Table of Contents
The Metaphor: Zookeeping! – pg 2
Why You Are the Zookeeper – pg 2
Community Design – pg 3
So, What Behaviors Should Be Rewarded? – pg 3
Three Point Types – pg 4
Promoting Casual Play with Bounds – pg 4
Scenarios & Personas
o Jane Wygot (One Player, Non-Competitive) – pg 5
o Greg Mader (Multiple Players, Non-Competitive) – pg 5-6
o Leslie Hays (One Player, Non-Competitive) – pg 6-7
Cost Analysis – pg 8
Pros/Cons Page – pg 8
Visual Mockup Page – pg 8-13
Variations/Different Modes – pg 14
Competitors – pg 14
References – pg 15-16
Cat pointed out that our art resources are limited. If you can think of ways to cut down on
the graphical requirements, that would be helpful.
The Metaphor: Zookeeping!
You--the player--are a small-time zookeeper for magical animals. Unfortunately, all the
critters have escaped from their habitats and made quite some distance while you weren't
watching! You're friends with all of them, so it shouldn't be hard to persuade them to
The handy Indexter is a tool to track the progress of repopulating your zoo. As you walk,
you'll be able to see your progress in terms of geographic distance between you and the
critter that you're retrieving. By completing walking goals consistently, you will begin to
move quicker, and eventually catch up to the rogue zoo resident. Capturing a critter
represents achieving a walking milestone, in terms of consistently accomplishing your goals.
Finally, an encyclopedic entry will be added to the Indexter.
Next, the Indexter provides real-time and long term feedback about consistently
achieving your walking goals. What kind of analytics do we already have? So, your first
week of playing--the training week--will be used to establish a baseline for your walking
goals. You can manually override the Indexter's suggested goals at any time. The Indexter
will continually compare your accomplished goals with your baseline. Professor Richardson,
how should we set goals? (This probably has already been taken care of.)
You can easily curate your progress using the Indexter. Each action that you take or
event that you experience will be logged in the Indexter. You can also connect with other
zookeepers and reflect on your walking--I mean, zookeeping--experiences.
The Indexter provides access to the leaderboard. Consistently accomplishing walking
goals and participating in the community are the most revered traits in zookeeper culture,
so these players will be displayed proudly in separate leaderboards. You can read about
their walking experiences to motivate yourself, or submit a message seeking guidance. Your
own experiences might be compelling too, so leaderboards are reset each week.
If you ever decide to team up with other zookeepers, Indexter will facilitate all
communication, and track team statistics and goals. Indexter will encourage quality support
feedback from your teammates by rating everything with an "interestingness" metric,
similar to Flickr's.
As you travel, Indexter will point out features of areas, such as cities, that you pass
through. Recapturing renegade rascals is a pretty convenient excuse for sightseeing, right?
Maybe you'll want to visit again.
Refilling your zoo will impress managers of bigger zoos. They're always looking for
someone who knows how to handle sneaky critters. Even when you are hired at a bigger
city's zoo, you are always welcome to return to your old home.
Why You Are the Zookeeper
The Fish 'n' Steps paper shows that people put significant effort into caring for pets--
sometimes more than caring for themselves. The animals that you capture represent caring
One persona that I developed was based off a SparkPeople member who was a "mother
of two dogs." One of her goals is to achieve greater accountability, but she loathes exercise.
I think that the Zookeeper metaphor will compel her to care for pets that represent herself,
and provide a distraction from the grind of exercise. See the "Jane Wygot" scenario.
On the Yahoo! Design Patterns Library spectrum of competition, the Steps community
would be best characterized as the least competitive community--"caring competitive." In
other words, individual goals "coexist peacefully." Hence, there is no explicit competition in
the zookeeping metaphor.
There is conflicting research about whether to use leaderboards. The Yahoo! Design
Patterns Library doesn't recommend leaderboards for casual competitive communities.
However, Amy Jo Kim's "Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to
Functional Software" says to use leaderboards to show what behaviors and traits are
valued. So, leaderboards should be designed not to have sequential rankings, but to
categorize players showing desired behavior. SparkPeople labels members who were
nominated for their community involvement, personal accomplishments, or positive attitude
and places them onto a "featured members" page. Player nominations and the
interestingness metric are useful for finding players who show desirable behavior.
"Senior players in good standing" should be identified with labels, so that new players
can engage them for support, according to Yahoo! Design Patterns. Labels should be
established without ranking one better than the other. A user should be allowed to choose
whether to accept or decline the label. One leaderboard will show these labeled players.
In addition to capturing critters, the core gameplay of the zookeeping metaphor is built
on collectible achievements. This mechanism brings an "addictive quality that may compel
users to explore" content that they wouldn't otherwise. A portfolio of collectibles of varying
difficulty allows players to achieve and be recognized at all points in the game. All
achievements should be listed on Indexter for players to track.
Next, collectibles can be used to channel user behavior. "First time" achievements should
exist to encourage users to experiment, but reward the player with less currency than other
achievements. More difficult to earn achievements will keep players hooked in the long
After a zoo is refilled, a player progresses to the next "named level"--a zoo of a bigger
city. Alternatively, "numbered levels" (e.g., level 5) could have been introduced. Named
levels are qualitative, and are therefore perceived as less competitive than easily
comparable numbers. Competition will be further reduced because the game will not
encourage players to compare each others' progress. This may happen outside of the game,
So, What Behaviors Should Be Rewarded?
Encouraging certain player behaviors will determine the success of the zookeeper
concept. First, encouraging consistency of walking habits will effect health benefits for the
player. In the Steps application, meeting weekly individual goals and uploading every day
are examples of desired behaviors. Meeting weekly goals will be visualized as reduced
geographic distance between the zookeeper (player) and milestone ("big game" critter).
To establish consistent walking, consistent uploading is required. Each day, a player can
feed their animals. Missing a day will forego the opportunity to help their animals grow
more. This is described in more detail in the "Three Point Types" section below.
Next, the game will cheer on players who upload in "streaks," or upload each day. Each
time that a streak is built further, an animation for continuing the streak rewards the player.
(Think of the visualization on the TVs when you go bowling.) Next, uploading in streaks will
earn a multiplier for currency that the player receives during this period, like in bowling. So,
whatever currency is used for should be priced to be out of reach without streaks.
Second, encouraging teamplay will allow players to participate in a virtual support group.
The SparkPeople community demonstrates the power of virtual support groups in forming
healthy habits. In Steps, an individual player will only be allowed to move once per day. In
a team, each team members' daily movement allows players to capture more "big game"
critters than working solo. Any better ideas? Reaching more milestones probably
undermines their value. Professor Richardson might be the person to ask.
Third, encouraging long-term usage of Steps will ensure that players reach the
termination stage of Prochaska's Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change. (The Fish 'n'
Steps paper explains this model.) In the termination stage, a player will have no chance of
relapsing to the behavior that sought to change. To accomplish this, each player's zoo has a
finite number of animals to recapture. Upon repopulating the zoo, a player can pick a new
zoo to refill using Google Maps. Each zoo has its own unique set of animals. For example,
each set may offer a different class of animal.
Three Point Types
Three point types will encourage players to pursue their walking goals.
Achievements were discussed in the "Community Design" section. Completing each
achievement will reward the player with currency, which Indexter will track. The amount of
currency rewarded depends on the difficulty of the achievement. What should we be able to
do with currency?
As discussed in the "So, What Behaviors Should Be Rewarded?" section, a player is only
allowed to move and feed their recaptured critters once per day. Over time, an animal that
has constantly been fed will grow bigger. If they are neglected, animals will shrink to a
point. The Fish 'n' Steps paper shows that the game shouldn't negatively reinforce a player's
behavior. Otherwise, the player will quit.
"Interestingness" is a feedback quality metric from Flickr. Blogger Wesley Hein compiled
what he and other bloggers think gets a picture selected for interestingness.
Views, internal and external to Flickr, of the photo
Number of comments on the photo, and also who comments on the photo
Tags applied to the photo
Flickr discussion groups in which the photo appears
Favorites, a.k.a Flickr bookmarking, of the photo
Time varying behavior of the above factors
Interestingness could be adapted to Steps as a metric of rich team interaction. Elements
of interestingness include likes and comments on a team member's newsfeed items. What
other elements of interestingness should we use? We also want to discourage players from
purposely "grinding" for interestingness. Flickr's interestingness algorithm is secret sauce:
it's hidden from us. The teams with the most quality interactions should be featured on a
leaderboard to show the Steps community that this behavior is valued.
Promoting Casual Play with Bounds
Bounds must be placed to promote casual play.
The max number of steps that can be uploaded per day will be bounded a certain
percentage compared to the goal. For example, a 150% limit on a goal of 10,000 steps will
allow a player to record a max of 15,000 steps. This is to discourage excessive exercise,
which is unhealthy. The purpose of Steps is to promote healthy habit formation, not
overexercise. Should we store overflow points for anything? Professor Richardson, how
should these bounds be setup?
Cooldowns were previously introduced in the "So, What Behaviors Should Be Rewarded?"
section. According to the Insectopia paper, cooldowns introduce breaks into gameplay,
which makes play more casual.
Scenarios & Personas (based on SparkPeople.com)
1. One Player, Non-Competitive
Name: Jane Wygot
Occupation: secretary, "mother" of two dogs
Computer Skills: Facebook user
Interests: her dogs
Goals: become "normal"
Motivation: father's deathbed wish for her to take care of herself
o Jane is an overweight, 33-year old divorced "mother" of two dogs. A tragic
event recently pushed Jane towards adopting a weight loss program. While on
his deathbed, Jane's obese father told her to care for herself better than he
did. After this event, Jane reflects on how she has always disliked that her
weight has made her feel like a pariah. She wants to feel happier, healthier,
and normal. Regardless, Jane feels great pressure to exercise after her
father's death. Jane knows that one element of weight loss is eating right. So,
she decides to explore the "healthy" section of the grocery store, and she is
captivated by an ad about tracking walking progress. Jane understands that
she needs to exercise, but historically has loathed it. Desperate, Jane decides
to try walking with her dogs as a distraction. This time, she is more focused
on her own goals, not her dogs'. After installing the Steps application, Jane is
compelled to retrieve the "poor, fluffy widdle" critters to the safe zoo. In
addition to her dogs, these zoo critters are also her pets, and she feels
accountable for them. After saving an animal, Jane enjoys seeing the critter
added to her encyclopedia as a metric of her growing accountability.
Eventually, the endorfins help Jane realize that exercise should be about
helping HERSELF, not satisfying social obligations. She thanks her dad for
giving her that initial push, and feels transformed.
2. Multiple Players, Non-Competitive
Name: Greg Mader
Occupation: Financial Risk Adviser
Computer Skills: Facebook user
Goals: become normal, fend off knee replacement
Motivation: fear of knee replacement (intervening in someone's body is very
o Greg is a 46-year old overweight man who has always felt held back by his
weight. One day, he consults with a knee surgeon, Dr. James, about knee
pain. After some tests, Dr. James sadly tells Greg that, unless he loses a
significant amount of weight, he will need knee replacements within 10 years.
The doctor suggests walking because of its low impact nature, and refers
Greg to a weight loss specialist. The specialist gives Greg some long-term
goals: get off the medication, increase your activity level, and drop down to
certain weights. Next, the specialist emphasizes the importance of tracking
progress, and hands Greg a Steps flier that he found in the University of
Michigan Hospital. The specialist tells Greg that he's briefly explored Steps
and thought its game format would motivate Greg. Desperate for solutions,
Greg installs Steps. After establishing a baseline, Greg feels overwhelmed by
Indexter's automatic goal-setting. He feels like a quitter as he overrides the
recommended goals for three consecutive weeks. Greg feels like he needs
more time to adjust to his routine. Regardless, Indexter encourages Greg by
reminding him that each day he uploads, he has the opportunity to upgrade
his zoo. Lonely, Greg elects to join a team of zookeepers, and receives
currency for introducing himself and his goals to his teammates. He's
impressed by how friendly and encouraging everyone is, and wants to
contribute to his team's goals. When he accomplishes his goals, Greg wins
team awards to furnish his own zoo. What should he get? This is probably
graphically intensive. With each animal saved, Greg earns an entry for the
critter in his enyclopedia, and the team earns an entry in the team
encyclopedia, which has more comprehensive entries than an individual
encyclopedia. Additionally, each critter captured appears in a team zoo. The
team zoos are famous, big city zoos, like the San Francisco Zoo. I made this
"big city zoo" idea an individual way to progress. So, I need ideas on team
content. Despite his frustrating start to walking, Greg feels happy that he can
read through Indexter's journal of everything that he's accomplished. Greg
further curates what Indexter has logged of his journey. He loves meeting
new team members who are just beginning their weight loss programs and
encouraging them to persist. Players nominate Greg to be shown on the
"positive attitude" leaderboard, and Greg's interestingness metric helps him
be offered this label.
3. One Player, Non-Competitive
Name: Leslie Hays
Computer Skills: Resourceful enough to use Google
Goals: become normal
Motivation: couldn't fit into airplane seat
o Leslie is a 30-year old mom with two kids. She's decided that she needs to
lose weight, after an embarrassing incident where she couldn't fit into one
airplane seat. Leslie is resourceful, and begins searching the Internet for
weight loss tips. She finds information about adopting a walking program and
setting small goals, but she isn't sure where to start. She is referred to Steps
through a Facebook ad, as she visits a weight loss Facebook group. In her
first week of using Steps, Leslie enjoys being able to walk as much as she can
without any pressure. The application visualizes this baseline establishment
phase as a training camp zookeepers. After Indexter establishes a baseline,
the training camp is complete, and Indexter suggests goals for Leslie. Steps
visualizes these goals as the process of recapturing a friendly animal. For
example, Leslie must complete her first weekly goal to make food to lure the
runaway critter. Leslie enjoys the irony of thinking that she's making an
animal food while she's really walking. When about to finish the recapturing
process, Leslie is relieved that the game doesn't force her to physically harm
the critter, but simply refriend it. Next, Leslie likes to spend her hard-earned
money--from participation and zookeeping--to customize the appearance of
her zoo. This previous sentence is outdated and probably too much graphical
work. How should currency be used? After refilling her zoo, Leslie is able to
choose another zoo on Google Maps to refill. Overall, Leslie feels like she
forgets about the grind of exercise. When she begins feeling the benefits of
exercise, Leslie becomes intrinisically motivated to exercise.
I'm not an art expert, so beware
Most estimates are based on "Bigfoot Challenge" document:
o drawing characters -- 14-20 hrs
number of characters: 120-150
o draw Indexter -- 8-10 hrs
o convert drawings to digital format -- 18-20 hrs
o developing encyclopedia content -- 5-9 hours
o building game mechanics -- 11-16 hrs
o testing the game mechanics/design -- 25-30 hrs
o refining game mechanics based on test results -- 10-15 hrs
o programming game -- 40-70 hrs
o People make great efforts for their pets--Fish 'n' Steps
o People grow attached to their pets
o Finite progress--shown by capturing animals, refilling zoos
o Joining a team is encouraged, but a choice
o Casual play design
o How compelling team content is depends on your team members
o How sensitive are people about joining a virtual support group to work
towards a common goal?
o Does anyone care about the encyclopedia?
How can we make encyclopedia content compelling?
Is anyone interested in earning encyclopedia entries?
o Significant time investment needed for graphic design
Google Maps to visualize the chase
o Bettendorf, IA "landmark" image source: http://pics4.city-
o Cat thinks scraping pictures, info from Wikipedia would be lame
What other sources of information could we use?
sprites overlayed on Google Maps
o "big game" as Pokemon --
o "zookeeper" as Pokemon trainer --
Nintendo's various Pokedexes
o Get around cooldowns and get more critters
o Virtual support group
Quality interactions encouraged by interestingness metric
o The set of capturable animals in Pokemon is characterized by a mix of
feminine, masculine, and androgynous members. The zookeeping metaphor
will follow the same idea to appeal to both female and male players.
World of Zoo
o "World of Zoo takes players beyond the fences and into their own zoo,
allowing them to care for and build relationships with numerous animals
through hands-on interactive gameplay. Packed full of customization features,
players will be able to experience their own personalized virtual zoo creating
an experience unlike any other animal-based simulation game."
o "World of Zoo is a family-friendly game that will open the gates for gamers to
freely roam their zoo in ways they have only imagined. With more than 90
different animals spanning 11 families to care for, players will have
ample opportunities to engage with all types of species. The Animal Creator
feature will allow players to create an unlimited number of animals and be
able to customize each one. They can even add animals to any of the 20
different exhibits available in the game utilizing the Animal Adoption Network
feature. Players can also learn about their animals through fun animal facts
provided by National Geographic. Each animal is completely unique with
different personalities and behaviors. It will be up to the player to determine
ways to gain their trust and keep their animals happy, ultimately earning a
Magic Moment from their animal."
bold = useful for estimates of how many animals we should do
o Max number of moves per turn is bounded
Big Game Hunter series
o hunt different big game in ~32 different locations
"You are a hunter, hired by the king to find and trap the mice that
infest his kingdom. For each mouse you catch, you'll find a unique
reward, bringing you closer to being the best MouseHunter in the
VERY NICE FLASH VISUALS for a facebook app
popular & high rating
all events, actions are recorded in journal as a first person
RPG aspects, but too complex for Steps
conversational tone, like
can see # of other players in a region, # of friends
o Big Bird Hunting
Duck Hunt, essentially
Fish 'n' Steps
"Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional
Software" -- YouTube
Yahoo! Design Pattern Library
SparkPeople featured members
the visualization proposal for geographic metaphor
useful for proposal structure
o "Bigfoot Challenge"
"Big Game" concept
o "point system proposal groundwork: personas"
for writing scenarios
o "point system proposal"