Whilst on a plane over the new year break I decided not listen to the safety instructions and instead made the foolish error of looking at the ‘statistics’ page of Flick Football (an iphone game). But by doing this I discovered that I have spent exactly 24 hours 13 mins and 57 seconds playing the game. Over a day! How on earth did that happen?
However, I was immediately distracted from my shock discovery by over hearing one flight stewardess say to another “not one **** [person] was watching that safety demonstration”. I instantly felt sorry for her. Putting in all that effort to perform that routine performance, all the time and money to produce the stylish cartoon visuals showing us how to safely put on an oxygen mask, all wasted because we were playing Flick Football or reading the inflight shopping guide. But my sympathies were short lived as I then thought screw that, the safety demonstration (whilst hugely important) IS boring… no wonder no one watches it.
So it got me thinking about the time, energy and focus I invested in something as trivial as Flick Football and how I could instead overlay the same amount of effort to the safety demonstration. What if… in order to ‘unlock’ the latest release movies on the in-flight entertainment system I had to complete a series of digital challenges that tested the attention I paid to the earlier safety demonstration. Imagine a game on my entertainment system that asked me things like, ‘how many rows are there to your nearest exit’? Or perhaps a fun digital game that used the touch screen challenging me to demonstrate via an avatar the correct order of putting on my life jacket and mask and the child sitting next to me?
Whatever it could be, I bet I would have paid a whole lot more attention to the safety demonstration if there was some gaming activity I had to complete in order to receive something that really mattered… like unlocking Toy Story 3.
Gaming has recently received a lot of attention at the TED talks, with one example being Jane McGonigal discussing how the power of Gaming could be put to use to solve complex world problems, and Seth Priebatsch‘s talk on ‘The game layer on top of the world’. Do check them out… very worthwhile.
And there are loads of recent examples of other brands and events that use gaming dynamics to create interest in their own agenda. Jay Z, to promote the launch of his new book ‘Decoded’, launched a real time scavenger hunt game whereby players could read entire pages from the book weeks ahead of the launch. They had to find the scattered pages across dozens of real life locations in NYC that were cited in some of his songs. Some of the pages were found on billboards, the bottom of a hotel swimming pools, on a pool tables etc. The first player to discover the pages then had a chance to see Jay-Z perform at a New Year’s Eve concert.
Another example is EpicWin, an app that turns ordinary chores and household tasks into an interactive RPG game. You can ‘battle’ your to do list and ‘win skills’ for your character by completing tasks. The more tasks to tick off, the more powerful your player grows and the more rewards you receive.
…a social media toy for toddlers (I know, scary). The toy has 3 slots for different shapes. When the slot is plugged with the appropriate shape the toy sends a status update to the kid’s friends toy by lighting up the status light on their box. Each of the 3 slots represents a task like finishing your dinner, going to bed and cleaning your teeth. When the child performs any of these tasks, they place the appropriate shape into the matching slot and this then relays the information to their friends. This toy uses very simple game dynamics to encourages the kids to clean their teeth for example quicker than their friends… and perhaps even takes some pressure of mum and dad.
All of the above examples, have used gaming dynamics to manipulate behaviour and encourage participation in an activity that would otherwise have had low involvement. So think of an activity that you would like your users to engage in more actively… then spend 10 mins thinking about how various game dynamics might make that activity a little more engaging and perhaps even fun?