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.

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