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Nils Pihl's Blog   Expert Blogs


Nils Pihl is a behavioral engineer, and the founder and CEO of, a real-time behavioral analytics platform with a revolutionary new version-control system for data models. Founded in 2010, the Traintracks team has been enlisted to build, measure and improve everything from social networks to neural interfaces, and their clients include industry-leaders like Sina Weibo, 6waves, HappyLatte, and renowned research institutions like Brown University's BrainGate project.

By merging the fields of meme theory, behavioral psychology, and game theory, Nils has created a compelling new vision and understanding of what drives human behavior in the internet era. A sought-after and often quoted speaker and author in Asia, his work has been featured in prominent publications and blogs like Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, and Techinasia.

Prior to founding, Nils was the International Channel Manager at HansaWorld, an international ERP software company. He has taught consumer and sales psychology to companies like Apple and Sina in over 10 countries.



Expert Blogs

Innovation in the data-driven design movement is lagging behind our increased demand for big data. We’ve gone from floppy disks to the app store, from dial up to broadband, from DOS to iOS, from command line to touch screen - but SQL is still SQL.

When we reduce our reward systems into internal/external rewards, we are failing to take the player's subjective experience into account, and miss an opportunity to make valuable predictions.

What are rewards, and what's wrong with gamification? In the second episode of Decoding the Game, we introduce new concepts and terminology that help us better understand rewards, game design, and the pitfalls of gamification.

Posted by Nils Pihl on Tue, 22 Oct 2013 07:41:00 EDT in Business/Marketing, Design
In response to a recent controversial post, this video explores the concept of "irrational behavior" from a behavioral engineering perspective, and explains why reducing behaviors into rational/irrational is a bad habit, lacking in empathy.

In the first episode of Decoding the Game we discuss what play really is, and the implications that the work/play distinction has on game design. This is the first episode out of five, so make sure you subscribe to

Posted by Nils Pihl on Sat, 17 Nov 2012 11:56:00 EST in Design, Serious
Every now and then a word comes along that captures the imagination of everyone it touches. Almost overnight these words spread across our collective consciousness and alter the tone and content of our conversations.

Nils Pihl's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 10/22/2013 - 07:41]

Dear Algirdas, r n r ...

Dear Algirdas, r n r nAs much as I would like to, I cannot take credit for human nature. These mechanisms work regardless of my work, or how publicly I express my ideas. I have not reprogrammed our brains for these mechanism to work. r n r nI am not ...

Comment In: [Blog - 05/22/2014 - 12:34]

Heather, I think most of ...

Heather, I think most of the cost was in re-instrumenting the game, updating their analytics platform, finding the right time to push these updates to the app store since this was a mobile game , debugging results etc... r n r nThat being said, I was not responsible for the ...

Comment In: [Blog - 06/26/2014 - 03:53]

Where is Shokrizade saying that ...

Where is Shokrizade saying that game designers abuse children

Comment In: [Blog - 05/22/2014 - 11:32]

Loss aversion is a very ...

Loss aversion is a very real and documented thing, but many if not most of the examples you give are not loss aversion. It 's as if though you 're calling any cognitive bias loss aversion .

Comment In: [Blog - 11/06/2013 - 05:21]

Commenting to notify you that ...

Commenting to notify you that I made edits to my previous post. r n r nEdit: Thanks for the link. I seem to recall having read it once before, but you 've convinced me that it 's worth reading again. Overall, thanks for the conversation but I think I have ...

Comment In: [Blog - 11/06/2013 - 05:58]

1 Registering to take the ...

1 Registering to take the test forces you to pick male or female. Interesting start.