Is Telification the opposite of Gamification?

How games can learn from TV, a successful gameshow designed with dual screens in mind and new questions for gamification experts to ask

At the Games For TV conference yesterday Mark¬†Sorrell of Somethin’ Else gave a fun talk on how, rather than bring game elements to TV, it should really be the other way round. Bring the characteristics of TV to games.

It made for an interesting talk and let me share with you here the key aspects of it.

TV as a medium is not dead. No instead it continues to fulfil a role within our lives. But if we look at its characteristics they seem to fly in the face of accepted game thinking.

1. Scheduled

TV is by appointment. You wouldn’t imagine only being able to play Farmville at 7pm yet we happily put up with only being able to see our favourite shows at a specific time.

2. Broadcast

TV is a shared experience – there are thousands, if not millions, of others all participating in exactly the same experience at the same time. We all watch the Royal Wedding together, the final episode of a hit series or a sports event at like the Super Bowl.

3. Passive

TV is a passive experience. You have no agency and no control. You just sit there and, if you’re lucky, you might get entertained.

Scheduled, broadcast and passive – hardly attributes we’d expect of a game. Yet what if we applied these to games – hence his phrase ‘Telification’ – (read Telly-fication) couldn’t we create new and interesting properties.

“Why should I have to keep pressing keys to jump over the gaps in Mario Brothers,” Mark asks. “I know where I want to go, why doesn’t it just do it?” Much like the Management Sims genre where you set up the parameters and see how it unfolds in games like Championship Manager.

David Flynn's dual screen virtuous circle where online activity affects the TV show which goes on to affect the online game

The other key presentation of the day came from David Flynn who produces the very successful “Million Pound Drop” and “Bank Job” dual screen TV game show experiences. Here contestants for the televised shows are sourced from those playing online (about 12% of the overall audience). Most brilliantly he uses the activity happening online “54% of online players thought the answer was Adidas” to guide both the presenter (what to say) and his own decision making (which boxes to drop first) in the live show, to create the most suspense for the maximum number of people. Clever programming.

Both ¬†Telefication and Dual Screen gaming are (without them perhaps realising it themselves) games we can learn from as gamification consultants. After all what else do we do if it’s not to take what works in games and apply it elsewhere?

New questions we can ask in our next gamification project.

1. How could I level up my players to a live experience?

2. How can I use an appointment schedule to create a buzz and a shared must-attend event?

3. How can I work with dual screen use (eg. simultaneous mobile and web) rather than against?

4. If people like being passive, how can I give them agency without expecting them to do all the control – let them define the way the story plays out without having to actually do it?

It’s always interesting to have some new questions to ask…

Toby Beresford

Toby is founder and CEO of Rise the success tracking network to track, publish and share success. He was the 2013 chair of Gamfed.com - the International Gamification Confederation and organises the UK Gamifiers meetup. As a gamification leader, he speaks at conferences and hosts workshops. Follow him on twitter @tobyberesford and Subscribe to this blog at Gamification Of Work blog feed

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