Notes on Game Mechanics

The recent explosion of “game based” apps out has led me to read quite a bit about the topic. Here are some notes on books, articles and presentations I have been reading:

Some Rules for Game-Based Systems (from the book Game Based Marketing):

  • Favor long term loyalty not short term competitions
  • Dont offer direct prizes, offer virtual points. Real world value of virtual points can be tweaked at the time of redemption.
  • Virtual points can also be used for virtual goods. Virtual Goods Economy is 5.5 Billion Dollars
  • Does redemption matter? Huge number of points are almost never redeemed
  • Top 5% of airline customers generate 40% of the revenue
  • Create opportunities for elite members to show their eliteness (like lounges in Airports open only to elite members)
  • Create artificial scarcity and rewards around it.
  • First reward should be soon
  • Casino style *random* rewards create short cycle reinforcement
  • Need both long term goals (level ups) and short term (mini games/challenges)
  • All game based systems need:
    • Large community
    • Point System
    • Simple Communication platform

Types of Players (from the book Game Based Marketing):

Four Player types based on motivation:
Achievers
Go to great lengths to get rewards
Dont care for winning in a vacuum: need an audience (leaderboards)
Need the Socializer
Socializer:
Want to build meaningful interactions
Often are more about helping others win rather than winning themselves
Explorers:
Need rich virtual worlds to explore
Love to share detailed accounts of their explorations
Long games with repeated actions bore them
Killers:
Need simulated win & lose conditions
** The Naive Player **
Fairly unaware
Need to be made aware that a game is going on
  • Achievers
    • Go to great lengths to get rewards
    • Dont care for winning in a vacuum: need an audience (leaderboards)
    • Need the Socializer
  • Socializer:
    • Want to build meaningful interactions
    • Often are more about helping others win rather than winning themselves
  • Explorers:
    • Need rich virtual worlds to explore
    • Love to share detailed accounts of their explorations
    • Long games with repeated actions bore them
  • Killers:
    • Need simulated win & lose conditions
  • The Naive Player
    • Fairly unaware
    • Need to be made aware that a game is going on

A really awesome presentation on the shallow game design that seems to be creeping into web properties by Sebastian Deterding

“Yet when I look at most gamified applications today what they do is use game elements to tie us even more tightly into our worldly toils and schemes. They are glorified report cards that turn games into work rather than life into play, and users into pawns instead of players”

Notes from Cultivated play: Farmville:

The secret to Farmville’s popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others’ farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies.

  • Farmville is defined by obligation, routine, and responsibility;
  • Farmville encroaches and depends upon real life, and is never entirely separate from it;
  • Farmville is always certain in outcome, and involves neither chance nor skill;
  • Farmville is a productive activity, in that it adds to the social capital upon which Facebook and Zynga depend for their wealth;
  • Farmville is governed not by rules, but by habits, and simple cause-and-effect;
  • Farmville is not make-believe, in that it requires neither immersion nor suspension of disbelief

Other links:

Notes on Game Mechanics

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