Understanding Game Mechanics

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Game mechanics are not games. They are the rules and principles that guide a person through a series of activities while providing feedback as to progress and performance and delivering rewards for accomplishments.

Game mechanics are deeper than pins, badges or levels, they are mechanisms that harness the power of fundamental human needs.

If you understand fundamental human needs and how they apply to game mechanics you will be able to design software interactions that are compelling and engaging for the people who us the software. This presentation discusses the psychology of motivation and the basics of game mechanics.

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Understanding Game Mechanics

  1. 1. 6000 Greenwood Plaza Blvd Suite 110 Greenwood Village, CO 80111 303.798.5458 www.aspenware.comGhost Town:Understanding Game Mechanics toBuild a Vibrant SharePointCommunity.
  2. 2. JeremiahFellowsJeremiah Fellows, Marketing and Service Innovation | @JWFellows |j.fellows@aspenware.com | http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremiahfellows/
  3. 3. As a former IT manager for a global electronics manufacturer I have deployedwell designed and architected software that met business objectives. Thesoftware was never used.As a consultant I see enterprise software projects fail due to lack of employeeengagement. This failure occurs more often than failure due to poorly designedand implemented technology.Game mechanics are one way to create an engaging experience that will result ina more focused and productive employee. Ghost Town Starting at the Beginning Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  4. 4. What are gamemechanicsGhost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  5. 5. Game Mechanics NOT games. They are the• Principles• Rules• Mechanismsthat govern behavior through a system of• Incentives• Feedback• Rewardswith a reasonably predictable outcome.Game mechanics are not new.• This factory has gone X days without an accident• School childrens name on the board• Sales leaderboards, diamond clubs, etc.Game mechanics are mechanisms that can create powerful participationengines. But only if we understand how they work. Ghost Town Starting at the Beginning Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  6. 6. Why are people participating in painful races likemarathons and the Tough Mudder?Why are people willing to spend large sums ofmoney to participate in these painful events?How do these races able to motivate people tobe so focused and engaged?What motivates people to participate in these races are the same things thatmotivate people to• Buy what they buy• Interact with the people they interact with• Get tattoos• perform tasks at workPeople are motivated activities that meet fundamental human needs. There is nodifference between what motivates a person as an employee, a consumer or aparticipant in recreation. Ghost Town Starting at the Beginning Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  7. 7. Motivation MattersGhost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  8. 8. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Wikipedia. Retrieved March 1 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svgGhost Town Motivation MattersUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  9. 9. Higher level needs• Esteem• Belonging• Self-actualizationbecome powerful drivers of behavior.Once a person has physiological and safetyneeds met promises of additionalphysiological and safety (often in the formof bonus or cash rewards) can de-motivate. They do not meet higher levelneeds. Ghost Town Motivation Matters Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  10. 10. So how is it that painful races meet higher levelneeds?• Esteem – The racer has done something other people have not done. They get visible rewards (t- shirts and medals) that allow them to publicize their accomplishment.• Belonging – The racer is part of a group of people that not everyone can belong to.• Self-Actualization – At some point during a race every racer hits a wall and fears they cannot make it. When they push through the wall they accomplish more than they thought they could, they believe they have met or exceeded their potential. It is important to note that it is not necessary for a participant to win to have their fundamental needs met. The last place finisher is as proud of their accomplishments as the winner. Ghost Town Motivation Matters Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  11. 11. Where are we now?Ghost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  12. 12. What needs are met by thissoftware?• Esteem• Belonging• Self-actualization This software is designed to meet business needs but neglects fundamental human needs that will result in engagement and motivation for employees. Ghost Town Where Are We? Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  13. 13. EsteemThese software packages aredesigned to meet the same Belongingbusiness goals. Self Actualization Only one meets higher level fundamental needs. Ghost Town Where Are We? Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  14. 14. Start simple.Ghost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  15. 15. The Microsoft BETA1 game increased the level of participation in Vista betatesting among employees by 400%.Simple game mechanics met basic needs:• Belonging – people are participating in the game together whether they win or lose.• Esteem – The leaderboard publicizes positive performanceGame mechanics do not have to be part of a complex long term strategy. Gamemechanics do not need to meet every fundamental human need to be effective. Ghost Town Simple. Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  16. 16. Metrics Self Actualization Esteem Belonging Points Points Levels Levels Leaderboards Challenges Challenges LevelsCommon game mechanic elements and how they meet fundamental human needs.Note that the presentation of a simple metric can meet high level needs without amassive complex implementation. This is true as long as needs, motivation andbusiness goals are well understood. Ghost Town Simple. Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  17. 17. Getting started with your participationengine:• Goals – Understand the business goals you are trying to accomplish.• Storyboard – Storyboard the interactions and where the game mechanics affect a behavior.• Implement – Implement the smallest mechanics possible that will meet the business goal. Don’t use a level or badge when the presentation of a number will do.The more complex and longer term the strategy the greater the need for a welldesigned story with increasing levels of difficulty and exploration, more robustfeedback and rewards commiserate with the level of effort. Ghost Town Simple Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  18. 18. WarningGhost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  19. 19. • Game mechanics do not result in Pavlovian conditioning. Badges, levels and stats cannot make up for poorly designed and meaningless work.• People will try to game the system. Use your storyboard to identify potential for cheating.• Game mechanics can drive both positive and negative behavior. Make sure the behavior you are incentivizing does not result in unethical behavior or unintended consequences. Game Mechanics are participation engines. -Rajat Paharia, founder of Bunchball Ghost Town A Word of Warning Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  20. 20. ResourcesGhost TownUsing Game Mechanics to Build aVibrant SharePoint Community
  21. 21. Books:• Total Engagement: Using games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete. Bryon Reeves and J.Leighton Read• Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Daniel Pink• Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Dan ArielySharePoint Game Mechanics Products:Warning: These products will enable you to fling badges, points and levels all over SharePoint. Start withbusiness goals and a story!• Badgeville• BunchBallA deeper dive:• Fogg Behavior Model• Michael Wu Ph.D. Ghost Town A Word of Warning Using Game Mechanics to Build a Vibrant SharePoint Community
  22. 22. 6000 Greenwood Plaza Blvd Suite 110 Greenwood Village, CO 80111 303.798.5458 www.aspenware.comAspenware

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