Last week I met up with Kam Star, the Chief Play Officer at PlayGen, a UK based games consultancy that is leading the pack when it comes to gamification here in the UK.
PlayGen are marketing a Gamification Toolkit, a pack of cards that anyone can use in a game to create a gamification concept to apply to their specific domain. Gamification of gamification…
As you would expect from a veteran of the games industry, Kam has an interesting perspective on Gamification itself. He sees it as the way towards a “better user experience” and likens it’s rise to that of the term “web 2.0“.
“Many people think that if a comment box is all you need to make your site web 2.0, then a badge would make it gamified. If you believe that a like button makes a site social then points makes it gamified” Kam explains “however if you really want to be fun then you will need (to implement) a deeper level of engagement”.
Kam also brought me back to some of the roots of games. “We learn as children through play, it’s a natural way of experimenting. Games are meant to be inconsequential, frivolous and fun”.
Certainly my experience as a Facebook apps developer was that the simpler and more inconsequential the app (think of the popularity of throwing a virtual sheep at a friend), the more success it had.
And then the cards
We tried out the cards in a worked example, the cafe in which we were sitting at. First off Kam highlights that to work any gamification needs to be “meaningful and to engage at an emotional level”. Without that meaning, engagement doesn’t really begin.
So we picked our first card for our game about the cafe owners and it was “survive”. Wow! So, this was going to be a game about playing for your job and whoever loses gets fired. Pretty meaningful we both agreed.
It continued with a few game mechanics cards such as turns (they serve the customers one after the other), points and rewards. The game quickly took shape with further cards such as achievement, leaderboard and collecting. We could imagine our game had a few badges for people saying “that was a great sandwich” and so on.
So, after 6 minutes we’d created a meaningful game. There were still two games worth of cards left over and the idea is that you then play again with the unused cards. This then creates 3 distinct games about the same topic and audience. I certainly felt the cards were an ideal brainstorming tool for gamification. You can get them from amazon or www.addingplay.com.
Risk as a mechanic
One of the most interesting cards we picked, was the “risk” card. This is a key, and underused, game mechanic giving players the opportunity to win more points by taking a greater risk. In our example we imagined the cafe owners trying to serve a complicated sandwich to three customers at once…