Nadya Direkova of Google: Game On!

(Note: Putting this in our Reinvention SXSW category because I think adding gaming elements requires you to think outside the box of the typical transactional/meat and potatoes experiences we have interacting with many digital properties. You have to up the ante in your thinking to make user experience game-like and thus more fun!)

This is what every SXSW panel should be like in my humble opinion. In Game On: Design Patterns for User Engagement, the very charming and clearly-sharp-as-a-tack Ms. Direkova led us on an exploration of incorporating gaming elements in your work and the “gamification” seen in many popular digital properties. Think gaming features are lame? Then chew on stats like registration increasing 200% on one site when gaming elements were incorporated — and the opportunity to harvest lots of analytics to throw at the feet of your doubtful bosses/clients post-launch. Eat those apples! Nadya elaborated three aspects to consider for the user journey:

1) “Come & Try It”: “You can’t over-reward a player in the first 10 minutes.” Entice newcomers to your property with trophies/badges, provide solid visual storytelling to perfectly illustrate the process of using/gaining/buying product at hand. Allow directional cues like highlighting/darkening to encourage a user to click around and explore and uncover information.
2) “Social”: What social interaction can you offer? If a user can have at least 5 ‘friends’ in your interaction set-up, you increase return visits tenfold. Think of sharing achievements in Xbox, chances for mischief like toilet papering someone’s barn in Farmville, allowing a chance for a user to gain a reputation like in eBay.
3) “Player, Come Back”: How can you encourage return engagement? How about allowing a clear newbie and advanced path, each with its own rewards to strive for. How about prodding people with an ongoing list of quests? How about introducing locked content that OCD people will HAVE to open no matter what? How about introducing scarce items that inspire lust and require continuing ongoing visitation to resume ?

This is Ms. Direkova’s wit and insights in a very rough nutshell. She mentioned posting her very extensive presentation after SXSW and if a link comes I will post it in my Comments section just below for you.

If nothing else…MAKE A GAME of it all! Bet your bosses and clients you can improve user experience and participation! Challenge your kids to see who can get dressed for school ‘first’! Game theory implementation knows no bounds in your life!

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