This mildly miserable incident upsets the consumer, compelling them to log again in regularly to maintain their crops alive. The participant turns into proactively concerned in avoiding this unfavourable consequence.

Gamification Farmville Dead Crops

When gamers lose their crops, it not solely prices them Farm Cash to exchange but in addition their time, as they must replant and keep new crops once more. Each time you see the discouraging photographs of lifeless crops, you might be hit with the triple whammy of getting misplaced your time, effort, and sources.

Many years in the past I used to be astonished at how efficient this design might be, as my know-how abhorrent mom instantly grew to become obsessive about enjoying Farmville. Back then, my mom was the kind of one that thinks that know-how is a supply of evil that’s polluting society and crippling genuine relationships; she nonetheless barely checks her e mail.

But in 2009, attributable to her shut pal’s enthusiastic advice – a pleasant instance of Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness, my mom signed up on Facebook and began to play Farmville. The starting of the Onboarding part was easy and enjoyable, as she used the sport to chill out her thoughts and join along with her mates.

However, after a number of months of enjoying, my mom would generally get up at 5:00am within the morning merely to reap her crops and forestall them from withering. It grew to become so dangerous that when my mom wanted to journey out of city, she would name up my cousin and ask if he may log into her Facebook account and assist handle her farm. She wanted to ensure her crops didn’t die. (Though she additionally used to ask me, being a son that was missing in “{chinesefont}孝{latinfont}” as mentioned in Chapter 5, I ultimately deferred the accountability so I may give attention to my “other” essential work).

At the time, this blew my thoughts. I initially thought the rationale for most individuals to play video games was as a result of they’d too many tasks in the actual world and wanted to immerse themselves right into a fantasy world to flee these tasks. However, right here you might have a model new set of digital tasks that add on much more stress and anxiousness to every day life. It didn’t make any sense.

Of course, at present I perceive the character and energy of Black Hat Motivation. For a time frame, Farmville was capable of efficiently enhance its Daily Active Users Metrics and decrease short-term turnover with the sort of Loss & Avoidance design. That is, till customers hit a “Black Hat Rebound,” the place they ultimately burn out and discover the braveness to pursue freedom outdoors of Farmville.

Flipping different Core Drives Off

Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance enhances most of the different Core Drives for an fascinating purpose: usually it manifests because the reversal of the opposite Core Drives. You don’t need one thing greater than your self to collapse (Core Drive 1), therefore you act; otherwise you don’t need to appear to be a loser in entrance of your pals (Core Drive 5), therefore you make a purchase order.

Some could argue that this doesn’t represent a separate Core Drive. As an instance, critics would possibly level out that persons are pushed again to Farmville as a result of they need to really feel a way of accomplishment or possession and that the lack of both feeling is just the elimination of those drives. However, from a design standpoint, it is very important take into account Loss & Avoidance as its personal Core Drive.

This is as a result of gaining one thing and stopping a loss is extremely completely different from the standpoint of motivation. Studies have proven time and again that we’re more likely to vary our habits to keep away from a loss than to make a acquire. It forces us to behave in a different way and performs by completely different psychological guidelines. In reality, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman signifies that on common, we’re twice as loss-averse in comparison with in search of a acquire. This signifies that we generally tend to solely tackle a danger if we believed the potential acquire could be double the potential loss if the danger had been realized.

Through utilizing the Octalysis Framework, this differentiation improves behavioral design by particularly figuring out alternatives to combine proactive loss-avoidance mechanics that generate a extra refined set of motivational dynamics.

A Caveat: Avoiding the Avoidance

One caveat in utilizing Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance is that the consumer should know *precisely* what they need to do to stop the undesirable occasion from occurring. As talked about in Chapter 10 on Scarcity & Impatience, if a loss-focused message is just there by itself, however it isn’t intuitively apparent what the consumer must do, it usually backfires – the Core Drive 8 turns into an Anti Core Drive and the consumer goes into denial mode. The mind irrationally concludes, “Since I don’t know how to deal with it, it’s probably not that big of a problem anyway.” *Status Quo Sloth*, which we’ll find out about later on this chapter, then dominates over the motivation in the direction of loss-prevention.

A examine completed by well being researchers Howard Leventhal, Robert Singer, and Susan Jones requested college students to learn pamphlets that describe the hazards of tetanus an infection. There had been three teams of scholars within the experiment: the primary group acquired the warning pamphlet, however with out clear steps to stop tetanus infections. The second group acquired the warning pamphlet together with a selected plan in the direction of arranging a tetanus injection (a *set off* in the direction of the Desired Actions). The final group acquired the precise plan in the direction of arranging a tetanus injection, however didn’t obtain the high-fear warning pamphlet.

As you would possibly count on, solely the group that acquired *each* the high-fear warning pamphlet *and* the plan in the direction of the treatment grew to become extremely motivated to tackle the Desired Action. As talked about in Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment, we solely need to act if it makes us really feel good. If the consumer feels confused (therefore silly) when fascinated with what to do concerning this potential risk, they might somewhat simply dismiss it altogether as a substitute of feeling incompetent over it.

As cleverly put by Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin, and Robert Cialdini, maybe President Franklin Roosevelt’s well-known quote must be amended into, “the only thing we have to fear is fear *by* itself”.

Game Techniques in Loss and Avoidance

You have discovered extra concerning the motivational and psychological nature of Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance, however to make it extra actionable, I’ve included some Game Techniques beneath that closely make the most of this Core Drive to have interaction customers.

Rightful Heritage (Game Technique #46)

A standard sport method that makes use of Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance is one thing I name the *Rightful Heritage.* This is when a system first makes a consumer imagine one thing rightfully belongs to them (keep in mind expectations matter loads?), after which makes them really feel like will probably be taken away in the event that they don’t commit the Desired Action.

The Rightful Heritage sport method can generally be carried out in a easy phrase change. Have you ever been on a web site, the place you click on round earlier than you come upon the conversion web page (“sign-up” or “purchase”), after which see some provide that reads, “Purchase now and instantly get a 20% discount!” or “Sign-up now to receive 3000 free credits”? Often, we dismiss these gives as gimmicky, and a poor attraction to Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession, so we ignore them.

However, some websites combine sport methods into the expertise by harnessing our loss aversion tendencies. Imagine as you click on round a web site, there’s a little popup widget that claims, “Great! Your actions have earned you 500 credits!” As you click on on extra locations, it’ll proceed to say, “Great! Your actions have earned you 1500 credits!” Finally, whenever you get onto the touchdown web page, the textual content reads, “You now have 3000 credits. Sign-up to save your credits for later!”

Even although that is the very same end result as “Sign-up now to receive 3000 free credits,” the expertise design makes signing up really feel extra compelling. Previously, the effort of signing up didn’t justify the 3000 credit, however now it seems like you might have “earned” these credit out of your “hard work” of clicking across the web site and the thought of dropping what you might have rightfully obtained feels absurd. As a end result, there’s a a lot greater likelihood of you signing up.

Evanescent Opportunities (Game Technique #86) and Countdown Timers (Game Technique #65)

An Evanescent Opportunity is a chance that may disappear if the consumer doesn’t take the Desired Action instantly. One of the largest sensations within the sport *Diablo III* is a bit of monster referred to as a *Treasure Goblin*. The Treasure Goblin is an enemy creature that seems randomly, however runs away when being attacked as a substitute of attacking the participant. With a major quantity of Hit Points (HP, well being, or life), gamers will all rush to assault the Treasure Goblin because it runs away. Defeating the Treasure Goblin will generally (however not usually) lead to nice treasures. However, if the Treasure Goblin shouldn’t be defeated inside a sure timeframe, it’ll soar right into a portal and disappear.

In the actual world, each limited-time provide that forces you to determine whether or not to purchase the product or lose the provide without end makes use of this Game Technique. Used automotive salespeople like to let you know, “Look, I just had the biggest argument with my boss about how if you got the car at a deal like this today, you would be so happy that you would become a lifetime loyal customer. That finally convinced him! I couldn’t believe it! Now, of course there’s no real pressure for you to actually become a lifetime customer, but you have to take the deal today. If you walk away, I guarantee you my boss will quickly come to his right senses again and change his mind.”

You snicker as a result of you realize the ways automotive salespeople use and routinely put up a psychological guard in opposition to them. But what about charity fundraisers? “We just got a generous donor that said for every dollar we collect in the next hour, he will match it! Your donation dollar will serve double the impact!”

Evanescent Opportunities encourage us to behave rapidly for concern of dropping an excellent deal. Matching nicely with this system is the easy suggestions mechanic referred to as the *Countdown Timer*.

A Countdown Timer is a visible show that communicates the passage of time in the direction of a tangible occasion. Sometimes the Countdown Timer is to introduce the beginning of an excellent alternative, whereas at different instances it’s to indicate the tip of the chance.

Countdown Timers be certain that customers acknowledge the presence of the Evanescent Opportunity higher than a easy expiration date as a result of the consumer continuously sees the window of alternative narrowing, establishing a way of urgency within the course of. Intuitively for this function, Countdown Timers ought to show the smallest time interval that’s applicable (extra usually that not – seconds), as a substitute of displaying longer intervals akin to weeks or months.

Status Quo Sloth (Game Technique #85)

Sometimes Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance comes within the type of merely not wanting to vary your habits. I name this lazy tendency of behavioral inertia *Status Quo Sloth*.

Every infrequently, a startup entrepreneur will inform me, “Hey Yu-kai, there’s absolutely no reason why a customer wouldn’t use our product. We save them time, we save them money, and we make their lives better!” On fortunate events, even the shopper himself would say, “Yeah, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t use your product. It saves me time, it saves me money, and it makes my life better. I’ll definitely sign up tomorrow!”

For those that are skilled in launching new and modern merchandise, you would possibly acknowledge that the important thing phrase right here is “I’ll definitely sign up tomorrow.” More usually than not, the true which means of “tomorrow” is “never.” Not as a result of the individual isn’t being real, however attributable to the truth that with so many distractions in life, there merely received’t be sufficient motivation to carry out the Desired Action.

As expertise designers, our purpose is to construct Status Quo Sloth into the Endgame phases of our merchandise by creating extremely partaking exercise loops that permit the consumer to show Desired Actions into habits.

FOMO Punch (Game Technique #84)

On the opposite hand, with a view to counter the Status Quo Sloth that’s working in opposition to you, one thing I name the “FOMO Punch” may be carried out. FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out” and it’s trick is to use Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance in opposition to itself.

In life, we concern dropping what we’ve got, however we additionally concern dropping what we may have had. This concern of remorse, when prompted accurately, can penetrate by means of the behavioral inertia of Status Quo Sloth and set off the Desired Action.

When Steve Jobs needed to recruit Pepsi government John Sculley into Apple as the brand new CEO, he famously mentioned, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Boom! That was a strong FOMO Punch that prompted Sculley to assume he would miss out on the chance of a lifetime if he “wasted” the remainder of his profession at Pepsi. He later remembers, “I just gulped because I knew I would wonder for the rest of my life what I would have missed.” (Ironically, Sculley’s lasting legacy would doubtless be often known as the man who fired Steve Jobs and ran Apple into the bottom – only for Steve Jobs to return and resurrect).

As the context suggests, FOMO Punches may be very efficient within the Discovery Phase of an expertise when customers are attempting out a brand new expertise. In distinction, the Status Quo Sloth method performs an even bigger function within the Endgame part when the designer desires to maintain the veterans within the system.

The Sunk Cost Prison (Game Technique #50)

Perhaps essentially the most highly effective and generally treacherous mechanism inside Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance is what I name the Sunk Cost Prison. This happens whenever you make investments a lot time into one thing, that even when it’s not pleasant, you proceed to commit the Desired Actions since you don’t need to really feel the lack of giving up on every little thing.

Imagine a situation the place you performed a sport for a very long time and it begins to turn into boring and meaningless. You ask your self why you retain enjoying it, however subconsciously you notice that in the event you do stop the sport, you’ll really feel the ache of dropping on a regular basis, factors, currencies, standing, and customizations that you just’ve invested. Quitting will lead to that ugly sensation of admitting that you just really wasted tons of of hours that ended up changing into nothing.

As a end result, with a view to keep away from that miserable feeling of loss and vacancy, you as a substitute persuade your self to make use of that highly effective pristine sword to kill much more monsters, or faucet into the 2 million cash you’ve earned with all of your labor in an try and really feel superior once more. Eventually you make investments much more hours into the sport and construct up much more issues to lose. You turn into trapped in a lethal spiral, and it will possibly turn into fairly miserable.

From a design standpoint, in the event you be sure the consumer is accumulating – and is aware of that they’re accumulating – issues that shall be gone and wasted in the event that they go away your system, will probably be very troublesome for the consumer to depart throughout the Endgame.

Sunk Cost Prisons, although highly effective, adhere to the Black Hat rules of creating customers really feel uncomfortable. As such, they need to at all times be accompanied by White Hat Core Drives, (akin to permitting customers to acknowledge that they’re truly serving to the world they usually shouldn’t hand over the affect gathered to that time). These method ought to solely be employed when the consumer has a fast urge to depart the system, akin to being drawn to Black Hat Techniques utilized by different firms. (as an example, a particular “limited” promotion that the consumer *should* join.)


When you design your expertise, you must assume usually about what makes customers reluctant to let go and due to this fact keep in your system for longer.

Core Drive 8: The Big Picture

Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance is a strong motivator that’s bluntly utilized by all types of organizations and techniques. Core Drive 8 generates Black Hat outcomes akin to a excessive sense of urgency and obsession. However, within the long-run this places the consumer in a state of discomfort.

In many instances, Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance works hand-in-hand with Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience as a result of exclusivity and restricted gives usually come packaged with the anticipated concern of dropping that exclusivity or having that provide fade away. These two Core Drives don’t essentially must coexist although. For occasion, the Core Drive 6 sport strategy of Anchored Juxtaposition (the place you present customers two choices for finishing a Desired Action, a mixture of Core Drive 6 and three) doesn’t draw a lot energy from Loss & Avoidance.

Matched with Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity, the emotional concern of Core Drive 8 turns into magnified and much more crippling. Interestingly, Daniel Kahneman’s insightful *Fourfold Pattern* exhibits that, in low likelihood *loss* occasions, we turn into risk-averse to stop that small danger from occurring. However, in excessive likelihood loss occasions the place we’re pressured to decide on a sure (100%) loss, or a 90% likelihood to lose $200 and a ten% likelihood to lose nothing, we turn into risk-seeking and select the route the place we are able to foresee a glimmer of hope. After all, concern is what motivates us to remain alive, however hope is what many people finally dwell for.

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