The 4 Pillars of Change in Gamification, Optimisation and Behaviour Change

The 4 Pillars of Change The 4 Pillars of Change in Gamification Optimisation and Behaviour Change

In my new world, I focus on optimisation a lot in the realms of e-commerce performance. Testing, personalisation etc. It has taken a very long time for me to realise that my new world is almost identical to my old world of gamification. At their most basic, they both rely on 4 key pillars to succeed as they are both focused on behavioural change.

I wanted to just explore those briefly here with you, as much as a way of consolidating the thought process as much as anything else!!

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What I am Learning from Playing Fortnite with my Daughter

H2x1 NSwitchDS Fortnite image1600w What I am Learning from Playing Fortnite with my Daughter

I have finally caved and given Fortnite some proper time.

It all started when my 12-year-old daughter noticed it was on my PC. I had downloaded when it first came out, but after one go, decided it wasn’t for me. However, it had been quietly updating in the background, just waiting for my return.

Fortnite is something of a gaming phenomenon, in a similar way to Minecraft a few years ago. It has had an enormous impact on society. It has spawned toys, board games and I am sure a film can’t be far away as EPIC tries to milk as much as possible from its latest cash cow. Of course, it is not without its controversies as well. Claims of gaming addiction, copyright infringements and more.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go and I must admit, it is fun. My daughter and I take turns playing, seeing who can last longest or find the most interesting thing. And, we have a blast.

The game itself is very simple. Survive on an ever-shrinking island, by whatever means possible, against 100 other players. The core game modes allow you to choose to play alone, in teams of 2, 4 or 33. Ther are also many limited-time modes, that happen during special events.

Whatever the mode, the game plays the same. You drop onto the map, scavenge materials and weapons, build shelters and try to avoid dying!

At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss the game as nothing more than a glorified shooter, but that would miss the point of the game. It is actually a masterclass in how to engage the largest number of people possible for as long as possible! In fact, if you look at my User Type Hexad, there is no type that is not catered for in some way.

User Types in Fortnite

Let’s look at how each type is catered for in the game.


Ok, so this one is pretty obvious. The game has challenges, achievements, points, badges and more. All of which give the player user type something to strive for!


Interestingly, to an extent, disruptors are the least catered for group – in as much as there are no boundaries to push or break, It is a well-balanced game that does not really allow for cheating. That said, there are things they can do that will annoy other players! From finding secret camping areas to snipe from, to flossing (dancing) over the bodies of their victims. What Fortnite does to manage the more disruptor like players, is offer them opportunities to harness their interests much more creatively in the game! I have always said that often disruptors are just free spirits looking for ways to express themselves. Unless they are just a total git.


This one seems less obvious than the others. However, when you play in a team, a philanthropist has plenty of options for helping their teammates. Building structures to protect them, healing them, going out of their way to respawn them if they die, dropping items to help their teammates, identifying threats and more.


As a multiplayer game, socialisers are easily catered for. In-game chat, lobby chat, teams, clans, forums, twitch streaming, discord chat and far more are available to those players who want to socialise.

Free Spirit

For me, the free spirit engaging mechanics are the most interesting and the ones that I had not realised where there the first time I played. The map is beautiful and full of places to explore, secrets to find and easter eggs to laugh at. Not only that, with the way the games seasons work, the map is constantly changing. During the last few days, I got to watch a giant robot be built and then fight a massive monster. Every few months, things change, offering free spirits plenty of opportunities to explore more.  There are even vehicles to help them get around (and protect them as they do).  As for creativity, there are countless ways that players can customise their avatar, but not just that, there is an entire building system in the game. You can create incredible structures to help protect yourself, or just reach new areas.

I spend way more time exploring than I do actually “playing the game”. In fact, I find getting a shot at to be an inconvenience to my exploration!


Mastery is key to surviving in Fortnite. Be it getting really good at hiding, incredible at sniping, becoming a master builder or whatever else it is you decide to master! The options are near endless, with players showing levels of skill that bewilder me. In one game a player built a box around me, with a spike trap in one wall, whilst shooting at me. It was incredible (And annoying as hell!)

The Lesson – Choice and Change

As you can see, there is a lot going on in the game! But what it seems to come down to, the key to why it is so incredibly successful is choice.

You can choose how to play. Choose where you land on the map. Then decide if you want to be a sniper, a builder, a foot soldier, a scout, a hide and seek master. You can explore whilst avoid the fight, you can rush in for an adrenaline fuelled twitch battles or you can plot and take you time.

Then you can do it all differently the next time.

This, for me, is the big lesson that we can learn as gamification designers. Give our users choice. Don’t worry about trying to understand what user type they are, give them as much choice as possible so that they are engaged no matter what. Let them experience your system in a way that suits them, no matter if they are an Achiever or a Free Spirit!

The other lesson is to keep content fresh and to change things up from time to time. This will help to fight the boredom that can come from a system that just sits there and stagnates. Just because it is working, does not mean it can’t be better.

Bonus Parent Lesson

One last lesson as a parent. Don’t be afraid to try games with your kids, but keep in mind that the age ratings are there for a reason. We checked the age rating of the Fortnite before allowing our 12-year-old daughter to play. We also checked what the limitations would be if we refused to pay for extras. Thankfully, she can play unhindered without ever paying a penny.

As a parent, it is my responsibility to monitor what my children are doing. It is my responsibility to be sure that the games they are playing are suitable and that they are not coming to harm whilst playing. Constant vigilance is needed for this, and, most importantly, constant communication with your children to understand what they are doing and why. And hell, play the damn game with them – that’s the best way to understand it!

What would you change?

Change 1443010847 What would you change

I was asked a great question the other day. If you could go way back, what would you change?

It  got me thinking at the time and I have had it in my mind ever since. At the time I said that I would probably change nothing. The truth is that what I have experienced in my life is what has made me who I am. For the most part, I am pretty happy with how it all turned out!

That is a wishwashy answer though. I then started to think about what I would changed if I was being forced and I did think of something. My A-Levels (the exams you sit at 18). I took Chemistry, Physics and Biology and I was dreadful at them all. I would go back and try to take Computing, Ceramics and Physics if I had the chance again!

Our school didn’t have much in the way of computing facilities back when I was there. A few PCs had replaced the BBC Micros by the time I did A-Levels, but that was about it. But, I would loved to have had the foundation of understanding that I would have gotten from that. I loved physics and was quite good at it. It was fairly black and white, but had the scope for almost philosophical conversations to happen. Finally. ceramics. I enjoyed working with clay!

I think the real key here is that if I could go back, I would have tried to have had more fun in those two years. First by taking subjects I enjoyed and secondly by approaching it all with a more playful attitude. It turns out they really were not as important as we all thought at the time. I still got into university and did a degree that I didn’t enjoy (Biomedical Science) and ended up working in IT anyway! would it not have been much better to have had fun with some of my A-Levels and ended up in a degree or a job that I enjoyed? I would still have probably ended up where I am now in life!

So over to you – What would you changed if you had to change one thing in your past? Answers in the comments please 😀

Exploring the Disruptor User Type

Disruptor3 Exploring the Disruptor User Type

As time passes and I learn more, I often re-evaluate my past blogs and ideas – none more-so than my User Types! Now, don’t panic, I am not about to release version 3 – the User Types Dodecagon. The purpose of this post is to just clarify my current thinking around the disruptor type, based on what I know now.

The basic idea is still the same. Disruptors disrupt a system in some way. This may be by acting on users or on the system itself. As with the Player type, the Disruptor type is a group rather than a single type. However, I don’t tend to go into the detail as the effect on your design is generally similar for all the variations of the type.

Going into a deep dive, we get these 4 main types of disruptor:

  • Griefer: This is our Killer (yep, finally I have an answer for those who kept asking where it was!). I have chosen to use Bartle’s description from his 8 types, because this is the pure arsehole type. They want to negatively affect other users, just because they can. It may be to prove a point about the fact they don’t like the system, it may just be for fun. They have no place in most gamified systems, so you need to find ways to either change their minds – or get rid of them.
  • Destroyer: This type of user wants to break the actual system directly. This may be by hacking or finding loopholes in the rules that allow them to ruin the experience for others. Their reasons again may be because they dislike the system or it may just be because they find it fun to hack and break things. If you can’t convince them to at least convert to an Improver, then you have to get rid of them.
  • Influencer: These users will try to change the way a system works by exerting influence over other users. This is not to say they are a negative type, far from it. If they feel the system needs to change and you actually allow them a voice to help change it, they could become massive advocates. Make use of them or lose them – worse still the could end up switching to a Griefer!
  • Improver: Improvers will interact with the system with the best intentions in mind. They may hack it or find loopholes, but their aim is to change the system for the better. They are similar to the Free Spirit type in reality, they want to have the chance to explore the system, find problems and try to fix them. Take care of these users as they can help you massively. Mistreat them and they may well become Destroyers.
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