Enterprise Playability, Gamification

The Cocaine Thing

cocaine_iconSo this is apparently a thing: Video games tap into the same pleasure centers in the brain that are affected by cocaine. It’s true. There are studies and stuff. Even books.

So it seems like a good idea to do something awesome with that information. Why not use that ever-so-simple fact to inspire better enterprise software? Seems like a natural enough progression. If we really want to engage users, we should learn lessons from cocaine dealers. We should treat our users like cocaine users (in a good way, of course).

Full disclosure: I’ve never sold cocaine. Turns out I’ve never even used it (I only recently moved to LA). So the following ideas are pretty much sourced from movies, not real life. But how different can they be?

Here are eight lessons we can learn from cocaine dealers:

  1. The first one’s always free
    Give users their first reward for doing little or nothing at all. The first reward should be just for showing up. Even if users haven’t signed in yet, they should feel like you already appreciate them, and have lots of rewards to give them.
  2. The next score should always be within reach
    It should always be clear to users how they will get their next reward, and the tasks needed to get that reward should never feel like too much work.
  3. It will take more and more to satisfy the jones over time
    Bigger and bigger achievements should always be just down the road. The same bonus for showing up won’t satisfy users every time. They need to feel like they’ve done more, and are being rewarded for more, each time. Balance this with number two, above.
  4. If we do not satisfy the jones, our users will crash out
    If a user can’t score, that user won’t come back. That user will disengage and wander off, and re-engaging that user will be exceedingly difficult.
  5. Users in a crisis will not be loyal to your brand
    Again, if a user can’t score, that user won’t come back. That user will go to someone else, someone who provides the rewards they are looking for. If you are not helping your users get what they need, they will find someone who does.
  6. Users need you, and will come to you
    You help users get what they want. You make their misery tolerable. You are what they think about when you are not around. If those things are not true, you are not selling cocaine (or anything like it). If they are true, users will keep on coming back to you.
  7. Users won’t always keep reasonable hours
    Availability, reliability, and ubiquity are must-haves in your industry. Your users will be thinking about you at all hours, and will seek rewards whenever the thought crosses their minds. You must be there for them at all times.
  8. Users party in all kinds of places
    Wherever your users go, you need to be ready to support them. Be there for them at work, at home, and everywhere. Let them get their fix anywhere they go. Always be there for them, and always be ready to party.

Too much of a stretch? Maybe. Maybe not. But engaging users, and designing a user experience that keeps users coming back, is not easy. This is probably just what you need.

Gamification

Real Rewards?

The question comes up often in designing gamified systems: Are the rewards actually worth anything? Can I trade then in for something?

Great article addressing the topic: Motivating Through Games.

At MOC1 we ran an experiment on this very topic, to see if rewards with little or no value (we used Post-It notes, each with a star scribbled on it) worked as a motivator. The experiment was short-lived, but highly successful. Team members responded brilliantly.

The notes themselves were posted to a bulletin board, under the names of the team members who earned them. So it was a leaderboard. It was clear that the notes themselves weren’t what people wanted, but rather to see a stack of stars under their names, and to have more than their teammates.

The team also responded well to Post-It stars given to the team on days when everyone on the team earned a star.

At one point one of the team members approached me to ask “Are these stars worth anything? Can we trade them in for something?” I just said “Right now I’m not sure.” It had no effect, positive or negative, on anyone’s behavior.

Our conclusion was that seemingly empty rewards are a strong motivator, when shown in a leaderboard.

Gamification

Watch Magic Leap’s Video Of Seamless Augmented Reality Office Game Play

TechCrunch

Magic Leap is showing what it might look like to use its hardware for augmented reality gaming in the future, with a new demo of what the team is apparently “playing in the office” right now. The interface, which includes non-game interaction and then a short demo of an in-office virtual shooter experience, was created in tandem with Weta Workshop, a concept art studio responsible for work on projects like Lord of the Rings.

The brief video shows examples of interacting with YouTube and Gmail apps, along with browsing a menu system for OS-level interaction. The person in the video from whose perspective it’s apparently shot then selects a shooter game, tests out a weapon after choosing from a variety of options, does some tower-defence style stuff by placing a current and fights some visually impressive but fairly generic baddies.

The video was posted with an apology for Magic…

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Enterprise Playability

Motivation and Ease of Use

motivation_iconThe key components of Enterprise Playability are gamification and video-game-like usability. When designing an app with EP, a couple of important  questions must be addressed early on: What should users be rewarded for? And which functionality should be playable? Two of the fundamentals of EP are:

  1. Make it easy for users to meet their own goals
  2. Reward users for meeting business goals

Understanding user goals is just as important as understanding business goals. In user-centered design, designers must capture and design for both. 

Great video games are easy to play because they make it easy for users to understand what to do and how to do it. They keep users engaged by rewarding for meeting specific goals. Think of an arcade shooter: You pick up a gun and shoot at stuff. Fun! Easy to get! Your simple user goals (“shoot stuff,” “blow stuff up”) are easy to achieve. Your score, however, is tied to shooting the right stuff, and also not shooting the old lady holding a bag of groceries. Those are the business goals, and you get points when you get them right. 

In an enterprise app, core functionality should support the primary goals of the users, and make them easy to achieve . Rewards should motivate users to meet business goals. Think of a point of sale app. The user wants to inform customers, make sales, and get a big fat commission check. Management wants to sell more of the high-margin items, capture customer phone numbers for follow-up contact, and keep customers coming back. 

So the easiest activities in the app should be:

  • Sell stuff
  • Get information about stuff
  • Sell more stuff

Rewards should be for:

  • Selling the right stuff
  • Capturing customer contact info
  • Repeat visits from happy customers 

The end result is happy users who are excited about doing their best to meet business goals.