Chasing Wonder and the Future of Engagement


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Wonder, one of the strongest emotions of game design, rivets player attention and unleashes powerful neurochemicals that facilitate learning. At the heart of every intellectual pursuit, at the root of nearly all engagement, wonder keeps players coming back. Wonder does not show up in A/B testing. Come learn the secret mechanics that make smartphone games like ANGRY BIRDS, DOODLE JUMP, and FRUIT NINJA best sellers. Be the first to create your own GAME plan for creating engagement by connecting Goals, Actions, Motivations, and Emotions. Games are more than points and badges. Emotions drive fun.

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  • Hi I'm Nicole Lazzaro, President of XEODesign, and I make games more fun. Welcome to Chasing Wonder A foot note: is that GDC asked me a week ago to speak, I seized the challenge to talk about the bigger picture. While I’ve only had 112 hours to gather these thoughts on where we are going, I have assembled some resources on + 4 games that build tools and skills change our future + 3 new models of engagement for you to download at
  • I am dedicated past 20 years to unlocking human potential and improving quality of life through play. Whether we are young or old we learn through play. In games we take a break and in play we craft our future selves. To meet our future responsibly we must learn to chase wonder, master challenges, work together and, ultimately create meaning in an ever more complicated world. Will we be victims or protagonists, healers or destroyers, problem solvers or problem creators? Games can show us how. For 20 years I have made screens more engaging through player experience design - applying research that unlocks the mechanics of how and why we pursue the complicated phenomenon known as “fun.” For the past two decades I’ve improved over 100M player experiences for companies such as Ubisoft, Sony, EA, and Cartoon Network. Privilege to work on 3 of the Myst series, with the Sims 2 Team, and nearly all of the Diner Dashes. I also used our research techniques to design the first Accelerometer game on the iPhone With Joe Hewitt. A game called Tilt Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions, where I designed a game mechanic to create an emotion profile that drove 250,000 visits.
  • I am most known for having the audacity to ask the question What if you could change how someone feels by playing a game? How can we use this to improve how we live work and play? Called the Four Keys to Fun it has inspired 100’s of thousands of developers including Will Wright, Raph Koster, Jessie Schell, and Jane McGonigal; as well as development teams at Bungie, XBOX, DICE, EA, Volition, Adobe, Facebook, and Google..
  • First step to understanding fun is that we needed Tools and language to describe player experiences. For example in 2004 the game industry didn’t even have a word for the feeling of winning. I named it Fiero - Italian for personal triumph over adversity The feeling of winning looks like this. It’s when the arms punch the sky. We did not have an emoticon for it either, so I use this \\o/
  • While I love Fiero, my favorite emotion is Wonder. I named my company XEO which means the feeling of discovery. Why this is: My earliest memory is chasing wonder at 3 years old. One day I noticed dozens of snails on my front porch, yet I could not figure out why none were smashed or stepped on. Did snails have special powers I did not know about? Force fields? Or were they suddenly speedy like drops of mercury from a broken thermometer that zoomed away from a finger that tried to touch them? I took this sense of wonder to Stanford to study human cognition, film making, and computers. The natural power of emotions rivets attention. Strong emotion can fix a memory for decades. ============== Image: Jiri Bohdal
  • I didn’t need Photoshop to enhance my sense of wonder. We are all born with this innate capacity for wonder to grab hold of attention for long periods of time. Photoshop is fun, but not required for engagement. I never lost this joy of discovery and imagination. I’ve never stopped chasing wonder.
  • Today in the mobile game industry we face unprecedented opportunities. These are revolutionary times around the globe new mobile devices, business, production, and distribution models are being born. There are: 5.2B Cell Phones in existence today 3.7B Cell Phone Owners Compare this to 1.1B Consoles/Handhelds gaming devices (and this is only if you count all the devices made since 1975) There are more Cell Phones than FM Radios. In 10 years mobile phones are the most pervasive telecommunication technology platform in existence There are only 500M Smart Phones (half the number of PC’s or Gaming Consoles) but this is only taken three years. With this kind of platform we can create an MSO to happen on Mobile first not Facebook (400M). An MSO is a Massively Social Online Game of 6B players.
  • Given the opportunity to reach 6B players in the next ten years. It’s time to think bigger that our PC/Console roots. I refuse to believe that we can make the jump to and MSO of 6B players by simply filling the mobile space with the same games as worked on the consoles and PCs. We need to escape the cul-de-saq of hard core games.
  • People for years have talked about the potential for games to teach and inspire. We can no longer ignore the potential of games to communicate and shape culture. Games are the new medium of the 21st Century. There will be a 10M Skilled Worker Shortage in 2020 in America we can use games to meet this challenge and inspire more to learn. To get scale this quickly we will have to solve some problems: Technology, business models, research tools
  • But before we begin, A word of caution, the reason games work can also make games fail. Marketers expect add points and badges to deliver Farmville sized results. Won’t happen. In fact, gamification can kill your game. Take the Bay Bridge for example… The Game designers for the Bay Bridge introduced a variable toll rate for off peak travel, which works. More people are traveling after rush hour. However, what ever you do, don’t be on the toll plaza at 6:59 PM on a Friday night. There you will find dozens of cars pulled off the road parked on the median. Cars stopped in the MIDDLE OF THE ACTIVE HIGHWAY! Everyone looking at the big score board waiting for the toll to go from $6 to $4. Why? Secondary effects as people game the system Give someone a score and they will act in ways to increase it. In Twitter which emotion is stronger? The emotional zing from someone following you, or the enjoyment from reading a carefully currated stream of tweets and connecting with their authors? The Points Unbalance the Tweet Sharing Game Points on their own are no guarantee get attention and motivation from your audience. Emotions unbalance these games. On the other hand Huffington Post is smarter about badges. Huffington Post designed badges to work together. Huffington Post had to save community from melt-downs by creating two types of badges. Networker badges to encourage people to get their friends to join. Then they introduced a Community badge to moderate all these new people. These badges work together as a system. That’s good game design. You don’t need badges you don’t need points. What you do need is a way of thinking about these.
  • If we are careful we can build on what we have learned about engagement from console games. Consider these 4 truths about games: 1. GAMES Chase Wonder: Give us free reign to create, discover, new worlds. Wonder is the drug of learning. 2. GAMES Master Challenges: Fail 80% of the time and still feel like we win. 3. GAMES Work Together: Plato once said “I know more about someone in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.” 4. GAMES Create Meaning: All games teach. These 4 Keys to Fun can unlock human potential to improve quality of life through play. [click] Games will use these four ways to play to change us in three ways Inspire us like Rock Band does music lessons. Create new mechanics and UI to use outside of games. Teach problem solving and new skills to scaffold us to new capabilities as humans. For examples diving home on San Mateo Bridge after playing Rock Band I can see all 8 lanes of traffic in both directions, every car. All information technologies from the printing press to the Internet have changed how we think, feel, and behave. Games are medium for the 21 Century. In fact our best hope is through games that help people Chase Wonder Master Challenges Work Together and Create Meaning AB tests and usability testing alone wont get us there.
  • The Real Problem is that we know so little about how to create tools that engage, build skills, and support thought. We need tools to help us chase wonder. Let's face it, cubicles are cages for people. If the average workplace or school were a zoo, the human society would shut it down for the one simple reason that it fails to provide the mental furniture required for people to do their job. We need Aeron chairs for the brain to focus attention and aid problem solving and enhance feelings of challenge, mastery, and accomplishment. Enterprise software, digital media tools, and even email can benefit from game-inspired engagement techniques. Schools structure kids to work in factories that no longer exist - except in Asia. Mental Furniture We need Aeron chairs for the brain that help us Focus Problem solving Collaboration Enhance sense of accomplishment For example, We spend a lot to make sure it’s easy to print a report, yet nothing at all on enhancing the feeling of mastering difficult content or hard work. People spend their workday inside Facebook because the social interaction has been extracted from the tasks. Games have evolved many techniques to solve this problem
  • You see, back in the day when we used to milk cows instead of clicking on them the task contained inherent challenges, feedback, and rewards. Workers see whether they are on target, watch as their pails fill with milk, they could talk with and help their co-workers, and at the end of the day the pails feel heavy and satisfying as they walk them back to the barn. Many of these engagement mechanics that were intrinsic to task performance and completion got left behind when work went virtual and mouse driven. Some subtle, yet vital elements for human engagement got lost in the translation to the other side of the glass. By focusing on the task over the human system of engagement we broke the game. In a similar way technology cages thoughts and ideas. Software frames and structures a way of working. Toys frame the way we play. Outside of games, technology and institutions are rarely designed to engender emotions except for the purposes of a sale. Legal systems generate emotions after the crime is committed. We alleviate workplace boredom with caffeine rather than designing work to inspire the emotions that increase performance and match the emotion profile to suit the task. Educational systems lean on extrinsic motivators such as grades rather than intrinsic pursuit of knowledge. Schools use extrinsic rewards and cage students minds to prepare them for factory jobs that no longer exist. Schools punish failure rather than reward with fun failure states to encourage pupils to try again Collaborating on an exam is cheating, yet jobs require working together We need XP not grades. It's for this reason that so many spend so much of the workday in Facebook and Twitter. Social interaction has been removed from the task. Chatting with co-workers is a pleasure, yet email is a pain. We need to fix this. Games can show us how. Much of these natural engagement mechanics got lost when Work went virtual and mouse driven Subtle yet vital elements for human engagement are a huge missed opportunity
  • In much of the work that we do, and many of our games Something got lost in translation such as this toy, it captures the basic mechanics but fails to capture the fun. Milky the milking cow
  • This is not Chasing Wonder Same with work Who thought that would be fun?
  • Games provide us unique opportunities: GAMES provide a window into how our minds work. GAMES expose how our Mental Gears connect Actions > Thoughts > Emotions > Behavior GAMES Innovate new User Interaction techniques from pie menus in The Sims, to Gestures on the Wii, to voice control Researching players for the past two decades I see what makes games fun. Like Newton watching an apple fall, I became transfixed by the invisible pull emotions have on human action during play. I often consult on a games that have a thousand rules and maybe 3 emotions. However,watch any group of kids at play and you see the pantheon of human emotions spring from a game with a single rule: Tag you're it!
  • What I’ve learned the past 2 decades is that emotions make games fun. Using game design we can literally paint on engagement and color it with emotion to match your brand and your task at hand. But this is only the beginning in mobile games we can do even more. Game designers have worked for decades to make players feel as victorious as a space marine, as rich as King Midas collecting screen fulls of gems, the satisfaction from milking cows, or the social glow form spending time with friends all from a simple click of a button. Game designers are wizards at engagement. Game design allows us to go deeper into human psychology than designing a “brand” or an “IP.”
  • Mobile technology first allow us to deliver the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer from Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age. People for years have talked about building this. If we understand how human thought, action, emotion, and learning work together. I believe it that the Primer will be possible in our lifetime (we don’t need the nano tech or human actors). The crucible for this experimentation is games. Players inspired by these games can go on to great things. ====== The Diamond Age Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer Neal Stephenson
  • Let me suggest that there are four ways games make us happy. Each uses actions in the game to create emotions in a player These basic kinds of fun mingle, work together, and compliment each other throughout our game playing and living. Consider the similarities between playing with Tag and playing  WOW .    In 2004 We looked at player’s favorite games, everything from Tetris to Halo The four kinds of fun involved in each are: 1 Easy Fun Chase Wonder: Vehicles for the imagination, driving the race track backwards, putting all The Sims in the pool and pull out the ladder to see what happens. Just dribbling the ball without keeping score or pretending to be a Harlem Globe Trotter. 2 Hard Fun Master Challenges: The opportunity for challenge and mastery. Frustration and the feeling of winning. 3 People Fun Work Together: The excuse to hang out with friends, playing Rock Band and Wii Sports in the same room. 4 Serious Fun Create Meaning: To change how think feel and behave. Excitement Relaxation. Playing Dance Center to loose weight or Brain Age to get smarter These four keys are the building blocks for the larger systems of player engagement. Specifically the Four Keys to Fun are how goals actions motivations emotions work together to create the deeply engaging experience we call play. Together they form activity loops that create engagement. Engagement is a System. These are 4 Ways to Increase Engagement. Don’t believe me? The wizards at Apple have been doing this for years. This is why you love your iPhone.
  • Social emotions from gestures are why you love your iPhone. For example, if I were to share my photos with you, what would you do? You’d stroke the screen, you’d tap, you’d zoom. Now do those same gestures on the back of my hand, and we’d better be on a date. There are so many social emotions that come from these gestures. How brilliant for Apple to design social emotions right into the operating system of a cell phone, a social device. In fact, players tell us, “Petting my iPhone makes me happy!” On the go: What gestures will access new emotions? It’s a wide open frontier for mobile games.
  • Social emotions also drive game distribution on mobile. The create an experience that people want to share with their friends. The 4 Keys to Fun puts emotion to work for you. === Designed Tilt the first Accelerometer game for the iPhone with Joe Hewitt at iPhoneDevCamp A top Hack for the iPhone Wired Magazine 2007
  • The best approach would be to hack the "what's fun" problem from the player's perspective rather than constructing a model from features by game genre. A model for engagement created from what players were actually doing moment to moment in their favorite games could identify opportunities for new genres and kick start the conversation. Since 2004 when I first released our research on the 4 Keys to Fun from the success of the Wii (and now XBOX Kinect) to Brain Age, to social games like Farmville XEODesign's research has been doing just that. How we did this research Instead of a survey… We watched people play their favorite games from Tetris to Halo Organized those moments by emotion. Looked at what was similar about the mechanics during these favorite moments of play. What we found by watching players faces was four sets of emotions coming from the activities (game mechanics) that players liked best in games. Looking closely at player's actions we found a common play style at the center of each cluster of emotions. We call these the 4 Keys to Fun and player's favorite games have three of the four kinds of activities and players move between each kind of fun in a predictable way. Games that don't have three out of the four tend to create less engagement. Over the course of 20 years we have studied the faces of players during play, listening to what they say, watching their actions in games. We used Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding, simplified it for games, and measured 7 emotions in the face, other emotions in the body. For example are there one, two, or three images of a player enjoying Star Wars Galaxies here?
  • There’s only one photo of true enjoyment, not because we can see the teeth in the smile. Instead it’s the contracting the Obicularis Oculi that shows true enjoyment.
  • So let’s dive in to Chasing Wonder and the Future of engagement. First Novelty creates the hook. Like on my front porch something grabs our attention. As we explore a new world and discover new things. Players love how cool spy tools deliver that cool spy experience. What does this say about how to first engage players in your game?
  • Let’s hop on board the Easy Fun Line, chase some wonder and see where it takes us. Milestone 1. Chase Wonder
  • The engagement from Easy Fun is driven novelty and has nothing to do with points or badges. It’s the fun you have when you are not keeping score. Easy Fun is the Bubble Wrap of Game design. Actions in the game that create Curiosity Wonder Surprise Key to the imagination Wonder is the drug of learning. Games offer novelty from setting up a mystery, an appealing fantasy, or simply the joy of the controls. It's playing with the interaction, exploring the world, tossing all your Sims in the pool and pulling out the ladders, driving the race track backwards, and the opportunity to just horse around. Just dribbling a basket ball without shooting hoops is fun. These options create curiosity, wonder, and surprise. Most project management and getting things done software miss this first powerful step in creating engagement. Easy Fun is a powerful attractor of attention regardless of a person's current mental state. Easy Fun is a powerful attractor of attention regardless of a person's current mental state. Most project management and getting things done software miss this first powerful step in creating engagement.
  • In Video Games Situations create curiosity. For example this Splinter Cell player explores what happens when he shoots a hole in a fish tank. Watch what happens on his face when the level of water reaches the level of the bullet hole.
  • Clearly there’s a moment of enjoyment outside the main challenge of the game when the water stops coming out. These types of situations outside of the main challenge create Easy Fun.
  • There are many mechanics to help us Chase Wonder and create Easy Fun. Let’s focus on 3 mechanics to create curiosity, surprise, and wonder.
  • In a Japanese garden they don’t use sidewalks. Instead they place stepping stones not so far apart that you fall through the gap, and not so close that they become a sidewalk. Instead they place them just far enough apart to focus the visitor’s attention to the here and now as they step from stone to stone. Likewise games create engagement by offering the player the opportunity to figure out how two things relate.
  • Koi Pond on the iPhone offers this kind of immersion. It creates a living world to explore. Urban Spoon offers the joy of interaction
  • Easy Fun is a combination of a Bubble Wrap, Wiimote and Fantasy Island Often the controls are a pure joy to use and create emotions like curiosity, wonder and surprise. Such as the motion here in Tilt.
  • Osmos, a plankton game, takes another approach Discovery offers a flow state without a lot of challenge. Like Flow and Flower
  • S. Holmes 1 by Byook, uses illustrations, animations, and audio to increase engagement with Easy Fun.
  • Exploration of controls make emotions from StarWalk match the task at hand. Players spend more time learning when moving through an information space creates more of an experience than turning a page.
  • The real opportunity for mobile is integrating the real world. For example Word Lens and Star Wars AR both offer novelty by allowing a player to discover a fantasy layer over reality. This layering create wonder It’s pure magic And it turns out that magic has rules
  • Magic is the art of Wonder. Magicians are professional wonder crafters. While Word Lens creates wonder by altering reality. ZombieBooth enhances emotions by taking a cue from stage magic. WARNING: THE NEXT SLIDES HAVE ZOMBIES. DON’T LOOK IF THAT WILL DISTURB YOU 1. Pledge (set up) perfectly normal and real 2. Turn (performance) what the magician does 3. Prestige (effect on audience as they try to believe what they just saw) Expanding on the rules of stage magic this presentation expands on how games enhance the effects of wonder including game mechanics as well as visuals. What to look for and how to measure when players stand transfixed, and enchanted. Stage Magic provides a relevant framework for increasing wonder felt by players.
  • Zombie booth makes this illusion more believable with video.
  • On the Easy Fun Line player actions such as controls create emotions such as curiosity, surprise, and wonder. We need to understand the mechanics behind Easy Fun so well that we can use it to create an experience so filled with Curiosity and wonder that it becomes a Discovery Machine Discover Machine + Creates curiosity and wonder to increase attention with novel interactions to such an extent that we can research for hours without getting tiered learn longer and more quickly. We are a lot closer than you may think to using mobile games to building a Discovery Machine. With those game inspired tools we may even find a cure for AIDS.
  • Google already experiments with ways to create wonder to encourage exploration. Where can explore under seas with their logo, or use the aptly named wonder wheel to explore a topic space.
  • Flipboard uses novel page turning interaction to make reading tweets more interesting. For example here’s my Twitter gamification list Flipboard currently featured as a curator. You’ll find it under Roger Egbert in the cool currators section.
  • Compare the experience of Flipboard with Netter’s Neuroscience Flash Card app on the iPhone. Netter’s inherits the limitations of paper cards.
  • Instead of flash cards to inspire a perhaps even build a Discovery Engine we need games that combine Netter’s + Word Lens + Star Wars AR such as this concept for the Neuro-Explorer 2015 game. In it player’s do a virtual fly through of a scan of their own body. Steer the path of an electrical impulse to connect required regions of the brain. Like Ticket to Ride - players complete quests of delivering impulses from one region of the body to another. Netter’s + Word Lens + Star Wars AR That was Easy Fun. it’s the Bubble wrap of game design. It creates curiosity surprise and wonder. Easy Fun mechanics will help us build Discovery Engines (the word processor for the act of research).
  • Engagement has many vectors and listening to players we know that there is much more going on with games than Easy Fun. My favorite player quote of all time illustrates what it means to enjoy games in a different way. “ It’s easy to tell how my husband feels about a game.. If he screams, ‘I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!’ Then I know two things: a. he’s going to finish it, b. he’s going to buy version two. If doesn’t say this, he’s going to put it down after a couple of hours.” Now that’s a hard core gamer playing for Hard Fun.
  • After the joy of discovery Easy Fun players discover a challenge, they find a goal just beyond their grasp. Emotions from Hard Fun are tuned to engage us when we try to do something difficult.
  • Milestone 2. Master Challenges Let’s take a trip down the Hard Fun Line to look at player actions that help them Master Challenges. These game design techniques show a lot about challenge and master. Players can fail 80% of the time and still win.
  • While exploring the world with Easy Fun, players often discover a challenge and new emotions such as when players try to get a basket ball through the hoop, as they try to make something happen and build skills. This we call Hard Fun and it's the perfect balance of player skill and difficulty of the task.
  • Hard Fun is the balance between difficulty and skill. Basket ball would not be fun if the hoop were waist high. Games focus attention with a goal and some constraints. Mastering these systems is a big part of what makes games fun. If the game is too hard and players leave because they are frustrated. Too easy and players quit because they are bored. This model of Flow was first drawn by Csikszentmihalyi. From my research, I’ve added additional emotions and identified the mechanics involved in engagement through structuring attention with goals and obstacles. balance between boredom and frustration. Fiero only happens when the player is about ready to throw the mobile phone out the window. That said, mobile games tend to be less challenging because they only have a portion of player’s attention The angle is less steep. Fiero, Italian for the feeling of the epic win \\o/ happens when the player triumphs over adversity where the arms punch the sky is exactly what the school and work place should provide. To get the feeling of the epic win, players must win at the point they feel so frustrated that they are ready to throw the mobile phone out the window. This huge sense of accomplishment and mastery, the feeling of triumph over adversity where the arms punch the sky is exactly what the work place should provide. Unfortunately usability engineering only focuses on one emotion, frustration, and only to reduce it. This is where the 4 Keys to Fun can make a huge difference at work. People crave this sense of accomplishment and mastering a hard task. Workplace software inspired by games can deliver this in spades. Let’s look into how games create Hard Fun and more emotions like Fiero* for players.
  • Here’s what Fiero looks like People crave this sense of accomplishment and mastering a hard task. Workplace software inspired by games can deliver this in spades. Usabilty focuses on Frustration and only to remove it
  • Hard Fun: Goals, Obsticals, Strategy all increase engagement
  • Angry Birds has: Goals Obstacles Strategies Sideways pan hides details and increases curiosity to add strategy and a shade of Easy Fun. On the Go: Goals must be much more clear in mobile games.
  • Hard Fun: Goals Obstacles Strategies Level of detail makes it hard to see on the iPhone Diner Dash Grilling Green designed specifically for the iPad finds a better balance.
  • Hard Fun Change the types of actions around goals, obsticles, strategies will adjust the emotion profile for the game Ultimatly we can create Self Motivating Task + Where clear goals, feedback and other emotions focus attention to suit the task such as: Brainstorming with positive emotions Deciding with negative emotions
  • We are already seeing evidence of people applying game techniques to create self-motivating tasks Linked In, Drop Box, and Mint do this without points or badges Drop box has tutorial quests Oversized bar charts on makes setting and meeting financial goals more fun Mint didn’t need viral or SEO it provided clear goals broken into achievable steps and oversized feedback on progress that created emotions. The bars make the journey seem more epic
  • Simulation games can model multi-variant inputs. TED Prize winner Jill Tarter’s SETI project inspires many with the excitement of searching for extraterrestrial life, that may inspire study of astronomy I built a game of her lab for 6 th grade girls to motivate science exploration almost 20 years ago, before she won the TED Prize. And one for Silvia Earl as well.
  • The big challenge to use hard fun for mobiles games to Save the Workplace is a huge user interface and task modeling problem. It must: + represent goals and progress + support decision making + integrating real world and virtual ones We must redesign work and personal time management to help us get things done in a more humane way. PM / TM tools that crafted emotion to the task. + Easy Fun - like purple giraffe today - Add emotion to focus attention.
  • The goals and progress could be represented in the work itself. + Goals broken into achievable tasks + Progress and score + Distraction Radar for early detection of interruptions so they can be stopped before they happen
  • The application could help us set even higher goals for ourselves such as this + Invoices from the future: The Book “Why We Play Games” by Nicole Lazzaro is evidently on sale in the UK and Germany for 25GB/Eurors
  • After Fiero. saving others adds more epic to the win. People are Addictive Player together creates more emotion than the other 3 keys combined PERFECT for mobile games where players can play face to face Players get a big kick out of having friends work in their restaurants and playing out mafia, pet, or farming fantasies. All of these mechanics revolve around social interaction or caretaking which is part of what makes these games so successful on social networks. The social themes, choices, and emotions match the platform such as Facebook that players play on them.
  • More emotions here than the other 3 playstyles combined. Playing in the same room more emotions than different rooms People Fun creates Amusement and Schadenfreude, the pleasure at an opponent’s misfortune Amerio is the word I use for the feeling of social bonding. It’s how you feel closer to your best friends after they make you laugh. Social bonds formed during play are exceptionally strong and last a life time.
  • M3 Working Together Social games connect players, increase empathy, dissolve boundaries. Remember Plato “I learn more about a person in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.” People Fun in games creates social bonds. It makes it easier to spend time supporting and being supported by our friends so we are all happier and achieve our goals. These mechanics in games teach us how to work as a team, how to lead a guild, and help others achieve their goals.
  • Teamwork helps people accomplish tasks that are too challenging or complex to finish by one person. Social emotions from what we call People Fun bind people together and make teamwork possible. The easiest emotion to measure constructive interaction and social bonding is amusement and from there all other social emotions follow. The feeling of social bonding I call amiero and is how you feel after someone makes you roll on the floor laughing. When you can breath again, you feel closer to that person. It's very rewarding to see games like Farmville and Rock Band capitalize on social emotions to bring friends together. The petting gestures of the iPhone likewise delivers social emotions. To view photos on an iPhone a friend strokes and pinches. Make the same gestures on the back of someone's hand and they had better be on a date. Players tell us that petting my iPhone makes me happy. More emotions here than the other 3 combined. This is what makes Farmville such a success and drives all of Web 2.0. People Fun creates emotion from social interaction Amusement < easiest to measure Amici < 1 button to be friendly Amerio < social bonds Naches < Pleasure when someone you helped succeeds Look up some of my other videos on the web for more details on how to create people fun With People fun we are no longer bowling alone.
  • Playing together on the Wii creates emotions. Moving together is enjoyment as is teasing each other. Amusement Laughter you know you have people fun
  • There are a lot of social emotions coming from caretaking, cooperation, competition, and exchanging social tokens.
  • Care taking game mechanics increase social emotions. Think Tamagotchi. Not surprising that on a social platform like Facebook there are so many People Plant Pet games These mechanics bring out social emotions that enhance the emotions already driving interaction.
  • I like the Latin definition of competition: To come together to better ourselves and pursue the same goal Cooperation creates even more social bonds Games become even more engaging when you combine two or more types of fun: Combine social emotions with challenge + Social Quests + Group Quests + Points Farmville has game mechanics on so many lines of Interaction + Like Button + Competition + Lonely Cows in the Friend Feed
  • Social captital is a word that must die, because it fails to capture the mechanics of social interaction between friends. Instead Social Token is something symbolic in nature that increases in meaning and emotion when used. My sister says the word Mango I’m on the floor laughing. My sister says the word Mango I’m on the floor laughing. I’m sure you have a friend who can do this as well. Social tokens when words and situations acquire special meaning and inside jokes. Passing these tokens back and forth increases the social bonds people feel between each other.
  • People Fun To create an Empathy Engine we will eventually design social interaction + Creates social bonds to provide the mental furniture to resolve conflicts. An Empathy Engine will use mechanics such as care taking, cooperation, social tokens to create emotions like amusement amiero and schadenfruede I’m seeing some signs of this too in the mobile and social game space.
  • Be Extra and Sparked, crowdsource empathy with Micro Volunteering and light game mechanics.
  • Empathy Engine can even be bigger Imagine a Global Game like The Primer Niel Stephenson wrote about. These games could teach leadership conflict resolution skills to everyone. In fact you can almost play this on Facebook today in a game where the player clicks on camels instead of cows One of our clients, Aranim, is making Happy Oasis. It’s a farming game that could build social bonds and teach conflict resolution across tribal lines. If we increase social bonds across groups we can unite the whole world through play
  • 60% of the population in the Middle East is under 24 years old. Imagine what a friendship game could do to connect these kids.
  • Lastly, an engagement loop has to deliver meaning . This makes all the effort feel more rewarding and less a waste of time. Something changes as a result of the win and from the act of play itself. This we call Serious Fun . With Serious Fun players enjoy games more when the game changes how they feel, think, or behave. We see this in achievements and badges, but also in playing Brain Age to get smarter and dancing games to loose weight. Whether it a training simulation, or just blowing off workplace frustration, players use the excitement of games to accomplish real work. Serious Fun is the 4th kind of play and players tell us that they love how their favorite games change how players think feel or behave,and creates value in the real world.The win means more if something changes as a result of the victory. Fiero is fleeting, Serious Fun mechanics remind the player it happened and makes the winning event matter. With Serious Fun all the hard work really pays off. Player’s favorite games give them new experiences to enjoy as a result of the win.
  • Riding the Serious Fun Line is A Street Car Named Desire. Here game mechanics amplify our sense of accomplishment.
  • In addition to Hard Fun (challenge and mastery) and Easy Fun Bubble Wrap (vehicle for the imagination) Value created from the win and the act of playing. Serious is the Prize and Reward but not only a badge. Players feel good about what winning accomplishes. They like to know and feel good about what changed as the result of player victory.
  • One on one player observations reveal whether our message is getting through Not AB testing
  • Serious Fun Stops this trip include mechanics that increase the player’s sense of meaning.
  • If Easy Fun is the Bubble Wrap of game design, then Serious Fun is playing games as therapy to change how players think, feel, or behave. And even do real work such as this carpet sweeper designed by IDEO one of my favorite product design companies. Swiffer and Bejeweled are inherently the same game. In both, you collect all you can with features that provide enhanced sense of progress and reward. In Bejeweled for $6 you can collect all the free diamonds, rubies, and sapphires that you want. And for 99 cents you can get as many iPhone apps as they can This iPhone takes advantage of these collection and completion mechanics. And so does Four Square. The Serious Fun in games allows players to create and express value and meaning.
  • Here are a few ways to create more meaning than badges (or more meaningful badges) First the tangibility of game objects makes them feel more significant.
  • Increase Valuable and Tactile Impressions of worth. Player fingers should itch to touch these. Badges should make the win feel more significant Or be completely silly (easy fun) Not a waste of time
  • Use symbols to Create meaning
  • Remember to include some learning. Players think about and appreciate this after the game is over. All games teach.
  • Players use Serious Fun to change their behavior. Bejeweled’s Zen Mode includes breathing exercises, positive mantras, and binaurial beats.
  • Serious Fun If we build enough games on a topic such as global warming players will come to understand the basic parameter so well that they can create new models and visualizations that can help us find a solution. Additionally players playing these kinds of games will allow anyone to understand how these extremely complex systems work. As James Paul Gee says, “When you master the simulation, you master the content.” Eco-Recover Simulator will: + Use emotions like excitement and desire to teach and encourage Players to make more eco-friendly choices + Real time feedback on other wiseinvisible processes + Show this for the player, their friends, their region, and their world
  • Not Points not badges. Games offer More than points and money. How players feel before, during, and after play. Players of our game Tilt tell us that they enjoy the lack of violence and the environmental theme. They like the educational values and the opportunity to spend time in activities that express and reinforce their values. Save the planet. Games such as Tilt set up a Global Olympics to beat climate change. In our Earth Day TiltMOB challenge we collected 350,000 points by thousands of players simply playing a few levels.
  • Here’s a baby step towards an Eco-Recovery Simulator A game to End Global warming from one of our clients/partners Combines AR Star Wars and an Energy Audit Energy Ops Conservation game where crowdsource conservation by tagging opportunities to save. The game makes collecting opportunities for energy conservation fun. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Each 4 Keys access different neural pathways to create engagement, but they work better together Connect the 4 Keys to Tap into the full potential of video games and create even deeper engagement by connecting the loops. Create viral engagement loops. Best selling games connect each of the 4 Keys together to reengage players by offering a different set of emotions in each loop. Likewise at work these four types of engagement loop together so brands and businesses can connect them. Let me summarize twenty years of research on the 4 Keys to Fun. Games create engagement by creating emotions from players actions. Best selling games offer mystery, mastery, membership, and meaning. The different emotions from novelty, challenge, social interaction, and the player's own set of values intrigue, refresh, and engage the player in different ways take players through this engagement loop again and again. When a player tires of one play style they simply pick up another key. Download this image from See other talks and slide decks for more on how these keys work.
  • See how emotions from all 4 Keys work together here to create engagement One on one player observations reveal how well our message is getting through
  • To create an MSO we must develop further and connect the 4 Keys Solve the production technical and business challenges On the right platform such a game that utilizes all 4 Keys will create a mobile game that Billions can play. MSO Massively Social Online Game
  • After the MSO then it’s to Infinity and beyond, breaking out of the cul de saque of our current game genres. Best selling games and an MSO of 6B people requires all the 4 Keys will inspire real world activity, create new user interfaces, and build skills to create wonder, master challenges, work together and create meaning.
  • If games are going to change the world it’s going to be by developing new skills that players take into real life. Therefore we need new kinds of games: Discover Machines, Self-Motivating Tasks, Empathy Engines, and Eco-Recovery Simulations These are all outside the existing genres of games, but they are built from the mechanics they use to create engagement. Now how do we make these new types of games? To save the world and inspire players to change we need a game plan. And a quick one. What is a game but: Goals, Actions, Motivations, and Emotions? G. A. M. E. These are four new things to consider in building new games that are deeply engaging. Use these to organize mechanics to create a GAME Plan. Instead of Points and Badges Think GAME
  • Organize Mechanics to Create a GAME Plan Specifically a GAME Plan captures how goals actions motivations emotions work together to create the deeply engaging experience we call play. This new model is based on our experience with serious game clients 1. Define GOALS for the players and your company 2. Choose Easy ACTIONS that Let players tell the story 3. Wrap Game Design around existing player MOTIVATEIONS 4. Use EMOTION to create Activity loops to connect the goals, actions, and motivations. The Four Keys to Fun are the building blocks for the larger systems of player engagement.
  • 10 years is not a lot of time to get to 6B players in 2020. I think we need now is a challenge. These are not times for business as usual. I’d like to share this GAME Plan to Save the World. It offers 13 questions to answer to create a new kind of game. I figure we can crowd source saving the world if enough people to a 15 minute sketch a day. This template is based on my 20 years experience of making games that are fun with a larger purpose. Download it from and fill it out. Sorry we don’t have enough time to go into detail. The folowing slides have a few tips. Use it to build your own secret game plan. For the last step Create Activity Loops with Emotions from the 4 Keys to Fun to connect.
  • Download the form and the example from Here are some samples from Tilt. Goals for the player is the first question to ask.
  • What Player actions tell the story of the cause? (not points and badges :)
  • What already motivates players about the Change?
  • Building game mechanics that use emotion to connect the player’s goals actions, motivations. Help players chase wonder and tap into our natural systems for engagement. Use this worksheet as a guide in brainstorming ideas for Serious Games that have an effect on the real world. Templates for this worksheet are up on If enough of us do this, we can crowd source the future. Think of the App Store as our home-brew Xprize and let’s gather at GDC next year to see the progress we’ve made. Angry Birds and Doodle Jump are on the best seller lists already, but what if we can build mobile games that do more? What kinds of skills can the next generation of mobiles games build?
  • Let’s work together and build mobile games that chase wonder. We don’t need games to change the world. We do need games to inspire us to tap into our natural systems for engagement. Here I also want to thank my team and friends for all their help in getting this presentation together in less than 7 days.
  • Let’s get started. I would suggest to you that the building blocks for these global games are the Four Keys to Fun. Each type of Fun will teach us how to build important games for change And that we need to break out of low earth orbit with games and begin with chasing wonder with Easy Fun, mastering challenges with Hard Fun, working together with People Fun, and creating meaning with Serious Fun to create the change you want.
  • Now it’s your turn. What is your vision for the World in 2020? What cause are you passionate about? What do you want to inspire people to do? I urge you to design THOSE games. Cure AIDS, Save the Workplace, Heal Depression, End Global Warming, Conflict Resolution Instead of providing temporary distractions, we need mobile games that develop and amplify our engagement and problem solving systems. Build those skills in players, and make that higher purpose your goal. Working Together we can create a GAME Plan to save the planet There are four emotions are the secret sauce to social games. As social networks mature, the ability of social games to deepen friendships will drive success more than spamming a friend’s news feed. Game mechanics built around these emotions leverage social interaction to drive the viral distribution required to make Massively Social Online games (MSOs) attracting tens of millions of players. Even with all this success the mechanics that create these emotions have yet to be tapped in a deep way. The game that does this will create an MSO that billions play through viral distribution. Therefore the next challenge for designing games for the desktop, console, mobile, and cloud is to target the four emotions that create social bonds.
  • If you accept this challenge to make a new kind of mobile game, technology, or business model, there are stars here up front and at the back of the room. Put one on your badge and as you walk around the conference if you see someone else with a star introduce yourself. There are a few extra stars for your friends. Discuss the options. Even if it’s sneaking it in, the themes you design for mobile games have the potential to reach a global audience. To realize the full potential for games, be the change you want to see in the world. We have to work together to crack out of this cosmic egg of our shared beliefs and limitations. Let's escape. Together we can reach for the stars.
  • Let’s Chase Wonder Together. Take the Pledge. Do the Turn. And enjoy the Prestige. Thanks for listening. You’ve been a wonderful audience. Fill out your surveys and let GDC know if you’d like me to come back next year. If you’d like to discuss your GAME Plan today, let’s meet. If you have any questions come see me. I’d love to talk about your games. Free PDF GAME ON!! \\o/
  • Chasing Wonder and the Future of Engagement

    1. 1. Chasing Wonder: the Future of Engagement With the 4 Keys to Fun Nicole Lazzaro XEODesign, Inc. Smartphone Summit, Game Developer’s Conference February 28, 2011 ® ™ Twitter @NicoleLazzaro #GDC11
    2. 2. Player Experience Design Makes Games More Fun XEODesign Winner Best Game 2007 Tilt the first iPhone accelerometer game 250,000 visits
    3. 3. 2000 - 2004 The 4 Keys to Fun How Games Create Emotion and Engagement
    4. 4. Fiero o/
    5. 5. Chase Wonder )))) )))) ))))
    6. 6. Wonder from Situation: Photoshop Not Required
    7. 7. More Mobile Phones than PC/Consoles or FM Radios
    8. 8. An MSO of 6B Needs New Games
    9. 9. Opportunities and Challenges Mobile games can inspire players and develop skills to solve previously impossible situations Technology, Production, and Business Models that Scale Research Tools to Better Understand Human Action, Thoughts, Emotions, Habits
    10. 10. A Word of Caution Gamification Can Kill
    11. 11. Gamification Can Kill
    12. 12. A/B Tests Cannot Find Wonder Chase Wonder Master Challenges Work Together Create Meaning
    13. 13. The Real Problem: We Need Tools to Chase Wonder
    14. 14. Real World Engagement Real World Creates Natural Engagement
    15. 15. Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow, Kenner
    16. 16. <ul><li>What were they thinking? </li></ul>
    17. 17. Games Offer Windows into New Interaction
    18. 18. Emotion From Actions Increases Engagement
    19. 19. 5.8B Mobile Phones Largest Addressable Audience Soon a Platform for the Primer =
    20. 20. Interaction Unlocks Emotion Game Design Create Engagement with Emotion and Fun People Fun Work Together Amusement Amici Admiration Ameiro Schadenfreude Hard Fun Master Challenges Frustration Fiero Easy Fun Chase Wonder Curiosity Wonder Surprise Serious Fun Create Meaning Excitement Relaxation Values Four Keys to Fun and Engagement
    21. 21. iPhone Gestures and Choices Create Emotion
    22. 22. The 4 Keys to Fun Drives Viral Winner Best Game 2007 Tilt the first iPhone accelerometer game Tilt HD: Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions 250,000 visits #1 Top Free iPad Download
    23. 23. Measuring Player Emotions How many smiles? [Ekman/Duchenne]
    24. 24. Measuring Player Emotions Orbicularis Oculi < ---
    25. 25. <ul><li>Easy Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Chase Wonder </li></ul>
    26. 26. Easy Fun to Chase Wonder
    27. 27. Easy Fun: Novelty > Curiosity Curiosity Surprise Wonder
    28. 28. Fish Tank1 Player Choice and Curiosity from Easy Fun
    29. 29. Fish Tank 3 Player Choice and Curiosity from Easy Fun
    30. 30. Easy Fun Line M1 Gaps Controls Discover Chase Wonder Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    31. 31. Gaps Increase Engagement
    32. 32. Pure Joy of Interaction Koi Pond and Urbanspoon
    33. 33. Joy of controls Joy of Controls: Tilt: Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions
    34. 34. Discovery: Osmos
    35. 35. Discovery: S. Holmes 1 Byook
    36. 36. Examples <ul><li>StarWalk </li></ul>Easy Fun Discovery StarWalk iPhone / iPad
    37. 37. Discovery: Word Lens
    38. 38. Rules of Magic: 1. The Pledge ZombieBooth, Motion Portrait
    39. 39. Rules of Magic: 2. The Turn ZombieBooth, Motion Portrait
    40. 40. Rules of Magic: 3. The Prestige ZombieBooth, Motion Portrait
    41. 41. Easy Fun Line M1 Gaps Controls Discover Chase Wonder Discovery Machine Cure for AIDS Curiosity Surprise Wonder Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    42. 42. Google Helps Us Chase Wonder Jules Verne’s Undersea Explorer The Wonder Wheel
    43. 43. Flipboard 2010 Easy Fun Chases Wonder
    44. 44. Netter’s Neuroscience Flash Cards Missed Opportunity
    45. 45. Neuro-Explorer Play Your Own Brain 2015 Discovery Engine
    46. 46. “ It’s easy to tell how my husband feels about a game… Wife of a Hard Core Game Player
    47. 47. <ul><li>Hard Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Master Challenges </li></ul>
    48. 48. Hard Fun to Master Challenges
    49. 49. Hard Fun: Challenge > Fiero Frustration Fiero o/
    50. 50. Hard Fun: Challenge + Mastery Games Focus Attention with Goal and Constraints: Frustration and Fiero o/ <ul><li>choices </li></ul><ul><li>goals </li></ul><ul><li>obstacles </li></ul><ul><li>strategy </li></ul><ul><li>power ups </li></ul>modified from “Flow” Csikszentmihalyi
    51. 51. Hard Fun: Jumping Character to Express Fiero!
    52. 52. Hard Fun Line M2 Goals Obstacles Strategy Master Challenges Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    53. 53. Angry Birds Goals, Obstacles, Strategies
    54. 54. Diner Dash Hard Work Pays Off Goals, Obstacles, Strategies
    55. 55. Hard Fun Line M2 Goals Obstacles Strategy Master Challenges Self-Motivating Tasks Save the Workplace Frustration Fiero o/ Relief Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    56. 56. Tutorial Quests and Clear Goals Increase Task Motivation
    57. 57. Jill Tarter SETI and TED Prize Winner Women in Science Lab Simulations
    58. 58. Task Master 2017 Self Motivating Tasks: Easy Fun Customize the Tool
    59. 59. Task Master 2017 Self Motivating Tasks: Hard Fun Clear Goals and Progress
    60. 60. Task Master 2017 Self Motivating Tasks: Concrete Goals
    61. 61. “ People are addictive, not the game.” Bob, a Sports Game Player
    62. 62. <ul><li>People Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Work Together </li></ul>
    63. 63. People Fun to Work Together
    64. 64. People Fun: Working Together Amusement Schadenfreude > Social Bonds
    65. 65. People Fun: Design What’s Happening on the Couch
    66. 66. People Fun Line M3 Care Take Cooperate & Compete Social Token Work Together Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    67. 67. Just Tilt to Play Care Taking: Feed Flip! Tilt: Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions
    68. 68. People Fun: Work Together Social Leaderboards Quests and Appointments
    69. 69. Opportunity for Social Tokens Word with Friends
    70. 70. People Fun Line M3 Care Take Cooperate & Compete Social Token Work Together Empathy Engine Resolve Conflicts Amusement Amiero Schadenfreude Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    71. 71. Be Extra and Sparked, Extraordinaires 2010-2011 Micro Volunteering & Empathy Engine
    72. 72. <ul><li>[Happy Oasis] </li></ul>Happy Oasis on Facebook, Aranim 2011 Empathy Engine
    73. 73. Happy Oasis on Facebook, Aranim 2011 Empathy Engine
    74. 74. <ul><li>Serious Fun </li></ul><ul><li>Create Meaning </li></ul>
    75. 75. Serious Fun to Create Meaning
    76. 76. Serious Fun: Create Meaning Excitement Relaxation and Desire
    77. 77. Values are Fun Tilt: Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions
    78. 78. Serious Fun Line M4 Collection Learning New Behavior Create Meaning Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun
    79. 79. Serious Fun: Create Meaning Systems Create: Excitement, Relaxation, Learning, Enhance Sense of Value <ul><li>Goal: collect all you can </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance progress </li></ul><ul><li>Aspire and acquire </li></ul>
    80. 80. Increase Value: Tangible
    81. 81. Serious Fun: Create Meaning Increase Value: Tactile Impressions of Worth
    82. 82. Increase Value: Create Meaning
    83. 83. Learning: The Elements
    84. 84. Change Behavior: Bejeweled 3
    85. 85. Serious Fun Line M4 Collection Learning New Behavior Easy Fun Hard Fun People Fun Serious Fun Create Meaning Eco-Recovery Simulator End Global Warming Excitement Desire Acquire
    86. 86. $ # Tilt Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions 2010-2011 Eco-Recovery Simulator
    87. 87. Energy Ops: AR Conservation Game, VEIC 2011 Eco-Recovery Simulator
    88. 88. 4 Keys to Fun Connect the 4 Keys into Loops for More Engagement
    89. 89. All Four Keys: Tilt: Flip’s Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions
    90. 90. MSO Requires all 4 Keys
    91. 91. Tools for New Skills
    92. 92. GAME Plan to Save the World Goals Actions Motivations Emotions
    93. 93. Increase Engagement with a GAME Plan Define GOALS for the players and your company Choose easy ACTIONS that let players tell the story Wrap game design around existing player MOTIVATIONS Use EMOTION to create activity loops to connect the goals, actions, and motivations
    94. 95. Goals for the Player
    95. 96. Actions for the Cause
    96. 97. Motivations for the Change
    97. 99. Let’s Work Together
    98. 100. We Need New Games <ul><li>Easy Fun Chase Wonder Discovery Engine </li></ul><ul><li>Hard Fun Master Challenges Self-Motivating Tasks </li></ul><ul><li>People Fun Work Together Conflict Resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Serious Fun Create Meaning Eco-Recovery Simulator </li></ul>We Need New Games
    99. 101. Imagine in 2020 Everyone Going to School an d Work with an Expectation of Fun
    100. 102. Accept the Challenge
    101. 103. Tag You’re It! <ul><li>Nicole Lazzaro </li></ul><ul><li>Email: </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: @NicoleLazzaro </li></ul><ul><li>Game: </li></ul><ul><li>White Papers and Slides: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> <- Downloads </li></ul><ul><li>Book Chapters: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Beyond Game Design, Bateman </li></ul><ul><li>2. Game Usability, Isbister </li></ul><ul><li>3. Human-Computer Interaction Handbook, Jako </li></ul>Game On! o/
    102. 104. <ul><li>Game On! o/ </li></ul>Fiero! o/ Resources and Downloads: