Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Children of Flickr: Making the Massively Multiplayer Social Web

This was the last morning session and ended up being my favorite. This session was moderated by Justin Hall from GameLayers with three panelists: Rajat Paharia from Bunchball, Christopher Chapman from Areae and Gabe Zichermann from rmbr.

The theme of this session - Everything can be a Game.

This session focused on game dynamics and how game psychology can drive engagement, interaction and loyalty on your website, traditionally a non-gaming environment.

Gabe was clearly passionate about the gaming concept and explains it as "the only force that exists without the threat of violence that makes people do irrational things."

Here's a few key takeaways I walked away with:
  • The definition of a game is changing and what people really want is to do something they like, something they consider fun, and/or something that makes them feel like they accomplished something.
  • There are three basic things to make something fun: Challenges, Leaderboards and Points - when added to any experience it changes peoples behavior.
    Advice is to think about how to make an experience fun from day 1. If you’re not in a situation to do that you can still go through the experience and layer in gaming mechanics to et more engagement and interaction from your existing community.
  • Game mechanics involve rewarding people along their journey. You can have different metrics for success to make them feel like they are 'winning'; for example slice and dice the data - different activities can have different leaderboards and that data can be grouped by network or time.
  • Gaming Essentials from Gabe: It needs to be overly simple (no instructions required); you need to be able to play with one hand; you need to be able to start/stop playing at any time; and it needs to be infinitely playable.
  • Interesting stats - woman who are 35+ are not thought to be traditional 'gamers' however they are the demographic that drives a big portion of the gaming industry including Yahoo Games.
  • Gabe dropped an interesting bomb about how women don’t respond as well to 3D environments and the fact that they are not well liked by a lot of people because they are confrontational. He recommends sticking to a 2D environment like the world we live itn. He says 2D environments are easier to navigate and ultimately more flexible.


Matteo said...

Hi, thanks for your summary! Do you also have any ppt of the conference?

LaSandra Brill said...

Unfortunately this was a panel discussion so no slides. The only presentation that had slides was the Awareness presentation. I don't have a copy of them but since it was highly a product pitch I'm sure they would be delighted to share them with anyone who asked.

Dan McIntosh said...

Great post, I find it interesting that according to the study, women don’t respond well to 3D game environments, which is actually quite funny since my sister passed GTA: San Andreas, while I just gave up.

Also I’m not convinced with the point that women aren’t well liked by a lot of people because they are confrontational. I find that confrontation works in some instances, I mean if someone is verbally attacking you intentionally then yeah that’s not a good thing.

But if it’s really just someone trying to clarify or challenge an opinion, I think this could be beneficial especially in a public domain/setting if controlled and settled appropriately where others can also learn from.

I feel confrontation is sometimes better than absolute compliance which seems unreal at times.

Steve Dill said...

Dan, the observation in the talk was that 3D environments are confrontational, not that women are confrontational :-D Confrontation can certainly be useful in some situations, but a confrontational environment is not the best way to get people to have fun.

There's also another good summary of this panel discussion on Computer World

Dan McIntosh said...

Thanks for pointing that out, I initially misinterpreted what LaSandra was trying to convey.

So if one was to build an online game for informing visitors about a company in an entertaining way, which approach would work best?

i) Creating the game as least confrontational as possible in hopes that it doesn’t scare off site visitors, which may in turn relay a message of comfort and security about the company?

ii) Or by producing the game to primarily educate visitors about the company but also allowing for confrontational elements (such as a large setting, or too many objectives)?