Gamification and Satisfaction


I happened upon Sebastian Deterding’s Slideshare “Meaningful Play Getting Gamification Right” (Thx Giuliano) and was struck how it resonated with Dan Pink’s talk “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us“.

Dan puts forth modern behavioral studies which show that for higher level tasks, ones that require more thought that mere repetition, rewards such as cash (points?) do not motivate. There are three things that motivate people on these higher level functions:

  • Mastery, to learn and get better at something.
  • Autonomy,  to choose one’s own path
  • Contribution, to give to a larger effort.

Deterding tells us what makes for a good game. His list is:

  • Mastery-  the goals, rules, and feedback to allow one to learn more and more about the game
  • Autonomy- the ability to explore areas of the game that are not fully scripted, the feeling of not being controlled, to make one’s own purpose.
  • Meaning- the foundation that the game is built upon is already important to us.

I think one could easily make the case the the Dan’s idea of contribution could easily fit with Sebastian notion of meaning.  And after reading the citations on Dan’s slides, it is easy to tell his ideas were based on behavioral research.

For those interested in games, Dan Pink’s talk is an excellent background as to why Sebastian Deterding’s recommendations are important.


About John

Interested in how information intersects daily life, technology, and art. Collaboration specialist, working in social and collaborative media. Biomedical Informaticist, focusing on patient/patient, patient/provider communication.
This entry was posted in Collaboration / Community, Medical Informatics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gamification and Satisfaction

  1. Hi John –

    I was watching Sebastian’s Google TechTack ( and was struck by this too. In Dan’s TED Talk (, he actually refers to them is “autonomy, mastery, and purpose”, which is essentially identical to “autonomy, mastery, and meaning.” I wonder if they are drawing upon the same research or arrived at this from different angles.

  2. John says:

    Hi James
    Thanks for those links. Good stuff.

    It seems that behavioral research has really reached this conclusion and these folks are bringing it to a wider audience. Further, we are seeing possible use cases and ways to implement these findings in our org structure.

    I was trying to rectify what Dan was talking about and games. Since in a game one is rewarded with higher levels or points, perhaps this one would see a degradation of performance from these external motivators. However, they are really different than cold hard cash. I believe Jane McGonigal shows these motivators in games and then ties them to the real world to help solve problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *