Gamification - FutureLab Community



Overview

Future Lab - Hub for Futuristic Minds.


Future Technologies lab is an initiative by Kerala Startup Mission to provide support as a means of tools, equipment and infrastructure for Research and Development of Emerging Technologies and to serve as a platform for those who want to get introduced to these fields as well.

At present, Future Technologies Lab focuses on Innovation and Research in these disciples:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Robotics
  • Brain Computer Interface (BCI)

Along with the support FutureLab provides, It also hosts a community which is named after Future Lab, where people who are interested in these fields can Collaborate, Learn and Create new things.

Even though the community was active, At present, it is only located at the HQ office, but as it is about to be scaled up there should be something which would ensure maximum user engagement. As most of the community members are students, there has to be a rewarding system which would keep them motivated to contribute.

What i was asked to do?

  • “Membership Management”
  • That is the only thing I was asked to do. Even though the existing model is working perfectly, I wanted to increase user engagement with it so that users won't feel tired after a certain amount of time.

    Once I got the opportunity to restructure the entire membership pattern, I asked the project lead to gamify the entire process to make community contributions fun and effective.

Process.

  1. Identifying the Existing Structure.
  2. As I was completely new to the team, I had very less knowledge about how the community functions at present. In order to be on the same page, I started to discuss with the Future Lab lead to understanding what all types of users we engage and how do we partner with other organizations.

  3. Identifying the Key Audience
  4. It was very important for me to understand the types of users who utilize the future lab facility as it is them I have to serve with better experience which would respect their tendency to adapt more into technology.

  5. Studying similar communities
  6. We needed to understand how other communities work at the present and to get the best of them if it suits us.  It wasn't quite a hassle for me as I was much into communities during my days in college, hence I had an opportunity to work with lots of people from the communities like Hackster.io, Mozilla Foundation, Google Developers Group, Google Local Guides.

  7. Building Personas.
  8. Once the key audience was set, it was time to understand the types of people that get into these labs, their purpose, their weak points, their strong points. This part is very much needed to build the perfect system for them, a system that would motivate, engage and disengage at the right moment. Also, I had to consider the fact that unlike most of the other community future lab isn't completely free, hence I had to keep an eye on the revenue model as well.

    Building personas and setting the perfect system for multiple personas would help me to achieve the same.

  9. Defining the Community Hierarchy.
  10. I was a Mozillian, and I absolutely loved the idea of openness in the community. To achieve the same, we created different user levels named as :

    • Volunteer
    • Junior Member
    • Senior Member / Lead
    • Regional Lead
    • Lab Lead
    • Honorary Member.

    Anyone would enter to the community as a volunteer and then evolves into other levels as per the contributions they made. We tried to gamify this process and introduces experience points which would increase each successful contribution. Each level would have a maximum limit of experience point, reaching up to which would iterate to the level of the community member to the next level.

    We also introduced the concept of virtual coins which can be gained for successful contributions or by payment. Virtual coins can be redeemed for the usage of components in the future lab. These virtual coins are non-transferrable.

  11. Creating Scenarios.
  12. Creating the user scenarios was so enlightening as Future Lab is under a government nodal agency, there could be many scenarios that would disturb any tightly packed community structure. Identifying them and working on them helped us to create a structure which is flexible, but rigid.

  13. Creating User Journies & Stories
  14. Creating user journey played an important role in understanding more features. While we were designing the user journey, we also came across several points that we missed. We designed three user journeys that would cover every aspect of the users who would indulge in the community.

Challenges I faced.

Future Lab does have lots of partners who would provide support by various means to the lab. They also send teams to work in the future lab by utilizing the equipment that is available in the lab.

However, we cant impose the community structure to these companies as the contributions they do cant be measured at the moment.

It was hectic for us to get this under metrics, however, we added a system that would recognize the organization as a single entity and would increment the coins for each successful contribution within the organization regardless of the personnel. Anyone with the approval of the organization can use these coins in future lab provided, they are an employee of the organization.