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Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps [Paperback]

Gabe Zichermann , Christopher Cunningham
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 19, 2011 1449397670 978-1449397678 1

What do Foursquare, Zynga, Nike+, and Groupon have in common? These and many other brands use gamification to deliver a sticky, viral, and engaging experience to their customers. This book provides the design strategy and tactics you need to integrate game mechanics into any kind of consumer-facing website or mobile app. Learn how to use core game concepts, design patterns, and meaningful code samples to a create fun and captivating social environment.

Whether you're an executive, developer, producer, or product specialist, Gamification by Design will show you how game mechanics can help you build customer loyalty.

  • Discover the motivational framework game designers use to segment and engage consumers
  • Understand core game mechanics such as points, badges, levels, challenges, and leaderboards
  • Engage your consumers with reward structures, positive reinforcement, and feedback loops
  • Combine game mechanics with social interaction for activities such as collecting, gifting, heroism, and status
  • Dive into case studies on Nike and Yahoo!, and analyze interactions at Google, Facebook, and Zynga
  • Get the architecture and code to gamify a basic consumer site, and learn how to use mainstream gamification APIs from Badgeville

"Turning applications into games is a huge trend. This book does a great job of identifying the core lasting principals you need to inspire your users to visit again and again."
—Adam Loving
Freelance Social Game Developer and founder of Twibes Twitter Groups

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gabe Zichermann is an author, public speaker, serial entrepreneur, and the foremost expert on the subject of gamification. His book, Game-Based Marketing (Wiley, 4/2010) has achieved critical and industry acclaim for its detailed look at innovators who blend the power of games with brand strategy. Zichermann is also the author of the Gamification Blog at and chair of the Gamification Summit and Workshops.

Christopher Cunningham is a software architect and developer who helped found ChroniQL, an early gamification solution; beamME, a mobile social application; and TrekMail, a breakthrough mobile email/text application. Christopher has deep expertise with agile development processes and distributed team management.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449397670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449397678
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

GABE ZICHERMANN is the chair of the Gamification Summit 9/15-16 NYC (GSummit) - where top thought leaders in this burgeoning industry gather to share knowledge and insight. Zichermann is also an author, highly rated public speaker and entrepreneur whose book, "Gamification by Design" (O'Reilly Media, 2011) looks at the technical and architectural considerations for designing engagement using games concepts. His book "Game-Based Marketing" (Wiley, 2010) achieved critical and industry acclaim for its detailed look at innovators who blend the power of games with brand strategy. A resident of NYC, Gabe is a board member of , advisor to a number of startups and Facilitator for the Founder Institute in Manhattan. For more information about Gabe and gamification, visit the Gamification Blog at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Primer, Overselling his brand a bit much. November 13, 2011
By M. Forr
As a UX designer working on various websites and mobile apps I found the first five chapters useful in my design thinking but I also found a the coding and platform chapters to be weak and kind of sleazy.

Before I write anymore, I want you to know that I'm not going to critique Gamficiation Theory here as that has been done well enough elsewhere. I just want to talk about the book :)

So the first five chapters of the book are useful and meaty enough to get you on your way. For instance, it provides some compelling arguments to think about your analytics in terms of 'levels' and 'experience points' in order to see what they are accomplishing, even if you don't expose the information to them. Moreover, the first five chapters gave me enough to work with to implement some gamified elements into my next project. There's also a supplemental workbook PDF on the authors website that compiles all the exercises found in the book which I could see using at a project kickoff.

That being said, I do have some complaints about this book. First, I feel like the author was selling his website GamificationU a little too hard. In order to download the aforementioned workbook I had to fill out a contact form and in order to get the 'advanced' movies the author provides you have to follow him on twitter. If you ask me it feels a little too sleazy considering I've already paid for the book. If I really want to be on the mailing list or to follow you, I would.

My second issue has to do with "Chapter 7: Coding Basic Game Mechanics". I applaud the author for including a chapter that walks us through the code, I really do. But given the current rapid development of rails he should have forked the project on Github and been more thorough with his documentation.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
You want to have a textbook to install Gamification for your own services, programs or company? Motivated by all the hype about how Gamification is the solution to get an almost lifelong customer engagement and many returning sales? You want to copy the success of Zynga, Nike+ and Groupon (note the absence of Foursquare in this list as I think it's rather a bad example of Gamification)? You want to find the secret recipe in just one easy to read book?

Why not buy and read the newest book from the "foremost expert on the subject of Gamification"? Well the title of this book by Gabe Zicherman sounds like the perfect solution for your motivations above, right? Well, I have bad news for you, there is no easy shortcut to understanding and implementing successful principles of Gamification for you! Nor is this book gonna help you in achieving all that is promised on the outside of the book. Ever heard of "No pain no gain?". That's right, as I will tell you here right away that you have to do it the hard way, buy and read a minimum dozen of books (some reading list provided later) and even then it's not guaranteed you've found the secret recipe.

So safe your 14.10 US$ (strange that Amazon is already cutting the price on a newly book almost in half, unless it's not a bestseller, right?) and invest that and some more dollars into various other books with more insights, more practicable tips, more take-aways than this book. Save yourself from the pain to read through some cheap advertising of the services of as there are many other companies that offer the same service as them - at least two others start also with a B in their company name (hint).
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Feels like an ad for the authors website March 10, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The whole book reads like an add for the authors website. The book wasn't totally useless, but the "ad-like" tone was unacceptable for a product I paid for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gamification Blueprint September 17, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gabe Zichermann's "Game-Based Marketing" was my introduction to gamification so when I saw that he released a follow-up I didn't hesitate to pick it up. The book didn't disappoint.

Whereas "Game-Based Marketing" provides more of a history on gamificiation and provides an excellent overview, "Gamification By Design" is a deeper dive into the underlying psychology that makes game mechanics effective. Along with reviewing his SAPS rewards model, Zichermann also discusses Bartle's personality types to segment various types of game players. Most articles I read focus too much on game mechanics without elaborating on the psychological drivers of gamification, which is similar to learning tools without knowing the trade. But this book provides the context for designers to apply tactics in a wide variety of marketing contexts. It also shares several instructive case studies and even touches on some rudimentary coding.

If you're not a game developer, the book won't turn you into one. But regardless of your level in the field, the book offers a robust lesson on gamification. As a marketer, it definitely helped me develop more creative and layered campaigns. Like all other Zichermann media I've either watched or read, the book is enjoyable because he is witty, funny and insightful without taking himself too seriously. The tone is quite appropriate, considering the magic of gamification is making things fun!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing--Weak At Best
I find this book weak on Gamfication and poorly written. I have taken courses in Gamification and designed many games used in business settings and I just can't say that any of the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Be_It
4.0 out of 5 stars RU GM?
A very "hot" topic these days is using gamification to create incentives both for customers and and employees. Read more
Published 13 months ago by L. King
1.0 out of 5 stars Total nonsense. I would only recommend it as firewood.
This book is badly researched, if at all. The majority of references point to the authors own website. It doesn't actually go into any design theory or methods, despite the title. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Reilsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage of Game Mechanics
This book has done very well to illustrate the examples of game mechanics with recent games and also match them with business model games like loyalty cards. Read more
Published 17 months ago by neozenith
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!
This book is awesome! You want to know gamification? Get this book. No I don't make money saying this. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Kees de Jong
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful.
Gabe Zichermann is the Gamification Guru.
He introduces the Gamification World, no only in the book, He developed a web with more examples and articles, and invented a... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Martin Gonzalez
4.0 out of 5 stars Great informational booklet!
I found the information very useful and its level of explanation about the subject matter to be very enlightening. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Scottywaddydoda
1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow analysis but rich in buzzwords
Blech, a shallow treatment by someone who is using their knowledge of buzzwords to make a living. If you want your product to have the veneer of "gamification" without actually... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Erik A. Saltwell
3.0 out of 5 stars few good example not coherent concept
On the positive side you will get ideas on how to use "gamification" for your own business by studying the many examples given. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Eike B. Post
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch the youtube video instead
This book was very shallow and further perpetuates the belief that anyone can "gamify" their app or website using one of the ready made platforms, when really, it is much more... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jonathan
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