Archive for the ‘game applications’ tag
Europe is getting its own “game accelerator” entity with today’s launch of GameFounders. The organization is based in Estonia and it provides advice, a mentor network, and $12,300 to $18,500 (10,000 to 15,000 euros) in seed funding.
GameFounders is taking applications now for a three-month program, with a deadline of July 10. The group says it welcomes applications from game startups of any kind. It plans on including 10 teams into the program for its first class. As game startups become more popular, so too are services for those startups such as accelerators, which help startups get traction faster.
Game accelerators such as YetiZen, Game Dojos and Joystick Labs are in the U.S. GameFounders takes a 9 percent equity stake in return for funding, advice, and office space. It is looking for ideas in gaming and gamification (or the use of game mechanics in non-game applications). GameFounders has more than 60 mentors from around the world. They include veterans such as Paul Bragiel and they have a relationship with Game Dojos in San Francisco. GameFounders is supported by Enterprise Estonia.
Filed under: games
Kuato Studios plans to use artificial intelligence and gaming technology to teach children how to program a computer. As such, it is the latest startup to try to “gamify,” or use game mechanics to foster interest in non-game applications, education.
The company is creating a virtual game world for children and teens to explore. They can perform actions in the world by writing lines of computer code. A tutorial will walk them through the process so that even neophytes can learn programming, said Frank Meehan (pictured below, left), chief executive of London-based Kuato, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The iPad game also does something pretty smart. It adapts its difficulty level based on how well you do with each problem. Meehan showed me a scene where you could set a butterfly free if you correct some corrupted code.
“You’re learning code so you can survive,” Meehan said. “We’ll have graphics that are cool and a game that is fun to play while you learn the core principles of coding, graphic design, and science.”
Kuato has licensed its AI technology from SRI, the same research institute that created the AI technology behind Siri, which spun out of SRI International and was acquired by Apple for use it its iPhone. SRI did ground-breaking work on virtual personal assistant (VPA) technology as part of its Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes (CALO) project started in 2003. Kuato has the license to the technology in the gaming and entertainment industries.
SRI owns an 18 percent stake in Kuato. Kuato’s technology tries to go a step further than Siri, which doesn’t remember your requests. Kuato tries to understand intent and reason, and it builds a profile of you. Then it incorporates that into the game and makes the experience more interactive and adaptive.
“We try to go deeper and understand the player,” Meehan said.
The game is targeting children and teens ages 11 to 15, or the typical age when kids start learning programming. And the game will work on an iPad only and is being designed with Unity 3D development tools.
“Kids want to learn new skills but lots of people who have tried this in the past have failed,” Meehan. “Our approach is that this whole thing wraps around a game.”
The game is about halfway through development and will be released toward the end of the year. (The screen shots are not final and are from the current working prototype). Meehan describes the game as more elaborate than Minecraft. You crash-land on a planet and have to try to terraform it. As you go, you can learn to create creatures and lifeforms on the alien world. The code is executed in a cloud-based server, and the kids learn XML and Java programming, which Meehan says are most appropriate for kids. It’s a different approach from other coding aids such as Code Academy or DreamBox Learning.
Meehan founded the company in November with funding from SRI and Horizons Ventures. Before that, he had been part of the Horizons Ventures team and was a former board member on both Spotify and Siri. He was the leader of a group that created an award-winning 3 Skypephone in 2007 and also the INQ1 handset. His current team includes veterans of video game companies Rockstar Games, Konami, Sony, and other firms.
Brands have embraced “gamification,” or using game-like behavior in non-game applications, as a way to engage their audiences. That is why gamification vendor Badgeville has more than 165 customers and is announcing today that it has raised $25 million in a new round of funding. Kris Duggan, chief executive of Badgeville, says gamification will let brands engage and retain their audiences. It also enables companies to inspire employees to collaborate or compete. Badgeville has a “behavior platform” to enable companies to measure and influence behavior by using game techniques. You can give salespeople rewards for hitting targets. Companies can embed the platform in web, mobile, social, and enterprise applications. Duggan’s team focuses on six “frameworks,” or templates that enable companies to improve behavior. Those include core gamification programs for web sites; programs for rewarding community experts; competitive pyramids; gentle guides for completing tasks such as tutorials; incentives for collaboration; and challenges to create competition with company departments. We caught up with Duggan for an interview on gamification. Here is an edited transcript.
Kris Duggan: Over 165.
GamesBeat: How are you serving them? You must be past the time of customizing solutions for every account?
Duggan: We use what we’re calling the Gamification Frameworks. We believe that we’re the first company to publish a set of frameworks for how to implement gamification in a sophisticated, yet turnkey way.
We’ve actually identified six frameworks that we think constitute the vast majority of the types of use cases that our customers want. This is really where most of our thought leadership is and most of the excitement.
Is every single deployment its own kind of beautiful snowflake, or can this stuff be productized and still be done in a sophisticated way? I think there’s something there. Our company continues to grow. We’re on fire. We’ve got three offices now around the world. We’ve got 70 employees. We think we’ll be at about 200 by the end of next year. We’re adding about one to two a week right now. We’re doing lots of customer-facing deployments as well as lots of employee-facing deployments. It’s a really healthy mix between the two today in terms of the types of deals we’re doing. We’re doing almost 3 billion requests a month on our API servers by now.
Duggan: Every time the system gets hit in order to track a behavior or deliver some type of experience, that’s the volume of interaction that we’re supporting with our hosted SaaS (software as a service) offering. We’ve always been fairly open about revenue. We expect, consistent with what we said at the beginning of the year, sales between $10 million and $20 million dollars this year. We launched the company in September of 2010. So this is our seventh quarter.
GamesBeat: What kind of customers are coming in now?
Duggan: A whole variety. It’s really a combination of companies that are customer-facing and have lots of users and large-scale consumer experiences. Barnes & Noble is one of those. Actually, on our homepage you can see quite a lot of logos rotating. But we’re also starting to see brands and Fortune 1000 and enterprises want to incorporate these experiences for their users or their employees. We’ve even been signing up companies like Saba and Marketo, which are B-to-B software companies that are now incorporating our capability into their experience.
Some of those we can’t talk about, but it’s very consistent with some of the logos you might see on our website, like Dell, Deloitte, and others. I think the biggest breakthrough over the last year is the applicability of gamification. It turns out it’s very applicable any time you have an audience, whether it’s customer-facing, partner-facing, developer-facing, or employee-facing. If you need a technique to drive engagement or drive behavior, you can use gamification to do that, and it turns out it’s applicable to lots of different things.
GamesBeat: I see you guys have some kind of stat on the Google search term. How often does “gamification” show up there?
Duggan: A year and a half ago it was like 700 results, and now it’s like 3.3 million a month. If you want to find a category to bet on, usually the pace in adoption of the terminology is probably a decent indicator.
Duggan: I think there’s a bunch of macro trends in play. We’re kind of at the intersection of those trends. People are expecting modern experiences, whether they’re on websites, a mobile app, an enterprise app, or whatever it is. Social is driving a lot of that.
You could talk about how big data is and how collecting data and acting on data and having insight from data is also kind of a major trend.
You could talk about games and how social gaming has revolutionized experiences and what people spend on their time on nowadays. This understanding that games and the behavior around games is becoming more pervasive in our society. I think those are the big three: social, modern experiences, big data and insight, and games, the rise of social gaming.
Those are the macro trends, but there are also two major problems which gamification addresses. These are timeless problems, but probably are more exacerbated. The first problem is, customer loyalty is fleeting, and so businesses need to do whatever they can to retain and engage customers, particularly in this ever-growing, competitive landscape.
Secondly, employee performance is not where it needs to be in terms of employee productivity. We could spend a lot more time talking about that if you like, but if you look at the last five years of enterprise software, there has been a trillion dollars worth of software that’s been sold over that period, and [analyst firm]Forrester Research claims that only 50 percent of the software is being adopted by employees.
In fact, in some categories like social software, only 12 percent of that software is being adopted. And so imagine on the employee side, you’ve got all of these technologies, all of these employees, all this chaos, and you need to drive performance and productivity. It turns out that gamification is a very effective weapon against those issues. Improving customer loyalty and employee performance are age-old challenges, and it turns out that we’ve got a solution to solve those problems.
GamesBeat: I see there’s a wave here that’s lifting your competitors BigDoor as well as Bunchball.
Duggan: Yeah, I think that’s right. A rising tide raises all ships. We do think that we are synonymous with gamification. We do think that we’re the clear leader in the category, the gold standard if you will. But I agree, this is good for everyone in the category, and we should all celebrate that.
I do think we have the most employees, the most expertise, the most customers, the most revenue, the most deployments, and the most funding… The only thing we don’t have is “been around the longest.” (That belongs to Bunchball). And actually I don’t think you want to be the winner in that category. One of the other companies was a good company, but with totally wrong timing. We like to think that our timing was impeccable.
GamesBeat: So what’s an example of a framework?
Duggan: So now let’s talk about gamification frameworks. We have 150 customers, a ton of deployments, and what we learned is that you can slice and dice those into, obviously, as we’ve been talking about, internal and external. And then the other dimension is about the degree of competitiveness, collaborativeness, or solo experience that you’re trying to drive.
Companies can self-diagnose. They can now determine what type of gamification they should deploy. Obviously we provide technology beyond the just the cloud leadership. We even give you prepackaged widgets to rapidly create these experiences on your website, mobile app, or enterprise app. We just go through a couple of examples.
We really want to focus on building community. And we call that the community expert framework. Physically, you would orient that around a forum or experience or a discussion type of experience. Rather than just doing the good old-fashioned badging and achievements and missions, that kind of stuff, what actually works really well here is to allow users to demonstrate expertise by creating quality content. This is probably more oriented around reputation than it is around gamification, but it’s very a clear use case that is about earning status and demonstrating expertise than it is just unlocking achievements.
Duggan: We have the internal-use case and solo-driven. It’s not social or community-oriented, and it’s not competitive. It’s what we call a gentle guide. A gentle guide is being very clear on guidance and direction. A gentle guide allows you to take monotonous, redundant tasks and organize them in a game framework that encourages compliance around those things.
Imagine you’re at Safeway and you wanted the store manager to do tasks. Every single day you have to go out and check things, start the inventory, set up the floor displays, pay the employees, and file these things. Gentle guide would be perfect for that.
And then we have what we call that company challenge. That is perfect for things like sales teams, where we’re going to add a layer on top of SalesForce.com or whatever customer relationship management (CRM) software they’re using, and we want to really drive competition, performance, and management around key metrics, and services performing or not performing.
GamesBeat: Do you see more use of gamification for company competition or company collaboration?
Duggan: I think it depends on the application in each case. If you came to me and said, “We have Lithium and now we want to extend that concept into over applications across our enterprise,” or, “We have Jive and we want to extend that concept and collaboration spirit across other applications,” then I think company collaborator, which is the internal version of community expert, would be perfect for that. Let’s create a reputation system that doesn’t foster competition but actually fosters expertise and recognition around really being a quality contributor. Or I’ve got a sales team or a support, help desk team, and these are really clear metrics. We just want to recognize the top performers and shame the non-performers. Then I would say company challenge would be a perfect use case for you. I think this is a big breakthrough.
Duggan: Up until this point, some providers have only had one game. Or it’s the other extreme, where every single deployment is its own unique kind of major development effort. Full custom. And so imagine having, now, the ability to solve 90 percent of these use cases with these six game frameworks.
GamesBeat: Yeah, that seems like an easier way to get customers on board. They can more easily figure out what they want to do.
Duggan: It’s almost like a restaurant, you know? Before it was like we only had one meal. Everybody had to eat the same meal — and I’m talking about the industry, by the way, not us — the industry had either one meal, or everything was like, “Well, tell me what kind of food you like.”
Duggan: Right. Everybody would have to go through that, right? “Well, tell me what kind of food you’d like to eat. Do you like hot food, cold food, spicy food?” And it would take a long time to implement things. Now we just say, “Here’s the menu,” and you can choose from number one through six.
GamesBeat: How do you put these into effect, then? Are all of these sort of modules that have an equal cost to them, or are they very different in terms of how much they cost?
Duggan: These all come with our platform. It’s more of a question of: Which capabilities do you want to leverage when you implement? This isn’t just like a packaging exercise. This was a very large development effort because every single thing, every feature that goes into being able to deliver one of these six game frameworks, had to be built into our core platform. Like the ability to assign tasks to a store manager at Safeway, and then to visualize tasks, and to make them actually reset every day or every quarter or every month. The ability to create teams, like sales teams, by region. All of those features are now implemented into our platform. You don’t have to worry about all the deep features. All you have to do is say, this is the package of solutions that we want to apply to our problem. We provide all of the widgets and visuals as well beyond just the core feature set. Per framework.
Duggan: We could spend a good half an hour on that. We have a whole set of metrics, actually, organized by verticals and by use case and by behaviors, where we look at what behaviors they’re trying to drive and what kinds of lifts we can deliver for those types of behaviors.
A year and a half ago it was kind of like, “Who even knows if any of this stuff will work?” We talked about that a long time ago. “Will this even work?” And then we built enough data to show that it’s very effective. But then the question was, “Well, it works on that, but does it really work on these other kinds of things as well?” And it turns out, by the way, it works on those things as well.
And so, depending on the types of behaviors, we can show the lift by either engagement, retention, or conversion. And some example lifts that we’ve actually delivered, that we could send to you if you’d like to see that.
GamesBeat: Yeah. It looks like you guys are in an interesting growth market here. What would you say about your road map, I guess? How the rest of the year is going to look?
Duggan: The one thing that we are really excited about is the guy that we’ve hired to be VP of product. You probably remember, I was the VP of product for the last year and a half. I interviewed over 50 people, and I ended up hiring Chris Duskin. It’s funny, he sounds like Kris Duggan, but it’s Chris Duskin. We hired him from Adobe. He ran all of their recommendation products, testing products, AP testing products. And now we’re just going to go deep into the platform. We’ve got lots of customers, lots of data, lots of capabilities, and we want to continue to invest in all of the things that we believe allow us to measure and influence user behavior.
GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat’s fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500+ execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry’s latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your early-bird tickets here.
Lots of tool makers claim they can enable anyone to build games, but that usually just applies to professionals who already have development experience. With today’s introduction of Jumala, Blade Games World wants to extend game creation to just about everyone.
Jumala isn’t just a set of development tools. It’s actually a destination world where you can make and share 3D games with your friends. It is jumping on the twin trends of gamification (the use of game-like rewards in non-game applications) and user-generated content.
“We make building a game into a game itself,” said Virl Hill, chief executive of Blade Games World, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It is a way to make it fun and accessible for everybody.”
With Jumala, you can create 3D games using an interface that requires no technical skills. The more you create, the more you can unlock the ability to create more complex and interesting games. You can collaborate with friends and earn in-game currency that you can spend on virtual items that you can use in your games. The Jumala Marketplace has thousands of game creation content items.
The company showed Jumala off for the first time today at the DEMO Spring 2012 conference in Santa Clara, California. The trend toward game creation is clear with the popularity of titles including The Sims, Minecraft, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. All of those titles allow users to create their own experiences and share them with others, but they limit how much users can create.
On stage at DEMO, Hill said, “Jumala makes a game out of making a game.”
With Jumala, players can mix and match art styles, game behaviors, and visual and sound effects. Players can also collaborate in game creation. While other worlds are block-oriented, Jumala’s world is more realistic and visually rich. I’ve seen a demo and it’s easy enough to create things. You can, for instance, plop down trees in the world on angled hills and when you flatten the ground, the trees will face in the correct direction, upward. You can also link objects such as a hidden switch. By clicking on a “link” button on the switch, you can order it to operate a far away gate. The gate will open when the switch is on, and it will close when the switch is off. You could hide the switch to make the game harder. It is simple things like this that make it easier for a novice to design a game.
Enemies have artificial intelligence and will attack you if they see you. As the game creator, you just plop them down in the environment. You don’t have to program them.
Once you are done creating your game,you can test it with your friends and then invite the larger Jumala public to play the game. At some point in the future, it might be possible to take your creation and put it on another platform. But for now, your game stays in the Jumala world and you can share links to it on places such as Facebook.
The beta is available for Windows (7, Vista, and XP) users. Hill said the key is making game design simple. Jumala uses templates (such as a spooky marsh or alien galaxy) as the foundations for game settings. Users can fill out the games by dragging and dropping objects into the terrain. They can change the lighting, backgrounds, and behaviors of game characters. The result is a unique experience that others can play. The more your games are played, the more you earn rewards.
Bellevue, Washington-based Blade Games World was founded some time ago when startup game tool developer Digini acquired Chinese game content outsourcing company Vyk.
It shifted into this different direction in 2009 when the new leadership realized that the technology could be used to “democratize” game development. The company has 13 employees and competes with rivals such as GameSalad and Roblox. The company is targeting game fans from ages 13 to 35. The initial games will be simple, but over time, Jumala will expand to enable the creation of racing games, shooters, and educational titles. In the future, third parties will be able to add additional content to Jumala and sell it to users.
The business model is not built on creating hit games, but in enabling millions of people to create games just for fun. Revenue will come from the sale of virtual goods. Hill said that the beta test so far has produced interesting results.
Investors include California Technology Ventures, China Seed Ventures, and private parties. The company raised $4 million in March 2009 and intends to start another round of investment. The title is free-to-play and the company makes money selling virtual goods. Eventually, third parties will be able to upload their own virtual goods for sale.
“Our business model doesn’t require a hit game to be successful,” Hill said. “We make it possible for everyone to create a game.”
Blade Games World is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
Spaceport.io, an HTML5, mobile game creation platform, has raised a strategic round of funding from a number of investors including BBC Worldwide and YouWeb, a previous investor. While financial terms of the funding were not not disclosed, we hear the round was in the millions.
Basically, Spaceport allows developers continue writing games with Adobe’s Flash desktop-based authoring and content creation tools while making the games instantly usable on iOS, Android and HTML5. The platform automatically converts Flash animations created in Adobe tools as “SWF” files into Spaceport vector graphics. These are then rendered on iOS and Android devices by the high performance GPU-based rendering engine in Spaceport as opposed to the much slower and battery-hogging Flash plug-in which utilizes the CPU.
As part of the investment, BBC Worldwide will be using Spaceport.io’s technology to design a number of games and apps. Spaceport.io’s Chairman Peter Relan tells us that the BBC intends to develop three types of applications : pure games, edutainment apps, as well as pure entertainment apps.
Robert Nashak, BBC Worldwide EVP Digital Entertainment & Games said of the partnership: “Spaceport is the leading HTML5 game development platform for creating high-performance game applications. This partnership signals our continued support of innovative new businesses like spaceport.io and will allow fans of BBC Worldwide brands to access to our latest games on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems.”
BBC Worldwide has already been playing in the game development space, releasing almost 40 titles with over 6 million physical and download versions of games such as Top Gear Stunt School and Doctor who Mazes of Time. The first project from BBC Worldwide and Spaceport.io is due for launch summer 2012.
The new funding will be used to hire additional staff as well as develop Spaceport.io’s HTML5 technology and flash compatible native performance technology.
A deal with the BBC is a big deal for the company. Until now, Spaceport.io has been focused on the Indie game developer community, explains Relan. A partnership with a major media organization should help to expand the reach of the platform.
More and more businesses are using gamification to create brand awareness and drive user engagement.
Gartner, Inc. predicts that more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.
“Gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” (From Gamification Wiki)
What follows is an A-Z guide of 26 elements you should be aware of when you consider a gamification marketing strategy for your business.
#1: Achievers (Bartle’s Types)
Understanding the ways in which people may interact with a game can be essential information for designers. Many discussions of gamification include references to Richard Bartle‘s four player types: Achievers, Explorers, Killers and Socialites.
Nicoholas Yee does a nice job of summarizing Bartle’s types. Achievers, he says,
“Are driven by in-game goals, usually some form of points gathering—whether experience points, levels or money.”
(Note: The other three types will be discussed below in #5 Explorers, #11 Killers and #19 Socialites.)
#2: Badges as a Reward
Kevin Warhus writes,
“Since the dawn of Foursquare and a variety of other social check-ins, rewards and badges have become all the rage… Companies big and small have long ago realized that it is a great way to connect with customers and reward them for the use of their service… people naturally enjoy being praised for their actions and collecting proof of their invested time and energy to show off to their friends.”
Think about it: What badges have you earned via social games? Why have they mattered to you?
A recent gamification study conducted by Stephanie Hermann found that game challenges must be tailor-made to address desired target groups.
“One must consider the context of the underlying application and the user’s state within the player life cycle to sustain user engagement.”
Furthermore, her research suggests that challenges within gamified applications cannot be generalized and no one-size-fits-all exists. The challenge setup must be tailor-made depending on the context and the target audience and should involve diverse challenges.
An important consideration for businesses as they think about integrating games into their brand experiences is to know the demographics of gamers.
Statistics from the 2011 Los Angeles Games Conference revealed that:
“50% of gamers are reported as being female, 30% are over 45, and in the U.S. there are 40 million active social gamers (who play at least 1 hour a week), and there are over 200 million gamers on Facebook.”
#5: Explorers (Bartle’s Type)
Nicholas Yee describes Explorers as being:
“Driven to find out as much as they can about the virtual construct—including mapping its geography and understanding the game mechanics.”
#6: Flow Theory
Flow theory was proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian psychology professor who says that in flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized and aligned with the task at hand. Flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity—not even oneself or one’s emotions.
Csíkszentmihályi identifies ten factors of flow.
- Clear goals
- A high degree of concentration
- A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness
- Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
- Direct and immediate feedback
- Balance between ability level and challenge
- A sense of personal control over the situation or activity
- The activity is intrinsically rewarding
- A lack of awareness of bodily needs
- Absorption into the activity
(Note: Not all ten need to be experienced for flow to exist.)
#7: Gifts (Game Mechanics)
Gifts are one of several types of mechanics used in games to motivate users. While some games may utilize real-world gifts in the form of money, gift cards, etc., many games motivate players with virtual gifts; e.g., flowers, badges.
#8: Having Fun Is Okay
Mario Herger says that in his work in the field of gamification he has come up against many negative responses to businesses “gamifying” a user’s experience. He says one common argument he hears is:
“We are doing serious business and don’t have time for fun at work.”
Mario suggests that you can counter that comment by asking why the person considers fun and serious work to be mutually exclusive. As he says,
“World of Warcraft players created the second-largest Wiki after Wikipedia. Children understand the world through play and fun.”
Do fun and work need to be mutually exclusive for your business?
#9: Incentivizing Online Activities
Perhaps one of the essentials of gamified applications and websites is incentivization, where companies incentivize certain activities and then award credits and gifts for desired behaviors.
As discussed in demographics, to know about your users may give you good ideas for how to best incentivize their activities, help keep them in the game and make them loyal customers.
#10: Just So You Know
Sometimes these kinds of things matter to people, so just in case it does to you, “Gamification” was added to the Oxford Dictionary 2011 Word of the Year Short List!
Suffice it to say, you’ll be seeing the word around more and more.
#11: Killers (Bartle’s Type)
According to Nicholas Yee,
“Killers use the virtual construct to cause distress on other players, and gain satisfaction from inflicting anxiety and pain on others.”
Leaderboards are one of the major features of games. They are defined on the Gamification Wiki as:
“A means by which users can track their performance subjective to others. Leaderboards visually display where a user stands in regards to other users. They are implemented on sites to show which players have unlocked the most achievements. The desire to appear on the Leaderboards drives players to earn more achievements, in turn fueling deep engagement.”
#13: Motivational Design
It’s essential to consider what motivates players when you think about creating an effective and successful design for a game.
Gabe Zichermann writes,
“Good gamification design seeks to understand and align an organization’s objectives with a player’s intrinsic motivation (an innate drive to do something, or your pursuit of activities that are rewarding in and of themselves). Then, through the use of extrinsic rewards and intrinsically satisfying design, move the player through their journey of mastery. This journey requires elements such as desire, incentive, challenge, reward and feedback to create engagement.”
#14: Not the Opposite of Work
Dr. Stuart Brown states in his TED talk, “Play is not the opposite of work.” Instead, think of play as being at the root of gamification and when done well, people can engage in playful activities and still do business at the same time.
#15: Organizational Goals
We’ve already discussed game design from several perspectives, but as Jeroen van Bree suggests, games should appeal on three levels: personal, organizational and societal.
From the organizational standpoint, games should contribute to an organization’s goals; e.g., getting foot traffic into a brick-and-mortar store, demonstrating the personality of your brand and demonstrating your core values.
Thinking about the organizational goals of your game will make it a win-win for everyone involved.
#16: Progress Bar (Game Mechanics)
Believe it or not, the profile completeness bar on LinkedIn can be seen as an example of game mechanics. By seeing how much more complete the profile needs to be, many people will be driven to take steps to 100% completion with the promise of being able to take advantage of LinkedIn’s more advanced features.
#17: Quantifiable Outcomes
We’ve established by now that a game can be both fun and serious business for an organization while adhering to organizational goals. But like any other strategy or tactic you might employ, you’ll also want to figure out ways to quantify the outcome.
Through gamification analytics you’ll want to track things such as user participation, daily activities and users by achievement and levels. And ultimately, you’ll want to know if you have impacted the consumer’s relationship to your business in a positive way.
Kris Duggan has some important insights into rewards. He writes,
“Status and virtual rewards are only as valuable as the community in which they are awarded and displayed. Smart gamification requires a deep integration of a rewards program across a brand’s entire user experience, whether that be on its main homepage, mobile app, community, blog or any other digital touchpoint with the brand.”
Make your community a valuable user experience where users will be proud to participate and as a result will be more inclined to value your rewards.
#19: Socialites (Bartle’s Type)
According to Nicholas Yee, Socialites, or Socializers as he calls them,
“Use the virtual construct to converse and role-play with their fellow gamers.”
Now that we’ve explored all four player types, are you curious about what kind of gamer you’d be?
Bartle’s paper led to the development of the Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology, a 30-question test designed to characterize the behavior preferences of gamers. You can take the test at GamerDNA.
#20: Tactics and Gamification
So how do we go about understanding tactics and gamification and the ways it will help businesses promote themselves?
Identitymine‘s recent post sums it up nicely with the following statement:
“Marketing tactics within gamification are the incentives that drive the audience to move towards your strategic goal, which can be to create awareness, make sales or identify new leads. The point is not to make a game but to incorporate game mechanics into a marketing effort.”
In other words, not a game for the sake of playing a game but making sure you’re always cognizant of the reasons you’ve employed games—namely for brand awareness, to identify and generate leads and make sales.
#21: Users’ Needs and Goals
Dustin DiTommaso discusses a number of questions to help businesses as they set out to research the games for their users:
Who are your users?
- What are their needs and goals? Why are they playing?
- What’s holding them back from achieving their potential? Is it lack of volition (belief that completing the task at hand is valuable) or lack of faculty (ability to complete the task)?
- What is their primary playing style (solo, competitive, cooperative)?
- Who are they playing with?
- What social actions do they find enjoyable, and why?
- What metrics do they care about?
There are a number of motivational drivers and DiTommaso recommends you simplify to four key factors. Decide if your users are motivated by:
- Achievement of goals or enjoyment of experience
- Structure and guidance or freedom to explore
- Control of others or connecting with others
- Self-interest in actions or social interest in actions
Have you created a game for your business? How did you get to know your users?
#22: Virtual Environments and Engagement
“What is it that attracts so many people to become so deeply engaged in these virtual environments?”
Maybe it has something to do with the human need to play? A way to try to master our worlds and our experiences? Or maybe it’s about our desire for distraction or our need to find a way to relax from the usual demands of our day?
Whatever the reasons are, it’s clear that game designers and businesses are using the virtual environment to their advantage and capitalizing on users’ engagement.
Will you gamify any parts of your business?
#23: Website Invigoration
Douglas MacMillan says that gamification has been invigorating stale websites and turning them into video games.
“Video game designers have spent the last few decades perfecting the art of making their products addictive. Now traditional companies are building loyalty for their websites using so-called gamification techniques. Tactics such as leaderboards, which encourage users to compete against one another for points, are becoming common across the Web.”
Tom Edwards lists examples of 15 brands using gamification and the specific mechanisms they use to engage users:
- Xbox Live—achievements, leaderboards
- Foursquare—badges, rewards
- Gowalla—badges, pins
- LinkedIn—progress bar
- SalesForce—leaderboard, achievements, leveling
- Mint—achievements, progress bar
- CheckPoints—virtual currency, rewards
- ShopKick—virtual currency, rewards, contests
- Hallmark—Facebook credits, virtual goods, gifting, sharing
- Starbucks—leveling, rewards
- Nike—achievements, badges, challenges, rewards
- Buffalo Wild Wings—trivia, challenges
- Microsoft—achievements, contests
- American Airlines—progress bar
And here’s an example I’ll add that many Social Media Examiner readers may recognize—Social Media Examiner’s Networking Clubs—leaderboard, points, and badges.
As you move around your day and week, notice the places where businesses are using games; e.g., local coffee shop, supermarket, gas station, electronics stores and online merchants. You may be surprised!
#25: (Wh)y Do You Want to Gamify?
Dustin DiTommaso recommends you ask a series of questions:
- What is the reason for gamifying your product or service?
- How does it benefit the user?
- Will they enjoy it?
“If you can answer these questions with confidence, if gamification seems like a good fit for your business’ product or service and if the users enjoy it, then move on to exploring your business goals.”
DiTommaso also recommends you explore the following three questions:
- What are your business goals?
- How do get the users to fulfill those business goals?
- What actions do you want users to take?
The more information you have, the better the chance you’ll have at designing an effective and relevant gaming experience.
#26: Zeitgeist at the Appropriate Time
Whether you love the term or concepts of “gamification” or not, it’s clear that in a few short years, it has caught on.
As Gabe Zichermann writes,
“The term has entered the popular lexicon… as with most powerful tech neologisms, it’s probably not going anywhere, and no small part of its success is that it genuinely is the first viable term to encapsulate the concept of using game concepts outside of games. It has also hit the zeitgeist at the appropriate time.”
What do you think? What experiences have you had with game-based marketing either personally or as part of your business? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.
Gamification, the use of game-like rewards in non-game applications, is moving into reality TV. Badgeville will provide gamified achievements to the multiplatform reality TV series Ford Escape Routes, where six teams of two people compete in a road trip competition from city to city.
Viewers at home will participate in real-time on EscapeRoutes.com, helping their favorite team win. The viewers can help out the teams by playing interactive challenges and games online. Badgeville provides those challenges.
“Badgeville’s technology enabled the team at Rokkan to easily deploy their strategic, creative, and technical visions around this new interactive form of entertainment,” said Jim Blackwelder, executive technical director at Rokkan. “We selected Badgeville as one of our key technology partners because of their flexible and powerful gamification platform. Working with Badgeville’s unique features, we were able to easily build a sophisticated and unique gamified user experience that couldn’t have been achieved otherwise.”
Ford Escape Routes airs Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. eastern on NBC and will also air on mun2, the leading bi-cultural cable network for young Latino Americans, Saturdays at 11 p.m. eastern.
Filed under: games
Job-search site Identified.com found that most job seekers don’t provide all the information in their online profiles that recruiters need to know. To get them to do that, Identified.com has gamified the job search.
The San Francisco-based company says that a combination of social networking and gamification — the use of game-like achievements and rewards in non-game applications — can encourage young people to provide the right information that can land them better jobs.
Identified.com is part of a growing number of companies using gamification to empower consumers in areas ranging from dating to fitness, energy use, and healthcare.
Identified.com has reached four million active users in the past six months. The average age of users is 23.5 years, and 90 percent are under 35. By contrast, 60 percent of LinkedIn’s users are 35 and over. That means it’s harder to find job candidates on LinkedIn, because many older people have established careers. Identified.com is now adding a million users a week.
Identified.com requires users to fill out their detailed professional profiles and create a short-form resume to find out their Identified Score. The average user adds 10 additional professional data points to his or her profile such as school, major, grade point average, graduation year, past employers, job titles, and other background.
The Identified Score shows a user how they are ranked by companies in terms of how desirable they are. Identified.com also offers scores for schools and companies.
By offering game-like rewards, the gamification technique gets users to fill out otherwise boring information. The scores are not just vanity points. Rather, they represent the value of key information that is currently in demand by employers. Identified.com also makes it easy to import data from a Facebook profile to its own profile system.
“Critical information that recruiters need to hire literally does not exist in one place online for young people,” said co-founder and co-chief executive Brendan Wallace. “Generation Y is nearly invisible to employers, so this technique is key.”
He added, “We constantly hear that the pain point among employers is sourcing the education and job information of the 18-29 year-old demographic, but Facebook is a great starting point.”
Engineers who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now in high demand across the country. Employers can find them, if the information is in the engineers’ profiles.
Recruiters say that 92 percent of Facebook profiles do not contain enough publicly available education and employment information (major, graduation year, job title) for recruiters to qualify potential candidates for jobs.
Identified found that more than 72 percent of Facebook users who come to Identified.com add new information that is not part of their Facebook profile to create “short-form resumes” online. That makes the candidates easier to recruit.
Identified.com was founded in 2010 by Wallace and Adeyemi Ajao, who conceived while doing research at Stanford University. The company now has 52 employees. It has raised $5.5 million from venture capitalists Tim Draper, Bill Draper, and others.
When Kim first broke the news that Zynga was in talks to buy Draw Something developer OMGPOP, she noted that one other suitor was the Japanese social gaming giant GREE, which had already made a name for itself in buying U.S. gaming companies, picking up OpenFeint in April 2011 for $104 million.
Now that Zynga has, in fact, bought OMGPOP, where does that leave GREE? In a partnership with a local player, the advertising giant Dentsu. Announced just today, GREE says Dentsu will help promote its games, acquire content and potentially make other investments.
It’s telling that the announcement came less than 24 hours after Zynga confirmed its purchase of OMGPOP, a deal thought to be in the region of $210 million. It shows just how heated the competition is among social gaming companies right now for content and mindshare among users and investors.
GREE — whose social gaming network currently reaches around 190 million players with some 7,500 game applications — has yet to reveal many details of what, exactly, Dentsu will be doing to promote games, but for now it looks very much like an international play: not only has GREE made moves to expand its presence in the U.S. but it notes that Dentsu is active in 28 countries and “will use its global reach and expertise to promote the GREE brand internationally.”
In terms of M&A, the two say they will be making content acqusitions (let’s think of what other social gaming targets are out there at the moment); and they will also be making venture investments.
Again, for now, we don’t have any figures on the size of a potential fund, but one area that is likely to be a focus is mobile advertising and marketing: not only does that play to Dentsu’s strengths but is also an essential cornerstone for how social games have generated revenues to date. It’s also an area ripe for more innovative development beyond simple banners and other kinds of exisitng, in-app promotions.
Dentsu is no stranger to mobile, although some of its efforts have been decidedly under the radar (if not totally dormant) since being announced.
One of them was a partnership with Apple for its iAd mobile advertising effort, in which Dentsu became Apple’s exclusive partner to sell and develop ads for iAd inventory in Japan.
Although the iAd business appears to be growing, from its launch in 2010, it had a lot teething problems related to complaints about minimum ad spends and the kind of control that Apple had originally wanted to wield over ads, to the chagrin of brands and their marketing partners. More recently Apple has reportedly softened its approach with lower and more flexible pricing, among other changes.
King.com has more than 150 games on the web. In the past year, it successfully moved five of the games to Facebook, garnering 23.8 million monthly active users on the social network. And today, the company is launching its first game on the Google+ social network.
The company is unveiling its most popular game, Bubble Witch Saga, on Google’s social network, which now has more than 90 million users. If the company succeeds there, it will have a brand new platform with the potential to generate lots of users and revenues for the years ahead.
Alex Dale, chief marketing officer at London-based King.com, said that the company has slowly moved its games over onto the social networks because it is focusing on making quality casual social experiences. In the process, the company has added a social layer to its games, which offer prizes for winners.
“It takes a lot of time, effort and creativity to do great games,” Dale said.
So far, it has moved over its most successful titles, and is doing so again with Bubble Witch Saga, which has four million daily active users on Facebook. The game has been played 1.5 billion times on Facebook, mostly by women ages 25 and up.
“We want all of our games to run across multiple platforms,” Dale said. “We look forward to having a good relationship with Google. This is virgin territory, but it has been easy to do.”
Dale said the Googe+ game applications programming interface made it easy to port Bubble Witch Saga. More games will be ported in the future. King.com has more than 30 million unique players and a billion games played a month across platforms that include the web, Facebook, Goolge+, Android and iOS. King.com was started in 2003 and it has more than 100 employees. Rivals include Worldwinner, Prize Room, Game Duell, and YooMee Games.