Archive for April, 2009

games meet our need to hunt


“Man has been in the hunting game all throughout his existence. Primitive man’s main job was to hunt. Survival depended on it. Early man had to hunt for food and clothing, as well as shelter and protection.”

There are great parallels between hunting and playing games.

Hunting requires skill, knowledge and an investment of time. It demands concentration, effort and an understanding of the environment you are in. It has risk reward choices, offers thrills, fun and is rewarding on a number of different levels.

“…it’s not just the killing that is the thrill, it is the hunt. A hunter has used his/her skills to find or track his prey” … “It’s exciting to find the wild game, but it now finalizes the deal when the prey becomes yours; your trophy, your reward, your meal, your memory, your payoff.”

“…this goes back to early man. It’s inbred in humans.”


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a sucker for a good story


“gut is a sucker for a good story”

Risk by Dan Gardner

“ …Kahneman and Tversky later wrote, the Rule of Typical Things ‘generally favors outcomes that make good stories or good hypothesis”

When the evidence appears to support your assumptions or forms a good shadow story, your gut jumps at the answer and latches on. Matching the short hand structure of a story helps resolve complexity very quickly.

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does your gut listen & believe everything it hears?


Yes. Your sub conscious gut listens to everything you hear, and it takes most things at face value. Your brain has evolved to form snap judgements, using a rule of ‘appearance equals reality’ to speed up reaction times. Very useful when making life or death decisions about predators stalking you through the savannah grasses.

Your inner voice or ego chatterbox, twitters away full of undermining self criticism. Yet your sub conscious gut listens… and believes it just like any other input. (Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway® by Susan Jeffers)

While your sub conscious believes what it hears, your conscious mind will often try to temper and modify your gut’s opinions.

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loyalty or addiction?

Game rewards can sit in a structure & have a purpose of generating emotion and loyalty for a game. Loyalty is a slightly different, more conscious and perhaps more positive version of addiction.

Is there a good loyalty encouraging structure for your game’s rewards?

“Finding the right reward model

…loyalty programs provide a good basis for understanding the basic levers of incentives and rewards…

  • The frequent flyer model — Participation -> richer experience — …reserve exit row seats in advance, get a United representative on the phone quickly, and — best of all — board before the unwashed masses.
  • The credit card points model — Participation -> cash …most, an accrued currency ("miles" or "points") are exchanged for tangible goods…
  • The American Express model — Participation -> manufactured exclusivity — "Membership has its privileges." Amex marketing has taught us that simply using the card communicates a sense of status. Invitation-only web services …offer a certain cache to the users as representations of geek cred.”

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are your eyes bigger than your belly?

eye belly

So much time and energy goes in to designing, implementing, testing and releasing software features that only a minority of people use.

“Only 20% of a mobile phone’s features are used regularly; up to a quarter remain completely undiscovered”

from a study by WDSGlobal

1 billion apps downloaded from the App Store, yet most go used or unexplored. Our appetite is there, and for whatever reason our hunger fades quickly.

“Pinch Media drawing on iPhone analytics data highlights that (only) ~20% of user’s ever return to use an application the day after it is installed. There are many ways to interpret this data: the harshest being that ~80% of user’s are so unimpressed with their application that they never return to it.”

In some cases breadth of function is important, although no excuse for complexity.

“A lot of software developers are seduced by the old "80/20" rule. It seems to make a lot of sense: 80% of the people use 20% of the features. So you convince yourself that you only need to implement 20% of the features, and you can still sell 80% as many copies.

Unfortunately, it’s never the same 20%. Everybody uses a different set of features.”

Is featuritis driven by fear?

“Fear of being perceived as having fewer features than your competitors. Fear that you won’t be viewed as complete. Fear that people are making purchase decisions off of a checklist, and that he who has the most features wins (or at the least, that he who has the fewest features definitely loses). Fear of losing key clients who say, "If you don’t add THIS… I’ll have to go elsewhere."

Be brave. And besides, continuing to pile on new features eventually leads to an endless downhill slide toward poor usability and maintenance. A negative spiral of incremental improvements. Fighting and clawing for market share by competing solely on features is an unhealthy, unsustainable, and unfun way to live.

Be the "I Rule" product, not the "This thing I bought does everything, but I suck!" product.”

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recognition is the bell

“Pavlov was on to something. Ding… Recognition is the bell that drives human behaviour”

The Recognition Microscope: Fuel for Human Acceleration

Recognition or game rewards should be;

  • Positive – recognition is not a time for correction or feedback, it is a time to detail the positive
  • Immediate – the closer to the event or behaviour the better
  • Close – best presented in the same environment as the behaviour
  • Specific – recognising specific behaviours have the greatest impact, clear and direct link to an event or behaviour
  • Shared – peer feedback is as or more valuable than top down

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phone for a coach


Ask questions following this sequence of subjects, don’t suggest answers or tell someone what to do;

P – what is the Problem?

H – what is the History of the problem?

O – what are the options available?

N – what are the next steps that you want to take?

E – Exit or End, when will you speak again?

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