White Hat Core Drives

White Hat Core Drives (WH) are composed of the following motivators:

  • CD1 Epic meaning and calling

  • CD2 Development of accomplishment

  • CD3 Empowerment of creative feedback


  • CD4 Ownership and possession

  • CD5 Social influence and relatedness

The top three core drives, CD1, CD2, and CD3, are what we call White Hat Core Drives (WH). However, CD4 and CD5 are sometimes WHCD depending if the motivation is more a positive motivator. If not, CD4 and CD5 would become a Black Hat Core Drive (BH).

According to behaviorism theorist, Skinner (1974), he believed that behavior is a function of positive reinforcements and negative reinforcements. If the learner continues to do well, reward them with positive reinforcements.

The Octalysis framework has similar elements as Skinner's behavior theory however is different. According to Yu-kai Chou, White Hat Core Drives are considered "positive motivators". Instead of the term "reinforcement", the term "motivators" is the term he uses instead. One reason is because we believe that learning is not a linear journey. A journey is a live learning experience which will differ between different different learners. We'll dive more into the behavior learning theory in another section.

Core Drive 1:
Epic Meaning and Calling

Epic meaning and calling is the core drive when the learner believes that what they study and what they participate at school is greater than themselves.

Here's a real life example of applying CD1 in a classroom:

Teacher tells a personal story of how her research of water contamination in a local water supply. She found a method to treat the water with science which inspires her class. The class believes that in studying and participating in her class, they will also become one who will make a great positive impact. Maybe they want to become a doctor or engineer who will discover a solution to a world problem too – Resulting in treating multitudes of people.

What's special about this core drive is that it can be both non-fictional and fictional.

Here's a fictional example of applying CD1 in a classroom:

A high school science teacher is a huge fan of Marvel Superheroes. He created his entire year's worth of lesson plans for this classes with the theme of Marvel Superhero. On the first day of class, he onboards his class into Professor Xavier's special school for the gift. Each student was able to choose their super powers. The science teacher, who pretends to be Professor Xavier tells his students that they are all special and gifted in their own unique ways. Together we will figure out learning science and be the positive change in this world.

This would be a fictional epic meaning and calling for the high school science teacher.


CD1 is a White Hat and can be both intrinsic and extrinsic core drives.

Example game techniques:

Narrative, elitism, humanity hero, beginner's luck, destiny child, creationist

To learn more about CD1 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Core Drive 2:
Development of accomplishment

Development of accomplish is the core drive where making progress and besting challenges is important. This is an important motivator because it pushes both educator and learners towards the set learning objective and learning progress.

Here's an real life example of applying CD2 in a classroom:

Every week, an English teacher collects her student's book reading log. For every 100 page the class reads their individual books, the teacher will add a penny into her class penny jar. He the jar becomes full and can no longer hold any more pennies, the teach will treat her students to a pizza party.

The penny jar is a representation of a progress bar. As a class, they work together towards a goal. Of course, when the teacher designs this system, they would need to make sure the students are honest and make it fool proof by perhaps adding other core drives from the Octalysis Framework to support this progress experience. And hopefully the teacher wouldn't use pennies to buy the class pizza because that would not be a positive experience for the pizza parlor!

CD2 can also be applied in a fictional scenario. If buying pizza for the entire class is a financial burden, the teacher may create something fictional but of worth to the students. Like a free late homework pass will be given to the students. Or reward the class with a game everyone would enjoy playing. This will require assistance from other core drives to help keep students motivated.


CD2 is a White Hat and an extrinsic core drive.

Example game techniques:

Status point, badges, earned lunch, leaderboard, progress bar, quest list, high five, crowning, spotlight effect, anticipation parade, aura effect, step-by-step tutorial, boss fight.

To learn more about CD2 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Core Drive 3:
Empowerment of Creative Feedback

Empowerment of creative feedback is known as the GOLDEN CORE DRIVE. This is the golden core drive because it calls on the White Hat and intrinsic hemisphere of the Octalysis framework.

This is the core drive where the constructivist learning theory is founded on. CD3 is where the learner is empowered to create their own creativity into their own space or project. Learners not only need ways to express their creativity, but they need to be able to see the results of their creative choice, receive feedback, and respond in turn again.

Empowerment of creative feedback is the CD that examples why everyone loves playing with Lego blocks. They get to continuously create with their imagination and make choices. They get to express their creativity. At the end when the creation is complete, they get to enjoy their masterpiece by looking at how amazing it looks (which also touches CD2 at the end of the feedback). In the constructivist learning theory, you'll also see how CD3 empowerment of creative feedback connects to the learning theory.

Here's an real life example of applying CD2 in a classroom:

A technology teacher introduces a famous computer game called Minecraft For Education to his students. All the students get on the program and enters a 3D block building world. The teacher splits the class into groups and hands out a problem card for each of the groups. Each group has free-reign as to use the digital blocks to come up with a solution to the problem.

One group's problem card is to come up with a solution of building an imaginary sustainable living space for their group in the Minecraft world. So the group builds a house of blocks with sustainable material and builds a farm with recyclable water from the rain.

Using Minecraft as a CD3 example is more on the high tech example. CD3 can be as simple as giving student the choice to choose their own research project or how to spend their classroom money. It's the gratification of making a chose and enjoying the results of their decision. A repeating process will lead to enjoyment when the learner repeated makes positive associations with the result.


CD3 is a White Hat and extrinsic core drives.

Example game techniques:

Real-time control, instant feedback, boosters, blank fills, plant picker, poison picker

To learn more about CD1 from the creator of Octalysis Framework, click here.

Sometimes CD4 & CD5 are Black Hat

Core Drive 4:

Ownership and Possession*

*Sometimes White Hat

Ownership and possession is a pure extrinsic core drive but is split between white hat and black hat core drive. CD4 is a white hat core drive when it is tied to CD2, CD3, and CD4, the white hat core drives.

CD4 + CD1: Gaining something bigger than themselves like an Olympic title representing a nation. Which is a big accomplishment which becomes CD2.

CD4 +CD2: Gaining some sort of achievement and status.

CD4 + CD3: Gaining the ability to make choice.

Core Drive 5:

Social Influence and Relatedness*

*Sometimes White Hat

Social Influence and Relatedness is a pure intrinsic core drive but is split between white hat and black hat core drive. CD5 is a white hat core drive when it is tied to CD2, CD3, and CD4, the white hat core drives.

CD5 + CD1: Students doing community service at the homeless shelter to help the needy.

CD5 +CD2: Winning a team sport

CD5 + CD3: Choosing a homework partner