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Secrets of 

Game Thinking 

harness the power of
games to drive long-
term engagement
Amy Jo Kim, Ph.D.
co-founder, Shuff...
As a
child
I loved
to play
As a
child
I loved
to play
But I
didn’t
love to
compete
one night
on a beach
in Greece
my creativity
was re-ignighted
I found another way to play
I developed my coop design skills
then one day, I got THE CALL
we created a breakthrough hit
which led to more breakthrough hits
and insights
about Game
Thinking
What is
Game
Thinking?
Three Key Components
• Social Actions: Find the Fun
• Skill-building Core Loop
• 4-stage Customer Narrative
Social Actions: Find the Fun1
Fun is just another word
for learning
Raph Koster
MMO designer & author, A Theory of Fun
Fun means different things to different people
What is a game?
a system in which players engage in an
artificial conflict, defined by rules, that
results in a quantifiab...
Zero-Sum Game
We are opponents
I Win You Lose
Head-to-Head Battles War Simulations
Rank-Ordered Competitions Gambling
a structured experience with rules
and goals that’s fun to play together*
* Source: The Player’s Journey (forthcoming)
We are partners
Non-Zero-Sum Game
Win-Win
Lose-Lose
Martial Arts Charity Walk
Double Dutch Pictionary
Who are your customers?
How do they like to interact?
Killers Achievers
Socializers
Explorers
Bartles 4 Player Types (1996)
Jane McGonigalRichard Bartle
Points, Badges, Levels, Leaderboards… appeal
primarily to Achievers
Compete
CollaborateExplore
Express
Content People
Social Actions Focus on Motivation
Express
Explore
Compete
Collaborate
Social Action Matrix
Content Players
Explore
Express Compete
Collaborate
Content Players
Explore
Express Compete
Collaborate
Help
Comment Like
Share
Greet
Collect
Rate
View
Review
Vote
Curate
Win...
Content Players
Explore
Express Compete
Collaborate
Help
Comment
Share
GreetCollect
Showoff
Create
Customize
Build
Contrib...
Jane McGonigalRichard Bartle
If you’re building a social app, instead of
asking “who are my player types?” ask 

“what soc...
Skill-building Core Loop2
In a loop, you’re learning a
skill and updating your mental
model. That’s what leads to
player d...
Fake 

landing page?
Fake 

landing page?
Operant
Conditioning
AKA 

Skinner Box?
Operant
Conditioning
AKA 

Skinner Box?
X
Skill-building =
making customers
more awesome
Skill-building =
making customers
more awesome
Core Loop = 

skill-building
habit loop
Skill-Building Core Loop
Check Updates
urge to connect
with your team
Read &
Respond to
Updates
No More
Updates Need
Attention
Customize your
chann...
Check Updates
urge to connect
with your team
Read &
Respond to
Updates
No More
Updates Need
Attention
Customize your
exper...
Check Updates
urge to connect
with your team
Read &
Respond to
Updates
No More
Updates Need
Attention
Customize your
exper...
Feedback &
progress
promote 

learning &
mastery
EscapeTime!

urge to dive into
an escapist world
Read &
Respond to
Update...
EscapeTime!

urge to dive into
an escapist world
Read & Respond
to Updates
No More Updates
Need Attention
Customize your
e...
BreakTime!

urge for a quick
social “hit”
Read &
Respond to
Updates
Check
Notifications

& Stats
Collect faves,
RTs & foll...
BreakTime!

urge for a quick
social “hit”
Read &
Respond to
Updates
Check
Notifications

& Stats
Collect faves,
RTs & foll...
Feedback 

& progress
promote learning
& mastery
BreakTime!

urge for a quick
social “hit”
Read &
Respond to
Updates
Check...
Investment 

& triggers 

pull people back
BreakTime!

urge for a quick
social “hit”
Read &
Respond to
Updates
Get
Notific...
PartyTime!

urge for a fun
social activity
Play a Song
Together
Get your Score,
Accolades, $$
get better, play
harder song...
Skill-building =
making customers
more awesome
Core Loop =
making customers
more skillful
4-stage Customer Narrative3
Design is not just what it
looks like & feels like.
Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs
is for Enthusiastsend-to-end customer experience
Discovery
Onboarding
Habit-Building
Mastery
is for Enthusiasts
Discovery
Stage 1: Discovery is for Visitors
What is this? Is it right for me?

What’s the value propos...
is for EnthusiastsStage 2: Onboarding is for Newbies
Discovery
Onboarding
How do I learn the ropes? 

How do I start givin...
is for EnthusiastsStage 3: Habit-building is for Regulars
Discovery
Onboarding
Habit-Building
What urge pulls me back?
Wha...
is for EnthusiastsStage 4: Mastery is for Enthusiasts
Discovery
Onboarding
Habit-Building
Mastery
What skills & knowledge ...
is for Enthusiasts
Discovery
Onboarding
Habit-Building
Mastery
Customer Narrative
conversational environment
built around
friendly, helpful
bots
extensible environment
built to enable
UGC & player
creativity
is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Discovery is for Visitors
Social Discovery
via Friends &
Colleagues
is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Onboarding is for Newbies
Learn the ropes
with a friendly bot
is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Habit-building is for Regulars
Customized group
chat with emojis,
bots & integrations
is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Mastery is for Enthusiasts
Launch a channel,
program a bot,
integrate your app
skill-building makes your customers more awesome
game thinking helps them leverage their skills
.. and helps YOU
bring products
to life with
gaming smarts
How can you benefit from Game Thinking?
Accelerate your design & development process
+
Identify & leverage the right early...
What We Do
accelerate your path to
product/market fit with
gaming smarts
Just Launched
Getting2Alpha Podcast
listen in as we explore how
successful creative people
bring their ideas to life
Lightning-Fast
Customer Insights
Secrets of
Game Thinking
5 Rules for
Co-op Game Design
Getting2Alpha Flipped Workshops
Thank You
Let’s stay in
touch
@amyjokim
http://amyjokim.com
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Secrets of Game Thinking

  1. Secrets of 
 Game Thinking 
 harness the power of games to drive long- term engagement Amy Jo Kim, Ph.D. co-founder, Shufflebrain

  2. As a child I loved to play
  3. As a child I loved to play But I didn’t love to compete
  4. one night on a beach in Greece my creativity was re-ignighted
  5. I found another way to play
  6. I developed my coop design skills
  7. then one day, I got THE CALL
  8. we created a breakthrough hit
  9. which led to more breakthrough hits
  10. and insights about Game Thinking
  11. What is Game Thinking?
  12. Three Key Components • Social Actions: Find the Fun • Skill-building Core Loop • 4-stage Customer Narrative
  13. Social Actions: Find the Fun1 Fun is just another word for learning Raph Koster MMO designer & author, A Theory of Fun
  14. Fun means different things to different people
  15. What is a game? a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome* * Source: Rules of Play
  16. Zero-Sum Game We are opponents I Win You Lose
  17. Head-to-Head Battles War Simulations Rank-Ordered Competitions Gambling
  18. a structured experience with rules and goals that’s fun to play together* * Source: The Player’s Journey (forthcoming)
  19. We are partners Non-Zero-Sum Game Win-Win Lose-Lose
  20. Martial Arts Charity Walk Double Dutch Pictionary
  21. Who are your customers? How do they like to interact?
  22. Killers Achievers Socializers Explorers Bartles 4 Player Types (1996)
  23. Jane McGonigalRichard Bartle Points, Badges, Levels, Leaderboards… appeal primarily to Achievers
  24. Compete CollaborateExplore Express Content People Social Actions Focus on Motivation
  25. Express
  26. Explore
  27. Compete
  28. Collaborate
  29. Social Action Matrix Content Players Explore Express Compete Collaborate
  30. Content Players Explore Express Compete Collaborate Help Comment Like Share Greet Collect Rate View Review Vote Curate Win Challenge Showoff Compare Taunt Create Design Customize Choose Purchase Decorate Build Contribute Social Action Matrix
  31. Content Players Explore Express Compete Collaborate Help Comment Share GreetCollect Showoff Create Customize Build Contribute Social Action Matrix
  32. Jane McGonigalRichard Bartle If you’re building a social app, instead of asking “who are my player types?” ask 
 “what social actions motivate my players?”
  33. Skill-building Core Loop2 In a loop, you’re learning a skill and updating your mental model. That’s what leads to player delight. Dan Cook Game Designer
  34. Fake 
 landing page?
  35. Fake 
 landing page?
  36. Operant Conditioning AKA 
 Skinner Box?
  37. Operant Conditioning AKA 
 Skinner Box? X
  38. Skill-building = making customers more awesome
  39. Skill-building = making customers more awesome
  40. Core Loop = 
 skill-building habit loop Skill-Building Core Loop
  41. Check Updates urge to connect with your team Read & Respond to Updates No More Updates Need Attention Customize your channel & expressions Activity Chain Feedback & Progress Investment Path Internal Trigger Core Loop
  42. Check Updates urge to connect with your team Read & Respond to Updates No More Updates Need Attention Customize your experience Activity Chain Feedback & Progress Investment Path Internal Trigger When I need to check on my team’s progress
 I want to see everything in one place
 So I can stay on top of what’s happening with less friction & more pleasure Core Loop Job Story
  43. Check Updates urge to connect with your team Read & Respond to Updates No More Updates Need Attention Customize your experience Trigger Activity Engaging activity 
 satisfies an urge or need Internal Trigger Core Loop
  44. Feedback & progress promote 
 learning & mastery EscapeTime!
 urge to dive into an escapist world Read & Respond to Updates No More Updates Need Attention Customize your experience Feedback & Progress Core Loop
  45. EscapeTime!
 urge to dive into an escapist world Read & Respond to Updates No More Updates Need Attention Customize your experience Investment Path Investment 
 & triggers 
 pull people back Engaged Trigger Check Notifications Core Loop
  46. BreakTime!
 urge for a quick social “hit” Read & Respond to Updates Check Notifications
 & Stats Collect faves, RTs & followers
  47. BreakTime!
 urge for a quick social “hit” Read & Respond to Updates Check Notifications
 & Stats Collect faves, RTs & followers Activity TriggerEngaging activity 
 satisfies an urge or need Internal Trigger
  48. Feedback 
 & progress promote learning & mastery BreakTime!
 urge for a quick social “hit” Read & Respond to Updates Check Notifications
 & Stats Collect faves, RTs & followers Feedback & Progress
  49. Investment 
 & triggers 
 pull people back BreakTime!
 urge for a quick social “hit” Read & Respond to Updates Get Notifications,
 Check Stats Investment Path Engaged Trigger Check your Stats Collect faves, RTs & followers
  50. PartyTime!
 urge for a fun social activity Play a Song Together Get your Score, Accolades, $$ get better, play harder songs & bigger venues Core Loop Feedback & Progress Investment Path Activity Internal Trigger Beat the Song Engaged Trigger
  51. Skill-building = making customers more awesome
  52. Core Loop = making customers more skillful
  53. 4-stage Customer Narrative3 Design is not just what it looks like & feels like. Design is how it works. Steve Jobs
  54. is for Enthusiastsend-to-end customer experience Discovery Onboarding Habit-Building Mastery
  55. is for Enthusiasts Discovery Stage 1: Discovery is for Visitors What is this? Is it right for me?
 What’s the value proposition?
  56. is for EnthusiastsStage 2: Onboarding is for Newbies Discovery Onboarding How do I learn the ropes? 
 How do I start giving & getting value?
  57. is for EnthusiastsStage 3: Habit-building is for Regulars Discovery Onboarding Habit-Building What urge pulls me back? What am I getting better at?
  58. is for EnthusiastsStage 4: Mastery is for Enthusiasts Discovery Onboarding Habit-Building Mastery What skills & knowledge have I mastered? How can I leverage that?
  59. is for Enthusiasts Discovery Onboarding Habit-Building Mastery Customer Narrative
  60. conversational environment built around friendly, helpful bots
  61. extensible environment built to enable UGC & player creativity
  62. is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Discovery is for Visitors Social Discovery via Friends & Colleagues
  63. is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Onboarding is for Newbies Learn the ropes with a friendly bot
  64. is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Habit-building is for Regulars Customized group chat with emojis, bots & integrations
  65. is for EnthusiastsStage 1: Mastery is for Enthusiasts Launch a channel, program a bot, integrate your app
  66. skill-building makes your customers more awesome
  67. game thinking helps them leverage their skills
  68. .. and helps YOU bring products to life with gaming smarts
  69. How can you benefit from Game Thinking? Accelerate your design & development process + Identify & leverage the right early customers + Validate your ideas with a simple, compelling MVP
  70. What We Do accelerate your path to product/market fit with gaming smarts
  71. Just Launched Getting2Alpha Podcast listen in as we explore how successful creative people bring their ideas to life
  72. Lightning-Fast Customer Insights Secrets of Game Thinking 5 Rules for Co-op Game Design Getting2Alpha Flipped Workshops
  73. Thank You Let’s stay in touch @amyjokim http://amyjokim.com

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