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Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps Paperback – Aug 22 2011


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About the Author

Gabe Zichermann is an author, public speaker, serial entrepreneur, and the foremost expert on the subject of gamification. His book, Game-Based Marketing (Wiley, 4/2010) has achieved critical and industry acclaim for its detailed look at innovators who blend the power of games with brand strategy. Zichermann is also the author of the Gamification Blog at http://gamification.co and chair of the Gamification Summit and Workshops.

Christopher Cunningham is a software architect and developer who helped found ChroniQL, an early gamification solution; beamME, a mobile social application; and TrekMail, a breakthrough mobile email/text application. Christopher has deep expertise with agile development processes and distributed team management.

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Amazon.com: 35 reviews
72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre Primer, Overselling his brand a bit much. Nov. 13 2011
By M. Forr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a UX designer working on various websites and mobile apps I found the first five chapters useful in my design thinking but I also found a the coding and platform chapters to be weak and kind of sleazy.

Before I write anymore, I want you to know that I'm not going to critique Gamficiation Theory here as that has been done well enough elsewhere. I just want to talk about the book :)

So the first five chapters of the book are useful and meaty enough to get you on your way. For instance, it provides some compelling arguments to think about your analytics in terms of 'levels' and 'experience points' in order to see what they are accomplishing, even if you don't expose the information to them. Moreover, the first five chapters gave me enough to work with to implement some gamified elements into my next project. There's also a supplemental workbook PDF on the authors website that compiles all the exercises found in the book which I could see using at a project kickoff.

That being said, I do have some complaints about this book. First, I feel like the author was selling his website GamificationU a little too hard. In order to download the aforementioned workbook I had to fill out a contact form and in order to get the 'advanced' movies the author provides you have to follow him on twitter. If you ask me it feels a little too sleazy considering I've already paid for the book. If I really want to be on the mailing list or to follow you, I would.

My second issue has to do with "Chapter 7: Coding Basic Game Mechanics". I applaud the author for including a chapter that walks us through the code, I really do. But given the current rapid development of rails he should have forked the project on Github and been more thorough with his documentation. As such, I'm still trying to get the environment setup and running...I'll report back on that when I'm done.

My third and last issue, Chapter 8: Sponsored by Badgeville. This is new for me as I've never seen a chapter flat out sponsored and written by a third-party vendor in an O'Reilly book. Their service actually doesn't seem that bad but the author should have written the chapter himself if he felt it was so good. So the result is that it either feels like this guy doesn't mind pushing Badgeville on his readers or that he was lazy.

If you're looking for a book to get you up to speed on gamification and working it into your UX Design, give this a read. Just don't be surprised by some of the other parts...
64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
There is not shortcut to understand Gamification in one book and this one is no help either! Sept. 17 2011
By Andreas West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
You want to have a textbook to install Gamification for your own services, programs or company? Motivated by all the hype about how Gamification is the solution to get an almost lifelong customer engagement and many returning sales? You want to copy the success of Zynga, Nike+ and Groupon (note the absence of Foursquare in this list as I think it's rather a bad example of Gamification)? You want to find the secret recipe in just one easy to read book?

Why not buy and read the newest book from the "foremost expert on the subject of Gamification"? Well the title of this book by Gabe Zicherman sounds like the perfect solution for your motivations above, right? Well, I have bad news for you, there is no easy shortcut to understanding and implementing successful principles of Gamification for you! Nor is this book gonna help you in achieving all that is promised on the outside of the book. Ever heard of "No pain no gain?". That's right, as I will tell you here right away that you have to do it the hard way, buy and read a minimum dozen of books (some reading list provided later) and even then it's not guaranteed you've found the secret recipe.

So safe your 14.10 US$ (strange that Amazon is already cutting the price on a newly book almost in half, unless it's not a bestseller, right?) and invest that and some more dollars into various other books with more insights, more practicable tips, more take-aways than this book. Save yourself from the pain to read through some cheap advertising of the services of Badgeville.com as there are many other companies that offer the same service as them - at least two others start also with a B in their company name (hint). Save yourself from being mislead on some of the important topics of motivation (intrinsic vs extrinsic), psychology and game design as the author didn't manage to either explain them correctly or, as Sebastian Deterding hints in his review, shows a dangerous piece of pseudo-knowledge!

Go to a local bookstore where you have the chance of unwrapping this book and read randomly inside to see if the claims are right, make yourself your own picture of the quality of this book (the look inside of Amazon can't give show you all)

Still find my review not convincing enough to give only one star? Want to get more in-depth details about why this book is only worth one star? Then go on to read Sebastian Deterdings full review, an excellent, very long post about why Gabe Zicherman's new book deserves just one star eg it just uses copy & paste from other people's (read: Amy Jo Kim) public available presentations without even giving proper reference, not even mentioning of devoting a full chapter of advertising one Gamification companies services [...] in chapter 7 of his book:

[...]

For those that find the review of Gabe Zicherman's new book to long, jump to end to read Sebastian Deterdings conclusion and to read the copy&paste proof of "Chapter 2: Player Motivation" and Chapter 7

Sadly, like many other reviewers said too, the concept of Gamification is really intriguing and can be a difference maker in your marketing efforts, but isn't that easy to be achieved. Ignoring intrinsic motivation and just focusing on extrinsic motivation is giving you a short, hyped-up experience where your program is going to die much quicker than it was hyped-up in the beginning. I for one haven't fully mastered Gamification as indeed just reading one or two books from the self-claimed "foremost expert on Gamification" isn't providing you a shortcut to understand Gamification fully, it requires ready and understanding a variety of different books from Motivation (Daniel Pink eg Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) to Game Design (Jesse Schell The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses, Raph Koster A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Jane McGonigal eg Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World) to Psychology (Johnmarshall Reeve eg Understanding Motivation and Emotion) as well as reading through the various excellent and free available online presentations (like Amy Jo Kim, Sebastian Deterding, Michael Wu eg)
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Feels like an ad for the authors website March 10 2012
By Andrew Hamblin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The whole book reads like an add for the authors website. The book wasn't totally useless, but the "ad-like" tone was unacceptable for a product I paid for.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Watch the youtube video instead Sept. 28 2012
By Jonathan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very shallow and further perpetuates the belief that anyone can "gamify" their app or website using one of the ready made platforms, when really, it is much more complicated then that.
It was also very manipulative, and in order to get access to the accompanying videos and "master's course", you need to buy more materials for $50 in oreilly's website. These materials are not worth the money at all.

Instead of buying the book, I recommend you watch this video of his on youtube:
[...]

it has the exact- THE EXACT - same information as the book. Don't waste your money.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gamification Didn't Invent the World April 9 2012
By G. Barber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was published in 2011 so it seems to have been written late 2010. This is a telling factor on some of the examples given in the book, more on that later. As with most titles of this type it is very US centric, which really should have been looked at.

It deals with an introduction to gamification techniques, at 170 pages, it's a quick read, even more so if you skip sections.

The book discusses aspects of loyalty generation, motivation both intrinsic and extrinsic, overall game mechanics, engagement and reinforcement techniques. Pretty much all the major techniques are covered off reasonably well.

A good quarter of the book is a developmental tutorial involving step wise (using ruby) code examples of gamification. Which I didn't find to be that useful at all.

The final chapter is nothing more than a sponsored insert, like those brought "sponsor" talks at conferences, this was a waste of space. Plus it dealt with badges, which are the worst aspect of gamiification.

When you read this book you aren't really sure if you are reading a book on gamification or game design. So many times the examples quoted where just pure games, games that people would use as distractors or time fillers rather than example of commercial sites or applications using the same techniques for commercial gain.

The case studies that I was hoping to be a core aspect of the book, seemed to be too brief or in several cases dated very quickly; such as [...] or[...]. However the examples dating is often an issue with light weight tech books.

Maybe this is a US thing, but Yahoo Answers have never been relevant here. It just seemed overloaded with bad information, even years ago. Quora well that's really slid into a place of all noise no information in the last year.

Also some case studies I have never heard of.. like[...], again I'll assume it's a US thing like Starbucks or the like.

A good deal of the time a found myself wanting to see the research, or the data at least, behind the bold statements on behaviour on this or that technique, now I'm sure Zichermann has them, but why aren't they in the book.

After a while it just became a very frustrating read.

In fact if I hadn't been using an ebook version I know I would have thrown this book across the room a good number of times. As a UX consultant I read lot, and frankly this book although technically good, just lacked supporting documentation. I would have normally discarded this book into the reject pile within the first few chapters.

Maybe I'm not the best person to review this book. I'm not a current gamer. I used to be, then I discovered life is too precious to be wasted on mindless addictive games that don't get you anywhere.

So when the authors talk about engaging people, about hooking them in with leader boards, achievements or other methods, I understand the concept, but just don't get as to why people would be sucked in.

Sure I understand the techniques, but on a personal level what's not to stop the person returning to the real world and abandoning this silly internal quest an app or site has set for them.

Maybe I need to see this happening with real people with some user testing.

There really has to be something in it for the user beyond stupid badges - yes I do mean Four Square - another poster child in this book. A good deal of the good assumes it know why the techniques are working, but doesn't show any details.

Then there is also a the ethics of all this tobe considered, with addictive gamification hooking a user into a almost gambling like habit isn't really that ethical. Its nice the way this book neatly sidesteps the issue. Not even referring to ethical aspect left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Being aware of ethical of nay UX manipulation of an audience is something any UX professional needs to be aware of.

Anything in the UX world that is a design pattern or now standard technique for engagement or audience retention has it seems has suddenly become a gamification aspect. For example from forum post ranking to star rating to summary control panels these are all now gamification. Years ago in 2000 they were called community engagement.

Now I have followed, seen, used and designed lots of these techniques as they have developed over the years, I can tell you they didn't appear suddenly from the world of games design.

There seems to be an over zealous desire to label everything as being from "game design" in this book.

If you are a developer or designer is this book any good? Well yes and no.

It's a good introduction text in relation to the techniques and what behavioural effects they are meant to have. But I would take the examples with a grain of salt.

As a UX consultant I could have lost half the book without noticing.

It's not a badly written book. It does show you the techniques and methods used in gamification, for that I've given it 3 stars. If you just want the core information, then yes this book does supply that. Some say it's the number one book in gamification, this isn't my view.

I have this feeling throughout the book maybe the editor should have been a little more questioning of the references than the code.

If you do buy this book, please go get the cheaper ebook. Save yourself some money.


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