October 20, 2017

The Gamification of MMM – a technical explanation

Benjamin DadaDec 27, 201610min

Why MMM keeps catching on across countries

Editors note: This post is long overdue. But, knowledge is timeless, I hope. Also, MMM is still going to be around for a long time seeing that it has lived over 20+ years. This post is more centered around the gamification techniques being implemented by MMM, not necessarily the details of Ponzi schemes.


Hahaha, I am not surprised, MMM is a gospel that would get to the ends of the world.

Just incase you are wondering what MMM is and what it is not?, the legal implications etc. I am sad to announce to you that, that is not the aim of this post, but then I have carefully scavenged one of the best and credible information sources for that. Come back to read here.


So, casually, we all woke up to this tingling news;

Followed immediately by this tweet from MMM;

I laughed;

Before then, on Radar — a civilised online community for public discussion, there was a conversation about the rate at which MMM was growing in Nigeria where I contributed and turns out a couple of people agreed with my view.
Hmm, a whole 5 likes, then I must be saying something right…LOL

After the announcement, a facebook conversation about why MMM is so successful, how they distribute and expand sprung up within one of the tech groups I belong to.

And then, I decided to drop my proverbial 2 cents on the matter;

I can end the post here and go, but I just thought some people might benefit from a more technical explanation, I mean, we are on TechCityNG.

Gamification <> MMM

Let’s borrow the definition by Deterding et al. (2011),

Gamification is the application of game design elements to non-game context.

MMM is not a game but it leverages game design elements in achieving its “business” goals. Hence, it fits nicely into the definition.

Also, for something to be termed a game, there has to be an element of fun. This is where a distinction between ‘play’ and ‘game’ can be useful. While they both have elements of fun embedded, the latter has to deal with making meaningful choices.

You might be asking, what fun could the MMM people be having? Answer: People fun (and NO, I am not even trying to make a pun)

Nicole Lazarro, defined 4 keys to fun which includes serious fun, hard fun, easy fun and people fun. So yes, there is something like people fun — where players get to socialise with each other, this ties with the Relationship dynamic of the Gamification Elements which can be seen below. Also, the entire fun experience of games ties with the Emotions dynamic of Gamification Elements because, fun triggers the release of emotions.

They are further discussed below.

What are the Gamification elements?

Before I tell you about some of the game design elements that MMM (and other Ponzi schemes) adopt in making it so successful, allow me to show you a Pyramid of Gamification Elements as postulated by Prof. Kevin Werbach in his Coursera Lecture on Gamification.

The Pyramid of Gamification Element by Kevin Werbach

Dynamics: These are the high-level conceptual elements in a Gamified system. They are not stated explicitly as rules, but they are the pieces that bind the game together. Usually, they sound like grammar. E.g Constraints, Emotions, Narrative, Progression and Relationships.

As funny as it may sound MMM has fans (loyal customers) that vehemently defend the cabal (peep the FB question above). Now, this is due to the fact that it elicits an emotion, which is a Dynamic of Game Elements. Whether the emotion is that of excitement when their first bank alert reaches their phone or the defence it creates when someone tries to talk bad about it. Bottom line is, like every other game, MMM elicits an emotion.

Also, there are relationships being forged/strengthened among the Mavros. Especially between you (not you) and the person that brought you, as they make 10% off your profits. Or between you and other Mavros around the world.

Furthermore, talking about constraints you don’t get paid until after 30 days. Hence, your cashing out is being constrained to a 30-day period.

In addition, progression these refer to the fact that you get to move up the ladder. For instance, when you just join, your gain is limited to only 30% of your “help” (simply, money), but as you grow in MMM you’d start benefitting off other people. Keyword: growth which signals Progress.

Finally, on the matter of dynamics, there is a narrative which is the fact that if you leave your money in the scheme for 30 days, you could make a 30% profit.


In summary, I believe this is more than enough to convince you that the reason why MMM remains ever successful is because it has been gamified.

I can do a sequel to this where I would talk about the Mechanics and Components of MMM that further prove it is a Gamified System. But for now, I would allow you digest this.

to be continued…

Benjamin Dada

MSc Candidate at Lancaster University Management School. Xoogler. DISCLAIMER: All opinions posted by me here are solely mine and not that of my previous or present employers.



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