Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software

Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software


>>Welcome everybody. My name is Yuri Engestrom
and it’s a great pleasure to introduce Amy Jo Kim, on this special functional and fun
edition of Google Tech Talks. Amy Jo, is CEO of Shufflebrain. She’s an internationally
know experts in online community architectures. Her company Shufflebrain builds smart games
for social networks starting with Facebook and she’s helped design social games and social
architecture for a vast number of companies online. Company’s like everybody knows, like
electronic guards, digital chocolates, Viacom and then even Yahoo. In 2000, she wrote a
book called “Community Building on the Web.” That some of you might know, it’s been translated
to six languages so far. Seven, so it’s great pleasure on behalf of Google, to welcome Amy
Jo Kim.>>KIM: Thank you so much for inviting me,
to be here, it’s a pleasure to see you and I’m looking forward to sharing some of what
I’ve learned in the work I’ve done and learning from you as well. The interactive portion
will happen little later in the talk. So, I just mentioned, I chose this shot from YouTube
for my cover because this is a great example of something I never would have sound without
the mechanics. This particular video is called “Pool Meets Dominoes” and were Dominoes and
gulliver machines freaks in our house, we build them, we love them. And, I found this
because of the game mechanics on YouTube and I’ll be doing into that in a little while
and I–and I’m very happy to have found this video and many others. So, briefly, that’s
a little bit about me, my Ph.D is on Behavioral Neuroscience which is part of why I’m doing
brain games because I’m very familiar with how that stuff works but I also have the background
in science and engineering and I’m basically a Social Architect. I do that for games and
for Social Media. At Shufflebrain, I’m working with Scott Kim. Some of you may know Scott,
he’s a well known puzzle designer. He’s a puzzle columnist for Discover Magazine and
he’s done a lot of puzzle games on mobile, on the web and also physical toys and we’re
collaborating on the project, so I’ll be telling you about later today. Some of whom we work
with, we work with a lot of companies. My latest game that [INDISTINCT] I was the Social
Architect on that, that was very fun. But, also did work a plain game mechanics to ebays
infrastructure and those kinds of jobs. So I’ve been at the intersection of games and
Social Media for a long time. So let me just define a few terms since a lot of these words
gets thrown around and mean different things. First of all, Social Media, what is that–you
know you can define in a lot of different ways, here’s how I define it. Three key things
one, player-created content, now use the word player instead of user, because I do games
but also I find that if you use the word player, yourself when you’re designing something,
it pout you on a different mind set so, try that sometime, in your documents and then
your conversation just call the people that use yourself for players and see what happens
so, player-created content, stuff that’s created by the–the people that are using the system.
Key feature Social Media. Social Infrastructure, content sharing networks, chat systems social
objects in Jerry’s terminology. Social Infrastructure is a key aspect of being able to share the–the
artifacts that you create and the third is tools that make it easy for you to share,
if you can’t get your video posted, if you can’t get of your photo up there and tag,
you don’t really have the means to share so, those are key elements of anything that you
can call Social Media. What about games, what’s a game? Well, the formal definition is a system
where players engage in a artificial conflict defined by rules, the quantifiable outcome
that’s from an excellent book called rules of play, that if you’re interested on those
stuff, I suggest picking up and get on Amazon. Well, That–that describes a lot of games
that describe chess to some extend certainly describes rock band and it’s predecessors
and many other game but there’s a whole lot of games that don’t finder that definition,
the Sims does not finder that definition for instance. Big selling piche–PC franchise
of all time and if they really does not follow after that and yet I would give that ebays
as in many ways of game. So, I have an informal definition that I used that’s broader that
I find useful when I’m thinking about what game might be in today’s internet which is
structured experience that has rules and goals that’s fun and a lot more things finder that
category and that’s really what I’m going to be talking about today. Why are games so
powerful? Why is everybody all of the sudden there in the last couple of years so interesting
game mechanics? Well, games basically are incredibly good in manipulating behavior they
get into our primal response patterns. This is a chart from my old days in behavior psychology
that’s what my undergrad degree was in. How many of you know what reinforcement schedules
are? Yeah, so you’re probably recognize this chart, long story or short the most powerful
way to manipulate behavior is to do a variable reinforcement schedule were you get either
smaller or large outcomes without being able to predict what action is going to cause that
and there’s many other reinforcement schedules as well but that’s the schedule that keeps
people pumping quarters and they were all one [INDISTINCT] and understanding–you understand
the schedule as you can look games and says “Yeah, this is basically not that different
from the pigeon picking on a, you know, a leader trying to get a [INDISTINCT] and an
experiment. So, that is very de-primal stock you can see the same behaviors emerging from
this patterns of reinforcement and chickens and mice and monkeys and humans it’s very
deep stuff. Games also engage us in flow which is, that term is from a book and it’s called
“Flow” by someone whose got a name I can’t pronounce Michael–what–what is it?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: Yes, what he said–yes, its incredible
book Aubrey great game designer I know has studied and read absorb that book. And basically
the long story or short punchline is that an activity that has just the right level
of challenge not too much or you got anxious, not too little are you get out pathetic but
just the right level challenge and then adjust the challenge based on your changing skill
and mastery is going to keep you in the flow channel which is channel that in the middle
really good games do this. They unfold their challenges overtime in conjunction with your
evolving mastery and that style of design, designing something that changes overtime
in response the user it’s very much what games do but it’s also what using more and more
in social software now. So, game mechanics are the underlying systems and features that
drive this. I’m–not today–I’m not going to be talking about the sparkle and the great
animation and sound, that’s also important in games talking about the mechanics, the
behavior and mechanics that engage people. So, I’m going to talk about five games mechanics
today this is–think of it is a primary this is–and this is foundational elements this
is not the whole story, this is not a recipe to go out and make a game. These are practical
useful things that you can apply to what you’re doing and their building blocks. First one
is the collecting game mechanic and that’s basically all about “Show me your stuff, what
do you collection? What do you have?” Is an expression of what matters to you and the
time you’ve invested in something it’s something you can compare with other people and it’s
just a fun human activity this–you know, ebays is really built on the urge to collect.
Here I’ll show you training cards, collectible training cards either a ten year old kid my
house is full of these things but also there is my twitter friends and, you know, and my
followers that’s another forms of collecting friends on social networks, it has the similar
feeling to it. Basically if you’ve got a cool collection you got some bragging writes within
the social circle that cares about that collection. Part of the collecting mechanic is the power
of completing a set, you know, there’s–and people of collected baseball cards you know
what, just cards that let you–that you can buy over-the-counter it target like for have
a hotel have a–did a brilliant experiment a few years ago were they took the standard
cards you buy and then you get a certain credits and they just made four of that kinds and
said collect them all boom their sales went up. You see the same kind of thing now with
the–your profile as 40% completed on facebook and on linked in it’s the collecting mechanic
it’s the completing a set mechanic Pokemon is incredible that doing this, there’s the
checklist. So, again this is the kind of thing that if you’re trying to get something or
to do something you can find it as collecting and specially make the things that someone’s
collecting look and–look [INDISTINCT] you can get a lot of power out of that. Another
basic building block is Points, earning points. And there are few different kinds of points.
There’s game points, which are given by the system for example you play in The Jeweled
and you get a certain number of points or in our game Photograph we will talk about
that later. You play, you find details and a photo and you get a certain number and points
that’s player to system interaction. More interesting kind of points is what you call
social points and those are given by the system, those are given by other players. So, Flickr
has a very interesting metric called Interesting Disk, it’s basically social points, it’s a
bunch of behaviors of other people viewing your photos, tagging your photos, discussing
your photos, fording your photos, putting them in a group all that behavior aggregated
is to stilled into a metric called Interesting Disk. That’s a social points metric. YouTube’s
favorites and rating are also social points. And social points create a very different
dynamic in a system than, than game points do because you have–you cant get them just
by playing you have to somehow engage with other people. There’s another kinds of points
redeemable points. That you see a lot of people using now especially on a system like Facebook
and system were there engaging with virtual good business models. And basically redeemable
points drive loyalty there’s you know from S&H green stamps many years ago on up to a
free Frequent Flyer programs and drugstore.com. If you can have people earn points that they
can then redeem for something within the system in either a virtual good or sometimes a physical
good is service you going to get a lot of loyalty. You also going to be tweaking something
that–is it now some talk about sick and sound sexes but it’s really true. One of the biggest
barriers to women playing a lot of games is feeling like you are waiting your time there
is a psychology that many not all but many females embrace I certainly do that I don’t
want tot waste a lot of time how can you play world of work up with three hours like a kids
to feed that kind of thing. Redeemable points can really play [INDISTINCT] this whether
your targeting females or not that feeling I’m not waiting my time I’m earning points.
I’m earning you know I’m going to get that toaster for my family or whatever it is. So,
another once you have points you can have leaderboards as kind as simple as that and
you can chose to have them or not there is an interesting history with leader boards
back firing I know that at work that wasn’t interesting topic. But they drive player behavior
they introduce competitiveness they also express your community values if you going to have
leaderboards what are you celebrating with the leaderboards? Are you celebrating just
the person you placed the most? You celebrating that brings the most friends in? You’re celebrating
the person that releases the most comments on something that’s social? That’s going to
express what’s valued in your system. Another once you have points you can also intruduce
levels. Levels are there’s nothing magic about and they’re just short hand for how many points
you’ve earn. It’s just an easy way I was looking at eBay when we introduce levels and into
the winning system and all the sudden people that had just you know 890 points were almost
have a thousand and they worked really hard to get to the nest level. It’s a way to both
express the other people how good you are in short hand like with Karate belts. But
it’s also a way to drive behavior and keep people essentially on that treadmill. So the
third mechanic is feedback. This is not solely the [INDISTINCT] of games but games are particularly
good in delivering feedback. And once you have a really good feedback this is going
to accelerate your drive to mastery. Anyone who’s played any of harmonics game from [INDISTINCT]
key revolution to Guitar Hero throughout rock band knows how incredible that company is
making great feedback that makes an exciting experience but gets you better. You become
a better singer by playing the game. Brain ages is another great example that’s a DS
space it was originally DS it’s now in every platform by Nintendo and it give you this
feedback over time that show your brain getting younger which was an incredible hook for a
lot of people. So, feedback comes in many forms as real-time feedback yes, I click the
bottom and what I thought I was going to do I did. Basic real-time feedback but there’s
also feedback over time. How are you doing? Are you getting better? How is your friends
doing etcetera. All that kind of feedback is very engaging, drives engagement, drives
your PA use, drives the person toward mastery. Feedback also just playing all that’s fun.
I would argue that Google maps one of the reasons that took off was successful other
than incredible product design and engineering is it–you just get letter feedback with Google
maps you can move stuff around and you have more control. It’s–that’s one of the key
things. And here’s an example of a hit game, big surprise hit game called “Cooking Mama.”
How many of you’ve ever played Cooking Mama? It’s a great–that’s cool. Yes, so you know.
It’s this very mundane activity, learning how to cook, and it’s all gussied up with
this incredible feedback that’s just right and it’s–at least for me and for my kid,
totally addictive. And so, once again, it’s just the power to engage you, a feedback.
Now, just like with points there is game feedback but there’s also social feedback. Social feedback
in the form, of say, notifications on Facebook, and people freinding you, and people retwitting
your twits, and all that stuff, that’s social feedback. And again as with points that’s
even more powerful. So when you’re engineering your systems thinking about, okay, how–I’m
going to give the person feedback from the system but also from other people. How are
they going to see that? How often are they going to see that? How can I design that to
be effective and not overwhelming? Those are all key questions when you’re putting great
feedback into your system. The fourth is exchanges. An exchange is a structured social interaction,
a back and forth, call and response in music, a conversation, taking turns when you’re playing
chess, trading gifts, those are all exchanges. And this is a very primal basic form of social
interaction. Many games have this built right in, chess, checkers, two-player games, any
turn based game is a form of an exchange. Trading, this is a trading screen from Wow,
trading is an exchange, it goes back and forth. Now, both of these are an example of what
I would call explicit exchanges. That means that it’s built into the actual structure
of the system that there is an exchange. Trading had you–both people put their objects in,
it’s held and then it goes. It is one person can’t do it one way, that’s an explicit exchange.
There is another kind called “Implicit” or “Emergent Exchanges” and this is even more
interesting and potentially more powerful. Ebay is a great example of that. You do not
have to leave feedback for someone whose left feedback to you, it’s not built into the system.
We argued about this a lot too whether to–force it, whether to built it in like your forced
to do a two-way friend, it’s now how Ebay works. What happened is that it’s become emergent
in the social culture of Ebay that if somebody leaves you feedback, if you buy something
and that person leaves feedback, they’re expecting feedback in return. And you can get some very
unpleasant interactions if you don’t, depending on the seller, that’s an implicit exchange.
Another example of that is gifting. In just about every gift application I seen, as it
is in the real world, you don’t have to give a gift, it’s not built in, it’s not like,
you know, trading. But it engenders obligation when you give someone a gift and they’re likely
to give you a gift back or to give you something else back in return. Again, that’s implicit
exchange. If you have both, you tend to have a richer social environment. Both Myspace
and Facebook are good examples of that. Adding a friend is an explicit exchange, it’s two-way,
as you know it can be one or two way, it’s two-way, both have to do it just as with the
trade. However, leaving a comment is more like a gift. You don’t have to do it both
ways but people do tend to leave comments for people who’ve left them–left them for
them. So that’s letting the exchange be emergent out of the system. It’s something to always
think about if you can facilitate that. Customization, again, a lot of software that offers customization
games are particular good at it, you can get great ideas from looking at games. Character
customization is one basic type. If you’re designing in Wow or you’re designing your
profile on Myspace, you’re expressing who you are in a way. And basically the more full
you’re able to do that the harder it’s going to be to leave that system because you’re
invested. Another kind is interface customization. Again, using Wow as an example you can just
customize the hell out of that interface, it’s–you can do a lot and you see that, that’s
very typical especially in console games. But we also see a lot of interface customization
on the web. I think YouTube is a great example, the extent to which you can customize your
channel and, you know, really have something that looks different from everything else
that’s there, that’s a good basic kind of mechanic to offer. So I want to turn the tables
a little. And I’ve been talking about how games are influencing or can influence social
media, but what about social media going back and influencing games, what’s going on there.
So there’s a few trends that I’m very interested in and I’ve been following. The first is making
software accessible. And there’s three things that I mean by that. One is making the UI
accessible. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in these UIs in the last couple of years,
it’s a big thing. Partly it’s the changing demographics. Partly it’s, you know, Ruby
on Rails and other ways of letting people built stuff quickly. But it’s also just an
expectation, its competition. There’s people like Google. I think pioneered the ECD’z and
a lot people are following that. The second is devices, you see more and more web services
launching and they reach out to many different devices wherever you are. It runs on the web,
there’s all this client runs on your cell phone, twitter is a good example of that.
And the third is open API’s make software much more accessible, and much more able to
lead in different forms. If you developing a service that’s something that makes sense.
All those are part of trend of software becoming dramatically more accessible to more people.
Second trend is what I called recombinant, recombinant data objects and what I mean by
that is more, more social media services and software services are allowing their basic
date objects to be remixed and redistributed. YouTube is a good example of that flicker,
you know, twitter. They all have basic data objects that you can search and sort and then
deliver different feeds of and people can have different clans that run on them. And
all of this is enable by this very basic architecture which might seem obvious but if you’re coming
from games most games aren’t design that way they’re not designed to be recombinant. And
the third is syndicated. Now this is bill on top of one. Once you’ve the recombinant
data objects in some sorts content sharing network you can basically syndicate that if
you choose to it. YouTube was early leader in that by allowing people to pose videos
on their blogs. So I’m using the terms syndicated in very pure scents which means content that
leaves outside of where it sourcing was. And you see more and more services that aren’t
just a destination or maybe not even primarily a destination site which is what I think of
is the older model from web to that but really live everywhere and are generating a constant
stream of content that lives in many different places in many different forms remix and also
rescan. So how I a few case studies and this is the part where if you’re so incline, I
love to have you, tell me what you think just by, you know, raising your hands or calling
out about I’m going to post some questions, okay. So I think YouTube has done a great
job in a great in game mechanics in a very natural way into their software and I like
to use it as an example. So first of all what–what do you collect on YouTube? Anybody?
>>Favorites.>>KIM: Favorites? You collect favorites.
Anything else? You collect subscribers. Anything else? I collect videos. I have my list. I
just-I feel like I collect-I have my videos. So there’s–the point is there’s a lot of
things you can collect on YouTube that’s why I showed the list all those different things.
One of the things YouTube could do if they want to make the collecting mechanic more
powerful was to make your collection look more like a collection to the player. That
just make it feel like more tangible that’s one way to drive with that mechanic. How do
you earn points on YouTube?>>Star rating.
>>KIM: Star ratings, views. See that whole list? All those are ways turn points. Again
YouTube has multiple parallel leader boards that’s what I call them. And that’s great
because that’s means there’s a lot of different ways to raise at the top. There’s a lot of
different ways to get your moment. There’s lot of different ways to explorer and discover
content. So that’s very powerful. How do you get feedback on YouTube? Comments? You also
get feedback with something called the videos response. Oh, I guess I have that in the next
one–sorry it an example exchange. And then there’s this inbox that show you people messages,
things people have shared with you. Another way you get feedback on YouTube is stat, like
circle dot there on the–the right of the screen. YouTube gives you a bunch of stat
that’s another great way to get feedback. In some systems stats can be an alternative
to leader boards if leader board introduce a competitive element that’s not working for
you, you can surf its stats, like you’re in the top 15% that sort of thing. So that’s
something that this game is were often thinking about. Where can you have an exchange that
one to one exchange on YouTube? Does it offer that? Well I would argue that the video response
is one form of exchange. That back and forth feeling comments for another form of exchange
but, you know, there is probably room to this something else interesting there with videos
and exchanges to make it more game like and then the fifth is so how do you customize
you experience on YouTube? This is an example of a customize channel. Are there other–do
any of you who use YouTube? Have you done anything else to customize your experience?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: Right. So you can customize your profile.
That is skinning it. Right? And you can determine what is no there? So you can decide which–which
through there. Yeah, these are all ways of customizing your experience which gives you
different experience but more importantly, let you present the–a version of yourself.
A version of what you want to show to other people in–in the way that you control. So
is the service accessible? I will argue, yes. I think one of the main reasons YouTube took
off. There is many reasons is you can upload videos really easily that takes different
formats, it walks you though it. That was a big thing when they launch. It was big thing
for me. Getting my videos up there is so easy. And runs on a lot of different platform, runs
on mobile, very easy to use, you sent somebody a link, my mom can use it. All the–all the
check points it think it has and open API, correct? Yes, yes so. All–that whole trend
YouTube is right out there. Are the data objects are where [INDISTINCT] yep! You can have different
sorts and streams of videos. It is pretty easy to put together a playlist. Not a problem.
Can a service be syndicaded? Absolutely. It is continuing to innovate. Not [INDISTINCT]
was an early leader. So no, let us take a look at Twitter. Very different service but
has some has the same trends flowing through it. What do you collect on Twitter? Anybody?
Followers. You also collect friends but really you collect followers and you see the in part
of it is the way it is express visual aids you can see here but it is also what people
brag about. It is what people are, you know, feeling, measuring as valuable. How do you
earn points? Well on this pa–I’m sorry, on this page you can see there is points. Anything
that is number people are got to think is points. They just are. So there is updates
followers and following. There is services like “Twitterholic” that turn us to on the
leaderboards. Twitter itself does not leaderboards, they do not need to. They have open API somebody
else built it. How do you get feedback on Twitter? Do you guys use Twitter? [INDISTINCT]
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: Right. So there are several ways to
get feedback and what is great is that you can decide which of those you want to get
an email. If you live in your email. I personally still live in my email plan. So where do you
have exchanges? Same–same think really app replies, direct messages, that is how you
have exchanges. Their–they probably could express the exchanges a little more concretely
and that would [INDISTINCT] the power. But basically, you know, they have underline mechanisms
to do it and what we are seeing is that a lot of the innovation in the UI is coming
from the third-party clients, not from the main service. Can you customize your experience
on Twitter? A little bit you can have a custom background. So this is my favorite custom
backgrounds. So far this guy–this is–he is just the, you know, it is just an image.
He made a custom background that looks amazing for a custom background. So people are getting
very creative with the [INDISTINCT] and again, I think there is a lot of room that Twitter
can improve with customization but the direction that–that services going is to [INDISTINCT]
that kind of [INDISTINCT] improvement and innovation in the third-party clients and
if they could just figure out this is mall, that whole thing should [INDISTINCT] really
well. Is the service accessible? I would say, “Dramatically.” Super easy to use, super easy
to get in your desktop, on your mobile, wherever you want and it is super easy and importantly
super easy to integrate. Integrate with photos, integrate with all the different kinds of
services. Are the data objects where recombinant, tweets? Absolutely! And the–all the flurry
of activity around them is partly based on just a basic fact that you have the simple
recombinant data model. Can the service be syndicated and it is syndicated? Yes! Definitely.
It is you can put it on your blog, you can, you know, put it on different kinds of places
and it takes many different forms. Part of that it is because the simplicity of the service
and of text. But none of less, I think it is great example this trends. So, now I want
to talk a little bit about the project that we at Shuffle Brain that we’re working on
for the last six months, it’s called Photo Grab, and it’s basically our first small steps
in a larger vision of brain games, that is games that are good for your brain meet social
media. The on-going stream of your experiences, on your artifacts that are generated by interacting
socially online. So Photo Grab is–first all of all how many of you have play photograph?
Okay, that’s something fun that you can try later, it’s search on photograph on Facebook,
you’ll go right there, you go to shuffle brain.com it’s link on the front page, it’s very easy
to find. So, I’ll take you to this quickly, what–so, in Photo Grab, what do you collect?
well, there’s two things; on the left hand side this is my profile, actually it’s another
player’s profile, you collect awards, badges, this is a very common game mechanic that I’m
starting to see other people to non-game software, if you ever played x-box live they have a
great award system and you see more and more of this. Basically, you say, okay, you’ve
done X, you’ve played five games, you’ve shared your games, you’ve gotten five people to play
your game, etcetera, all these little achievements you marked them with collectible badges and
then you both tell people what you expect them to do but you also give them something
that they can show off and get a sense of achievement for. The more that you expand
your identity and this is a from of expanding your identity, all the badges you’ve earned,
just like being in the boy scout. The more you do that, the harder it is to leave the
service because you’ve developed your identity and people get very attached to that. You
can also collect games, you can create game or play games and we make them visible, all
the games you’ve ever play or created. We can certainly do a better job of making it
look like a collection so I think there’s a lot of room for improvements in out own
software there. So, how do you earn points? Well, there’s quite a few ways, the basic
one is you play games and you level up, you do better, you get faster and better at the
game, you improved your skills, you can earn points that way. You can also earn points
from leaving comments, you can earn social points and most importantly, you can earn
points by creating your own games which by the way takes about three minutes, very easy
and having other people play those games and those are all ways, so there’s a variety of
ways to achieve within the system. How do you get feedback? Again, there’s couple of
many ways within the game itself, in a very, I would say traditional game way, we can get
feedback after you played, how did you do, it’s social, you can say how you did against
everyone played that game, friends and everybody. And you can also see how your rating is, how
it affected your rating and how’s that related to your friend’s rating as well. And that’s
in game feedback, pretty good, standard stuffs, makes you want to get better. But we also
have a lot of out of game or meta-game feedback, specially in the form of notifications, so
when you’ve created a game, and people play it, you get notified and if people leave a
comment, you say “Hey” respond to their comment, if somebody that is on your friend list passes
you, you get notify and these are all more social graph ways to give people feedback,
it’s what I called social feedback. What about exchanges? I think this is actually one of
the weaker parts of our current game, partly just because we’ve, we’re in [INDISTINCT]
and we only built that so much, we have a comments, and the comments are nice, you can
leaves comments in game and also on, on the on html game pages. And we–you can have notifications
that functions as exchanges, similar to how comments functions as exchanges in YouTube.
I think that, in a game another kind of exchange to look at and this is something more currently
in the midst of designing is challenges. And you can also apply this to general software,
so you can have the social exchange comments, etcetera, you can have a challenge, you know,
“Hey, I got this score on this game or I got this, this total score on this three games,
can you beat me?” And those are another kind of exchanges, game like that’s also can be
applied pretty broadly. Can you customize your experience in our game? Yes, you can
have custom backgrounds for your game and the game itself customizes what you see, so
this is–home, the homepage on there, on the left, that’s the homepage of the meta-game
where you seeing what’s available to you to play. And that’s completely customize for
each person, that each list you see is essentially a feed, so you get, you get notified there
when your friends have created new game and you’ve friends have leveled up, when they’ve
earned certain achievements, when they played, etcetera. So that, in of itself, that’s a
different kind of customization, their skinning which is very visual, but there’s also data
customization where what you’re shown is really customized to who you are and who you’re relationships
are. So, service accessible? this is the thing we probably worked the hardest on, it’s making
it extremely easy to and accessible both game you [INDISTINCT] and also game creation. Went
through a lot of iteration, I know you at Google are familiar with that, and made something
that, you know, my mother who’s in her 70s could use, that was one of our targets was,
you know, eight to eighty. We design this to train the brain so that older people could
use it, but also we believe brain training is an everyday life activity. We don’t think
it’s, you know, old people in a retirement home only for them with white guy with a white
lab coat shaking his finger, that’s today kind of brain games. But we think of brain
games as just games that are good for your brain, games that are design to not screw
up your life and get you addicted and, you know, playing all the time, games that are
design to be healthy in every sense of the word for your brain but also for your lifestyle,
and so that’s what we’re striving for here. We–I think we got the interface well. We’re
working on the API right now on turning this into a platform so that it can live in a lot
of other places which is the other piece of accessibility that social media has really
led the way on. Are the data objects recombinant? This is something where I feel that we’re
at least trying to innovate in saying, okay, how do you make games into recombinant data
objects that could have feeds and be sorted and delivered and blog and all the things
that you can do with recombinant data objects. So each of our games is three to five images,
each image gets marked up just like you mark it up with tags but you’re marking it up with
details and then stored so you can both recombine the photos you’ve marked up into new games
and you can say, “Oh, you know, I took a trip to the beach. And I remember I made that game,
I can use those photos from the beach and add one more and I have a new game.” So it’s
recombinant within the system. Buts it’s also recombinant outside of the system in that
you can just have feeds and we actually have that in the game now, you could subscribe
to a game feed of everyone’s game, your friends games, just this one friend’s game, however
you like. And so that’s something we’re really pushing on and think will become more popular
as more and more games are built to live everywhere not just in one place. And can the service
be syndicated? Yes, because of the recombinant data objects. We have a widget that shows
you the latest games that’s on shufflebrain.com and it’s live. And we’re working on widgets
for external clients that will show the stream of games that’s specific to their content.
So that’s some of what we’ve been thinking about games in social media. I’m really interested
to hear about what you’re thinking now in the Q&A but also please feel free to go to
shufflebrain.com, share your thoughts in the comments, send an email, join the discussion.
And here’s my contact info if any of you want to follow me or email me or play the game,
feel free to friend me on Facebook and then you’ll have access to all the games I’ve created.
So that’s it.>>Thanks a lot Amy. I think we have a few
more minutes for questions so just please raise your hand and voice your question and
then Amy, if you could please repeat the question so we get it recorded for the talk. Thanks.
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: So you’re correct in that, it doesn’t
all have to apply. So don’t–oh, I’m sorry. So the question is–Sharon, right? Sharon
is designing a programming environment for nonprogrammers to write android programs and
wonders how this applies, how these ideas apply to her programming environment. So the
short answer is it’s completely contextual. And I can’t really answer that without knowing
more about your programming environment. What I can tell you is that–there’s some low hanging
fruit here that you can apply immediately, feedback is I think a very obvious one, giving
people really good and really fun feedback, putting a little energy into making the feedback
fun, huge payoff. People–and again that accelerates mastery. So that’s–when people asks me, you
know what, if I just had to pick one, I’ll usually put–point them to feedback because
it’s so accessible. And then also, don’t forget about that feedback overtime, how am I doing,
am I getting better, showing people that they’re getting better is tremendously powerful in
making them feel confident, in making feel like they want to keep learning. So that’s–that’s
one place to start.>>[INDISTINCT]
>>KIM: The question is how do you deal with customization when you’re customizing the
game itself and your experience is impacting other players? Do you have a specific example?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: You mean the ugly profiles?
>>Yeah.>>KIM: Okay. Yeah, that’s–you know, that’s
like–I’m glad that you brought that up because that’s a really great point. The–so the question,
MySpace versus Facebook. MySpace, people have tremendous variety of options for customizing
their profiles. Music, graphics, animation, you know, blue text on light blue background
all that stuff. And this really impacts the readability and the perceived quality of the
profiles. So how do you balance that, is the–is that correct? So I would argue that MySpace–one
of the reason MySpace took off in the way it did is not–it’s no longer the new darling
but, I mean, it really took of was exactly that power of customization. And I–as a designer
I’m horrified. But as a social architect I look at that and say, “Man, are they smart.”
And I look at MySpace profiles kind of like a room of a teenager, especially if you look
at who the demographic is, it’s, you know, you walk into a teenagers room there’s music
blaring, there’s posters all over the wall, there’s clothes on the floor it’s just like
a mess, right. But it’s them. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about–but it’s my mess,
if you’re a teenager. And I think that this is my mess, this is my expression. Be it loud
and obnoxious and not particularly well design is for the MySpace demographic for the people
that use it that’s just what they want. And it has definitely differentiated MySpace in
terms of their–who their core audience is, you don’t have nearly that much freedom on
Facebook. Facebook is much more of communication medium than a self-expression medium partly
because of the affordances of what’s there to your point. So, I think the answer is you
need to know who your audience is. And sometimes audience isn’t who you thought they were,
who knows if MySpace is set out to be that. But once you know who your audience is and
what you want you basically deliver what they want and I think that that level of customization
very much gave the people that were, you know, teenagers and young–young people finding
their identity, experimenting with different identities, it gives you a lot of power that
way. It also gives up and coming musicians which is in a sense the core DNA of MySpace,
a way to really differentiate and express themselves. And I think as people grow more
sophisticated because people aren’t just going to reproduce MySpace they’re going to do something
new and different, you can find ways to take that level of powerful self expression and
make it a little bit more well design to put just a few constraints on it would–is probably
what we’re going to see more of in upcoming services that that tackle that. But I think
there’s a lot of wisdom in those ugly profiles in terms of what the audience actually wants.
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: That’s great.
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: So the question is if you add a lot
of game mechanics to your software does that privilege the competitive people that just
want to get a lot of points. And YouTube is one example where there’s both people posting
a lot of videos and people posting high quality videos, so neither one of those is right.
I mean, I think YouTube is, as a service serves both people. The high quality videos probably
do more for YouTube in terms of its business model and were it’s trying to go. But without
all those people uploading, YouTube couldn’t be where it is today. So due–so, your specific
question, does it privilege the competitive types when you have a lot of game mechanics?
It depends on how you actually reward and surface the results of the game mechanics.
So I can just speak to our own experiment with photograb which is still beta, it’s pretty
new on Facebook. We have a lot of competitive elements, we also very specifically created
a noncompetitive thread to make it so that if you weren’t competitive you could still
gain some fame, you could still have your game surface, you could still have people
play them et cetera. And what we’ve learned is that our audience now naturally subdivides.
And we’ve got maybe a fourth or a fifth of our total players are rabid gamers and they’re
competing and you can see that when somebody passes them they get really competitive and
pass them again. It’s great for us, they’re playing a lot of games. You know, they’re
generating an interesting dynamics for us. But it’s not the majority of the people. The
majority of the people are playing a game every now and then, they’re creating a game
out of their vacation photos to share with their friend because they get some more fun
way to share their photos, just really the point of our software. And those people aren’t
playing competitively when we look at our analytics and look at the play patterns, we
got this like obsessive 20, 30 games at a time play pattern over several weeks. And
then it’ll sort of die out, for the competitive ones. For the other ones, they’ll come back
a couple of times a week, maybe miss a week, then they’ll come back and they’ll play in
this way that we actually designed it. We designed it not to be played obsessively,
we designed it to be played in a healthy way which is a little bit all the time. And so
we struck that balance. If you look at the leader boards, those people are in the leader
boards. But our leader boards aren’t front and center, they’re there if you’re interested.
But they’re not in your face. You could never see the leader boards and have a great experience,
and that all kinds of social engagement. That was what we tried to do to strike a balance.
I think the challenge as a game [INDISTINCT] who’s embracing social media, is to get enough
engagement without the obsessive play. The people will actually keep coming back and
you can make a bible business. And part of why people use game [INDISTINCT] and do that
obsessive form of play, is that those are often people you can extract the money of
it. So what we’re trying to do is create this very healthy style of gaming that can generate
enough volume and enough business. That can be the primary mode of play, not the hyper-competitive.
Yes.>>So one of the means that[INDISTINCT]the
questions here as–that, you know [INDISTINCT] people do interacting more, you start to get
a little bit [INDISTINCT] information [INDISTINCT] you know, you are [INDISTINCT]you got lots
of [INDISTINCT] I just recently started working on [INDISTINCT]like mobile [INDISTINCT] and
calendar wherein, you know, they’re all about interaction. But in fact, it’s really [INDISTINCT]
someone would get points for sending out really good e-mail rather than its [INDISTINCT] you
know, this kind of like, [INDISTINCT] think about [INDISTINCT] where you actually [INDISTINCT]
I like the [INDISTINCT]stuff rather than just try to generate do play more.
>>KIM: That’s a great question. So the question is, how can you use game mechanics and specifically
points to reinforcing surface high quality rather than volume, is that correct? So–well,
one thing that you should always ask yourself is, is points the right mechanic from what
I’m trying to do? Personally, when I’ve seen people trying to attach points to e-mail,
I have not seen that work. I’m not a fan of that. However, if somebody gets it just right,
it’ll be fine. But that, to me, doesn’t seem like a natural fit for the points mechanic.
So in one thing step back and say, am I using the right mechanic? That’s one way to reinforce.
The–I mean, the traditional or the more common ways of surfacing quality is crowd sourcing,
through ratings, or through, you know, metrics like interestingness. But that takes time.
To do crowd sourcing, you have to have people play at and then you get the rating, etcetera.
We have that within our system as well. But if you’re trying to do it in real time, and
you’re trying to reinforce quality, I–you know, again, then that wasn’t in details.
I would have to know in detail…>>[INDISTINCT]
>>KIM: So let me make sure…>>[INDISTINCT]
>>KIM: Right. So let me make sure and understand. So the question is in Gmail–so in Gmail,
you can star the messages that are important to you. And so that informa–does that information
flow back in anyway. Do you think it should? I mean, it could.
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: It depends how you do it. There’s
a few different ways to do it. One of the tricks that game designers sometimes use to
balance that kind of potential system problem is to give a limited number, so one thing
you could do is say, you know, you have X stars a day or X stars total, you have–you
make it a limited resource. And that can do like 90% in your work in terms of balancing
a system ’cause then, you’re not just going to star indiscriminately, you’re going to
start the ones that are important to you. But considering how the feedback feed that
back to the user, it seems like a great, the person you sent it, it seems like it’s got
some problems but it’s potentially a great idea and we’re pushing on because that can
give you that kind of feed back that one makes it more compelling in game like and two, will
drive quality to Jerry’s point. [INDISTINCT] Mike.
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: You may–so the question is, “Does
it make sense to look for universal game mechanics that could apply to a product like Gmail?
And everyone, who uses it, is it more something that would be relevant for and this community?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>KIM: Right. So, the game mechanics I’ve
talked about today are pretty basic and they’re pretty human and they apply broadly. Whether
anyone of those game mechanics makes sense in Gmail is a question that, you know, has
to be looked at in the whole context, first of all. There isn’t like Gmail should or shouldn’t
have points, I don’t know. Each of those–and there was many other game mechanics I didn’t
talk about today that might actually be great for something like Gmail. But the general
idea of game mechanics, I would say that the basics of like collect–how powerful it is
to collect something and see your collection, that’s universal whether it makes sense or
not. But points earning points in letter board tends do not be as effective with older people
for example. It depends–I mean, if you get the 50-year-old women are playing Bejeweled
24 hours a day then, you know, that’s a separate issue. But in general, people that have grown
up with games. So there’s a divining line that we see a lot just in play pattern. People
that have grown up with games, grown up with consoles and Nintendo, et cetera and now have
grown up with playing game like experiences on the web tend to be much more comfortable
with and not as stressed-out by. Things like points and letter boards. I’ve seen–I did
a lot of user testing for clients and I’ve seen older people just really gets stressed
out. They might be motivated by points but it’s stresses them out, “Oh no, now I’m performing,
and.” You know, it’s just not necessarily a great–a great technique. But something
like really good feedback, that’s universal. You know, and showing people getting better
over time, I would say that’s really universal. I think, the presentation layer, the layer
of what you show is incredibly important. And if you show a letter board that looks
like a letter board when someone saw on a game they wants to play, bingo, that’s the
association they’re going to make. If you show someone a search box that looks like
the Google homepage, bingo. So, the game mechanics generally useful not applicable all the time,
the presentation I think, that’s where often having difficult presentation layers for different
niches can really–you can see a lot more success with that. Because of the association
that people have with a particular experience. I’m not sure if that answer your question,
but–okay. Thank you guys for the great questions and for having me here.

21 thoughts to “Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software”

  1. Most of the things you do are virtually social. Try to see it this way, how many times you think about talking to people about subjects and how many times u really do. Most of the social life you think you have is made up by your imagination anyway.

  2. A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that resuls in a quantifiable outcome. (from "Rules of Play")
    The Sims is a structured experience with rules and goals that is fun.

    Games tap into our primal response patterns (reinforcement schedule: the frequency at which rewards are giving to make the subject give a response, the best being a unpredictable schedule – variable rate/intensitity).

  3. If the skills are high and challenge low – boring game.
    If the challenge is high and skills are low – anxiety.
    When both are low and progressively higher – good flow of game.

    Social Media is player-created content, in a social infrastructure which has tools for sharing.

  4. Game mechanism types:
    * collection (completing a set) of tangible things
    * earning points (given by the system or other players, with redeemable prizes, leaderboards)
    * feedback (so that the players becomes better)
    * exchange (taking turns, social exchanges, each player giving mutual feedback, trading, making allies, going back and forth, customizing interfaces, …)

    Trends:
    * accessibility (UI, devices, open APIs)
    * recombinant data objects (mash ups, customization)
    * syndicated

  5. @PuerinTheHunter We've actually been utilizing this into our online SAT Math solution at Perfect800 to keep students engaged. If we meet that right balance, we're able to prevent boredom (no easy task with the SAT's!) and reduce anxiety on the tough problems.

  6. We've all taken lit crit 101, we're all familiar with deconstructionism, but sorry, not everything is a game. Ebay.com is not a game. Nobody has ever said, "let's play ebay." She needs to make the distinction between game and TOY, in much the same way the creator of Line Rider did.

  7. @monokrome "then people wouldn't sit on it all day hoping to get a sell and posting new items that they've acquired just to sell on EBay."

    Right, what POSSIBLE motive could ppl have for buying and selling goods and services if it weren't for game mechanics?

  8. "Games that are designed not to screw up your life and get you addicted, and thats good for your lifestyle."

    YES! Thank you Amy Jo Kim and ShuffleBrain. I personally am interested in this pursuit myself. I know the importance of this from first hand experience.(myself)

  9. Fantastic presentation! Good solid information which was first presented and then put into relation to concrete situations, making it all stick in my mind. Awesome!

  10. Bah, I watched 20+ minutes of this before realizing that "functional" didn't mean "functional programming". Please don't use words that have a rather strong meaning in the field already 🙁

  11. I can't stand this "game psychology with business applications" bullshit. I know our culture is all about chasing that buck, but to hear people talking about gaming in terms of "keeping people on that treadmill" makes me sick. That's why game apps for your "mobile device" are such garbage; the manipulative money-grab is so transparent.

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