Game Thinking Playbook

 Game Thinking is the fastest, smartest way to validate your  product idea and build customer engagement from the ground up. In this highly anticipated book, Amy Jo Kim shares the method she has used successfully with dozens of companies like Netflix, Electronic Arts, Happify and Pley.

  Table of Contents

ToC MockUp 1

The Game Thinking Playbook will be published in May 2018

Want early access to excerpts – plus a private community of Game Thinkers?


Also by the authors

Kim, Amy Jo. Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities. Peachpit Press, 2006. “Initially, it’s up to you to define your purpose, choose your feature set, and set a particular tone, but as your community grows and matures, your members can and should play a progressively larger role in building and maintaining the community culture.”

Kim, Scott and Richard Restak. The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind. Riverhead Books, 2011. “Over the years I had always been fascinated with puzzles. They are a fun way to stimulate the brain. But can they actually improve different brain functions, such as memory, reasoning, and three-dimensional visualization, among others? …Throughout this book there are many puzzles for you to try. The more you enjoy using your brain, the more you’ll get out of it.”


Koster, Raph. A Theory of Fun. O’Reilly Media, 2013. “Fun is just another word for learning.”


Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008. “Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”

Ryan, Richard M. and Edward L. Deci. Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness. “That most people show considerable effort, agency, and commitment in their lives appears, in fact, to be more normative than exceptiona, suggesting some very positive and persistent features of human nature.”

Pink, Daniel. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books, 2011. “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”

Kohn, Alfie. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes. Houghton Mifflin, 1999. “In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we’re bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.

Kelley, Tom. The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. Crown Business, 2001. “Fail often to succeed sooner.”

Chapter 1. Clarify Your Product Strategy

Ries, Erik. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. “To increase your chances of success, minimize your time through the build-measure-learn cycle.”

Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovations. Free Press, 2003. Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people spread an innovation.”

Moore, Geoffrey. Crossing the Chasm. Harper Business, 2014. “Entering the mainstream market is an act of burglary, of breaking and entering, of deception, often even of stealth.”

Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. Harper Business, 2001. “All good to great companies have Level 5 Leaders; these leaders have a ferocious resolve, and almost stoic determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great. They are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce results. They will sell the mill or fire their brother if that’s what it takes to make the company great.”

Chapter 2. Draft Your Product Brief

Cooper, Robert. Winning at New Products: Creating Value Through Innovation. “Stage-Gate® has become the most widely used method for conceiving, developing, and launching new products in industry today… I hope this 5th edition sounds a wake-up call that true innovation and bold product development are with your grasp.”

Chapter 3: Find Your Hot-Core Superfans

Buchheit, Paul. Blog post from July 30, 2014.  “Build something a few people love, even if most people don’t get it right away.”

Hall, Erika. Just Enough Research. “Early adopters” will put up with cost, ridicule, and friction to get their needs met.”

Hoffman, Reid. Masters of Scale. Podcast.

Chapter 4: Surface Relevant Habits and Needs

Klein, Laura. Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products. “Learning without research is just guessing.”

Chapter 5: Distill Customer Insights into Job Stories

Klement, Alan. When Coffee and Kale Compete. “Job stories make you focus on motivation and context.”

Traynor, Des, Paul Adams, Geoffrey Keating. Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done. Intercom, 2016.

Chapter 6: Sketch Your Mastery Path

Sierra, Kathy. Upgrade your users, not just your product. Blog post, 2005. “Learning is a drug. To the brain, learning new things is inherently pleasurable. So if markets are conversations, why not use the conversation to help someone learn?”

Chapter 7: Design Your Learning Loop

Cook, Dan. Lost Garden blog. “In a loop, you’re learning a skill and updating your mental model. That’s what leads to player delight.”

Eyal, Nir. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Portfolio, 2014. “How do companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, seemingly control users’ minds? What makes some products so habit forming?”

Chapter 8: Map Out Your Social Actions

Bartle, Richard. Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spaces: Players Who Suit MUDs.”

Chapter 9: Prototype Your Core Activity

Vassallo, Steve. The Way to Design. Foundation Capital, 2017. “MVP is a liquid, not a solid.”

Chapter 10: Test Your Idea with Hot-core Customers

<< Could use a good practical reference for product testing.

Chapter 11: Update Your Product Strategy

<< Could use a reference for business canvases and product strategy.

Chapter 12: Plan Your Product Road Map