Learning from the Dark Side of the Gig Economy: Unraveling Incentives and Behavioral Challenges

1214227 Learning from the Dark Side of the Gig Economy Unraveling Incentives and Behavioral Challenges

We’ve all been there. You stop at traffic lights, and a frenzied delivery cyclist swiftly zips in front, ignoring the light. Perhaps you’re at KFC, jostled by a swarm of Deliveroo and Uber Eats drivers, all clamouring and gesturing at order numbers on their phones. Or maybe you find yourself unable to access your driveway because a colossal white van obstructs it, while an Amazon delivery person leaves £300 worth of electrical goods on your neighbour’s doorstep in the pouring rain. Read More ...

AMP up your Goals and Smash those New Year’s Resolutions!

Amp banner AMP up your Goals and Smash those New Year 8217 s Resolutions

2023 is underway now and most of us have probably already given up on our goals for the New Year! You are not alone though, a study in 2021 found that two-thirds of us give up our New Year’s Resolutions within a month!

There can be many reasons for this, but in my experience, it more often than not is down to unrealistic and unachievable goal setting. “I’m going to go to the gym every day”. “I’m going to practice my scales for an hour every day”. “I’m going to do 10,000 steps every day” etc etc etc. Read More ...

Getting Sh*t Done with A Little Gamification

Gamified Tasks Getting Sh t Done with A Little Gamification

I was recently chatting to a guy who was complaining that his task list was so long that he couldn’t even work out where to start from. He had all the tasks in Excel but just couldn’t figure out what to do first. Nothing had due dates, just he knew they all needed doing “at some point”.

We had a long chat and I gave him a simple algorithm to help get started.

Algorithm 1.0

  • First, prioritise each task with a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being vital and 5 being “whenever”
  • Next, give each task a difficulty rating of 1 to 5, 1 being easy and 5 being mega tough.
  • Finally, sort by priority then by difficulty.

You will end up with a list a bit like this

Get the kids bags sorted11
Fix iPad15
Paint the Fence22
Learn new song32
Tidy wiring in living room33
Wash the windows43
Mow the lawn51
Create an app55

Then, what you are looking for is a “quick win”. Look for the task that has the highest priority with the lowest difficulty, in this case, “Get the kids bags sorted”. This is an easy job that is very important and will get you started. The first step of any journey is always the most difficult and all that jazz.

Algorithm 2.0 – gamified

After this chat, I came home and decided to work it into a slightly more advanced version, that had a little sprinkling of gamification. From one perspective it is already gamified, you have many tasks, broken down into organised manageable tasks. I decided to add a little scoring system though, that would just add to the experience for some (not all of course).

In the new version, there is a little formula that assigns a score based on the difficulty and the priority, The higher the difficulty and the priority – the higher the points value for the task overall.

This allows me to create an overall score and % completion – providing a little progress measurement. This changes as you mark each task completed. This way, whilst there may be more tasks added, the overall score will always increase as you complete them, even though the progress may go down. This still gives you an overall sense of achievement.

What you personally do with this is up to you. You could set yourself some milestones so that at 30 points you may decide to go out for something nice to eat. Then you can decide if you do 2 or 3 low-value tasks or one high-value task.

So you have progress, goal setting and points – not a bad combo really!

The Spreadsheet

I attach the spreadsheet for you to play with, I’d love to see what you can do with it 🙂

GSD Spreadsheet Download!

Progress: My Desert Island Gamification Element

Progress Progress My Desert Island Gamification Element

You want to use gamification as part of a solution you are building, but resources are limited and you can’t take a fully gamified approach. What is the one gamification element that you would insist was included, no matter what?

For me, it would be progress.

Start with Goals

This is not a single element, so this may be a bit of a cheat. Progress is linked to two main concepts. Goals and Feedback, something I spoke about at length in Part 5 of my Introduction to Gamification (which I will return to writing very soon!). So to include progress in a design, I need to be able to create goals for the user. As I mention in the linked article, these can be large goals that are then broken down into smaller goals:

Quest –> Levels -> Missions -> Task

But you can’ have goals without feedback – otherwise, how do you know how close you are to completing goals. Again, as I say in the article, feedback comes in many shapes and forms, from progress bars to full virtual currencies!

Now Feedback

So that I don’t cheat too much, I will limit myself here to one simple feedback mechanic, a progress bar.

It isn’t glamorous or exciting, but it works a treat! It is a simple way to tell users how close they are to achieving their goals.

The nice thing about a progress bar is that it can be presented in so many different ways. From dials to pie charts to simple bars. But they don’t always have to be positive. Think about lives in a video game. They give you inverse progress. The further from your goal you are, the fewer hearts you have!

The only limit is your imagination really.


What would your one gamification element be – your desert island element if you will?

Introduction to Gamification Part 5: Goals and Feedback

Intro to Gamification Part 5 Introduction to Gamification Part 5 Goals and Feedback

The core of gamification can be boiled down to two key components. Goals and Feedback. Of course, there is more going on that supports these, but those are the two keys of gamification.

Gamified systems need to set specific tasks for users to complete, and then provide them with feedback as they progress towards completing those tasks. A good gamified system then uses other techniques, elements, mechanics etc to support the user towards those goals.

The hard bit is setting good goals, creating good feedback mechanisms and wrapping the experience in something that is engaging! But that is for later.

Let’s start by justifying the statement that gamification can be broadly split into two main headings, starting with goals!


Games are great at setting goals. They start with one big goal, “save the planet from destruction”. That is a pretty big goal though, so that goal is split into small goals. “Get to the end of the first of ten levels”. That is then split into smaller goals. “Find the magic sword”. This is then further broken down to smaller real-time tasks. “Kill the bad guy, navigate the map” and so on.

We can consider these in the following way.

Quest –> Levels -> Missions -> Task

In our example, the quest is to save the planet. The levels are the stages within which the action is. Collecting the magic sword is a mission. Kill the bad guy is a task. Not all games can be split this neatly, open world and RPG games often don’t have specific levels, just collections of missions (sub-quests) and tasks.  Your quest may be to save the planet, but first, you have a sub-quest to return all of Miss Mable’s chickens. To do that you will need to have 100 experience points, so you will have to complete multiple tasks in the form of killing rats (grinding).

You get the picture, games break up large goals into much smaller and palatable chunks. This is one of the core aims we have in gamification, to make an activity easier to achieve in some way. That may be technically easier or psychologically easier, where the gamification makes the task less of a pain to do.

The core component of goals, in this context, is challenge. Every part of the overall goal completion is a challenge of some type.   Be it grinding to get experience points or fighting the big boss at the end of the level, they are all challenges. The trick is to make sure that the player has the right skill level to meet the challenge as set out in Flow mentioned previously.

If you are interested in diving deeper into the theory of goal setting, check out Goal Setting Theory by Locke and Latham, who set out five considerations that help an individual achieve a goal, Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback, Task complexity1. It is also worth looking at my Attainable Maintainable goals model.


Feedback is both easier to talk about and harder. It is easier because it seems obvious. Feedback is what a system tells someone when they act. If a player succeeds, the system says, “well done, keep going”, if they fail the system says, “bad luck, try again”. But that is just one type of feedback.

Rewards, points, progress bars, badges, leaderboards, certificates, prizes, social status and more are all forms of feedback.

You must decide what feedback types will work best for your solution and what schedule you will use to provide the feedback. Will it be just in time (i.e. as the activity is completed), will it be later as part of a larger report, will it be random feedback like rewards for actions the user may not be expecting rewards for? I will explain reward schedules in more detail later, but it is worth being aware that it does have to be immediate or linear!

Whatever the type of feedback is, it needs to follow a simple rule RIM, Relevant, In-Time, Meaningful.


Feedback should make sense, it should have context. If a user gets a quiz question right, the expect to see a tick or a “well done”. They are not expecting a 5-minute fanfare and a million points whilst unicorns sing “You are the king of the world”! Actually, that sounds pretty cool, but you get the idea!


Just as feedback needs context, it needs to be delivered at the right time. Again, if a user gets an answer correct, they expect to know about it then and there, or at least at the end of the test. Unless it is an exam, they don’t expect to see the feedback weeks and weeks later! At the same time, a leaderboard does not need to update every 10 seconds if it is measuring large shifts in large sets of data. It could just update once a week at a set time, and users can go and look at it as and when they want.


This is essential, especially when considering rewards as feedback. If it has not meaning it has no value to the user. A badge for clicking a button 100 times will have less value to a user than their degree certificate! That is not to say feedback has to be as epic as that, progress bars as feedback don’t do a great deal, but the feedback is meaningful to the user!

Building and Supporting the System

When building a system, you have to start with what the main goal is, what is it that you need the user to do or achieve. Then you can think about how that goal can be split up into smaller goals. After that, you look at what challenges you can set to get the user closer to each goal.

After that, you consider how you are going to provide feedback to the user so that they understand their progress and achievements. Will points and badges help. Do you need a leaderboard, a progress bar etc? What reward schedules will work best for this situation.

Finally, you can look at how to support this. Is there a narrative or a theme that would fit the system? Do you need to include social mechanics to create a sense of community or competition, avatar building tools, strategy, time pressure etc?

I will go into much more detail about these in time.

Key Learning Points

  • Gamification is all about Goals and Feedback
  • Goals should be attainable and maintainable.
  • Goals should be broken down into lots of small goals
  • Feedback can be many things from points to progress
  • Feedback should be Relevant, In-Time and Meaningful
  • There is loads more to it, but that is a good place to start!
  • Read More ...