Game mechanics for
Pietro Polsinelli from Open Lab
all references of this talk:
Game mechanics for the smart masses
Most software applications and web sites not
commonly understood as games have some
aspect that can be described in gaming
My point here:
A game design perspective can contribute in
usability and functionality also in non
Which game mechanics?
Many game designers treat users
as basically moronic
conditional-reflex slaves (*). Or,
if you prefer, totally controlled
by their Lizard Brain.
Conditioning users to trivial games
is not the only possible usage of
game mechanics for function
(*) Which the monkeys in the picture surely
aren’t by nature.
Which game mechanics?
Game mechanics is a part of
design and usability - it’s a part
of "understanding users".
Adding game mechanics does not
necessarily mean adding layers
it can be a tool to make the end
experience be felt as less
Which game mechanics?
You can use game mechanics
techniques to increase
focus and “getting things
done”, and not as
something to get more
If you using it in a way that
interrupts “the flow”, this
is simply bad design.
Game mechanics definitions
Game mechanics are the
interactions and relationships that
remain [in a game] when all the
esthetics, the technology, and
story are stripped away
The Art of Game Design, p. 130
Find a game space and its
dimensions, then actors,
attributes, states, transition rules
(including chance), goals (end
Behavioral game mechanics
This is mechanics that engages people. Amy
Jo Kim in this splendid video finds 5
This is what many today are talking about
because of behavioral game mechanics
role in social software.
Game mechanics for non thinking users
Proposal definition. The game
as a game is an end in
itself, but has no skill
selection apart from
eventually credit card
A side effect often is some
form of marketing by
Game mechanics for thinking users
The idea here is to use
techniques of game design in
a way which is integrated in
the functionality of an
application which is not
focused on gaming and not
used by direct application of
I will try to clarify what I mean
by negative and positive
Bad usage of game mechanics – two examples
“As here the user may get bored,
let’s add here a “launch Tetris”
button, so he can have a go at
Read recently on Twitter:
“Question: Has anyone seen
game mechanics integrated
with a to-do list app?
Completing tasks needs to
become social and
(Hopefully) Good usage of game mechanics
The aim of the application is we’ll use as
an example is this:
Basic, conscious, determined,
motivated, reasoned, discussed aim:
collecting and classifying information
for doing things
Licorize is a bookmarking and todo
manager. This theme is not
intrinsically related to game
mechanics. How can game mechanics
Usage of game mechanics: “collecting”
We are all familiar with this
Example: the pleasure of collecting
money, expensive prostitutes,
newspapers and tv’s, and so on.
Collecting “gems” by having nice
thumbnails f bookmarked sites,
we’ve tapped into “collecting
gems” which is one of the
simplest and most appreciated
“games” – and its an end in itself.
Usage of game mechanics: “scoring”
Scoring and empowerment:
Leaderboards (hall of fame),
Also empowering: magic
wand, giving points to
other users (social points).
As done in StackOverflow
Usage of game mechanics: “badges”
Badges are more refined
“levels”, as they have an
We even have negative
Usage of game mechanics: “leaderboards”
With leaderboards you are celebrating the power users.
Leaderboards may backfire, by presenting to all
“unreachable” users, so we have: last week usage
leaderboards, which makes them more accessible:
Usage of game mechanics: “friends, a
For this “at work” context,
you could show “most
Usage of game mechanics: “cleaning”
Most people love to get things clean –
particularly if it is a game.
The point of this page is getting clean the
weekly review page, and at the same time,
doing the weekly review.
Doing this gives a huge amount of points ->
using the “positive feedback” behavioral
But notice that you are actually managing
things better (if you don’t game the
system): this is the perfect junction of
thinking user and behavioral reinforcement
– what many (thinking) users today seek
Usage of game mechanics: “puzzling”
We’ve replaced a
puzzle (a classic
with a simpler (but
“stop and think”
reminder – which
Usage of game mechanics: and more…
Gift, syndacated info
look and behaviour,
Game design for non gaming application
In playing with game mechanics you easily
shift in game design.
Beyond mechanics: use game design
techniques to check the overall design of
- Where is the fun?
- Call the user -> the player
- Try using social search – think of YouTube
- What do women players want?
- What is the playing experience?