Persona and Proto-Persona in Gamification Design

Persona and Proto-Persona in Gamification Design

I greet you with a call as old as existence but far beyond time, located at the entrance of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, one of the ancient Greek cities for hundreds of years.






The Spartan Chilon passed away and died centuries ago, but his most enduring and striking phrase, ‘know thyself’, has been immortalized.

Spartalı Chilon yüzyıllar önce bu dünyadan geçmiş ve ölmüştür, ancak en kalıcı ve çarpıcı sözlerinin başında gelen ‘kendini tanı’ ölümsüzleşmiştir.

Self-knowledge is an internal journey that we make by nurturing the external motivations we started as a child. The day we start questioning “who am I” is the day we start to know and know ourselves.


Am I just a breath?

As the French gastronomy expert Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, “Am I what I eat?” Or am I the sum total of my thoughts, feelings and actions? Am I what I hear, what I speak, or what I keep silent?

Who am I?

Who is my family? What is my life purpose? Which country, culture, geography am I a person of? Where do I live? What do I like, what makes me happy or sad, what makes me angry or uncomfortable? When these questions are heard one after the other, they sound like the questions of a person who has lost his memory. However, as you find and question the answers, you will embark on a journey of discovery in the depths of your memory. This is a long journey that requires intelligence, patience and experience.

While getting to know oneself is a difficult and arduous task that covers a whole lifetime, we try to get to know other people in our social environment, workplaces, education life and in many areas of life and we may have to make sense of it. At this point, tests and questionnaires such as personality and persona analysis prepared by experts in the field, prepared with professional questions, come into play in order to put character measurements into statistical data.

In a gamification and interaction design, we use tests including player types, persona and proto-persona to get to know the players and keep them flowing in the game. So, what is this persona and persona family?

In gamification designs, Personas have long been defined in the UX world, while proto-personas are a relatively new concept.

Oyunlaştırma tasarımlarında, Persona'lar UX dünyasında uzun süredir tanımlanırken proto-persona'lar nispeten daha yeni bir kavram.

Persona; we can say that it is a cluster representation of a target audience that shares common behavior, motivation and expectations. Yes, with such dictionary definitions, concepts can hang a little. However, to make it more understandable, we can give an example as follows. In other words, when I define the persona as ‘White Collar’ or ‘Housewife’, I actually do not go into detail enough because I leave these definitions open in a way that can create a different perception in everyone. But if we want to create a solid user base, it is not enough to leave the end of the rope like this. If I say ‘Housewife Nurçin’ instead of Housewife, and then find answers to questions such as who this Nurçin is, what she likes, what are her virtues, then I can create a different perception in everyone.

How to Make Persona

To describe the persona in 3 steps: Collect data, Segment, Produce…

Persona are not a living person but composite archetypes encountered in ethnographic interviews, based on behavioral data collected from many real users.” But in order to integrate them into the process, they must be defined as if they were real people. Maybe the persona we observe may be a representation of dozens of people, even if it seems like a single person. Persona should be derived from qualitative and quantitative user research. The purpose of creating personas is to enable designers who pursue gamification design and UX professionals who create a digital product to make accurate and informed decisions. Thanks to the dataset collected in personas, I can get to know and understand the group of people to be designed. I can embrace their motivations and pain points as if they were my own. And the persona takes me out of myself, making me feel like the ‘Housewife Nurçin’ I just mentioned.

What does it mean to feel like Nurçin?

• To be able to understand the other person and put ourselves in their place.

• Being able to predict the behavior of that person based on his/her story.

Right here, when I can feel like Nurçin, I know that I am stepping into a solid design process. Therefore, we can say that persona is one of the cornerstones of design.

However, sometimes the upfront cost of doing research and creating real people can be daunting when starting a digital project. This is where the concept of the proto-persona really comes into play.

1. To get fast results;

1. Hızlı sonuçlar elde etmek için;

Proto-persona: A hypothetical form of persona that is produced very quickly, using the company’s existing data and previous research, which is more minimal than the persona, eg data based only on survey results. In gamification design, they serve the same purpose as real people, to be able to empathize and ensure harmony among all stakeholders.

In other words, making proto-persona in this process will take a few hours on average. Therefore, it will be both fast and low cost. In other personas, this period may take weeks or even months.

Of course, in addition to these advantages, it should be noted that the proto persona has low accuracy and is a temporary solution as a disadvantage.

2. Best Suited for Teamwork

Qualitative Personas are personas created with qualitative people based on small or medium-sample qualitative research, such as usability tests or field studies. Within most teams, the best approach to creating personas is to conduct robust exploratory, qualitative research (such as interviewing users) and then segment users based on shared attitudes, goals, pain points, and expectations. Because qualitative personalities are based on user data, they are accurate and make the difference by providing basic information about user motivations, expectations, and needs that are impossible to derive from analytics data, demographics, or assumptions alone. Because they are not based on large samples and statistics, there is no way to determine an exact proportion of the user population each person represents. (For example, you can’t say your X user base is 49%.)

3. Mixture of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Statistical Persona, the most intensive and labor-intensive version of persona creation, involves collecting data through a survey sent to a large sample of your user base and then using statistical analysis to find clusters of similar responses. Although we define them as statistical personalities, mixed method personalities actually arise because they are based on both qualitative and quantitative research.

Such personas require some prior exploratory qualitative research to determine which questions to include in the survey. You need to have a solid working knowledge of the expectations and needs of your particular users and create a survey that will reveal anything useful.

There are 2 major reasons why the statistical persona is advantageous over other methods:

1- With a large sample, you can be sure that personas in outliers are not overrepresented. (That is, since a person with an unconventional mindset does not dramatically affect the results).

2- You can know what percentage of your total user base each persona represents; this can assist in making decisions that benefit one persona over another.

Cons of Statistical Persona

1- This segmentation is expensive, time consuming and requires expertise in statistical analysis.

2- Unless you have access to a statistician or data scientist, this method is unlikely to be efficient and is not recommended.

In the light of all this information, considering that data has become more valuable than oil today, we can get to know our target audience better with the right data and analyzes in the designs we make.

After talking about getting to know so much, if we refer to Yunus Emre’s verses;

“I don’t call me me, I’m not myself,

There is a me inside me too.”

This article was written with the contributions of Canan Yumak, one of the Gamfed Turkey Volunteers.



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