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"Gamification" to Increase Liberty Activism?
« on: January 08, 2014, 07:21:31 PM »

Below is a post I created on one possible approach to increase liberty activism in a liberty organization:

This is only a rough shell but should provide food for further thought on one approach to increase activity in a liberty organization. This text is available as a PDF and as a Wiki at http://liberty.startupipservices.com/wiki/index.php?GamificationToIncreaseLibertyActivism in case you would like to add to the content.


In not-for-profits, especially liberty groups, I see the same cycle again and again. There are a core group of a few highly active people and few or no other active people. The core highly active people work tirelessly for a period of time. Due to burnout, life/work events, and changed or lost interest, one or more of those core active people gets burned out and becomes inactive. Gradually, the number of core highly active people decreases. The workload among the remaining active people increases. Manpower is limited such that the focus is on operational tasks of the organization versus liberty education or activism. The group becomes even less effective or ineffective at achieving its liberty goal. There is rarely any meaningful focus on new activities or attracting new active members in the group. Where there is focus, it seems focused on recruiting another highly active member (ie almost an all or nothing involvement). There is very little focus, communication, enticement, information, and defined activities for new active members.

Gamification - What is it?

From Wikipedia, “Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users...” Gamification techniques strive to leverage people's natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure. A core gamification strategy is rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks. Another viewpoint to gamification is to make existing tasks feel more like games. Some techniques used in this approach include bringing new members onboard with tutorials, increasing challenge and options over time, and adding narrative or perspective to the non-game context (ie the liberty organization here). Types of rewards can vary from the mundane to the exotic. Common rewards in online venues include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar (like the bar that shows your LinkedIn? profile's completeness), providing the user with virtual currency, check-ins, badges, titles. Competition is another element of games that can be used in gamification. Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other “players,” visible to website visitors, or announcement at meetings are ways of encouraging players to compete. I believe this would be more congratulatory in a liberty context. I see a basic implementation of gamification within a liberty organization or outreach project effectively as basic organizational management with slight structure and “game” overlay.

Why Explore Gamification?

Ultimately, it may increase activity. The above general gamification description and popular literature focus on the competitive aspects being the basis of increased activity, I suspect that in liberty organizations defining possible tasks would be the basis of increased activity in the organization. As an attendee and observer, I rarely see the “What can I do to help?” question concisely answered in liberty event settings. As a result, indirectly it can provide a path for increased activity. I also suspect that the majority of the increased activity would be from those initially outside the organization. Additional possible reasons for exploring the option are that it is implementable in a small group settings, specific outreach projects, and organizational at a local or national level.

Why to Not Explore Gamification?

It requires time and possibly money in an already resource stretched organization. It may only attract people who are already active? It's arguably gimmicky and could only attract flighty people. One comment: “If you can't run good candidates, turn voting into a game... dazzle voters with prizes and Facebook backgrounds and social media graphs!!”
Overview of Possible Steps Process

At the most basic, there are four steps, namely define tasks, define rewards, announce, and track.

1. Define task (define “game” activity) – The organization would define specific tasks that support the goal of the organization. Optimally, the list of tasks would include tasks of varying duration. Optimally, the task list would include

2. Define the reward (define “game” activity rewards) – The organization would create rewards for those tasks, with the reward presumably proportionate to the task... and of course also within the budget of the organization.

3. Announce (start the “game”) - The organization would announce the game. Of course, this is dependent upon the game, but a typical announcement might be in the “Get Involved” in the “Liberty Track” on the website, at meetings, at a relevant event, and other media.

4. Track (monitor “game” play) – Here, user activity is tracked against the tasks. Again, this would be dependent upon the game. Hopefully, some of the activity can be automated or self reported.

Examples of Gamification in Politics or Not-for-Profit Situations

Gamification in Politics ( http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ways-industries-use-business-gamification.html ) - The Obama campaign created the equivalent of a drinking game where people donated at the timely moment instead of drinking. They created a “G.O.P. Debate Watch site,” where Democratic supporters could play a game in which they pledged to donate each time a Republican candidate used a word from a pre-designated “hot list” during the debate.

Red Cross Apps ( http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/18/new-app-team-red-cross-gamifies-local-volunteer-activities-schools-other-apps-with-impeccable-holo-design/ , http://www.imedicalapps.com/2012/10/american-red-cross-ap-game-center/ ) - The Red Cross created apps which entice and track the donation of blood, donation of money, learning CPR, and other organizational goals by rewarding with videos, social media postings, “hero” status, and other similar rewards.

Former 5ivepoints Platform ( http://upstart.bizjournals.com/views/blogs/elections/2011/12/05/web-app-5ivepoints-aims-to-make-electioneering-a-game.html?page=all ) - The platform encouraged efficiency and competition among electioneering in a campaign by rewarding points and badges for activities such as contacting voters and adding them to the campaign database, and social-network posting.

Proposed Gamification to Increase Voting ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabe-zichermann/improve-voter-turn-out_b_2127459.html ) - In order to increase voter turnout, one author considered breaking down the voting process the following defined steps:

    Register to Vote
    Research a primary (or participate in one)
    Read the party platforms
    Watch a debate
    Attend a live Town Hall or Q&A session
    Get and complete your absentee ballot, or
    Find your polling place
    Schedule your time off
    Tell a friend

At each step, users would be able to “check in” to the activity and see how they're faring towards the goal with a progress indicator. Voters could compare against others in their social graph or demographic. Progress could be tracked from one election to the next, with long term activity giving a higher effective civic participation score. High scoring voters could even help other, less knowledgeable voters learn how to use the system through mentorship.

Mock Implementation

Example organization – A local police transparency organization with a WordPress website and $1000 in funds. Basic tactics include posting video of police conduct.
1. Define Tasks

Tasks (Points)

View online tutorial on use of cell phone to securely record and upload video (50 points)

Attend live presentation on use of personal portable camcorder to securely record and upload video (50 points)

View online tutorial on approaches and common legal issues in filming police (50 points)

Attend live presentation on approaches and common legal issues in filming police (50 points)

An afternoon/evening/night recording police activity (200 points first session, 100 points subsequent)

Present training session on recording cops (100 points)

2. Define Rewards

This is a point based reward system with prizes based on total points.


250 points - $25 gift certificate at local restaurant

500 points - Personal video recorder (eg Sony Bloggie)

1000 points - “Voucher” for $500 towards bail or attorney consultation

2000 points - Police frequency scanner

3. Announcement

The game is posted on the website, posted in social media outlets, distributed by email, announced at events.

4. Tracking

Reporting is manual and might be confirmed at the event or access statistics. Tracking is manual using a spreadsheet.

Next Steps


Gamification to Increase Liberty Activism by John Lindsay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike? 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://liberty.startupipservices.com/wiki/index.php?GamificationToIncreaseLibertyActivism
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 08:59:07 PM by libertyguy9 »
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