How Venture Capitalist Tim Chang Perfectly Summarized The Pattern At GSummit 2013

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By: Bill Hennessy

Have you ever discovered a pattern?

You know what I’m talking about if it’s ever happened to you. You’re just taking things in, thinking that each moment, each conversation, each aspect is unique.

Then BANG! you see the pattern.  These aren’t random, disconnected events, but pieces of a larger puzzle that spells out one unmistakable message.

That happened to me today at GSummit, Gabe Zichermann’s annual gamification conclave going on this week in San Francisco. And it happened in the final main stage montage at 5:06 pm PDT.

Tim Chang of the venture capital firm Mayfield Fund perfectly summarized the entire day in one sentence:

You can’t gamify anything you don’t measure.

In other words, gamification is nothing without statistics.

Will Wright, designer of SimCity and many other Sim games, showed slide after slide of statistics about how people played his game. He pointed out how analytics uncovered a counter-intuitive fact:  80 percent of player time goes to failing, not to winning. That insight informed future releases of the Sim line and made them even stickier with players. It may explain why Gartner expects 80 percent of gamification projects to fail. It’ because people like taking chances, and those two successes more than compensate for the eight losses.

Then Maggie Buggie of Cap Gemini told us:

Observation and analysis is critical.

At that point, I wrote in my notebook:

Statistics. That may be the key driver of gamification. Without digital insights, you’re blind.

Next came Robert Torres of the William and Melinda Gates Foundation who is a pioneer in gamifying education. You know where gamification is most effective in learning?  Assessment.

What’s assessment?  Statistics.  Statistics let educators tailor programs to children’s unique learning styles. And gamification simplifies the assessment process. It’s a wonderful cycle.

The pattern repeated itself throughout the day: you can’t gamify what you don’t measure. Tim Chang finally said it.

So when you’re thinking about gamification and why you should pursue it, think of what Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball, told me this morning:

Amazon, eBay, and Facebook know more about you than your boss does.

Gamification closes that gap.

Then again, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook can’t fire me.


Previously, from GSummit:  Why I Loved Bob Marsh’s GSummit Presentation


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3 Comments on “How Venture Capitalist Tim Chang Perfectly Summarized The Pattern At GSummit 2013”

  • How a Wharton Professor Doubled Student Engagement With Hyper-Subtle Gamification | Maritz Motivation Solutions Blog May 10th, 2013 6:01 am

    […] I blogged about the importance of measures, statistics, and analytics in gamfiication. Don’t think, though, that statistics is all there […]

  • Dve McAllister May 22nd, 2013 12:52 pm

    The need for analytics has been steadily mentioned since the very first Gsummits. In 2010 (NYC) it was the most tweet-discussed item, mostly because the speakers weren’t addressing it.

    The simple fact is, if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. And if it still continues to exist, you can’t affect it.

  • Bill Hennessy May 22nd, 2013 1:59 pm

    Thanks, Dave.

    You’re right. I find that some people are afraid that data and analysis stifle creativity. Games show how they can enhance creativity, measure its value, and improve initial designs.

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