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Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)

Gamification Model Canvas

September 3, 2013
Sergio Jimenez Arenas

Gamification uses game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to solve problems. It's application can be seen in all sectors to engage people in areas such as marketing, human resources and education, for personal development or innovation purposes.

The main issue when designing gamification solutions is that we need to break down the game design into understandable elements and apply them to the professional environment in order to design, evaluate and solve engagement problems.

Gamification Model Canvas is an agile, flexible and systematic tool created by Sergio Jiménez, to help find and evaluate solutions based on game design and to ultimately develop behaviors in non-game environments.

This free tool is based on formal models of game design and experience in gamification projects. It is based on two main works adopted globally:

  • "MDA Framework: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research" by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc and Robert Zubek.
  • "Business Model Canvas" by Alex Osterwalder.

Gamification Model Canvas consists of nine sections that break down the key elements in designing gamification projects:

  • Revenues: Describe the economic or social return of the solution with the introduction of gamification.
  • Players: Describe who and what the people are like in whom we want to develop behaviors.
  • Behaviors: Describe the behaviors or actions necessary to develop in our players in order to get returns from the project.
  • Aesthetics: Describe the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player, when they interact with the game. This concept is the nearest to fun.
  • Dynamics: Describe the run-time behavior of the mechanics acting on the player over time. This concept is the nearest to motivation.
  • Components: Describe the elements or characteristics of the game to create mechanics or to give feedback to the players.
  • Mechanics: Describe the rules of the game with components for creating game dynamics.
  • Platforms: Describe the platforms on which to implement game mechanics.
  • Costs: Describe the main costs or investment for the development of the project.

The set-up and order of the sections or boxes within the Gamification Model Canvas serve two different perspectives taken from the work by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek and Alex Osterwalder, and necessary to conceptualize the design of these types of solutions:

  • Game perspective. This describes the position of the player and the designer of the solution. To the right of the Gamification Model Canvas is the player. For them, their first impression will be the game design elements, such as the aesthetics and dynamics, to hook them into the experience. To the left of the canvas is the designer who will need to create game experiences with components and mechanics, working out all the details of the experience on the selected platforms.
  • Business perspective. This describes the search for project efficiency without losing focus on the value proposition for the player. The right side of the canvas represents the decisions that create value for the player. The left side of the canvas represents decisions in terms of cost efficiency and solution returns.

NOTE: Gamification is not an exact science, nor is the creation of games, but rather a step-by-step process that considers the most important aspects in order to build solutions, validate and improve them in order to deliver success and effectiveness in results.

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