At least until such time as the singularity is upon us, the point of machines is to serve humans but until now, we have been enduring an early developmental stage in data processing technology – a time when our data processing tools are so primitive that they are like human babies, ruling our behaviour with their need for constant care and attention. We have had to accommodate the needs of our machines but in the future, our technology will be an understanding and supportive partner in our lives rather than an infantile tyrant.
The singularity may still be some considerable time away – but as the Tech Crunch article says, we are already in the era when technology can serve us with a much higher level of understanding of the things that make us human. We just have to design it that way. And we already know a lot about how to do that.
It is just a matter of time before consumer expectations force the investment of capital in humanistic design priorities.
There is a big scam in technology that is almost universally played by platform providers of all kinds – and we pretty much always just go along with it, undervaluing ourselves and making them richer at our personal expense.
It happened to me, just today when my mobile service provider sent me this SMS:
Based on yr last call to us, how likely r u to recommend [us] to a friend/colleague?
Why do they expect me to provide them with this information? Because I probably will. Because most people do (or enough do, to make the results statistically meaningful).
But why would I do that? What’s in it for me?
Well, there are some intrinsic motivations that could drive my response:
Great. Satisfaction of these intrinsic motives does sustain behaviour. The persistence of platform providers in trading on these motives is evidence of that fact. +play does the same thing in its gamification designs, hitching a ride on things that players are already primed to do by their intrinsic motivations.
Presumably, my response is of value to the provider. I doubt that they would go to the expense of asking for it, collecting the response, compiling it, interpreting it, etc., if it was worth nothing to them. And being a business, that boils down to it being worth money to them. So, what is my cut?
My mobile service provider is neither my friend, my family member nor a charity that I support. It does not fall into any category in my life to which I gladly donate my personal property. It is immeasurably financially richer than I am now or will ever be but by asking me help them improve their service, they are expecting me to make a donation to them! They pay their employees to make guesses as to what kind of service I want but they won’t give me any form of extrinsic value for giving them actual facts about it?
I think that is fundamentally disrespectful to me as a ‘valued customer’ and suggests that their view of me is actually just, ‘an asset to be exploited’. I know a mobile service provider is not an app but it reflects a highly prevalent attitude I see in technology providers of all types.
Listen guys, without me (and all your other customers), you wouldn’t exist. If our information and opinions are important to the sustainability of your business, acknowledge that in some meaningful way. We deserve better.
Gamification isn’t really anything new in so far as there is no single part of gamification that has not been done before under another name. Even the ground on which gamification is built, the innate human compulsion to play, is as old as mankind itself.
What is new about gamification is the systematic marriage of psychology (particularly the psychology of motivation and behaviour modification), design and data to create powerful systems for engaging people and shaping their behaviour.
But achieving a happy and productive marriage of these different elements is difficult – and success is unlikely to be achieved in the design equivalent of a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
Professor Kevin Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Professor Dan Hunter from Victoria, Australia’s Swinburne University have just published what I think is the first real ‘desk manual’ for gamification design, The Gamification Toolkit: Dynamics Mechanics, and Components for the Win.
Werbach and Hunter lay out in clear, unambiguous and simple detail what needs to go into an effective gamification design process, while emphasising that there are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions in this field. A good design comes from a careful and systematic approach that focuses resolutely on the business goals, end-users and context of the design.
I am just back from representing +Play as part of the Auckland delegation to the 2015 Tripartite Economic Alliance Summit between Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou.
I formed some great relationships through the massive networking opportunities afforded by the Summit, both in Los Angeles and on our home turf of Auckland. We are looking forward to great things coming from the synergies that we have found there. There were many highlights in my two weeks in Los Angeles but perhaps the stand-outs were my talks with ace marketer Steven Seto, who has held senior roles at Starbucks and HTC among others, Richard Davis and Steve Huff at touchscreen entertainment network Scopely, and the opportunity to present some core elements of +Play’s approach to gamification to a meeting of gamification professionals in Santa Monica.
So much of lasting value was gained from this visit to one of the most rapidly developing technology innovation centers in the world – especially getting confirmation that the quality and depth of +Play’s thinking and originality can impress even in that illustrious context. I can’t wait to return!
We’ve been banging on a bit around here lately about what is and is not gamification, so its great to see something published that definitely qualifies as gamification as we know it. The added bonus is that it lays out a general method for gamification design in its pristine glory for all to see. (The devil, of course, is in the detail – you can do all this and still get it wrong. But this is how to go about it with some chance of getting it right).
What specifically does it get right? Well, pretty much everything but in particular we liked seeing:
Wrap this methodology in a snug blanket of empathy and integrity and you’ve got a good basis for doing some meaningful and effective gamification. Which, of course, does not involve turning everything into a game, or even a game-like experience.
Read Adrish Bera’s sweet little post and enjoy. Thanks Adrish.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – Juliet Capulet
Simple Machines by Tinybop is an app for teaching physics that is beautifully executed, with appealing illustrations, sounds and an intuitive interface. User feedback is immediate and multi-sensorial, providing clues, cues and a sense of accomplishment. Most of all, it is fun to play. Yes, play. Simple Machines is no didactic appification of classroom physics demonstrations. It is by all appearances, a game.
And yet Tinybop project lead Colleen Hampton is quoted in a Fast Company article on Simple Machines as saying,
“We don’t include gamification because we’re purposely building open-ended games . . .”
I guess what Ms Hampton is referring to is the absence of points, badges, leaderboards, levels, boss fights and many of the other mechanics of videogames that are often utilised in gamification designs.
I applaud her and her team for leaving these competition-inducing elements out – I think far too much emphasis is placed in education on competition as a motivator and the drive to win can eclipse the drive to learn. Simple Machines does exactly what we believe good gamification should do – subtly reinforce the intrinsic motivation of the user, in this case to achieve competence with a novel task (and learn some physics along the way).
More could be done to make Simple Machines a compelling activity, such as provide the characters that appear in the game with more identity and integrate the various tasks within the game into an over-arching narrative through which the characters proceed as proxies for the users.
But it is still a great app – and a good example of gamification, despite what Ms Hampton says.
Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey released earlier this month shows that gamification is a target methodology for retailers, who are focused on winning business by offering a stellar experience to customers.
74% of retailers surveyed indicate that customer experience is one of their top three CRM priorities and 87% will have implemented gamification within the next five years.
BRP’s definition of gamification seems to be narrowly focused on PBLs for customer retention but the report refers to many other CRM goals that are all addressed by a quality gamification design:
The report also talks about the importance of social media as a CRM tool – and addressing social motivations is an important consideration in good gamification design.
Even more encouraging than all this enthusiasm for gamification is that businesses are allocating budget to marketing technology – up 9.42% over the previous year, at the expense of print media spend.
We see gamification as being an obvious methodology for retail. The balance of power has shifted in favour of customers, who are better informed and more able to access alternative suppliers than ever before. Retailers now have to work as hard as game developers to get and hold people’s attention.
First things first, right?
0 of 1 questions completed
So, you have a great idea for a new service/app/whatever – let’s call it a ‘product’. What is the most important element to begin development with?
You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again.
Quiz is loading...
You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz.
You have to finish following quiz, to start this quiz:
Time has elapsed
You have reached 0 of 0 points, (0)
What is the most important element to begin development with?
Why do I think that is the correct answer? Because that is where your idea connects with the actual customer, on the customer’s terms. It requires you to think about how and when the customer would use your product – and working through this is likely to get you thinking about why they would use it as well.
The most important thing in the world is people. This is obvious but often seems to be forgotten in a focus on material wealth. But without people, there would be no wealth; without customers, you do not have a business. If an app is listed on the app store and no-one downloads it, is it still an app?
Understanding (or at least having a theory about) how your product will fit into your customers’ lives will make a big difference to the sustained use of your product. Branding, marketing and distribution will all affect the rate of initial uptake but if the product does not fit the customers’s lives, meet their needs and expectations, they will not continue to use it unless they have no real choice (in which case, they are prisoners and will have a very dysfunctional relationship with you/your product).
I think the key concept here is empathy – understanding what it is like to be in the customer’s shoes when they are using your product. Research has found that both satisfaction and loyalty increase when you build empathic relationships with customers. The experience of being treated without empathy, being objectified, varies from mildly unpleasant to traumatic, depending on the nature of the relationship. But it is never a compelling experience.
Think about customers as people, make a serious effort understand their perspective and needs, and you will be well on the way to the sustained success of your product. Treating customers as people is good for business.
Unfairness has been described as “relationship poison” in a study of customer relationships, aggravating conflict, opportunism and undermining the relationship management benefits of contracts.
People’s sense of fairness is innate and has been demonstrated in a wide range of sciences from genetics to primate behaviour. The feeling of being treated unfairly is instinctive and powerful and can lead to extreme results  (although different people react differently to unfairness).
So, do you treat your end-users fairly?
More importantly, do your end-users perceive that you treat them fairly?
Here are ten reasons why you should and how you can show respect for your users that will pay off in the long run.
 ^ Tripp, T.M. & Bies, R.J. (in press). “Doing justice”: The role of motives for revenge in the workplace. In M. Ambrose & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Justice in Work Organizations. Oxford University Press.
 ^ Using the OECD scale of 5 proficiency levels; http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/Skills%20volume%201%20(eng)–full%20v12–eBook%20(04%2011%202013).pdf
Three common consumer responses when offered a choice, three different responses to the burden of choice.
Yes, choice imposes a burden. Sometimes this burden is a pleasurable effort, sometimes it is challenging. Sometimes, it is just too hard, causing irritation and provoking disengagement.
More than 40 years ago, Alvin Toffler wrote in his book Future Shock:
“Ironically, the people of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice, but from a paralyzing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be the victims of that peculiar super-industrial dilemma: ‘Overchoice.'” – Future Shock, p.264.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz explored this idea further in his book The Paradox of Choice (watch his TED Talk here), where he highlights the fallacy that more choice means more freedom. Choice enables us to exercise our free will, affirming our existence as autonomous individuals rather than slaves to a predetermined destiny. But too much choice can be paralysing and reduce satisfaction, even with optimal choices.
Some choice is good, too much choice is bad. Referring to this cartoon by Peter Steiner, Schwartz says that “everybody needs a fishbowl” to limit their choices to a manageable quantity.
Although information technology has in many ways made the avalanche of overwhelming choice possible, used smartly, technology also has the potential to relieve people from the burden of too much choice.
A key gamification design principle is that of ‘meaningful choice’. Meaningful choice involves presenting the consumer with a limited set of options, each one of which represents the expression of some value and each of which leads to distinctly different consequences. Meaningful choice presents the consumer with a decision that is anchored in their self-concept. The choice made is a form of self-expression – and people are generally motivated to express themselves through their actions. Game developers have found that providing meaningful choice is an important part of building and maintaining engagement.
This is why at +play, we make empathy with consumers a key design parameter. Empathy for the burden that choice can impose and a related effort to understand exactly which choices this consumer would welcome at this time so that they can say, “I’ll have that one, please. Where do I pay?” Commercially, true engagement is measurable at the cash register – so having empathy for the consumer is a good way of showing empathy for the client!