Saturday, September 18, 2010

Will 2011 be the Year that Games Take Over the World?

The enormous size the game industry and the recent evolution of social games has made games and game mechanics ever more present in our daily lives.  In this environment, an enormous opportunity exists for individuals, companies, and government to harness the motivating power of game mechanics to increase internal productivity, to engage constituents more deeply, and to drive consumer behavior.

The following presentations from 2010 underline how game mechanics are appearing everywhere and what we have to look forward to.
  • Design Outside the Box (by Jesse Schell, DICE Summit February 18, 2010)
  • Gaming can make a better world (by Jane McGonigal, TED 2010, February 2010)
  • Building the game layer on top of the world (by Seth Priebatsch, TEDxBoston, July 2010)
Schell sees a world in which pervasive gaming and reward systems will permeate our lives.  McGonigal envisions a world where we harness the collaborative problem solving skills of gamers to solve some of the world most urgent problems.

Will 2011 be the looked back on as the year when the gamification of our world took a big leap forward?  A lot of people are trying to make that happen.

Design Outside the Box (Jesse Schell, DICE Summit February 18, 2010)
Carnegie Mellon Professor, Jesse Schell, looks at how the success of Facebook-style social games has turned traditional game design on its head and how game design is pushing out into the wider world.
Recent surprises in the game industry:
  • More Farmville players than Twitter users
  • Revenue from offers is greater than revenue from direct cash in many games
  • EA layed off 1,500 employes the same day the acquired social game company PlayFish for $300M
  • Club Penguin, an inexpensive flash game for kids, was purchased by Disney for $350M
    •  Free-to-play and earn virtual cash, but have to be a member to use the virtual cash
  • Nintendo Wii -- Wii Fit $1B in revenue; Guitar Hero $70 for a plastic guitar
  • Webkins - Stuff animal tied to an MMO
The underpinnings of these developments are new game mechanics (psychological tricks, locks & keys, or hooks):
  • Escalating Commitment
    • Spending more time on a game helps player rationalize spending money on the game
    • Spending money on a game helps player rationalize playing more time on the game
  • Price Elasticity
    • $5.99/month Club Penguin subscriptions don't seem like a lot to many parents
    • Parents also don't make much of a distinction between $12 and $20
  • Leader boards and competition against real friends
    • Paying money to accelerate leveling and catch-up to or pass up friends
    • No longer about fantasy as games break through to reality
How games are seeping into reality:
  • Fantasy Sports: Makes being a fan of the game into a game
  • Geo Caching:  Hiking is more fun if you can hunt for treasure boxes at the same time
  • Simpsons Anniversary Show:  Find references to the Simpsons in other Fox shows and win a prize
  • Ford Hybrid Cars: Dashboard features a virtual plant that grows when you save gas
  • Grading Systems in Schools:  Earn experience points for assignments, attendance and quizes to level up to better grades in a class
Gaming can make a better world (Jane McGonigal, TED 2010, February 2010)
Jane McGonigal discusses how we can use the collaborative problem solving nature of games to make epic wins possible for real world problems.
  • Culturally, there's a feeling that we're not as good in real life as we are in games
    • In games: players are motivated to do something that matters, inspired to co-operate and collaborate, more likely to help at a moments notice, more likely to stick with a problem as long as it takes, more likely to get up after failure and try again
    • In real life: obstacles and failures often lead to anxiety and depression, and to feeling overwhelmed, jaded and cynical
  • What is it about games that make it impossible to feel that we can't achieve everything?  How do we apply that to real world work?
    • Missions are perfectly match to your capabilities.
    • Tons of collaborators ready to work with you
    • Inspiring story about what we're doing and why we're there
    • Constant feedback
    • On the verge of epic wins all the time
  • How big is gaming? 
    • 5.93 million person years have been invested in solving World of Warcraft
    • There is more wiki content on WoW than any other topic in the real or imaginary world
    • Average 21 year-old has spent 10,000 hours playing games, as much time as they spent in class from 5th grade through high school graduation
    • 500 million people world wide spend at least 1 hour a day on games
  • What are gamers good at?
    • Urgent Optimism:  desire to act immediately to tackle and obstacle combine with the belief in a reasonable hope of success
    • Weaving Social Fabric:  Building bonds, trust and cooperation through adhering to a set of rules and sticking through the game to the end
    • Blissful Productivity:  Happy doing working hard meaningful work
    • Epic Meaning:  Attachment to epic planetary stories
Building the game layer on top of the world (Seth Priebatsch, TEDxBoston, July 2010)

The last decade has been about building the social framework that determines the ways in which we connect with each other.  The building of this social framework is done and it is called Facebook.

The next decade will be about building the game framework that influences where people are, what they do there, and how they do it.  The developing game framework will be a pervasive net of behavior-steering dynamics that will reshape education and commerce.  Everything is a game or will become a game.

Examples of behavior-steering game mechanics in games and our every day lives: 

Appointment Dynamic: (rewards for doing things at specific times and places)
  • Conventional Settings:  Happy Hours.  Show up at a bar at a specific time to win
  • Game Setting:  Farmville.  Return at specific interval to water crops
  • Opportunities:  Use point system to remind and reward people to take daily medications
Influence, Status and the Progression Dynamic: (using easy granular steps to move a progress bar)
  • Conventional Setting:  Gold and platinum credit cards.  Progress bar for LinkedIn profiles.  Airline and hotel loyalty programs.  Buy 10 sandwiches get one free deals.
  • Game Setting: Badges in Modern Warfare.  World of Warcraft experience points and levels.
  • Opportunities:  Report cards and grades in school
Communal Discovery:  (rewards for team work and crowd sourcing)
  • Conventional Setting:  Digg.  Crowd sourcing the best stories on the web.
  • Game Setting: McDonalds Monopoly.  Communal trading for rare pieces.
  • Opportunities:  DARPA Balloon Challenge crowd sourcing experiment

1 comment:

Kenneth Hong said...

9/24 CNET Roundtable: How game mechanics are infecting everything