Monday, March 29, 2010

Four Keys To Fun

On Saturday I attended a fascinating talk by Nicole Lazarro of XEODesign about emotions and user experience. Here's the slides:
Four Keys To Fun BayCHI Slides
Some of the most standout ideas:

1. Good games create fun though the choices the user makes. Fun shouldn't be limited to gaming. Why not make boring and stressful tasks like banking, health care, and learning a technical skill more fun? Fun doesn't mean lack of seriousness. It can be surprisingly delightful and easy. One of the best examples of fun learning is the Head First books from O'Reilly. I read the HTML/CSS book and completed the crossword puzzles at the end of each chapter - and enjoyed it! The more fun a task is, the easier it is to complete, the more you learn, the more motivated you are to keep learning. Emotions improve memory recall and performance. Feeling smart is fun.

2. Some of the most popular games are not gender specific. Farmville and Rock Band tap into social emotions - chumminess, admiration, competition and bonding through reciprocity. I love the Rock Band experience because it's an exciting way to create fun memories with friends. We gather at my place to enjoy the music, work together to unlock new cities, save each other when we fail out, laugh when someone can't sing, and compliment each other on our song scores, "96 percent complete with most energy? Rock on!"

Nicole pointed out that games that are targeted at exclusively "male" emotions (schadenfreude, aggression, rewards) and "female" emotions (helping, complimenting) are leaving all the other shared emotions on the table. The most successful games tap into all the social emotions throughout game play and inspire people to come back for more.

3. Making a game (or any experience) viral means having a simple goal, ways to connect with friends, and social tokens that increase in emotional value with use. Of all 3, I believe maintaining a simple goal is the most difficult. What starts out as a singular idea often gets clouded by positioning new features as equal to the core activity. What's the one thing that people enjoy most about your game (or product)? Do that better than anyone, then propel engagement by making it easy for people to share that and reward each other.

Social tokens are virtual gifts, compliments, private jokes, or anything that makes you feel like you're making real connections with other people. From a Facebook "poke" or "like it" to the prop icons like "You rock" on Kaboodle, these one click social acknowledgements are frictionless ways to create repeat engagement. And they're fun too.

1 comment:

Regi E. said...

Look at you, still going places and learning new things.