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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, NetEase, Tantan, 6waves, 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

Posted by Nils Pihl on Wed, 03 Dec 2014 04:08:00 EST in Business/Marketing, Console/PC, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Decoding the Game returns with a panel discussion on the rising cost of user acquisition, the problem of discovery, and the future of independent game publishing. What has caused the rising cost? Are there any historical parallels, and how do we respond?

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

Nils Pihl's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 12/03/2014 - 04:08]

Adam, those are some very ...

Adam, those are some very interesting thoughts on how the discovery mechanism I suggested towards the end of the video. I admit that I hadn 't though about how Google/Apple would react to that kind of mechanic, and I suspect that you 're right.

Comment In: [News - 12/03/2014 - 04:02]

I haven 't played GTA ...

I haven 't played GTA since San Andreas. Honest question: r n r nAre the women in GTA V subject to some particular violence that men are not Or is this more of a women and children kind of reasoning, that it is still unpalatable when violence happens to anyone ...

Comment In: [Blog - 12/02/2014 - 01:56]

I like you. ...

I like you.

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