Core Drives of Gamification: The Relevance of Social Influence & Relatedness

by Bryan Woo, Simulation Designer

Social Influence & Relatedness refers to a core drive in Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis Framework. Simulation Designer Bryan Woo talks about his experience with this core drive and how it guided him to undergo behavioural change in a natural way.  

The year was 2012 and I was walking towards campus for my first day at college. It was orientation day and campus was packed with people, mostly parents dropping their children off, and other students making their way from one place to another.

I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t nervous. It was a lot to take in, especially when you’re trying to keep up with a pace that you aren’t used to. Growing up in a small town in Perak, Malaysia was rather slow paced as compared to the hustle and bustle of a capital city like Kuala Lumpur.

  Photo by Zukiman Mohamad from Pexels

Photo by Zukiman Mohamad from Pexels

Eventually, my day went on with icebreakers and speeches. I made a few new acquaintances with some of my peers during those activities, but nothing beyond your typical “Hi, nice to meet you, bye” interactions, since most were already part of their own social circles.

So ended my first day of college.

As I walked back to my dorm, I was beginning to worry that I would struggle to make new friends and cope with living away from home. Well, at least until my roommate moved in a few days later. Which to my surprise, was my old high school mate from back home!

Long story short, the next few days got a lot easier after that, especially when socializing with others. I would like to think that having a familiar face around and seeing him enjoy his time here was the catalyst I needed to get out of my shell, and explore my new surroundings.

  Bryan breaking out of his shell

Bryan breaking out of his shell

Looking back, my experience back in college demonstrated Social Influence and Relatedness -  one of the core drives within Yu-Kai Chou’s Octalysis Framework in Gamification. This core drive incorporates social elements that drive people to do activities, when inspired by what other people think, do, or say.

Social Influence refers to activities such as competition, mentorship, collaboration or group quests, companionship, and social treasures. Relatedness, on the other hand, takes about nostalgia and emotional associations, much like how storylines are crafted to appeal to certain audiences.

  Shared experiences forge bonds with an institute or group

Shared experiences forge bonds with an institute or group

Tying it back to my time in college, I experienced Relatedness in the form of my old roommate moving in and having a familiar face around from back home. Seeing him interact with new people and experiences has driven me to do the same, hence my being driven by Social Influence.

Humans are considered social beings, and in a majority of our everyday activities we involve at least one or more other people. Activities like team sports, business meetings, working in an office space, church services, or other religious gatherings, etc..

  Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

It is true that we also engage in these activities for other reasons, but there’s no denying that social influence is an equally important drive for each of them.

Hence why gamification initiatives can benefit from tapping into this core drive. A well-designed program can foster genuine motivation and performance in regards to working in collaborative and competitive environments, thus allowing users to embrace new challenges and experiences together with others.