Before you do anything, I recommend you read the slides by SebastianDeterding, who inspired this presentation. Trust me, they‟re better than mineand very pleasing on the eye. Each image above is a link to his work. Seriously.Do it now!
In today‟s session I want to look at a current marketing buzz-word,„gamification‟, which promises a lot of engagement between a product orservice and its user-base in order to keep people interested by rewardingpeople for their interactions123
In the first section I want to offer a brief overview of what the term refers to forthose unfamiliar with it123
5I‟m sure many of you have played the game, as a child, that involves youwalking on pavement stones where you haven‟t got to touch the cracks?
6When I was a child I used to pretend that if I touched the crack my back wouldsnap, so it was imperative that I didn‟t mess up. This games used to make themile walk home fun (or slightly less dull!)
7Similarly, any household chore could be turned into a game for some folk…
8I used to like to put my toys in situations they were not meant to be in…Exploring potential scenarios in the context of a safe play space. Usually this
9It is these 3 core elements that, if done well, can make games or gamifiedexperiences very enjoyable and effective. You‟ve probably done something likethis yourselves…Make believeRules, challengesGoalsFeedbackFree,Safe play space
There‟s a new buzz word in town (although there‟s some discontent regardingits significance, or at least its application). Games are encroaching into reality,breaking outside of the confines of the traditional game space. From playinggames in public, through flash-mobs, to augmented reality applications –10
11Some reading…Not every gamified experience will be the same. Depending on who you listento, different proponents will have different takes on the successfulimplementation of the gamification experience. McGonigal sees it as makingwork fun in order to change the world for the better. Schell sees it as the futureof advertising
12Some more reading…Zichermann sees it as being akin to a very cheap form of customer loyaltyprogramme. Kim sees it as a new field of (meta)game-design and communityengagement. Reeves sees it the future of work as a perfect information market.
13Will Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, once suggested that theproponents of gamification elements tend to see it as a form of monosodiumglutamate (MSG) – „Make it Seem Game-like‟ – that can fix everything. Heargues that the distinction between the virtual and the real world is an artificialone.
In this section I want to look at some of the ways in which people confuse whatgamification is (or isn‟t)123
15Not all games are funKat Bailey of 1UP.com found nothing to like about the game, calling it a “lazy,corporate-mandated cash-in”. IGN claimed “MindJack is ultimately a frustratingand forgettable shooter with horrible presentation, clumsy controls and aplodding campaign”
16Serious gamesFloodSim: A flood prevention simulation/strategy game designed to inform thepeople of the UK about the dangers of flooding as well as to help gather publicopinion on the problem that flooding presents. Players take control of the UKsflood policies for three years and attempts to protect the people and theeconomy of the nation.
17Sturgeon‟s revelationDerived from quotations by Theodore Sturgeon, an American science-fictionwriter. He noted that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality bycritics, the same could be said for the majority of works in other fields and thatscience fiction was thus no different in that regard to other art. The sameapplies to games.„ninety percent ofeverything is crap‟
18A Theory of Fun for Game DesignIn 2005 Raph Koster observed that playing video games tends to be funbecause it provides experiences of competence, self-efficacy and mastery, notsome externalised contextual reward. McGonigal makes much the same pointin Reality is Broken„fun from gamesarises out ofmastery‟
19This is a point made by Sebastian Deterding. Just adding something game-liketo a product or service is no guarantee of fun. To make something fun, youneed all the hard work of game design: iteration, play-testing, balancing –preferably performed by real game designers.Games are not fun becausethey„re games.Games are fun when theyare well-designed.
20Reward behaviourYou have an activity that you want your users or customers to partake in andyou offer them rewards for doing so. This might take the guise of points orbadges, and it might even include some form of competition or a leaderboard torank users against each other. However, rewards do not equal a sense ofachievement
21I get very little pleasure from becoming the mayor of the Prospect Building asit‟s very simple to do. Turn up regularly and check in on Foursquare. This iswhere I work! It‟s not a challenge! It‟s certainly not fun despite Foursquare‟sattempt to make it seem competitive
There are lots of examples of games that reward inane behavior simplybecause it‟s a function of the (poorly considered) design. This is somethingJakob Stjerning parodied when he built Progress Wars. Observe how thoselovely bars progress as you click! Isn„t it fun? Isn„t it engaging? Er, no….
23Games + social = ?All manner of social games have become very popular across a range ofdifferent demographics. Often these games are powered by a freemiumbusiness model whereby those players who are time poor but cash rich can buytheir way to success. Players may also be rewarded for inviting friends to playor for playing socially
Jesse Shell (2010) suggested the success of games like Club Penguin arebased on „psychological tricks‟. It is free to play and players accrue virtualmoney but in order to spend that money in-game a $6 per month subscription isneeded ($72 per year), creating an “elastic velvet rope”. Disney paid $35024Games + social = license to print $
There is a history of games from one space bleeding into another. Fantasyfootball is a game that leeches off another game, which used to be the confineof nerds but is now mainstream and enjoyable25
Watch your points with Weight Watchers. Players are rewarded for variousachievements and hitting critical milestones. It might be a game but is it fun?Nintendo‟s Wii Fit was an attempt to bring game dynamics to healthy living andother „serious games‟ exist26
Track your progress, beat your score, compare your performance with otherusers of Nike+!27
Play the game, upgrade your meal for more chances of „winning‟, watch yourhealth suffer…28
Fast food loyalty schemes try to incentivize repeat custom by rewardingcustomers for sticking with them. They are now going beyond the sticker-collecting stage and taking advantage of the technology in our pockets – useQR codes to scan and store your data29
Frequent flyers are rewarded for their repeat engagement: „rank up‟ based onexperience points?30
There is a tendency for car manufacturers to include fuel economy gauges fordrivers to maximize their fuel efficiency. The aim of the game is to „score‟ yourhighest MPG. Play Fuel Challenge™ by „hypermiling‟ with some unintendedconsequences, such as refusing to slow down at traffic lights so as not to have31
Geo-location services like Foursquare and Gowalla reward players forregistering their position via GPS by giving them badges and exclusivediscounts with specific retailors. Geocaching games abound where players use32
In this section I want to look at responses to gamification123
Gamification = application of game design elements to things that aren‟ttypically considered a game. It strives to encourage users in desiredbehaviours by taking advantage of psychological predispositions to engage in agame format when the task at hand may not be that exciting (wink to SebastianDeterding for this one…)34
Volkswagen Sweden employ the “The Fun Theory” to reformulate the mundaneact of recycling into a game that increased bottle bank deposits in the abovePlay video
Use the „data shadows‟ left behind by the Oyster travel card on the LondonUnderground to make the daily commute more interesting: “Pick up Items.Complete Collections. Take on Missions. Join a team and together take overLondon”
The decreasing costs and increasing sophistication of accelerometers, RFIDchips and other sensors is creating a context in which they can be found almostanywhere, and their centrality may engender new possibilities for innovationand engagement. Even the most mundane objects like a smartphone can beutilized as part of a „gamified‟ marketing campaign. This doesn‟t mean they‟llalways be implemented effectively…37
41Gamification is bullshitIan Bogost has argued that the rhetoric of gamification is presented bymarketers as reassuring and easy, suggesting strategy and formulaic solutionsto problems. Game developers and players have critiqued it on the grounds thatit gets games wrong, mistaking incidental properties like points and levels forprimary features like interactions with behavioral complexity.
42Cow ClickerBogost developed this Facebook game as a parody of the worst excesses ofFarm Ville and its clones. The goal was to earn „clicks‟ by clicking on a cowevery six hours. A currency called „Mooney‟ allowed users to purchase new cowdesigns. More clicks could be harvested when friends brought their cows to thepasture.
43Every time you clicked a cow your Facebook newsfeed would highlight thebanality by posting “I‟m clicking a cow”. Despite it being a parody, it becamevery successful in its own right, attracting over 50,000 players. Some playerseven posted strategy guides. Eventually Bogost called it to an end via theCowpoclaypse
The pop behaviourism of B.F. Skinner sees rewards as, well, rewarding…However, humans are not always motivated to react the same way a rat in aSkinner box may be. Many of the gamified social experiences marketed todayaren‟t being built by skilled game designers44
In summaryMany companies have risen to prominence on the back of viral strategies,placing social experiences at the centre of their strategy.Gamification, adopted as a marketing strategy, is meant to be fun (funware?),but does it always succeed?Not all games work to reward players for their efforts accordingly (only the bestdesigned ones?)45
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