Gamification for Massive Adoption: Cryptocurrencies and videogames.
By Prof. Laura Maza Bakovic
A couple of months ago I decided to buy my first bitcoins so I consulted with a dear friend who has experience in the field. “You could use a local wallet.” I was fascinated by the idea of being able to promote the local industry and have power and control over my assets, something that not all wallets offer. I downloaded the wallet to my phone and started the registration process. Screen after screen I filled in data, took note of passwords and much, much more. At one point I lost interest and the desire to understand what I was doing, and consequently I lost interest in learning how to use such wallet. I remembered that when I googled the wallet for the first time I noticed an acquaintance of mine was working there. Given the dismay of the first attempt, I wrote to this person to tell her how difficult it had been for me to even register. With a lot of love and patience, she tried to explain to me what she could and ended up sending me a link to a 30-minutes YouTube video where everything was explained. Needless to say, I definitely gave up.
I now know that a wallet and an exchange are not the same. But that is the point. When I started the adoption process, I didn’t really understand the difference between wallet and exchange. People outside of the crypto ecosystem don’t even know what a wallet is. And those interested in having the audience knowing what a wallet or an exchange is, are the CEOs and founders of those companies. The same key actors who should assume the responsibility of educating users. If users don’t know why they need it, how are they going to want to buy it?
Within the world of cryptocurrencies one of the favorite topics of talks, debates, round tables and blogs is adoption. Much is said about adoption and little is carried out. Adoption means to receive, making it your own, an opinion, a method, a doctrine, etc., that has been created by others. 1) It comes from the Latin adopttare, a verb that is composed of two particles: ad- idea of approximation or association and the verb optar that means to choose, to wish. In this way the verb to adopt expresses the idea of choosing or desiring someone or something to be associated or linked to oneself.2) It seems appropriate to indicate to indicate that the verb adopt is generated from the Indo-European root (to choose) and from the Latin verb ( give an opinon). And these are two actions that we do all the time. But, how could a person want to associate or approach something that is unknown to her?
From a pedagogical point of view, a series of events have to occur to achieve adoption. First, we have to define who is the person we want to teach. That is, define the target market. In education we define it by age range and level of previous knowledge, these metrics work very well. Once we have defined who we are going to teach, we must adapt the knowledge that we want to provide them. In the case of wallets and exchanges, I imagine that they define users with very lax metrics because mass adoption is sought. The next logical step would be to explain to the audience why they need that product and not another, in which way this product will make their lives easier, basically why they need to have / acquire / use / adopt this and not the competitor. This step is already pre-established due to the traction that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have by their very nature. Who likes banks and the current financial system?
And how do you teach the same thing to a 60-year-old who only finished high school but has been working in retail for 30 years and to a 20-year-old who is starting a university career related to, say, music? In the same way that it was possible to get adults and children, Westerners, Orientals, women and men to adopt (and have fun with) Mario Bros. or PacMan. These arcade classics loved by all understood that in order to generate interest in users, they must teach them how to play (engagement). Wallets and exchanges should use the elements of video games to help users access knowledge they need to use said app. Just as the student should not be a passive recipient of knowledge pre-chewed by the teacher, neither should the consumer be. But now we are very far from that, exchanges and wallets believe that it is enough to exist and that the user already knows everything and does not need to know anything new0’. And when the marketing numbers come in, they crack their heads thinking what might be going wrong. And they look at the code and they look at the bitcoin numbers, and it’s all good. The problem lies in what happens once the consumer has already downloaded the app. If you look at those numbers, they will see the mistake. The new user has a very long learning curve. Blogs, Facebook groups, specialized publications, Youtube tutorials and the list goes on but always with the feeling that you are not learning the right thing or that the knowledge is biased. And with a very outdated learning method: sit down and listen (and don’t move). And if that potential adopter wants to approach the crypto ecosystem more formally he finds himself with excessively expensive courses, which end up demotivating and convincing him to move away. Exchanges and apps don’t need to explain the entire economic system to potential users, it is enough with teaching them some basic concepts and how to use the application that is being downloaded.
Exchanges identical to Video Games
It is estimated that the video game industry will have a revenue of some 178.5 billion dollars by the end of 2021, and this is with the decrease of 1% due to the global health crisis. The video game industry breaks its own records year after year and the trend continues to rise. The technological advances of smartphones have made it possible for video games to reach phones with very little distortion. Some 3 billion people have smartphones and about two billion use video games on their phones. 3) At first, the video game industry on phones was considered casual and transitory, but in 2019 these users spent more on their games than users of computer games and consoles combined. And those are free to play games. Let’s meditate on this fact. 4) And if we think about the time we spend in front of the computer and the time we spend interacting with the phone, we will see some behavioral differences. The most obvious and the one that makes the difference is the fact that we can have the phone in our hands anywhere and at any time of the day, the console / computer we just cannot.
So the most obvious platform to engage users are apps. Video games, whether in apps or consoles or compus, have the ability to generate followers,avid users, fans. And this is not achieved just by existing in the market, as exchanges and wallets think. There is a conscious study and thorough research behind this process. One of the most interesting aspects of video games as a pedagogical tool is the ability to teach through trial / error and repetition as we see on the first screen of Mario Bros. This mechanism goes like this: first it teaches users (through trial/ error and repetition) to use the game (play), the user plays well because he learnt and he gets a reward. Neurologically speaking, because he received a reward, the user’s brain gets flooded with serotonin that guess what? It is known for facilitating the acquisition of knowledge.5) We call engagement the process in which we capture the user’s attention by inviting them to get involved in an activity, propose an action and then give a reward. The good thing about engagement is that it can take place in loops. For everything the user learns he receives a reward. As stated before, this reward is a badge and serotonin in the brain. And serotonin leaves the brain wanting for more.
Successful exchanges and wallets invite users to connect daily to learn something and to benefit from what is learned. In addition, they must use all the tools available to achieve engagement from the point of view of traditional gamification: points, badges, levels, prize in cryptocurrencies. They should also make use of new trends in gamification such as those suggested by Yu-Kai Chou: meaning and vocation, development and fulfillment, empowerment of creativity, ownership and possession, social influence and affinity, scarcity and impatience, unpredictability and curiosity and, therefore last, the feeling of loss.
The key to achieving a successful process is to combine the elements of gamification, traditional and contemporary with Bloom’s taxonomy that indicates what are the steps to follow in order to learn and teach successfully. Bloom’s taxonomy, originally presented in 1956 by Dr. Benjamin Bloom and corrected in 2001 by his former students 6), indicates the steps to follow: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create.
Bloom’s Taxonomy 2001
The tools exist and are accessible to everyone who needs them. What is lacking is the final push to take the step towards gamification and to be able to understand the user as a person who ignores some knowledge that is necessary for him to be able to buy what the wallets and exchanges are selling. Exchanges and wallets must take the user’s hand and gently show them the way. Exchanges and other apps and subproducts of the crypto stock market must take responsibility for being the pioneers of an industry that very recently did not exist. And as Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsibility” 7), in this case the responsibility is to educate users to use these technologies. The responsibility to help and guide them in the process of acquiring the knowledge to be conscious users of the technology they offer. The reward they will have in return is neither more nor less than unlocking the “million users” level with all the revenue that this brings. The exchanges and wallets that take the longest to adopt gamification for the training and use of their apps face being left out of the natural evolution of knowledge acquisition, and this means being obsolete because users will not know how to use them, or worse, they will find them boring.
I invite you all to follow me on Twitter (@laureliana) and IG (@laurelianam) where I continue to explain how to articulate pedagogy, gamification and apply it successfully to the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Use the hashtag #cryptogamification. It is important to start the dialogue on accessibility to new technologies. We, as users, must define and express how we want to learn to use these technologies. We must ask questions and seek answers that fulfill our needs. For now, and before the massive gamification of wallets and exchanges arrives, this is the best way to learn.
4) Matt Piscatella NPD Group