The Doors to the Fortress


I started on this quest to discover all I could from the world of Gamification because I like goals. I like deadlines. The “Gammify Challenge” (re-branded recently as “The Loyalty Games”) will be held over 3 rounds this summer, and provided me with that initial goal.

A challenge I could set my path towards. Something I could tangibly see and imagine.

A white fortress.

As I step out of the maze, I see the colourful flags strung between the windows of the towers and across the arch in front of two heavy wooden doors. I walk towards them, the wolf padding along beside me close at my heels, but as I draw nearer I realise that I am both woefully unprepared and also that the goal has changed.

Having travelled the long and winding path to get here I find some other adventure calling me instead.

Braid (2008) platform and puzzle video game

Braid (2008) platform and puzzle video game

That’s the difference between a goal and an adventure, between wanting to reach the end and wishing that the you can just keep going because you’re having too much fun.

I discovered this as I imagined each of stories behind a hero’s quest. The spectrum extrinsic and intrinsic motivations behind each of those different story-lines could have been the start of a wholly different journey, but I also realised that they could be layered together into the same person.

What starts out as a journey motivated by one kind of motivation can develop and change into another.

Daniel Pink has made famous the research findings of how quickly we can dampen down intrinsic enjoyment and motivation for an activity by introducing rewards. But the movement along this spectrum also says to me that there is fluidity in all of us that can also extend the other way. That what starts as an extrinsically driven behaviour can also become intrinsic.

I learnt from running the gauntlet of the A to Z of Gamification that there’s a whole lot more to motivating, engaging and inspiring people to do ‘anything’. Whether that’s to play a game, use your product or even perhaps in motivating people towards the ultimate quest – saving the world.

*             *             *

The ground rumbles, the burping of some giant beast start out low and deep and builds to a roar. I jump back as the cracking of the grass and earth pulls apart the ground in front of the fortress. Dust and earth crumbles in on itself until the dirt and fog settles on a set of sunken steps. It leads down into the dark, past more dimly lit steps until I can see the flickering lights of a tunnel disappearing around a corner.

I glance up at the doors of the fortress. They look even more solid and tall against the gaping hole in the earth. It will always be there, a simple goal, a competition to win or lose, but the glowing light below beckons me. It leads me down another path, a diverting question, a curious new quest.

Quest Accepted: How do you motivate people to take on the mantle of changing the world for the better? Beyond it being the ‘right thing’ or a worthy quest, is saving the world, fun?

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