Gamification in the Sharing Economy

13/05/2013 Door Rick Lindeman

This was the final assignment of the Gamification Course of the University of Pennsylvania) at Coursera (about which more here). I scored a 10 out of 10 so I wanted to share it with you.

You are approached by Rashmi Horenstein, the CEO of ShareAll, a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space. (If you aren’t familiar with the concept, some good resources are and the March 9, 2013 cover story in the Economist.) She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize business.  She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

1. Define business objectives.

Mr Horenstein wans to take her business to the next level using gamification. ShareAll’s business goals are profit and increasing social benefits of sustainability. Any gamification system should work towards these to goals. Profits are made through “sharing actions” (generating, trading spending supplies the fee the company gets). And the sharing actions are also leading to the social benefits of sustainability. Both goals thus are solved by more sharing actions.

When we look at the potential of gamification we can see how these interlinked goals could be served by gamification

Gamification has potential to change behaviour,  in this case people could be motivated to create a sharing habit . Something that they are not used to be doing. This will lead to more Share Action and thus works towards the goal.

It could also enhance the experience of sharing. Sharing itself will be more fun by getting feedback on the sharing proces. Futhermore, since you get feedback on other users, there will be less frustration on finding other users. This will lead to more sharing action as well. Furthermore you can see people using you shared tools, which enhances your experiences as well.

This is closely related to creating a community. With gamification you can get feedback on other users, and you see which other users have shared different tools a lot. This way you can get insights in what they might have. Furthermore you can see who you can trust with your special lawnmower. This will reduced the threshold of sharing and thus lead to more sharing. . This are related to the social aspects of why to gamify. According to Campbell Mithun (source ) Trust is the main barrier for adoption of the sharing economy.

The community effect also makes the choicers you make more meaning ful, you contribute to the community, something that fits in with the goal of increasing the social benefit of sustainability.

Gamification can also give the users a sense of progression, which might motify people to return more often keep on sharing and thus conteribute to the goals. This is one way of people feeling good about themselves. The combination with sustainability is another. by giving the persons feedback on the sustainable aspect of there sharing they will feel even better anmd proud, which can lead to there sharing of sharing behaviour, and thus increase the community and sharing actions. This increases the engagement with the product and philosofy of share all. This engagement can also be increased by the fun aspects stimulated by gamification. Like for example “The most hilarious sharing story of the month”, gets bonus shares.

From a business perspective it can be good too. The costs of gamification can be lower than traditional marketing. Furthermore, it might set you apart for your competitors. As the sharing economy is booming, new competitors spawn.

All those things will lead to more use, trade and generation of shares, and thus more income for the company.

2. Delineate target behaviors.

As seen above, in the end the goals are interlinked and achieved by more share actions. We thus need to increase the number of share actions. To reach this we need certain behavior to happen.

– existing users should share more items (measurement: amount of shared items), this leads to more fees to the company

– new users will can be attracted (e.g. through the existing users acting like ambsssadors) (measurement: increase users), as they will in turn share and deliver revenue. Existing users can get feedback (and shares) when they let someone join

– users should utilize the shares they gained more on the website (measure market capitilization of the shares), as that will lead to more interaction. And thus to higher trust.

– users will get an overview the things they have done and the levels they have reached on the site

– since one of the intrinsic motivations (see below) is to help the community, users should cooperate to make more complex shares possible.

– In similar vein, they should build relationships between them to increase the trust.

– users should be able to do tasks for each other, to increase trust and generate more shares.

– users should progress to new levels to allow for more complex shares to happen. (Dynamics)

Indicaters for the last few points could be DAU/MAU, as they all mean more return visits to the sites, and the market capitalization of the shares.

3. Describe your players.

When you look at the demographics of the sharing economy (using the Campbell Mithun/Caronview source cited above) there are some interesting observations. While many gamification programs target the young population of the Milennials (1980 and later), the largest group in the sharing economy exist of Generation X (1965-76). They have something to share. This means that our system should target them as well. They are computer literate though, and have been playing games most of their lives. Their income class in quite high too (32% 75k+). This means they could have access to high-end mobile phones etc.

Interesting is that they also looked at the intrinsic motivation of the sharing community (psychographic) . On an individual level this is saving the environment, and on a collective level this is helping the community. These are motivations where the gamification system could make use of. There main barriers for adoptation all have to do witht trust,so that is something the system could address as well: My stuff is lost or stolen: 30%, Don’t trust others: 23%, Privacy concerns: 14%

Bartle’s player model defines socializers, achievers, killers and explorers. If you look to the sharing community, they mainly seem to consist of socializers (you need a network to share) and explorers (according to CMCR they like a flexible lifestyle. I could imagine there are some achievers too, wanting to be the number on share, and show what they have done.

4. Devise your activity loops.

In games we recognise mechanics like activity loops, which are small and progression loops to get to a new level, to keep more experienced players interested in the game. Often they some sort of “endboss” to go to the next levels.

In our gamified system simpe activity-loops could consist of getting feedback on sharing actions. These would result in getting shares, and comparing each others sharing actions. (extrensic motivation) These could be increased by comparing them to your peers in your community, (since they have a concievable aim). These community could be looked at from city/state, type of sharing (home equipment/car etc), friends.

The intrinsic motivation of our population concentrated on two items (see above). First, helping the environment. Proper feedback should be given how much environmental gain the sharing action has (with a panel of experts assessing environment gain). This can be supported by leaderboards (environmental sharer top 10), and badges (Super Tree Saver!). (self determination: autonomy)

The other intrinsic motivation was about helping the community. This can be facilitated in a number of way. There can be community sharing projects, like e.g. Everything for a local children party, from bikes to barbecues. This can both give feedback to the contributors (both by rewards, badges etc), and facilitate new sharing actions due to trust gained by the participants. Furthermore it can give fun back to the participants: reports of the party, invitations, small tasks for the community (like building up the partysite). These community sharing action leads to “shareallfriends” and “clans”, which increase fun/community feeling. People can give feedback on each other as well (self determination: relatedness)

Looking at the progression loops. It might be wise to include some onboarding: at first only a few sharing actions might be available, the first being a “practice” sharing action, to learn the buttons, and then your first proper share, earning you a newbee badge and progressing a level.

Through Scaffolding more and more complex sharing actions will be done, like e.g. when you’ve done a few different types of sharing you progress to the level when you can initiate a community sharing project. When you’ve completed one of those you’re an expert (mastery), and through initiating such projects the participants will learn. (self determination: competence). Other progression can be done through quests (share everything from The wizard of oz)

5. Don’t forget fun.

Fun is here in teamwork (community shares), Sharing accomplishments (most trees saves), problem solving (combining different shares, and in quests), collecting (sharing across all categories), Exploring (find interesting share projects near you)

More fun is in seeing your shared tool in action (like the community-party), and in the community with other sharers.

6. Deploy the appropriate tools.

The tools are:

  • GPS/Mobile to find each other,
  • Website/Forum/Leaderboards/Friends/Clans and other game components.
  • Backoffice
  • Share trading selling/generation
  • Task develop/Contribute

    Community share pages

    They support the activity and target behaviour to reach the objectives.