Home » Octalysis Framework: A Comprehensive Guide to Human-Focused Design

Octalysis Framework: A Comprehensive Guide to Human-Focused Design

Octalysis Framework: A Comprehensive Guide to Human-Focused Design

As a gamification designer, have you ever struggled to create experiences that engage users and keep them motivated for long periods? If so, you’re not alone. Many gamification designers face this challenge throughout their careers.

One solution to this problem is the Octalysis Framework, a gamification framework created by Yu-kai Chou.

Photo: Yu-kai Chou in Istanbul at Gamfed Gamification Conference (Me in the back)

This framework uses human-focused design principles to motivate users and keep them engaged over time. In this blog post, we’ll explore the Octalysis Framework, its core drives, and how to use it to create compelling gamification experiences.

What is Gamification?

Gamification refers to the process of incorporating the entertaining and captivating aspects of games into real-world or productive activities. This approach, also known as “Human-Focused Design,” prioritizes human motivation in a system over pure efficiency.

The term Gamification originates from the gaming industry, which was the first to master Human-Focused Design.

Human-Focused Design

Function-Focused Design, emphasizes getting a job done quickly, assuming that workers will complete their tasks simply because they are required to do so. However, Human-Focused Design considers the emotions, insecurities, and motivations of individuals in a system and aims to optimize their engagement and satisfaction.

What is the Octalysis Framework?

Octalysis Framework is a gamification framework developed by Yu-Kai Chou, which applies game-like elements to real-world activities to optimize for human motivation rather than pure efficiency. The framework is designed around eight core drives that motivate people towards certain activities, including Epic Meaning and Calling, Development and Accomplishment, Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback, and Ownership and Possession. Octalysis has become required literature in gamification instruction worldwide and is available in 16 languages.

The eight core drives of the Octalysis Framework are:

  1. Epic Meaning & Calling: The drive to be part of something bigger than oneself.
  2. Development & Accomplishment: The drive to progress, develop skills, and overcome challenges.
  3. Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: The drive to be creative and receive feedback on one’s efforts.
  4. Ownership & Possession: The drive to feel ownership over something.
  5. Social Influence & Relatedness: The drive to connect with others and be part of a community.
  6. Scarcity & Impatience: The drive to obtain something scarce or in limited supply.
  7. Unpredictability & Curiosity: The drive to explore the unknown and experience surprises.
  8. Loss & Avoidance: The drive to avoid negative consequences and loss.

According to Yu-kai Chou, everything we do is based on one or more of these eight core drives. The Octalysis Framework provides a comprehensive framework for understanding human motivation and its use cases to create engaging experiences.

How does the Octalysis Framework work?

The Octalysis Framework identifies which core drives are most relevant to a user or activity. By understanding which core drives motivate, gamification designers can create experiences that leverage these drives to keep users engaged.

For example, let’s say you’re designing a fitness app. By using the Octalysis Framework, you might identify that Development & Accomplishment and Ownership & Possession are the two most relevant core drives for your users. You could then create challenges and rewards that tap into these core drives, such as badges for reaching certain milestones or virtual trophies for completing difficult workouts.

In addition to identifying the most relevant core drives, the Octalysis Framework also provides a way to balance extrinsic motivators (such as points, badges, and leaderboards) with intrinsic motivators (such as the sense of accomplishment and progress).

By balancing these motivators, gamification designers can create experiences that are both engaging and meaningful to users.

White Hat vs. Black Hat Gamification

It’s important to note that the Octalysis Framework focuses on “White Hat” gamification, which means using gamification for positive purposes such as education, health, and personal growth.

In contrast, “Black Hat” gamification manipulates users for negative purposes, such as addiction, deception, and exploitation.

Yu-kai Chou argues that Black Hat gamification is ultimately unsustainable, as it relies on short-term gains at the expense of long-term engagement and trust. In contrast, White Hat gamification is focused on creating meaningful experiences that align with users’ goals and values.

Using the Octalysis Framework for Creative Process

One of the most powerful aspects of the Octalysis Framework is its ability to enhance the creative process. By understanding the different Core Drives, gamification designers can create experiences that engage users and inspire them to be more creative.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is one of the Core Drives that is particularly relevant to the creative process. This Core Drive allows users to experiment, try new things, and explore different possibilities.

When users engage in a creative process, they need to have the ability to see the results of their creativity, receive feedback, and respond in turn. This is where gamification can help.

For example, a gamification designer could create a platform where users can submit their creative work, receive feedback from others, and earn points or badges for their efforts. This would create a sense of accomplishment and motivate users to continue to develop their skills and creativity.

Another Core Drive that can be used to enhance the creative process is Development & Accomplishment. This Core Drive is about progressing, developing skills, and overcoming challenges. By creating challenges relevant to the creative process, gamification designers can motivate users to work harder and develop their skills.

For example, a gamification designer could create a challenge to design a logo or create a piece of artwork within a set time limit. This would inspire users to be more creative and help them develop their skills through practice.

Finally, Epic Meaning & Calling can also enhance the creative process. This Core Drive is about believing that you are doing something greater than yourself or being “chosen” to do something.

By creating experiences that inspire users to feel like they are contributing to a greater cause or working towards a higher purpose, gamification designers can motivate users to be more creative and engaged.

For example, as a gamification designer, you could create a challenge to design a charity or non-profit organization logo. This would give users a sense of purpose and inspire them to use their creativity to make a positive impact.


Gamification is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance the user experience and drive engagement. The Octalysis Framework is a gamification framework that provides a comprehensive and human-focused approach to gamification design. 

By understanding the different Core Drives, gamification designers can create experiences that engage users and inspire them to be more creative, motivated, and empowered. 

Whether you are designing a game, a website, or a marketing campaign, the Octalysis Framework can help you create fun and meaningful experiences.

Gamification is not about manipulating users or tricking them into doing something they don’t want to do. It’s about tapping into the fundamental human motivation that drives us all.

Using gamification to enhance the creative process, we can inspire users to be more creative, motivated, and empowered. With the Octalysis Framework, gamification designers have the tools they need to create experiences that are not only engaging but also meaningful and fulfilling.

Remember, gamification is not a magic bullet to solve all your problems. It’s a tool that, when used correctly, can help you to achieve your goals and drive engagement. So, if you want to enhance the user experience, drive engagement, and inspire creativity, consider using the Octalysis Framework and tapping into the power of gamification.

If you’re interested in learning more about gamification, check out my previous article, “What is Gamification?” This article provides an overview of gamification, its benefits, and its applications. It’s a great starting point for anyone new to gamification and wanting to learn more about this exciting field.

Octalysis Prime

Also, alternatively, if you want to take your knowledge to the next level, you can sign up for Octalysis Prime to access exclusive educational videos developed by Yu-kai Chou. I really enjoyed watching those.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top