The Gamification of America, Part 4

The Gamification of America

This is the fourth part of a presentation I gave at the USC Institute of Multimedia Literacy about my career and recent developments in the game industry. In Part 1, I discussed how indie development and digital distribution now allow for a greater variety of games, much as it was when the game industry was in its infancy. In Part 2, I discussed I discussed the elements that make an activity a game: fun, goals, rules, conflict, choices, and a win/loss condition. In Part 3, I examine those elements more closely. In Part 4, I look at how game design techniques can be applied to activities that are not, strictly speaking, games.

The integration of game design techniques and mechanics into non-game environments (e.g., work, exercise, education, etc.) to improve engagement, loyalty and learning is called gamification.

The rest of this presentation covers the Core Drives of Gamification as defined by gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou. According to Chou, a successful game or game-like experience must appeal to many of these core drives, depending upon the individual player or user, to be engaging.

Epic Meaning and Calling

This drive appeals to those players who are looking for a sense of importance. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Narrative
  • Elitism
  • Humanity Hero
  • Beginner’s Luck
  • Free Lunch
  • Chosen One

Empowerment and Creativity

This drive appeals to those players who are looking for empowerment. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Milestone Unlock
  • Real-time Control
  • Chain Combos
  • Beginner’s Luck
  • Boosters
  • Instant Feedback

Social Pressure and Envy

This drive appeals to those players who play games for the experience of playing with others. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Gifting
  • Group Quests
  • Touting/Bragging
  • Must Marketing
  • Thank-You Economy
  • Mentorship

Curiosity and Unpredictability

This drive appeals to those players who play games for the experience of discovery. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Glowing Choices
  • Miniquests
  • Easter Eggs
  • Random Rewards
  • Surprises
  • Humor

Loss and Avoidance

This drive appeals to those players who, once they have invested in a game, do not like to lose their progress. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Sunk Cost Tragedy
  • Lost Progress
  • Guilting
  • Scarlet Letter
  • Visual Grave
  • Weep Tune

Scarcity and Importance

This drive appeals to those players who do not like missed opportunities. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Appointment Dynamics
  • Prize Pacing
  • Patient Feedback
  • Count Downs
  • Throttles
  • Moats

Ownership and Possession

This drive appeals to those players who seek to acquire things. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Virtual Goods
  • Building from Scratch
  • Collection Set
  • Earned Lunch
  • Protection
  • Recruitment

Development and Accomplishment

This drive appeals to those players who are motivated by achievement. Game mechanics and elements that appeal to this drive include:

  • Points and Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Progress Bars
  • Boss Fights
  • Quest Lists
  • Aura Effects

Depending on the player, each of these mechanics help to foster interest in the game or activity. However, this intere is secured in stages:

  • Acquisition: Getting users initially interested in taking part in your activity
  • Engagement: Maintaining that interest throughout a single session
  • Retention: Securing that interest in returning for the next session

There are a number of methods that can be used to acquire players or users for your activity:

  • Advertising
  • Publicity
  • User Invitations
  • Influencers
  • Pre-Existing User Base

Once acquired, the following game design principles can be employed to engage the user:

  • Have the game easy to learn, but difficult to master
  • Use a simple and fun gameplay loop
  • The effort the player puts into the activity must be perceived as being of less value than the rewards received
  • Provide intermittent positive reinforcement
  • Interactivity should be at a rhythm that’s addictive
  • Wait times for interactivity should be minimal

Retention is maintained over several time intervals. The most critical is 1-Day Retention: having a player interested in returning after his or her initial experience in the activity. Factors that can play a role in 1-Day Retention are:

  • A “wow” factor in the first three minutes of the activity
  • A well-crafted tutorial
  • A goal system
  • Appointment gaming
  • A sense of closure after the initial session

Next most critical is one-week retention. Factors that can assist in making that goal are:

  • Quick new user leveling
  • Limitations on how much a user can do in a single session
  • Guilt, about leaving things unfinished
  • Provide the possibility of missed opportunities
  • Allow the player to create some kind of personalized space
  • Lock the number of levels the player can achieve that first week

Last is one-month retention. However, this is not least important, because once you have successfully engaged players for this long, they have become your most loyal and expert players. Elements that can aid in achieving this goal are:

  • Multiple goals
  • Collection systems
  • Crafting
  • Leaderboards
  • Social Competition

These methods are not only used in successful games, but in training, education, marketing, and even politics (such as state lotteries). Gaming and game-like elements are being incorporated into more and more activities in our everyday lives, as we see games being played by everyone, everywhere, all the time.

 

 

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About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, 3DO and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, Lead Faculty, Game Production Program at The Los Angeles Film School, co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge, and answer kid’s questions about game design on the Boy’s Life website. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on June 10, 2013, in Game Design, Gamification, My Career. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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