42 Rules for Engaging Members through Gamification

Shelly Alcorn & Willis Turner

Play predates the development of human culture and our brains are hard-wired to use play as a tool to accelerate learning, strategically explore unfamiliar environments and develop collaborative social connections. Games are human created, formalized structures and processes designed to maximize engagement and get the most out of the “play” impulse. In fact, gaming comes so naturally to us we don’t even notice it for what it is. Two examples of large scale gaming structures include our educational and political systems. Going deeper into understanding how gaming structures work, and intentionally applying those mechanics can give us an advantage when designing experiences meant to engage our members in the work of our associations.

Although games have been with us since we first learned to scratch marks on small rocks, what is new is the impact the internet and technology is having on games and players alike. What was simple activity in the past, is rapidly turning into a large scale social phenomenon. At some point the term “gamer” will lose it relevancy and we will recognize gamers for what they are – an increasingly sophisticated class of experience consumers. Games are the first mass media of the 21st century and gaming literacy is an essential skill all executives, staff and volunteers need to develop in order to attract, appeal to and invite a new generation of players to play the association game. In this book, we take a simple, practical approach to helping you and your volunteers take these ideas one step farther.

By using these 42 rules from Shelly Alcorn and Willis Turner,, you will be able to use simple gaming mechanics to increase member engagement, improve educational outcomes and build community in your industry or profession.


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About the Authors

Shelly Alcorn, CAE began her career in change management at the age of five when she was enrolled at the first of the eleven schools she would attend prior to graduating from high school. Being the perpetual “new kid” forced her to quickly and strategically assess new environments, orient herself to new curriculum, and figure out the political nuance of recess. No longer five, she consults and speaks on contemporary trends affecting associations. A “blue collar girl in a white collar world” and a revolutionary, self-proclaimed edupunk, she blogs at Association Subculture because her cat is a bad listener.

Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE entered the profession of association management with a solid for-profit career background, enabling him to leverage his business acumen to bring practical game changing ideas to the practice. Often featured as a thought leader at industry conferences, Willis’ new thinking for member attraction and engagement has stimulated dialogue on issues that challenge associations in today’s hyper connected world.