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Points don't make it a game!

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Points don't make it a game!

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My slides from NXNEi 2011, a game designer's perspective on gamification. It's a crash course primer, an invitation to be critical, and a starting point for designers interested in what game design might have to offer.

The conversation has proceeded and become more involved since I did this in June 2011, but more perspectives on this practice can't hurt.

My slides from NXNEi 2011, a game designer's perspective on gamification. It's a crash course primer, an invitation to be critical, and a starting point for designers interested in what game design might have to offer.

The conversation has proceeded and become more involved since I did this in June 2011, but more perspectives on this practice can't hurt.

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Points don't make it a game!

  1. 1. Points don’t make it a game! Points don’t make it a game.
  2. 2. James (I was standing here) Hi, I’m James Everett
  3. 3. Game Designer I’m a game designer
  4. 4. Gamification and I’m here to discuss the current hype machine that is “Gamification”
  5. 5. Using “game mechanics” in non-game contexts to drive user engagement. Gamification is using tools from game design in non-game websites, services, or products more fun and engaging.
  6. 6. Extrinsic Rewards Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names. http://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml
  7. 7. Extrinsic Rewards • Pointsification Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names. http://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml
  8. 8. Extrinsic Rewards • Pointsification • Badgification Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names. http://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml
  9. 9. Extrinsic Rewards • Pointsification • Badgification • Exploitationware Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names. http://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml
  10. 10. Get critical and constructive I’d like to discuss why gamification is seen this way by many in the game development community, and provide you with some tools to critically evaluate what is on offer around the web.
  11. 11. Who are you? So before I tackle this head on, who are you folks? How many of you are web designers? Developers? Game developers? Service designers? UX? And how many of you have heard the term gamification? http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458/
  12. 12. Awesome It was a great spread of people.
  13. 13. Game Designer? To give you some context for where I’m coming from, I think it’s important that I clarify what a game designer actually does.
  14. 14. Not art/animation We don't create the beautiful visuals you see on screen.
  15. 15. Not code And I don't write the code that makes it all work.
  16. 16. Game designers focus on the player experience, defining what the game is. Everything from the core rules of the game, like rock beats scissors, to high level direction like what is the player’s ultimate goal? http://jbc07050.blogspot.com/2010/07/rps-rules.html
  17. 17. Gamification? So if that’s what game designers do, and we love games, and feel confident that games can make the world a better place, why does this term worry us? Supposedly gamification is the application of our game design principles to non-game products, services, or apps.
  18. 18. Great! Game designers have been hoping the outside world would notice that we have a bunch of interesting tools which might make their services more useful. In particular there are fields like education where we think game design could offer compelling tools for students and teachers.
  19. 19. “...gamification is the high fructose corn syrup of engagement.” -Kathy Sierra But instead we are seeing a glut of gamification approaches which take the most shallow aspects of games and layer them over top http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/04/gamification-purpose-marketing.html#comments
  20. 20. HFCS sugarbomb Gamification that takes the sugary bit of games, the points and reward systems, and completely ignores the nutritional value of the underlying systems of play can’t provide long term nourishment. http://www.flickr.com/photos/boeke/267530310/
  21. 21. +1 This plus-one mentality has been applied to all kinds of activities. Many gamification approaches are much the same. They focus on giving users a quick hit of something sweet, like points or badges, to get them to consume more of the service.
  22. 22. Location checkin check in at a location! Points! http://www.flickr.com/photos/marte68/118256781/
  23. 23. Location checkin +1 check in at a location! Points! http://www.flickr.com/photos/marte68/118256781/
  24. 24. forum post Make a forum post? Points!
  25. 25. +1 forum post Make a forum post? Points!
  26. 26. Mundane task Do mundane task X? POINTS! http://www.flickr.com/photos/spike55151/2883114571/
  27. 27. +1! Mundane task Do mundane task X? POINTS! http://www.flickr.com/photos/spike55151/2883114571/
  28. 28. Raw extrinsic motivator What do all of these things have in common? They are raw extrinsic motivators. Points by themselves have absolutely no value. Points only mean something if they reflect meaningful actions taken by the player.
  29. 29. Space invaders high score Your high score in PacMan is interesting because it expresses a mastery over the system that you accomplished and other players can recognize. This yard stick measures your competitiveness with the game and other players. http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeymanforever/5688396398
  30. 30. Intrinsic motivations Intrinsic motivations are those things which we do because we enjoy the activity itself. Snowboarding, or painting, or a good game of chess if you're so inclined, are activities which we enjoy because we know what greatness looks like, and we can work towards it. We are constantly challenged by attempting something new, and so long as we can make measurable progress toward greatness we are learning. And while we are learning, we're having fun.
  31. 31. This is the genius of games, and a major reason why people love them. Games provide clear direction, goals, and consistent feedback to tell you how far you have progressed toward those goals.
  32. 32. “Fun is just another word for learning.” -Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun Raph Koster is a game designer who wrote the brilliant A Theory of Fun, which I would highly recommend to everyone here. Raph says "fun is just another word for learning" and he goes into great detail about how games scratch that learning itch. At the end of the day, games make us better at something.
  33. 33. CoD Now that something might be very fine hand eye motor coordination, like shooting in Call of Duty, http://www.flickr.com/photos/metamidia/4115550082
  34. 34. WoW or it might be the battlefield management of twenty other individuals with diverse skill sets under unrelenting time pressure in World of Warcraft. But because we're constantly challenged we keep learning and we keep coming back. http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/ 226464870/
  35. 35. 10,000! We're not coming back because my score went ding over 10,000 points.
  36. 36. Interesting Challenges Interesting challenges.
  37. 37. Edward L Deci Alfie Kohn Extrinsic motivation relies solely on the ding. It's an If-Then reward system. If you do X, I will give you Y. There is a bunch of research out there to highlight why that is an unsustainable practice, and you've probably heard of Pink, Deci, and others' research. People begin to associate the task only with the reward.
  38. 38. Bored by Reward bored by reward - They're no longer doing the activity because they want to do it, they're doing it for the reward. And if the reward ceases to be sufficiently compelling they will abandon the task. There is a compelling body of evidence that many tasks are actually negatively impacted by extrinsic rewards. http://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/91147636/
  39. 39. Foursquare How many of you have tried foursquare? OK keep your hands up please. How many of you are still regularly checking in to locations?
  40. 40. Foursquare is a good example of an extrinsic reward system. When you visit a place, you check in. There is no gameplay in checking in, you simply click a button and decide whether to share that checkin with various social networking services. No real harm there, but no challenge either. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gumption/4395362941
  41. 41. Foursquare rewards After you have checked in at some specified number or type of locations, you will be awarded with a badge for your accomplishment. So you did nothing, and you received nothing but a virtual token indicating your travels. And then you got put on a leaderboard, with a bunch of other people who happened to go to the same location as you. As you can see from my entirely non-scientific poll of the audience, that doesn't really stick long term. http://www.flickr.com/photos/superamit/3724330161/
  42. 42. What do you use Foursquare for? Of the people who said they're still checking in, who has been using Foursquare for more than six months and you're still checking in? What are you using it for? * keeping track of where I've been * rewards which outweigh the mundane repetition of checking in * sharing my current position with others for some reason * curation * competition
  43. 43. Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic So, to recap, intrinsic motivation is performing an activity because we derive some value or pleasure from the activity itself. Extrinsic motivations encourage us to perform an activity with the promise of a reward. Both of these types of motivation have their place.
  44. 44. Extrinsic motivation is often useful for routine tasks which must be performed on a consistent schedule. Given no other flexibility in the system, no way to see an improvement past a fixed maximum, knowing that there is some reward attached to that activity may keep you doing it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/whsimages/998243013
  45. 45. World of Warcraft progression In games we often use extrinsic rewards as feedback to keep our players informed as to their progress. We use experience points and skill progression to unlock new abilities after they have mastered one set. For example in World of Warcraft you receive experience points for every monster you slay and quest you complete. When you've accumulated enough experience points, you go up a level. When you go up a level you get to enhance one of your character's abilities, or unlock a new one.
  46. 46. Reward based on Skill The extrinsic reward, the point system and even the unlocking of new abilities, is completely dependent upon the core mechanics of the game. In this case it's carefully juggling the resources of health, abilities, and magic, and prioritizing which abilities to use on which enemies or allies in the heat of battle.
  47. 47. And knowing when to run screaming for the hills. http://www.mmorpg.com/photo/f516cb62-46e4-48fe-97d5-d245c77b467b
  48. 48. Intrinsic + Extrinsic combo In video games we often take these combinations of great intrinsic motivators, our core gameplay, and the right dash of extrinsic motivators, experience points and loot, and use them hand in hand to keep our players challenged and interested.
  49. 49. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Who is familiar with this name, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi?
  50. 50. High Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.
  51. 51. High Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.
  52. 52. High Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.
  53. 53. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game. Just as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.
  54. 54. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game. Just as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.
  55. 55. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game. Just as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.
  56. 56. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game. Just as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.
  57. 57. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game. Just as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.
  58. 58. High w Flo Anxiety Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time Just as the monster groups start to feel really tough and you're edging up towards the game being too hard, those experience points you've been collecting accumulate enough to award you a new level. With this new level you are awarded an increased amount of health and mana, making it easier for you to survive, and you can also improve or unlock an ability. These new tools make the monsters you were just cursing that much easier to defeat, and the cycle begins again.
  59. 59. High w Anxiety Flo Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time If a new player was dumped in around the level 20 mark of WoW they would be torn to bits. Even given a character that has accumulated the same number of experience points, the same gear, and the same spells they would not have the skills to have fun playing the game. They would quit.
  60. 60. High w Anxiety Flo Challenge Boredom Low Low High Skill/Time If a new player was dumped in around the level 20 mark of WoW they would be torn to bits. Even given a character that has accumulated the same number of experience points, the same gear, and the same spells they would not have the skills to have fun playing the game. They would quit.
  61. 61. Shiny armour An experienced WoW player has developed a set of tactical and time management skills by expending great effort in the pursuit of this game. The awesome was not the shinier armour, or the better spells, or the gold dropped that kept them playing. Those were simply tools which enabled them to push up against increasingly brutal odds. It was the process of learning how to overcome those challenges which made the game fun. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolelee/154701422/
  62. 62. Points != Game This is why game designers are so concerned about gamification: We only put points on something when it's already interesting. Points are a granular feedback mechanism, they are *not* the game.
  63. 63. It’s here. If you're building apps, or websites, or services chances are you've encountered the term gamification already. Perhaps you're already working on gamifying your project in some way. If you haven't you're either going to consider, or be asked by a client, to try gamifying your project.
  64. 64. Playful design is awesome I have to stress, I don't think applying gameplay, or playful design, to non-game projects is a bad idea. I believe there are a myriad of useful ways to apply game design outside of the sphere of games, and hopefully a couple of examples that I share today will spark your imagination.
  65. 65. RED FLAGS However, there are a couple of buzzwords associated with gamification which I consider Red Flags and would urge you to examine carefully when they come your way. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvw/116017204
  66. 66. Game Mechanics Many gamification proponents claim they're applying game mechanics to non-game designs.
  67. 67. Game Mechanics? • Points • Achievements They're doing it wrong. Points and achievements are feedback mechanisms. Important in games, but not the mechanics of the game.
  68. 68. Game Mechanics? • Points • Achievements They're doing it wrong. Points and achievements are feedback mechanisms. Important in games, but not the mechanics of the game.
  69. 69. Game Mechanics? • Loss Aversion • Ownership • Reward Schedules These three are psychological responses to the outcomes of game mechanics, not mechanics themselves!
  70. 70. Game Mechanics? • Loss Aversion • Ownership • Reward Schedules These three are psychological responses to the outcomes of game mechanics, not mechanics themselves!
  71. 71. Game Mechanics! Game mechanics are the interactions and relationships from which the game is derived. Regardless of the visual style, the story, or the technology in use, game mechanics are the heart of games which generate play.
  72. 72. Misused Terminology This is anther example of why gamification is getting game designer's hackles right up. We've struggled a long time to develop a shared language around game design, and we're still working at it, so when somebody gleefully takes our terminology and misapplies it, it rankles a bit. Game Mechanics are things like
  73. 73. Space Space
  74. 74. Chess board The space the game takes place in - a chess board or a http://www.flickr.com/photos/grantmac/3444059922/
  75. 75. Halo Map Halo map
  76. 76. Actions Actions
  77. 77. Mario jump Actions the player can take, like jumping
  78. 78. or moving stealthily to avoid detection
  79. 79. Rules The rules of the game - Rules are the most fundamental type of game mechanic, and they are the one least employed in gamification endeavours.
  80. 80. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevandotorg/4690356703/
  81. 81. We’re always building on the shoulders of giants http://wordpress.morningside.edu/cdl001/rpsls/
  82. 82. Turnkey Gamification Gamification service providers with turnkey APIs are suspect in the mechanics department. In the example of WoW the rewards of experience points and loot were directly tied to the core activity of the game, combat. How XP is doled out for each monster killed is finely tuned to the actions of the player
  83. 83. World of Wikipedia You could not take the reward mechanics of WoW and drop them onto Wikipedia and suddenly get World of Wikipedia. You would have to rework the entire structure of content creation and curation on Wikipedia to have a hope of it being anything other than an unmitigated disaster.
  84. 84. World of Wikipedia You could not take the reward mechanics of WoW and drop them onto Wikipedia and suddenly get World of Wikipedia. You would have to rework the entire structure of content creation and curation on Wikipedia to have a hope of it being anything other than an unmitigated disaster.
  85. 85. If you’re not already interesting, badges won’t help Services which offer ways to add badges easily to your website are taking the most superficial element of games and slapping them over the top. If you have not built for play from the very start, these rewards will be next to useless.
  86. 86. Exclusively extrinsic = ticking time bomb Without a solid base of game mechanics or intrinsically fulfilling activities the rewards will be exposed for what they are and users will abandon them. What's worse they could backfire on you completely!
  87. 87. Bartle’s Player Types Prof. Bartle defined four key aspects of players in Virtual Worlds back in 1996. His research has since been extended by himself and others to include many more types, but we’ll review the basics here as they get quoted regularly in gamification material.
  88. 88. Achievers Achievers focus on collecting as many “points” as the in-game goals will give them.
  89. 89. Explorers Explorers want to discover the entirety of the virtual world.
  90. 90. Socializers Socializers want to converse with others and role-play.
  91. 91. Killers Killers are there to defeat other players.
  92. 92. Acting KILLERS ACHIEVERS Players World SOCIALIZERS EXPLORERS Interacting Typical gamification applies only to Achievers
  93. 93. Use these as a lens at the beginning of a project, not the end If you’re interested in Bartle’s work, and I recommend it, it’s well written interesting stuff, I would suggest that you look to it at the beginning of a project. I also recommend you take the time to explore it as it is commonly and incorrectly cited in gamification circles. When somebody says “player types” look carefully at how they’re using them. http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm
  94. 94. Tools from Game Design I think we have some very valuable tools in game design that you may find useful if they align with what you are building. I'd like to share a few of those with you today. I can't give them all the time they deserve, but I hope they can serve as starting points for your own research and I'm happy to talk about them afterwards. (This bit of NXNEi was crazy busy and many off the cuff discussions happen afterward which I unfortunately have no notes on.) http://www.flickr.com/photos/stasiland/467444438
  95. 95. 1. Goals and Feedback Games are very good at setting goals for our players and providing them constant feedback on their progress toward that goal.
  96. 96. Short & Long term finish the level, upgrade your skills, Save the galaxy
  97. 97. Sometimes we splash it across the objective.
  98. 98. Sometimes we start you with one clear image to get the goal across.
  99. 99. Feedback on progress progress bars, visual cues, keeping it all front and centre
  100. 100. Quests! Quests for structured progression.
  101. 101. Juicy interactions are ones which are highly responsive to player input and provide immediate feedback on the effect of that input.
  102. 102. 2. Juicy Interactions Juicy interactions are ones which are highly responsive to player input and provide immediate feedback on the effect of that input.
  103. 103. http://benheck.com Good games go to great lengths to ensure that they are responsive at the fundamental level of input. This is a controller built by Ben Heck which lights up an LED the instant a button is pressed. Game designers will hook one of these up to their game and then record video of the LED board and the game on a TV screen and count how many frames it takes for inputs to take effect.
  104. 104. I believe the term “juice” was first used by Kyle Gabler and his cohorts from 2D Boy. This is 2D Boy’s World of Goo, one of the juiciest games ever created.
  105. 105. 3. Tutorials Teaching players the rules and tools of our games is an ongoing challenge. If you look at most games they will contain some kind of tutorial mechanism to guide players through the early stages.
  106. 106. Bad tutorials Bad tutorials happen all the time and you won’t have to go far to find examples. They are dictated to the player through walls of text or a dozen images filled with instructions and rules. Players are expected to absorb all of this information and then try to remember it while encountering the game for the first time.
  107. 107. Good tutorials present their material as part of the game, teaching through the actual loop of play. This example from Plants vs. Zombies is simple, yet highly effective. Each step is taken in turn and by the time the tutorial is complete the player is already well into the first level.
  108. 108. Recap • If Gamification = Pointsification, it’s doomed • If asked to gamify, consider your audience and goals • Look to games for tools and see if they can improve your project, might not be appropriate! • Make interactions welcoming and juicy :) • Provide feedback Recap
  109. 109. Go forth and play I urge you to embrace gameful and playful design. Examine what the world of game design might be able to offer you.
  110. 110. Hype curve But please be skeptical of the current wave of gamification hype. This is a massively complex issue, and it can't be resolved in just 45 minutes by one game designer.
  111. 111. Hype curve But please be skeptical of the current wave of gamification hype. This is a massively complex issue, and it can't be resolved in just 45 minutes by one game designer.
  112. 112. While I see lots to be concerned about in the way marketing is approaching gamification, like this thing for Coke, I also see great examples which use some of the tools of game design for progress.
  113. 113. This is the lesson progression tree for the Khan Academy, where you can learn all kinds of useful stuff. They’re using some of the simple techniques we’ve already discussed, building in progression and showing you where you can end up by building on each lesson.
  114. 114. Interesting similarities.
  115. 115. Thank you www.brainofjames.com @jamese
  116. 116. Further reading • Jesse Schell - The Art of Game Design http://artofgamedesign.com/ • Sebastian Deterding http://codingconduct.cc/ • Amy Jo Kim http://www.slideshare.net/amyjokim/ • Nicole Lazzaro http://www.slideshare.net/NicoleLazzaro • Raph Koster - Theory of Fun http://www.raphkoster.com/ www.brainofjames.com http://www.raphkoster.com/2011/02/28/gdc11-slides-for-social-mechanics-talk/

Editor's Notes

  • \n
  • Hi, I’m James Everett\n
  • I’m a game designer\n
  • and I’m here to discuss the current hype machine that is “Gamification”\n
  • Gamification is using tools from game design in non-game websites, services, or products more fun and engaging.\n
  • Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names.\nhttp://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml \n
  • Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names.\nhttp://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml \n
  • Games can be powerful, but the applications we’re seeing are almost always extrinsic motivators. They are simple feedback mechanisms on top of simple tasks. This has led many observers to argue that gamification should more accurately be called Pointsification, Badgification, or Exploitationware, and a few other less kind names.\nhttp://www.bogost.com/writing/exploitationware.shtml \n
  • I’d like to discuss why gamification is seen this way by many in the game development community, and provide you with some tools to critically evaluate what is on offer around the web.\n
  • So before I tackle this head on, who are you folks? How many of you are web designers? Developers? Game developers? Service designers? UX? And how many of you have heard the term gamification?\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/marcobellucci/3534516458/\n
  • \n
  • To give you some context for where I’m coming from, I think it’s important that I clarify what a game designer actually does. \n
  • We don't create the beautiful visuals you see on screen.\n
  • And I don't write the code that makes it all work.\n
  • Game designers focus on the player experience, defining what the game is. Everything from the core rules of the game, like rock beats scissors, to high level direction like what is the player’s ultimate goal?\n\nhttp://jbc07050.blogspot.com/2010/07/rps-rules.html\n
  • So if that’s what game designers do, and we love games, and feel confident that games can make the world a better place, why does this term worry us? Supposedly gamification is the application of our game design principles to non-game products, services, or apps. \n
  • Game designers have been hoping the outside world would notice that we have a bunch of interesting tools which might make their services more useful. In particular there are fields like education where we think game design could offer compelling tools for students and teachers. \n
  • But instead we are seeing a glut of gamification approaches which take the most shallow aspects of games and layer them over top \n\nhttp://radar.oreilly.com/2011/04/gamification-purpose-marketing.html#comments\n
  • Gamification that takes the sugary bit of games, the points and reward systems, and completely ignores the nutritional value of the underlying systems of play can’t provide long term nourishment.\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/boeke/267530310/\n
  • This plus-one mentality has been applied to all kinds of activities.\n\nMany gamification approaches are much the same. They focus on giving users a quick hit of something sweet, like points or badges, to get them to consume more of the service.\n
  • check in at a location! Points!\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/marte68/118256781/\n
  • Make a forum post? Points!\n
  • Do mundane task X? POINTS!\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/spike55151/2883114571/\n
  • What do all of these things have in common? They are raw extrinsic motivators. Points by themselves have absolutely no value. Points only mean something if they reflect meaningful actions taken by the player. \n
  • Your high score in PacMan is interesting because it expresses a mastery over the system that you accomplished and other players can recognize. This yard stick measures your competitiveness with the game and other players. \nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeymanforever/5688396398\n
  • Intrinsic motivations are those things which we do because we enjoy the activity itself. Snowboarding, or painting, or a good game of chess if you're so inclined, are activities which we enjoy because we know what greatness looks like, and we can work towards it. We are constantly challenged by attempting something new, and so long as we can make measurable progress toward greatness we are learning. And while we are learning, we're having fun.\n
  • This is the genius of games, and a major reason why people love them. Games provide clear direction, goals, and consistent feedback to tell you how far you have progressed toward those goals.\n
  • Raph Koster is a game designer who wrote the brilliant A Theory of Fun, which I would highly recommend to everyone here. Raph says "fun is just another word for learning"\nand he goes into great detail about how games scratch that learning itch. At the end of the day, games make us better at something. \n
  • Now that something might be very fine hand eye motor coordination, like shooting in Call of Duty,\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/metamidia/4115550082\n
  • or it might be the battlefield management of twenty other individuals with diverse skill sets under unrelenting time pressure in World of Warcraft. But because we're constantly challenged we keep learning and we keep coming back. http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/226464870/\n
  • We're not coming back because my score went ding over 10,000 points.\n
  • \n
  • Extrinsic motivation relies solely on the ding. It's an If-Then reward system. If you do X, I will give you Y. There is a bunch of research out there to highlight why that is an unsustainable practice, and you've probably heard of Pink, Deci, and others' research. People begin to associate the task only with the reward.\n
  • bored by reward - They're no longer doing the activity because they want to do it, they're doing it for the reward. And if the reward ceases to be sufficiently compelling they will abandon the task. There is a compelling body of evidence that many tasks are actually negatively impacted by extrinsic rewards.\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/91147636/\n
  • How many of you have tried foursquare? OK keep your hands up please. How many of you are still regularly checking in to locations?\n
  • Foursquare is a good example of an extrinsic reward system. When you visit a place, you check in. There is no gameplay in checking in, you simply click a button and decide whether to share that checkin with various social networking services. No real harm there, but no challenge either. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gumption/4395362941 \n
  • After you have checked in at some specified number or type of locations, you will be awarded with a badge for your accomplishment. So you did nothing, and you received nothing but a virtual token indicating your travels. And then you got put on a leaderboard, with a bunch of other people who happened to go to the same location as you. As you can see from my entirely non-scientific poll of the audience, that doesn't really stick long term.\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/superamit/3724330161/\n
  • Of the people who said they're still checking in, who has been using Foursquare for more than six months and you're still checking in? What are you using it for?\n* keeping track of where I've been\n* rewards which outweigh the mundane repetition of checking in\n* sharing my current position with others for some reason\n* curation\n* competition\n
  • So, to recap, intrinsic motivation is performing an activity because we derive some value or pleasure from the activity itself. Extrinsic motivations encourage us to perform an activity with the promise of a reward. Both of these types of motivation have their place.\n
  • Extrinsic motivation is often useful for routine tasks which must be performed on a consistent schedule. Given no other flexibility in the system, no way to see an improvement past a fixed maximum, knowing that there is some reward attached to that activity may keep you doing it. \n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/whsimages/998243013\n
  • In games we often use extrinsic rewards as feedback to keep our players informed as to their progress. We use experience points and skill progression to unlock new abilities after they have mastered one set. For example in World of Warcraft you receive experience points for every monster you slay and quest you complete. When you've accumulated enough experience points, you go up a level. When you go up a level you get to enhance one of your character's abilities, or unlock a new one.\n
  • The extrinsic reward, the point system and even the unlocking of new abilities, is completely dependent upon the core mechanics of the game. In this case it's carefully juggling the resources of health, abilities, and magic, and prioritizing which abilities to use on which enemies or allies in the heat of battle.\n
  • And knowing when to run screaming for the hills. \n\nhttp://www.mmorpg.com/photo/f516cb62-46e4-48fe-97d5-d245c77b467b\n
  • In video games we often take these combinations of great intrinsic motivators, our core gameplay, and the right dash of extrinsic motivators, experience points and loot, and use them hand in hand to keep our players challenged and interested.\n
  • Who is familiar with this name, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi?\n
  • Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.\n
  • Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.\n
  • Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.\n
  • Excellent, so most of you are familiar with his theory of how a flow state is created: if someone is challenged enough that they are not bored, but not challenged to the point of frustration they can make consistent progress and they remain engaged.\n
  • Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game.\n\nJust as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.\n\n\n
  • Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game.\n\nJust as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.\n\n\n
  • Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game.\n\nJust as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.\n\n\n
  • Well balanced games, like WoW, do this to create a sublime flow. In WoW you start off able to kill simple monsters in small groups, the novelty engages you and you're taught the basic principles of the game.\n\nJust as you're starting to get used to that and you might be drifting toward boredom, the enemy groups get larger and you have to work harder to stay alive. As you kill more monsters you are rewarded with experience points to indicate your character's growth, money which can be used to buy new gear, and sometimes they even drop useful weapons. These rewards provide feedback to the player that they are making progress and also smooth out that ramp toward challenge and anxiety.\n\n\n
  • Just as the monster groups start to feel really tough and you're edging up towards the game being too hard, those experience points you've been collecting accumulate enough to award you a new level. With this new level you are awarded an increased amount of health and mana, making it easier for you to survive, and you can also improve or unlock an ability. These new tools make the monsters you were just cursing that much easier to defeat, and the cycle begins again.\n
  • If a new player was dumped in around the level 20 mark of WoW they would be torn to bits. Even given a character that has accumulated the same number of experience points, the same gear, and the same spells they would not have the skills to have fun playing the game.\n\nThey would quit.\n
  • An experienced WoW player has developed a set of tactical and time management skills by expending great effort in the pursuit of this game. The awesome was not the shinier armour, or the better spells, or the gold dropped that kept them playing. Those were simply tools which enabled them to push up against increasingly brutal odds. It was the process of learning how to overcome those challenges which made the game fun.\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolelee/154701422/\n
  • This is why game designers are so concerned about gamification: We only put points on something when it's already interesting. Points are a granular feedback mechanism, they are *not* the game.\n
  • If you're building apps, or websites, or services chances are you've encountered the term gamification already. Perhaps you're already working on gamifying your project in some way. If you haven't you're either going to consider, or be asked by a client, to try gamifying your project.\n
  • I have to stress, I don't think applying gameplay, or playful design, to non-game projects is a bad idea. I believe there are a myriad of useful ways to apply game design outside of the sphere of games, and hopefully a couple of examples that I share today will spark your imagination.\n
  • However, there are a couple of buzzwords associated with gamification which I consider Red Flags and would urge you to examine carefully when they come your way.\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/rvw/116017204\n\n
  • Many gamification proponents claim they're applying game mechanics to non-game designs. \n
  • They're doing it wrong. Points and achievements are feedback mechanisms. Important in games, but not the mechanics of the game.\n
  • These three are psychological responses to the outcomes of game mechanics, not mechanics themselves!\n
  • Game mechanics are the interactions and relationships from which the game is derived. Regardless of the visual style, the story, or the technology in use, game mechanics are the heart of games which generate play. \n
  • This is anther example of why gamification is getting game designer's hackles right up. We've struggled a long time to develop a shared language around game design, and we're still working at it, so when somebody gleefully takes our terminology and misapplies it, it rankles a bit. Game Mechanics are things like\n
  • \n
  • The space the game takes place in - a chess board or a\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/grantmac/3444059922/\n\n
  • Halo map\n
  • \n
  • Actions the player can take, like jumping\n
  • or moving stealthily to avoid detection\n
  • The rules of the game - Rules are the most fundamental type of game mechanic, and they are the one least employed in gamification endeavours. \n
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevandotorg/4690356703/\n
  • We’re always building on the shoulders of giants\nhttp://wordpress.morningside.edu/cdl001/rpsls/\n
  • Gamification service providers with turnkey APIs are suspect in the mechanics department. In the example of WoW the rewards of experience points and loot were directly tied to the core activity of the game, combat. How XP is doled out for each monster killed is finely tuned to the actions of the player\n
  • You could not take the reward mechanics of WoW and drop them onto Wikipedia and suddenly get World of Wikipedia. You would have to rework the entire structure of content creation and curation on Wikipedia to have a hope of it being anything other than an unmitigated disaster.\n
  • Services which offer ways to add badges easily to your website are taking the most superficial element of games and slapping them over the top. If you have not built for play from the very start, these rewards will be next to useless.\n
  • Without a solid base of game mechanics or intrinsically fulfilling activities the rewards will be exposed for what they are and users will abandon them. What's worse they could backfire on you completely! \n
  • Prof. Bartle defined four key aspects of players in Virtual Worlds back in 1996. His research has since been extended by himself and others to include many more types, but we’ll review the basics here as they get quoted regularly in gamification material.\n
  • Achievers focus on collecting as many “points” as the in-game goals will give them. \n
  • Explorers want to discover the entirety of the virtual world.\n
  • Socializers want to converse with others and role-play.\n
  • Killers are there to defeat other players.\n
  • Typical gamification applies only to Achievers\n
  • If you’re interested in Bartle’s work, and I recommend it, it’s well written interesting stuff, I would suggest that you look to it at the beginning of a project. I also recommend you take the time to explore it as it is commonly and incorrectly cited in gamification circles. When somebody says “player types” look carefully at how they’re using them.\n\nhttp://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm\n
  • I think we have some very valuable tools in game design that you may find useful if they align with what you are building. I'd like to share a few of those with you today. I can't give them all the time they deserve, but I hope they can serve as starting points for your own research and I'm happy to talk about them afterwards. (This bit of NXNEi was crazy busy and many off the cuff discussions happen afterward which I unfortunately have no notes on.)\n\nhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/stasiland/467444438 \n
  • Games are very good at setting goals for our players and providing them constant feedback on their progress toward that goal.\n
  • finish the level, upgrade your skills, Save the galaxy\n
  • \n
  • \n
  • progress bars, visual cues, keeping it all front and centre\n
  • Quests for structured progression.\n
  • Juicy interactions are ones which are highly responsive to player input and provide immediate feedback on the effect of that input. \n
  • Good games go to great lengths to ensure that they are responsive at the fundamental level of input. This is a controller built by Ben Heck which lights up an LED the instant a button is pressed. Game designers will hook one of these up to their game and then record video of the LED board and the game on a TV screen and count how many frames it takes for inputs to take effect.\n
  • I believe the term “juice” was first used by Kyle Gabler and his cohorts from 2D Boy. This is 2D Boy’s World of Goo, one of the juiciest games ever created. \n
  • Teaching players the rules and tools of our games is an ongoing challenge. If you look at most games they will contain some kind of tutorial mechanism to guide players through the early stages. \n
  • Bad tutorials happen all the time and you won’t have to go far to find examples. They are dictated to the player through walls of text or a dozen images filled with instructions and rules. Players are expected to absorb all of this information and then try to remember it while encountering the game for the first time. \n
  • Good tutorials present their material as part of the game, teaching through the actual loop of play. This example from Plants vs. Zombies is simple, yet highly effective. Each step is taken in turn and by the time the tutorial is complete the player is already well into the first level.\n
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  • I urge you to embrace gameful and playful design. Examine what the world of game design might be able to offer you. \n
  • But please be skeptical of the current wave of gamification hype. This is a massively complex issue, and it can't be resolved in just 45 minutes by one game designer.\n
  • While I see lots to be concerned about in the way marketing is approaching gamification, like this thing for Coke, I also see great examples which use some of the tools of game design for progress. \n
  • This is the lesson progression tree for the Khan Academy, where you can learn all kinds of useful stuff. They’re using some of the simple techniques we’ve already discussed, building in progression and showing you where you can end up by building on each lesson.\n
  • \n
  • \n
  • http://www.raphkoster.com/2011/02/28/gdc11-slides-for-social-mechanics-talk/\n
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