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Social Games

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Behavioral patterns driving social media interactions

Behavioral patterns driving social media interactions


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  • Back when I studied Psychology, the most memorable and useful thing I learned was the “one-armed bandit” schedule of reinforcement. Which you can see here, in red. The essence is this: if you give random, sizeable rewards for user actions (e.g. how a slot machine works), you will get an addictive behavior pattern - in mice, in pigeons, or in humans.
  • Back when I studied Psychology, the most memorable and useful thing I learned was the “one-armed bandit” schedule of reinforcement. Which you can see here, in red. The essence is this: if you give random, sizeable rewards for user actions (e.g. how a slot machine works), you will get an addictive behavior pattern - in mice, in pigeons, or in humans.
  • An easy, visible way to keep track of how you’re doing
  • Collecting has this dynamic as well - but points are more abstract and manipulable
  • In games, points are common and obviously useful… but how do points work outside of games? Can you DO anything with your ooints?
  • Once of the oldest and most powerful forms of non-game points is the idea of Redeemable points.
  • This idea is ESPECIALLY powerful for females - who often don’t feel as comfortable playing games, because they’re “wasting their time”
  • Any multi-player game is a social experience - and for many people, earning points within a multi-player context is more fun than playing by yourself.
  • User rating systems can have a similar dynamic. For example, YouTube makes it really easy for users to rate the videos they watch. This feature turns a video viewing system in something that feels more fun, more game-like.
  • If you’re thinnking of adding a rating system to your service or application, pay close attention to WHAT you’re asking people to rate. Because, for better or worse, people will perceive user ratings as expressing the values of your system. For example, Myspace offers a twist on the old “hot or not” attractiveness rating scale - which sets a tone for what’s important on the site. Infospace recently announced a similar profile-browsing service for mobile phones called “hotties” that includes custom profiles, user ratings, and person-to-person messaging and flirting. This service is a cross between MySpace and Match.Com - it’s explicity about dating and flirting, It’s not a game, but it includes enough game mechanics to make the service feel light, playful and fun.
  • If you’re thinnking of adding a rating system to your service or application, pay close attention to WHAT you’re asking people to rate. Because, for better or worse, people will perceive user ratings as expressing the values of your system. For example, Myspace offers a twist on the old “hot or not” attractiveness rating scale - which sets a tone for what’s important on the site. Infospace recently announced a similar profile-browsing service for mobile phones called “hotties” that includes custom profiles, user ratings, and person-to-person messaging and flirting. This service is a cross between MySpace and Match.Com - it’s explicity about dating and flirting, It’s not a game, but it includes enough game mechanics to make the service feel light, playful and fun.
  • When you think “light and playful,” eBay isn’t the first website that springs to mind. But look closer, and you’ll see that eBay includes many elements that make it feel fun and gamelike. For example, eBay’s feedback system is way of scoring social points that are based on the results of real-world transactions. We’ll explore eBay’s game mechanics a little bit later in this talk…
  • Amazon is another example of a “serious” site that’s become more social and playful and expressive over time. One simple example is the “helpful reviews” meta-rating system that Amazon uses to score people’s product reviews. Not only is this helpful to eveyrone using the system - it creates a social rating system that identifies the top reviewers based on the qualtiy - not just the quantity - of their reviews.
  • A less obvious - but even more interesting - social rating system is Flickr’s measure of “interestingness” -- this is a cumulative measure of people’s viewing and tagging and commenting behavior within the site. This is an “emergent” form of social points - and it allows Flickr to identity and reward photographers who create art that Flickr users collectively find interesting. What’s exciting about this rating system is that it INFERS points, based on existing behavior. So ask yourself - is there something similar in the applications that I’m currently working on?
  • Flickr’s Interestingness page is essnetially a leaderboard - that is, a place that showcases the top-rated objects within the system.
  • Why are leaderboards powerful? Because they tap into our innate competitive drive. They also showcase what’s “hot” within the gaming world.
  • Along with rating systems, leaderboards express what’s valued within the world of a game or service. For example, Halo values combat skills - both individual and team. And judging from it’s leaderboards, Textamerica (a moblogging service) values frequency of posting images, and getting comments on your images.
  • Leaderboards can be a double-edged sword. Wherever you see LeaderBoards for user ratings, You’ll inevitably see people begging others to “vote for me” - but you’ll also see people who are motivated to put their best foot forward - to upload their best videos, and their most “attractive” photos.
  • Leaderboards can be a double-edged sword. Wherever you see LeaderBoards for user ratings, You’ll inevitably see people begging others to “vote for me” - but you’ll also see people who are motivated to put their best foot forward - to upload their best videos, and their most “attractive” photos.
  • It’s for exactly the reason I just mentioned - Leaderboards shape player behavior, and not always in a positive way. Once someone has top ranking on a leaderboard, that person may be motivated to “game the system” to keep their ranking - while others may behave similarly to get onto the leaderboard in the first place. For example, if you hae a “most friends” leaderboard in a social networking site, you’ve just setup a collecting game - which undermines the core purpose of the site.
  • Leaderboards can be a double-edged sword. Wherever you see LeaderBoards for user ratings, You’ll inevitably see people begging others to “vote for me” - but you’ll also see people who are motivated to put their best foot forward - to upload their best videos, and their most “attractive” photos.
  • Flickr’s Interestingness page is essnetially a leaderboard - that is, a place that showcases the top-rated objects within the system.
  • My young son plays Bejeweled, and he gets completely immersed in attaining a new level…. Similarly, when I worked at eBay, we’d see similar behavior among sellers who were close to a new level.
  • Players are motivated to keep playing and reach new levels
  • Both these applications actually teach you something useful, that goes beyond your gaming experience and applies to other areas of your life
  • Google maps is more fun to use - there are many reasons, but a big one is feedback. AJAX gives you better feedback, more responsiveness. Thus it’s more fun to use. And when two apps are similar, the one that’s more fun will always win.
  • Google maps is more fun to use - there are many reasons, but a big one is feedback. AJAX gives you better feedback, more responsiveness. Thus it’s more fun to use. And when two apps are similar, the one that’s more fun will always win.
  • gifting engenders obligation, develops social relationships…
  • Anyone who’s ever played a MUD or online game knows the power of character customization. Games know this well, and exploit this for gameplay value. And social networking sites like MySpace use what I’d call “Extreme Customization”
  • MySpace includes many forms of feedback -- as shown here - and also let’s you get ust-in-time INFO about the feedback on your mobile phone.
  • Friending is a social exchange -- and once you’re someone’s friend, you can leave comments on her page… which encourages her to leave comments in return… it’s fun and engaging, and loosely similar to taking turns in a game,
  • This is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of MySpace. EXTREME CUSTOMIZATION. The exact thing that drives design-oriented adults like me bonkers is what makes MySpace compelling to the kids who use it. Viewing someone’s MySpace profiles is kinda like walking into a teenagers bedroom -- music is playing, photos and posters are plastered all over the walls. It’s all about self-expression. If the design puts off adults, so much the better. Read Danah Boyd’s insightful piece for more insight into this dynamic.
  • Prof. Ryuta Kawashima. Part of an important larger trend. Think exercise programs made fun. A whole industry.
  • MySpace includes many forms of feedback -- as shown here - and also let’s you get ust-in-time INFO about the feedback on your mobile phone.
  • Friending is a social exchange -- and once you’re someone’s friend, you can leave comments on her page… which encourages her to leave comments in return… it’s fun and engaging, and loosely similar to taking turns in a game,
  • This is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of MySpace. EXTREME CUSTOMIZATION. The exact thing that drives design-oriented adults like me bonkers is what makes MySpace compelling to the kids who use it. Viewing someone’s MySpace profiles is kinda like walking into a teenagers bedroom -- music is playing, photos and posters are plastered all over the walls. It’s all about self-expression. If the design puts off adults, so much the better. Read Danah Boyd’s insightful piece for more insight into this dynamic.
  • This is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of MySpace. EXTREME CUSTOMIZATION. The exact thing that drives design-oriented adults like me bonkers is what makes MySpace compelling to the kids who use it. Viewing someone’s MySpace profiles is kinda like walking into a teenagers bedroom -- music is playing, photos and posters are plastered all over the walls. It’s all about self-expression. If the design puts off adults, so much the better. Read Danah Boyd’s insightful piece for more insight into this dynamic.
  • This is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of MySpace. EXTREME CUSTOMIZATION. The exact thing that drives design-oriented adults like me bonkers is what makes MySpace compelling to the kids who use it. Viewing someone’s MySpace profiles is kinda like walking into a teenagers bedroom -- music is playing, photos and posters are plastered all over the walls. It’s all about self-expression. If the design puts off adults, so much the better. Read Danah Boyd’s insightful piece for more insight into this dynamic.
  • Transcript

    • 1.  
    • 2. using game mechanics to create applications and services that are fun, compelling, and addictive What this talk is NOT about using graphics, animation, sound and UI techniques from games to liven up functional software (that’s another topic :-)
    • 3. Q: What is a game? A1: Formal Definition a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome* A2: Informal Definition a structured experience with rules & goals that’s fun *From Rules of Play by Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen
    • 4. Q: How do games shape behavior? A: By leveraging our primal response patterns
    • 5. Q: How do games shape behavior? A: By engaging us in flow
    • 6. How can game mechanics make an interactive experience more fun, compelling and addictive?
    • 7.
      • Collecting
    • 8. Worlds of Warcraft inventory MySpace friends
    • 9. Collectible cards Tagworld fans
    • 10. Baseball Cards Habbo Coins
    • 11.  
    • 12. Collecting stamps in BrainAge Collecting Friends in Hotties
    • 13.
      • Collecting
      • Points
    • 14. Earning points in Bejeweled Earning points on eBay
    • 15. … and what can your points DO for you?
    • 16. S&H GreenStamps PrizePlay
    • 17. Southwest Airlines simpler Frequent Flyer points Drugstore.com Dollars earn while you shop
    • 18.  
    • 19. Ratings in Acrophobia Ratings in YouTube
    • 20. Rating profiles in MySpace Rating profiles in “Hotties”
    • 21. Which is hotter? Which is cuter?
    • 22.  
    • 23.  
    • 24. Points are calculated via aggregate behavior
    • 25. … you can have LeaderBoards
    • 26. Leaderboards in TagWorld
    • 27. Xbox Live Halo TextAmerica
    • 28. TextAmerica: Most Comments YouTube: Highest Rated
    • 29. TextAmerica: Most Comments YouTube: Highest Rated
    • 30. HINT: LeaderBoards encourage people to game the system…
    • 31. Daily Puzzle percentage ranking Amazon sales ranking
    • 32. … you can define Levels
    • 33. Levelling up in Bejeweled eBay’s Star System
    • 34. Reaching Level 60 in WOW Attaining a new karate belt
    • 35. Levelling up in WOW Levelling up as an eBay powerseller
    • 36.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
    • 37. Feedback in Bejeweled Feedback in MySpace Mobile
    • 38. Karaoke Revolution - how good is your singing? Brain Training - how old is your brain?
    • 39.  
    • 40. Stanford Sudoku
    • 41. Cooking Mama for Nintendo DS - teaches you how to cook
    • 42.  
    • 43.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
    • 44. basic, primal form of social engagement
    • 45. In chess, taking turns is built into the rules
    • 46. eBay Feedback is a tit-for-tat social meta-game
    • 47. Trading in WOW Trading in MogiMogi
    • 48. NetMarble HabboHotel Helios
    • 49. comments are implicit “ Add Friend” is explicit
    • 50.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 51. Choose your favorite MetroGirl Customized eBay interface
    • 52. Amazon Home Page Flickr Home Page
    • 53. Female Characters in WOW Female Profiles in MySpace
    • 54.  
    • 55.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 56.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 57.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 58.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 59.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 60.  
    • 61.  
    • 62.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Collect daily stamps Collect new games
    • 63.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Points over time Points for a round
    • 64.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Short term: correct? Long term: Brain age
    • 65.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      He introduces You play He evaluates
    • 66.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Custom signature Custom stamp
    • 67.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Brain Age is aware of time
    • 68.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
      Program remembers when you last logged in
    • 69.  
    • 70.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 71.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 72.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 73.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 74.
      • Collecting
      • Points
      • Feedback
      • Exchanges
      • Customization
    • 75. Looking Ahead expect to see more “serious” applications that feel like games… … and games that incorporate communities