[etech06] Amy Jo Kim (Shuffle Brain) – Putting the Fun in Functional

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Amy Jo Kim is talking about applying game mechanics to functional software.

She’s trained in Psychology, Neuroscience and CS. She specializes in social games, networked communities, and mobile services.

The talk ais about using game mechanics to creat apps and services that are fun, compelling and addictive.

What is a game? a structure experience with rules & goals that’s fun – when push comes to shove fun wins.

5 Game mechanics you can use

1. Collections – status and competition in competing the collection

e.g. Pokemon card collections

Completing the collection becomes a powerful motivator

2. Points

Social Points – e.g. amazon ratings, etc.

once you have points you can have Leader Boards – who has the most points.

leader boards drive player behavior. some systems had leaderboards and took them away – slashdot karma – encourage people to game the system.

Once you have points you can have levels – very very motivating.

e.g. bejeweled game levels, or ebay star levels of colored stars.

Levels punctuate the game expereience – e.g. reaching level 60 in WOW, or earning a new belt in karate.

Levels unlock new powers & access. Ebay has levels of power sellers.

3. Feedbacked –

Feedback draws attention through movement & change. e.g. feedback in Bejeweled. MySpace Mobile giv es you lots of feedback.

Feedback accelerates mastery – e.g.Karaoke Revolution or Brain Training (huge hit on DS in Japan) – math problems and color matching. Gives you both immediate feedback and long-term feedback.

Feedback makes an experience more fun & compelling – that’s why Ajax apps are succesful – they feel more compelling become they give you immediate feedback.

Feedback makes mundane tasks more fun – Cooking Mama for DS – teaches you how to cook.

BIMactive – feedback on you physical activity – runner’s training tool.

4. Exchanges –

Exchanges are structure social interactions – giving gifts, etc. A basic, primal form of social interactions.

Social exchanges can be explicit (e.g. taking turns in chess), or implicit (i.e. emergent) – eBay feedback has evolved into a tif-for-tat social game. Not built into the system, but evolved on top as a metagame. Trading is an explicit Social Exchange (e.g. trading in WOW or in MogiMogi).

“gifting” is an implicit social exchange – very powerful for driving behavior. Helios – a just announced mobile service targeting myspace generation. MySpace has both explicit and implicit exchanges – add friend is explicit, comments are implicit.

5. Customization –

Customization increases investment of the user.
… and creates barriers to exit.

Automatic customization is fun and engaging – e.g. Amazon customizing your home page based on your buying history. Flickr does this too.

Character customization is especially powerful – not just in games – e.g. profile customization of MySpace.

Looking ahead – expect to see more serious apps that feel like games, and more games that teach real-world skills.

Slides are available at shufflebrain.com

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