I attended GSummit a couple of weeks ago and wanted to share some of my takeaways. The conference itself was very well run (hurrah for short sessions!) and I have summarized the more thought provoking talks below:
4 keys to fun: Nicole Lizzaro gave a great, example-laden talk about what makes things fun. This chart on her website provides a great framework to use when thinking about making something fun.
Freshness, community, & cooperation: Dan Porter gave a humorous talk about the success of Draw Something and brought to light some interesting insights around the importance of app freshness, community engagement through being human, and the underutilization of cooperation in games.
Different players, different motivations: Richard Bartle talked about the 4 categories of player motivation (achievers, explorers, socializers, killers) in massive multiplayer games and how although these may not apply to your software it is important to remember people are motivated by different things. Although there is not much new here it was a good reminder to avoid the trap of focusing on a single user motivation.
Engagement layer: Keven Akeroyd of Badgeville gave a high-level talk about where he saw the industry going and the one point that resonated with me was the idea that all new features should have an engagement layer on it. As usability becomes table stakes in consumer software, this engagement becomes the new competitive advantage.
Small achievable goals and levaraging flow: Jon Guerrera talked about how he uses gamification principles to make himself more productive. In one example he talks about the effectiveness of setting a goal to write for 10 minutes a couple times a week. The goal was achievable so he would actually do it and more times then not he would get in flow and end up writing for far more then 10 minutes. On the other hand, when he set the goal to write for 30 minutes a couple times a week he would often not even start because even 30 minutes sounded overwhelming after a long day. Other insights were around the value of physical prompts (post-it notes) and making rewards items not cash.
Treat your users (fans) right: Chamillionaire gave a very entertaining talk about how he engages his fans, also known as Chamillitary. The main takeaway is that his fan base is very loyal because he treats them right. Most musicians send platinum plaques to DJs to get more airtime; he sends them to his fans (a 12 year old in Iowa has one in his mom’s basement). Most online reward systems give bullshit rewards like 20% off a purchase; he gives away jackets from music videos. He focuses on authenticity and leverages that people want to be part of something bigger then themselves (The Chamilitary).
Design patterns for user engagement: Nadya Direkova gave a clear, actionable talk on 16 design patterns for user engagement. The 16 patterns all fell within the three of categories of come & try, bring friends, and come back. Patterns that I found especially novel/interesting were gated trial and mischief.
Programming the programmers: Jeff Atwood talked about how Stack Overflow is not a game in a traditional sense but simply sorting by a particular attribute (that he & the users care about). People will want to be at the top of the page even if it’s not a traditional game rank. He also had good insights around how a user’s reputation needs to be driven by what other users think about her, not time or the system. He also advocated for giving power to the community and not allowing a user to judge others until she has earned status themselves.
Lean gamification: Keith Smith, founder of bigdoor.com, took a page from the lean startup movement and promoted a build, measure, learn approach to gamification with less grand strategizing up front. He saw gamification as a way to increase both loyalty (returns) and engagement (time on site) and presented a familiar loop diagram consisting of onboard, yean, reward, social, and then back to onboard.
Come for the extrinsic motivators, stay for the intrinsic motivators: This theme was common across a couple of talks and is very relevant to many of the products I work on. The basic idea being that big, extrinsic motivators like giveaways are great acquisition tools but are not sustainable over time for most companies (and are less effective on people over time) while intrinsic motivators around status and community are not great carrots for getting people in to a service but once they are in these become great ways to keep people engaged.