Notes on Amy Jo Kim’s thoughts about Slack and gamification

(From Amy Jo’s 10/22/15 post on Medium called Bots, MODs & Multiplayer Co-op: why Slack is game-like — NOT gamified, link here.)

Slack started off life as a game but failed to take off. So the creators pivoted to create the beloved online collaboration tool Slack

The creators chose not use the usual gamification visuals—tokens, leaderboards etc.

Instead, they molded Slack in a conversational environment built around helpful BOTS

As users learn the interface, they can begin customizing bot dialogs, eventually progressing to the point of being able to create new bots

They also opened their APIs so other devs could extend their service

And they added hooks for everyday Slack users to customize their identity and emotions

Slack used a games-based, Skill-building Core Loop: learning the ropes, developing new skills and unlocking new powers and challenges

Word of mouth between friends and teams about Slack is what gained it adoption (social discovery), not because IT depts demanded it be used

The bot helps newbies learn basic commands and practice skills before heading into the public—optimizing learning, practice and skill-building—as opposed to LinkedIn’s progress bar, which optimizes task completion

Slack emphasizes user-generated content, which is a dominant characteristic of many of the top-10 apps

Users and their teammates create and share content, learning to use and then customize the service

Slack is constantly updating their own content (like emojis) and is constantly updated by outside apps linking to their services. This keeps giving users more reasons to return to Slack more frequently and to spend more time using the app

About Amy Jo, from her website: 

With a background in neuroscience, computer science, and psychology, Amy Jo Kim is part game designer, part web community architect.

Her design credits include Rock Band, The Sims, Ultima Online, eBay,,, and numerous startups. She’s well known for her 2000 book, Community Building on the Web, and her work applying game design to Web and mobile services.

Kim holds a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Washington and is an adjunct Game Design professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.



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