Geoffrey Nuval on the Web

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen, its about taking that Dime and Making it a Dozen.

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Biography: Geoffrey Nuval has experience in entrepreneurial, operational, and fundraising functions -- he founded two startups in the tech industry and prior to that worked in Venture Capital for Lehman Brothers. As the founding CEO of EVO Media Group, makers of, his early implementation of game mechanics has been cited in print and Wikipedia as a classic example of increasing customer engagement. Prior to that, he worked as an investment professional at Lehman Brothers Venture Partners (now Tenaya Capital), where he was part of the team that invested in successful consumer Internet companies such as Zappos, GameFly, and SideStep (now Kayak). He holds a BS in Management Science & Engineering with Honors from Stanford University and initiated a course in Entrepreneurship at the Oxford University's Said Business School. Geoff has spoken and presented at numerous conferences on the topics of entrepreneurship, domain development, and gamification.

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My Notes from Jam Session Led by Gamification Guru, Amy Jo Kim

August 19, 2010 20 Comments

I was recently given the opportunity to join the BigDoor team and a few of their clients up in a beautiful cabin in the evergreen forests of Washington to do a jam session on gamification.  *Thanks Keith, Jeff and team!*

Leading the session was co-founder of ShuffleBrain Amy Jo Kim, who has been gamifying systems before there was even a term for it.  Remember eBay seller ratings?  Yup, it incorporated game elements and she was a part of that.  Rock Band, The Sims, Bejewelled 2?  Uhh... yeah, she helped in the design of those games too.  She is an awesome speaker and I highly recommend you go to one of her talks if you have a chance.

As I go over and organize the notes I took, thought I might as well do it here on my WebHub to help spread the knowledge around.  Provided below in Standard Outline Form (like they taught us in grade school):

I. Identify and Address your Audience

   A. Remember the Bell Curve

   B. Don't focus too much on outliers even though they may be most boisterous

   C. Provide audience with flexible communication tools

         1. One-click social gestures (thumb up/down)

         2.  Figure out what one-click communication is for your audience

   D. Create a 'Gathering Place' for 'Community'

         1. Allow for groups or some way to get people to feel like they belong

         2. Figure out how to kickstart it (may need editorial push)

 II. Member profiles are very important

   A. Remember that profiles can evolve over time (ex.

   B. Allow users to customize their profiles, users invest their time -> increases perceived value

   C. Avatars!  The richer the avatar experience, the harder for users to leave

   D. Display achievements (stars) / something users can collect (badges), frame it visually

III. Types of Users in a Gamified System

    A. Visitor 

        1. This user just got to your site, haven't signed up yet.  

        2. Provide an overview. Give them a compelling reason to sign up.  

           a) Can be handled with video or guided tour.  

           b) If their not going to sign up, they might not be users you want.

           -> on we call them Lookyloos and they look like this: 

                          DevHub LookylooDevHub LookylooDevHub LookylooDevHub LookylooDevHub Lookyloo

    B. New Member / Novice

       1. This user just signed up.  

       2. Welcome them. Provide them with an 'onboarding' experience (intro them in)

       3. Hide these users from complexity at first -> Gamification allows the earning of adv. features.

    C. The Regulars 

       1. Now give them more choice / Allow them to unlock new parts to the system

       2. Need to provide them with fresh content/experiences, they expect it

         +GN:  Start to introduce users to your monetization paths at this point

    D. The Enthusiasts

      1. Top 5-10% of your userbase

      2. Give them recognition and allow them to show it off

      3. Provide them with exclusive, scarce, or first-to-see content, make them feel special

         +GN:  Give them a way to be role models / spokes models to the rest

         +GN:  At this point, so much time/effort has been invested that they're prime for up$ell

 IV. Random quotes heard that I felt important enough to write down...

      - "Make it easy for everyone to understand: How do I win?"

      - "Iterative Development"

     - "Show them what they can eventually achieve upfront... establish goals."

     - "Designing a game site for entertainment is very different from gamifying a system"

     - "Give new users lots of sugar in the first 15 minutes." 

 V. On Building a Community

     A. Etiquette is Important, establish what's acceptable/what's not upfront

     B. Spotlight positive role models +GN: we do this on the DevHub Times.

     C. Host regular events can be virtual or real world events

VI. Mechanics in a Gamified System (what AJK called: "metagames")

     A. Points

          1. XP - points assigned to cumulative experience achieved in the game

          2. Redeemable Points - popular with the female demographic

          3. Social Points - influence indicators.  Make sure to keep this separated.

    B. Badges

         1. Great for newbies, this is the equivalent of sugar

         2. Helps guide users to do certain "quests"

    C. Leaderboards

         1. Can motivate top players, but can de-motivate newbies "whoa, I'll never get there"

         2. Careful!  Top players are exposed for competitors to poach (see: Digg)

VII.  On Creating a Social Moment

    A.  It's what people are socializing about and then promote it

         Ex.  Lost baby cow in Zynga's Farmville


     B. Neighboring of empires +GN: we should really do something like this for DevHub...

VIII. Gamified System Monetization

     A. Ways:  Ads, Subscription, A la Carte, microtransactions

     B. Microtransations:  2 Tier Economic system, ex. Farmville coins vs Farmville Cash

     C. Cool concept: incorporate brands into your rewards or virtual goods systems

     D. Good idea: find those who bought first good, and give them discount on second one

     E. Remember:  never introduce and take away from your users


Ok, that's all I got.  I know there were a lot more gamification ideas I missed but either my brain couldn't process all that great information fast enough or my writing hand was out of shape.  Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments...

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