Ep 009 Erik Van Mechelen and creativity for gamification

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Erik is the Director of Member Success at the Octalysis Group, he is there to ensure OP members succeed in the gamification & human-focused design education experience. He’s also the editor-in-Chief for yukaichou.com and Lead Writer for the Octalysis Group at blog.octalysisgroup.com. He is a writer, editor, and book reviewer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s currently editing the second edition of Yu-kai Chou’s Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards.

A regular day with Erik starts with preparing breakfast and then going out the door with his girlfriend, followed by going to the gym even if just for five minutes. Then his workday starts with 50% for the Octalysis Groups and the other 50% on his own writing on diverse topics, including science-fiction. So Erik is a full-time writer for the past three years!

Erik has been writing on medium.com and achieved the top writer status, a very welcome but unexpected also for him! Something he noticed was that he became really attached to the stats page, which is not a bad gamification itself, it provides the total number of views, but also reads. However, it became almost addictive and started checking it many times a day. The main problem was that there was only an emotional reaction to these stats, so feeling happy or unhappy about the changes but no action and of course it meant he was distracted from the rest of his work.

He’s been working for three years on a science fiction novel, with the objective of getting the attention of publishers and agents in 2018. He’s been devoting around 20% of his time with, at this point, no financial payback. Erik decided to share the draft he had some time ago with some alpha readers and used Heroku and Slack to build a community. He got 50 readers to give him feedback on a 300-page novel! It also became an accountability tool for his weekly writing, since the community was expecting the updates.

Erik likes to begin a gamification process with asking why, which then leads to thinking about the intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivations. It also works when checking on an ongoing project to see if he’s really into continuing with it if he’s there for the right reasons.

Adding more creativity and problem-solving components is a best practice he always likes to implement. His current favorite game is trying to get his novel published.

Erik would really like to have Nir Eyal interviewed in Professor Game, as well as Cal Newport. Erik’s superpower is his ability to find a counter-argument to almost any argument. This allows the construction of reasoning and also of empathy. He advises those starting off in gamification to refer to something they already know, perhaps to games you have already played and think what would happen if one of the rules of the game was changed.

The book he would recommend us is “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal.

Lately, he’s been going around the definition of wisdom, mainly that it has to be earned and can’t be acquired quickly, so think about that!

We can find Erik on his web erikvanmechelen.com or on medium, here’s his profile.

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