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In this article from readwrite, one of the predictions they make about the future of storytelling is that new technologies will enable stories to make the world a better place:

As stories extend further into the real world, so will their potential to create positive change for both individuals and society. That might mean living a healthier life, supporting important causes, or something else.

More narratives will be designed to drive social action in more engaging ways—encouraging audience members to become active collaborators not just in narratives, but in the real world issues behind them.

stories-realworld

The rest of the article has some great insights on what Latitude, the study’s creators, predict will be the future of storytelling – be sure to check it out.

At PlusPlay this article resonated with our approach to the use of story in our City+ project. City+ is designed to improve the systems and organisations a user interacts with throughout their day by encouraging constructive and targeted communications between users and organisations.

We will incorporate narrative to connect the places and things that a user interacts with, providing a narrative context to enhance their engagement in their activities. Our goal is for City+ to make the world a better place through stories and content created in collaboration with its users.

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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 [1] (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.

  1. Your user’s attention is an asset that deserves compensation.
    People can only pay attention to one thing at a time (don’t believe all that nonsense about multi-tasking). That means that paying attention to you comes at a cost to the user – not being able to pay attention to something else. That is an opportunity cost and has value to the user. If you compensate the user for that value, they will feel that you are treating them fairly. They might even realise that others just rudely grab their attention (advertising, anyone?) and that you are much more respectful.
  2. Your user’s information is an asset that deserves compensation.
    In order to achieve your objectives, you probably need information from your user – their shoe size, their email address, their credit card details, etc. This information belongs to them. If you offer them compensation for the use of that information, they will feel that you are treating them fairly. They might even realise that others just rudely grab demand their information (user registration forms, anyone?) and that you are much more respectful.
  3. Your user’s commitment is an asset that deserves compensation.
    The first date is one thing but by itself, ultimately empty and unfulfilling. Having a second or third date means something more. Beyond that is where the real value lies. You don’t get that far without reciprocity. You just don’t. If your user honours you with a repeat encounter, respect that by giving them something in return (narcissists please note, your mere presence is not actually enough).
  4. You are not the reason why the user gets up in the morning – support their life, don’t try to drive it.
    (Another one for the narcissists). Your offering might be wonderful but it is probably not the centre of your user’s life. They will have given it a place in their world because they would like it to help them through the day in some way – but that is all. Don’t expect them to change their lifestyle or do hours of study or training to use your product, unless changing lifestyle, studying or training is the whole point of the product. Be their butler, not their boss.
  5. You are a guest – be a good guest
    Your users have invited you into their personal spaces. Mind your manners, don’t interrupt, take off your shoes at the door. Be entertaining, responsive and offer to help without getting in the way. Be a good listener. Don’t offer your advice or opinion unless it is asked for. You want them to look forward to your next visit, not dread it.
  6. Users take a risk with you – honour their trust in you.
    Running with the ‘delightful guest’ metaphor, don’t leave your hosts feeling they should be careful what they say in your presence and count the silverware after you have left the room. You really do want to be invited back – they might even bring out the good stuff next time. Maybe one day they will ask you to be a godparent.
  7. Speak the user’s language.
    It is probably not C++, XML or Swift. Nor legalese, medicalese or psychobabble. Half of the population of developed countries has no more than Level 2 literacy skills [2] so requirements of vocabulary, sentence length and complexity, etc. need to be limited.  Is the language you are using even the user’s first language? Addressing someone with language that they do not understand suggests that you do not truly want to communicate with them – not a good way to win friends and influence people.
  8. Allow the users to express themselves.
    You are not the only person in the room and certainly not the most important one. It is not all about you (hello again, narcissists) – it is about your user. Let them actively participate. Let them be a co-creator of the outcomes. Then your offering becomes partly their offering. Then you have ‘ownership’ and engagement.
  9. Listen to what the users tell you.
    Ask for feedback in a way that makes it seem like you mean it – and respond to that feedback, promptly and gratefully. They went to the trouble to give you information (one of their assets – see number 2 above), so you owe them for that. Acknowledge the user’s contribution to improvements, don’t just take all the credit for yourself. If you want to be a masterful listener, don’t wait for the user to speak up: closely observe their behaviour and modify your designs to better match it. You’ve got the user on the dance-floor – now let them lead and you be the expert follower.

[1] ^ 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.

[2] ^ 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

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  1. “I’ll have that one, please.”
  2. “Umm. I don’t know. Which one do you recommend?”
  3. “Oh, this is too hard. ‘Bye.”

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!

This recent article from Computerworld makes the point, among others, that gamification is not about making something into a game. It’s a point that’s well known within the world of gamification, not so much outside of it.

I thought this quote from Janaki Kumar was particularly useful:

Gamification is really about thinking about what you want in terms of behaviors in the organization and creating incentives to reinforce that.

You can read the full article at this link.

We’ve discussed within the team how misleading or, at its worst, off-putting the term “gamification” can be. It’s supposed to be a term that describes the idea of tapping into intrinsic motivations and creating incentive and feedback systems that focus and help work towards desired goals. Games just happen to share this particular perspective and process and they’ve had a long time to refine the approach.

I think it’s been said before more than once – this field of thought might need a new name. Referencing the field of games in the term “gamification” suggests that games came first and gamification builds on them, when the truer perspective is that games may have developed and refined many processes and systems first, but gamification is the name for the study and development of the root of those systems.

For now, the term serves a purpose as a disruptor – it suggests the new and ‘dangerous’ by its attachment to the millennial online world of games. Soon though, we’re gonna need our own name.