Gamification and The Game Layer

May 9, 2011

I recently posted on The Game Layer, and included a presentation from a DDB colleague on the trend. I’ve been playing with Foursquare, Farmville and Empire Avenue as well as watching with interest as many brands start to build Game Mechanics into their programs. However, even at this nascent stage, we should ask ourselves whether this is a real trend with staying power or something which will burn out and fade away? Or something in-between.

Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang wrote a recap of an inpromptu round-table discussion the research company had to discuss the phenomenon of gamification. I really liked these three main points to come out of it:

Opportunities Abound –But Benefits Not Clear Agreed. From Owyang: Intel shared its needs from a brand perspective: to engage with customers, focusing on reach and advocacy. Other potential use cases may include branded goods and couponing. What’s in it for the users of these tools? Anything from entertainment, connecting with others, or even increasing visiblity and reputation.

Skepticism: Questioning on Burnout and User Desire Reputation, points or badges are great, but driving a more real value like coupons, premium content, or other real world tangible ability is paramount. Many people are not driven by reputation and badges –they just want to connect with others and communicate. Others may just not want to be, or grow tired of, being manipulated within a game construct with no end and, as above, with no value.

Concerns on Platform Interoperability . This feels like a bit of a red herring as the space is so new but if it continuesto grow apace it will become an issue for the hardcore, just like OpenID. By its very nature, gamification is built on a case by case basis so unless an aggregator appears its not likely to be an issue – all these platforms have APIs so its the most likely scenario

But even as we start to discuss this, it seems as if one of gamification’s pioneers (Foursquare) is seeing a dearth of check-ins which are pivotal to and supposedly driven by, the game layer:

Click to enlarge.


Five Game Mechanics to Use in Social Media

April 26, 2011

The five types of game mechanics, as relates to social media.

Gamification, the application of game mechanics to change consumer behaviour, is hot stuff these days – although not to be confused with Game Theory as described in the prisoner’s dilemma. Here are five ways game mechanics can, and have, be applied to social media services and platforms:

  1. Collecting things. Humans have a primal instinct to collect and display. Offline, think about boy scout badges or Olympic pins. Online, we have our Twitter widgets, Facebook fan pages, and Flickr photo albums.
  2. Earning points. These define achievement and translate into social standing. Offline, it’s how you earn a free airplane flight. Online, it’s the number of fans, friends, followers, or subscribers to your content. We reinforce the credibility of points by watching lists of top blogs, top tweeters, even top egos.
  3. System feedback. Offline, it’s the experience of shopping at an Apple store or your car accelerating when you press the gas. Online, it’s not comments, replies, or trackbacks (those feed into points exchanges), but response from the system itself. How complete is your LinkedIn profile? How much Plurk karma do you have? Do you have Facebook for Blackberry installed yet?
  4. Value exchanges. Successful interactions. Offline, it’s us inviting each others kids to their birthday parties, or paying it forward to strangers. Online, it’s the process of interactions: Posting wall-to-wall. Sending a mini-ninja or martini glass. People “liking” your shared items or Twitter’s @ messages.
  5. Customization and personalization. User-created barriers to exit. Offline, it’s the color you chose to paint your house, the case for your iPhone, the stickers on your laptop. Online, it’s the extensive profile information you entered, the photos you uploaded, or the background picture that says something about your interests.

Interesting stuff. I heard a creative director in Toronto had a chart filled up with all the different game mechanics that they could think of and challenged their teams to incorporate as many as possible into their thinking.

via Peter Kim at Applying game mechanics to social media.

Also of interest, a presentation on the Game Layer by my colleague and Creative Technologist at Tribal DDB, Barry Lachapelle.

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