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Raw notes: Gamification summit 2011

I attended the Gamification Summit 2011 a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco. I couldn’t stay through the whole thing because of a couple of things that came up, but I enjoyed what I could attend.

  • The goal was to try and put some structure around gaming design and techniques, and review techniques, applications, successes and failures.
  • Some interesting, and not-very-interesting, insights from practitioners.
  • Great afternoon keynote by Jane McGonigal about trying to understand what makes a great game (going beyond obvious gaming tactics) - i.e. “Can we replicate the spirit of game, not just the technique?”

Panel on Gamification in the Real World: Location, Commerce and User Experience:
  • Well-moderated by Jenn Van Grove
  • Blake Scholl, CEO, Kima Labs (Barcode Hero)
    • A game layer is the face of our reputation system.
      • Expert status is the motivation to share more and get more reputations
    • What’s the usage like?
      • Very few people actually capture their opinions and recommendations. We’ve addressed that problem through UX and game mechanics.
      • 30% of users leave recommendations vs. ~1% on Amazon.
      • Recommendations become social
      • Users have a heirarchy system based on how their recommendations
        • simple levels
          • kept it simple (you scan your first)
        • tell users what they need to do to get to the next level:
        • show a leaderboard and how you can rise within a certain category
        • Not uncommon for a user to spend an hour scanning stuff the first time to see how far they get.
    • What didn’t work?
      • gaming rewards that don’t tap into particular passion (and are just financial) - they rarely work.
        • i.e. Financial incentives for rewards do not work!!!
        • saw similar behavior with recommendations at Amazon.
    • Repetition (is everyone doing the same thing? game fatigue?)
      • need to ask: what is the evergreen motivation?
        • e.g. if you tap into a journaling behavior its likely to continue for a very long time.
  • Geoff Lewis, CEO, Topguest: check-ins with traditional loyalty programs:
    • trying to associate new forms of engagement (e.g instagram etc. ) with traditional loyalty programs
    • Had a 2.0 relaunch and partner with Virgin America (you get Virgin Elevate points for Checking-in via Foursquare)
      • Whoa, I need to remember to do this on my next pilgrimage to the Mothership.
    • when someone partners with TopCast, they see social volume double
    • Companies give rewards not only for actions, but how influential they are based on their social influence
      • I kept thinking..hmmmm I understand that klout investment better now. :)
    • What doesn’t work: People just want don’t want to spam their friend
      • tried to send a “gift” (25% off on a room reservation) to 10 friends and it didn’t go well.
    • What’s next?
      • Give brands a sense of how users are really engaged with their brand across social tools.
      • Copycat behavior is great: because eventually there’s going to be just a couple of winners.
  • Evan Tana, VP PM Shopkick:
    • Driven to drive shopping behavior: Finding a bargain is equivalent to a “win” in gaming.
    • earn virtual currency of checking-in stuff.
      • trying to drive motivations such as harvesting, collecting, “winning” when you get a deal.
    • “What is the elder game?”
    • Positive feedback comes in different forms:
      • Kickbucks are one form
      • but donating to a cause also works.
    • People just want to “level-up” - even when they’re not sure what it gets them next
    • People need to not think about shopping as a game
      • There are interesting game mechanics at play event with Groupon
      • people need to describe it as fun and easy, and not see it as a game.
  • Brian Morrisroe (Co-founder, Booyah) - MyTown: similar to Monopoly-style game.: Be a real-world gaming company (focused on location now)
    • Gives you a window into what’s happening at a place (people. prices of goods etc.)
    • Multiple things for the users to do
    • When the game mechanic has failed?
      • Chose to solve validation (in a roundabout way)
        • more points for better GPS signal etc.
        • but the needle just did not move.
      • because iPod signals weren’t great.
      • distance did not matter to users as much as general interest.

      • Case Study: Gamification welcome:
      • This preso wasn’t that solid and was a stretch to fit into the “Gamification” theme, but still some interesting data points. I like the USA network and still struggled not to roll my eyes when some buzzwords were used. :) However, really interesting how they’ve built an entire other loosely-related business.
    • USA Network: how they’ve tied to gamify some of their properties.
    • Focus on characters; how can they bring users into their brand
    • USA Character arcade:
      • Looked at demographics of their shows: same as casual games demographics
      • Developed a bunch of properties as games.
        • e.g. Monk’s Mind game: 13 million plays
      • With the metrics that they saw attracted more advertiser revenue
        • the philosophy is not around page views, its about engagement.
    • Advertisers started asking them to build custom games.
      • July 2009: leaderboards/points/redemptions
    • Surprising amount of traffic to USA comes from people looking for Mahjong vs. Monk/Psych etc.
    • Trying to redmmend virtual and tangible goods for points.
      • Goal is really to create Brand Ambassadors for the channel and the producs.
    • Psych Case Study:
      • Pushed Psych for 2 mins.
      • Club Psych
        • Nitro platform:
        • “UI is key for us”: Some mioreye-rolling, but ok...
        • Using Oauth: Yay!
        • Triaining users to
          • take a poll, get points
          • do somthing, get points.
          • share content, get points.
          • like somthing on FB, get points.
          • complete a challenge, get points.
          • use points to redeem something...
          • drives repeat usage.
      • Leaderboards:
        • how many points people have etc.?
      • Virtual office and virtual living room.
      • Then introduced redemption for real goods -> helped the program take off.
    • Metrics: key to the system.- monitor closely
      • 8 min average on the siie to 16 mins.
      • 40% return visits
      • Rolled out real (physical) goods redemption and then saw a huge spike in points redeemed.
    • Noticed uptick in college viewers, so launched CAMPUS WARS:
      • BYU won and beating out 1100 other colleges (5% of the school signed up.)
    • Bringing gamification to the iPad
      • While watching your show you see the code to unlock content
      • Trying hard to boost live viewership.
      • Drove the 2 screen experience.
    • Interesting data and perspective and application: but a little orthogonal to the rest of the summit.

Jane McGongigal - Reality is broken

  • Gameful vs. Game-like (what we have today)
    • Gameful: making it feel like a game:
      • i.e. have the spirit, not just the mechanics.
  • What does it FEEL like to play a good game?
    • points, leaderboards, badges etc. are just mechanics.
  • Defining a game: Games are unnecessary obstacles we volunteer to tackle.
    • Let’s look at golf
  • EUstress - positive stress
    • identical physiologically to negative stress,
    • but under this state we’re more motivated - heightened version of ourselves
      • which is why play games when we’re bored.
      • we want to tap into a feeling of being challenged
      • We want to be challenged:
    • Noel Coward: “ Work is more fun than fun.”
    • e.g.
      • Angry Birds:
      • Dance Central:
      • Farmville: Farmville was work to many people, but it actually felt productive to people - like it was effort, but they got something done.
      • Call of Duty: No.1 passtime for soliders in the military: but it generates positive feelings. generate EUstress
      • World of Warcraft: 600 hours of gameplay just to get to the fun part. So far we’ve spent 5.93 million years playing World of Warcraft.
        • about the same time human ancestors showed up.
    • We invest 3 billiong hour weekly playing online games.
    • “The oppostie of play isn’t work - its depression”
    • 4 quintessential feelings of game success
      • Urgent Optimism
      • Social Fabric
      • Blissful Productivity
      • Epic Meaning.
    • If you get a game right, you get “Super-empowered hopeful individuals”
      • This is what you should try to turn your users into this.
    • 4 examples of sites that do this well:
      • U of Washington (Xfold it.)
        • result: published a paper with 50K gamers into nature.
        • new game: Eterna: make RNA and if it scores well, the scientists make
      • Investigate your MPs expenses:
        • by the guardian in the UK.
        • 27K gamers looking for evidence of corruption.
      • Groundcrew:
        • if you’re walking in a place, it’ll tell you there’s a task to be done nearby.
      • Secret??
        • Way to encourage usage of libraries
        • If you play the game, you write a book and it goes into the libraries collection.
    • Ok, too many plugs for stuff she’s involved in. :)
    • Look for delighted users: that’s your sign your dynamics are working.
    • To learn more:
    • Questions:
      • How do you create games for yourself?
        • E.g. game to get better after her surgery, edge of depression.
          • Superbetter (socialchocolate) - making it possible to feel gameful about getting better - playable in beta over the summer; meant to play it with close friends and family.
          • Create unnecessary obstacles that you enjoy getting over.
      • How do you draw that line? a Game vs. a job?
        • Important not to put real results on another side from gameplay
        • keep the sense of voluntary participation;
      • What are you uninspried by?
        • more inspired by co-operative game play than competitive game play.
        • games pushing co-op are doing extremely well.
        • backlash against achievement badges: need to consider that carefully.
      • What games do you play?
        • FB/Zynga games: personal happy spaces - Farmville, City
        • WoW - need to spend a day playing that game.
      • Games that help people take:
        • Evoke! - a 10-week crash course in changing the world and starting an enterprise.
    • Can you create a game to make people better human being?
      • Quote of the day: “College kids lack certain skills: like purpose, integrity...”


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