Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 30.01.2009

>> Welcome everybody. My name is Yuri Engestrom and it's a great pleasure to introduce Amy
Jo Kim, on this special functional and fun edition of Google Tech Talks. Amy Jo, is CEO
of Shufflebrain. She's an internationally know experts in online community architectures.
Her company Shufflebrain builds smart games for social networks starting with Facebook
and she's helped design social games and social architecture for a vast number of companies
online. Company's like everybody knows, like electronic guards, digital chocolates, Viacom
and then even Yahoo. In 2000, she wrote a book called "Community Building on the Web."
That some of you might know, it's been translated to six languages so far. Seven, so it's great
pleasure on behalf of Google, to welcome Amy Jo Kim.
>> KIM: Thank you so much for inviting me, to be here, it's a pleasure to see you and
I'm looking forward to sharing some of what I've learned in the work I've done and learning
from you as well. The interactive portion will happen little later in the talk. So,
I just mentioned, I chose this shot from YouTube for my cover because this is a great example
of something I never would have sound without the mechanics. This particular video is called
"Pool Meets Dominoes" and were Dominoes and gulliver machines freaks in our house, we
build them, we love them. And, I found this because of the game mechanics on YouTube and
I'll be doing into that in a little while and I--and I'm very happy to have found this
video and many others. So, briefly, that's a little bit about me, my Ph.D is on Behavioral
Neuroscience which is part of why I'm doing brain games because I'm very familiar with
how that stuff works but I also have the background in science and engineering and I'm basically
a Social Architect. I do that for games and for Social Media. At Shufflebrain, I'm working
with Scott Kim. Some of you may know Scott, he's a well known puzzle designer. He's a
puzzle columnist for Discover Magazine and he's done a lot of puzzle games on mobile,
on the web and also physical toys and we're collaborating on the project, so I'll be telling
you about later today. Some of whom we work with, we work with a lot of companies. My
latest game that [INDISTINCT] I was the Social Architect on that, that was very fun. But,
also did work a plain game mechanics to ebays infrastructure and those kinds of jobs. So
I've been at the intersection of games and Social Media for a long time. So let me just
define a few terms since a lot of these words gets thrown around and mean different things.
First of all, Social Media, what is that--you know you can define in a lot of different
ways, here's how I define it. Three key things one, player-created content, now use the word
player instead of user, because I do games but also I find that if you use the word player,
yourself when you're designing something, it pout you on a different mind set so, try
that sometime, in your documents and then your conversation just call the people that
use yourself for players and see what happens so, player-created content, stuff that's created
by the--the people that are using the system. Key feature Social Media. Social Infrastructure,
content sharing networks, chat systems social objects in Jerry's terminology. Social Infrastructure
is a key aspect of being able to share the--the artifacts that you create and the third is
tools that make it easy for you to share, if you can't get your video posted, if you
can't get of your photo up there and tag, you don't really have the means to share so,
those are key elements of anything that you can call Social Media. What about games, what's
a game? Well, the formal definition is a system where players engage in a artificial conflict
defined by rules, the quantifiable outcome that's from an excellent book called rules
of play, that if you're interested on those stuff, I suggest picking up and get on Amazon.
Well, That--that describes a lot of games that describe chess to some extend certainly
describes rock band and it's predecessors and many other game but there's a whole lot
of games that don't finder that definition, the Sims does not finder that definition for
instance. Big selling piche--PC franchise of all time and if they really does not follow
after that and yet I would give that ebays as in many ways of game. So, I have an informal
definition that I used that's broader that I find useful when I'm thinking about what
game might be in today's internet which is structured experience that has rules and goals
that's fun and a lot more things finder that category and that's really what I'm going
to be talking about today. Why are games so powerful? Why is everybody all of the sudden
there in the last couple of years so interesting game mechanics? Well, games basically are
incredibly good in manipulating behavior they get into our primal response patterns. This
is a chart from my old days in behavior psychology that's what my undergrad degree was in. How
many of you know what reinforcement schedules are? Yeah, so you're probably recognize this
chart, long story or short the most powerful way to manipulate behavior is to do a variable
reinforcement schedule were you get either smaller or large outcomes without being able
to predict what action is going to cause that and there's many other reinforcement schedules
as well but that's the schedule that keeps people pumping quarters and they were all
one [INDISTINCT] and understanding--you understand the schedule as you can look games and says
"Yeah, this is basically not that different from the pigeon picking on a, you know, a
leader trying to get a [INDISTINCT] and an experiment. So, that is very de-primal stock
you can see the same behaviors emerging from this patterns of reinforcement and chickens
and mice and monkeys and humans it's very deep stuff. Games also engage us in flow which
is, that term is from a book and it's called "Flow" by someone whose got a name I can't
pronounce Michael--what--what is it? >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: Yes, what he said--yes, its incredible book Aubrey great game designer I know has
studied and read absorb that book. And basically the long story or short punchline is that
an activity that has just the right level of challenge not too much or you got anxious,
not too little are you get out pathetic but just the right level challenge and then adjust
the challenge based on your changing skill and mastery is going to keep you in the flow
channel which is channel that in the middle really good games do this. They unfold their
challenges overtime in conjunction with your evolving mastery and that style of design,
designing something that changes overtime in response the user it's very much what games
do but it's also what using more and more in social software now. So, game mechanics
are the underlying systems and features that drive this. I'm--not today--I'm not going
to be talking about the sparkle and the great animation and sound, that's also important
in games talking about the mechanics, the behavior and mechanics that engage people.
So, I'm going to talk about five games mechanics today this is--think of it is a primary this
is--and this is foundational elements this is not the whole story, this is not a recipe
to go out and make a game. These are practical useful things that you can apply to what you're
doing and their building blocks. First one is the collecting game mechanic and that's
basically all about "Show me your stuff, what do you collection? What do you have?" Is an
expression of what matters to you and the time you've invested in something it's something
you can compare with other people and it's just a fun human activity this--you know,
ebays is really built on the urge to collect. Here I'll show you training cards, collectible
training cards either a ten year old kid my house is full of these things but also there
is my twitter friends and, you know, and my followers that's another forms of collecting
friends on social networks, it has the similar feeling to it. Basically if you've got a cool
collection you got some bragging writes within the social circle that cares about that collection.
Part of the collecting mechanic is the power of completing a set, you know, there's--and
people of collected baseball cards you know what, just cards that let you--that you can
buy over-the-counter it target like for have a hotel have a--did a brilliant experiment
a few years ago were they took the standard cards you buy and then you get a certain credits
and they just made four of that kinds and said collect them all boom their sales went
up. You see the same kind of thing now with the--your profile as 40% completed on facebook
and on linked in it's the collecting mechanic it's the completing a set mechanic Pokemon
is incredible that doing this, there's the checklist. So, again this is the kind of thing
that if you're trying to get something or to do something you can find it as collecting
and specially make the things that someone's collecting look and--look [INDISTINCT] you
can get a lot of power out of that. Another basic building block is Points, earning points.
And there are few different kinds of points. There's game points, which are given by the
system for example you play in The Jeweled and you get a certain number of points or
in our game Photograph we will talk about that later. You play, you find details and
a photo and you get a certain number and points that's player to system interaction. More
interesting kind of points is what you call social points and those are given by the system,
those are given by other players. So, Flickr has a very interesting metric called Interesting
Disk, it's basically social points, it's a bunch of behaviors of other people viewing
your photos, tagging your photos, discussing your photos, fording your photos, putting
them in a group all that behavior aggregated is to stilled into a metric called Interesting
Disk. That's a social points metric. YouTube's favorites and rating are also social points.
And social points create a very different dynamic in a system than, than game points
do because you have--you cant get them just by playing you have to somehow engage with
other people. There's another kinds of points redeemable points. That you see a lot of people
using now especially on a system like Facebook and system were there engaging with virtual
good business models. And basically redeemable points drive loyalty there's you know from
S&H green stamps many years ago on up to a free Frequent Flyer programs and drugstore.com.
If you can have people earn points that they can then redeem for something within the system
in either a virtual good or sometimes a physical good is service you going to get a lot of
loyalty. You also going to be tweaking something that--is it now some talk about sick and sound
sexes but it's really true. One of the biggest barriers to women playing a lot of games is
feeling like you are waiting your time there is a psychology that many not all but many
females embrace I certainly do that I don't want tot waste a lot of time how can you play
world of work up with three hours like a kids to feed that kind of thing. Redeemable points
can really play [INDISTINCT] this whether your targeting females or not that feeling
I'm not waiting my time I'm earning points. I'm earning you know I'm going to get that
toaster for my family or whatever it is. So, another once you have points you can have
leaderboards as kind as simple as that and you can chose to have them or not there is
an interesting history with leader boards back firing I know that at work that wasn't
interesting topic. But they drive player behavior they introduce competitiveness they also express
your community values if you going to have leaderboards what are you celebrating with
the leaderboards? Are you celebrating just the person you placed the most? You celebrating
that brings the most friends in? You're celebrating the person that releases the most comments
on something that's social? That's going to express what's valued in your system. Another
once you have points you can also intruduce levels. Levels are there's nothing magic about
and they're just short hand for how many points you've earn. It's just an easy way I was looking
at eBay when we introduce levels and into the winning system and all the sudden people
that had just you know 890 points were almost have a thousand and they worked really hard
to get to the nest level. It's a way to both express the other people how good you are
in short hand like with Karate belts. But it's also a way to drive behavior and keep
people essentially on that treadmill. So the third mechanic is feedback. This is not solely
the [INDISTINCT] of games but games are particularly good in delivering feedback. And once you
have a really good feedback this is going to accelerate your drive to mastery. Anyone
who's played any of harmonics game from [INDISTINCT] key revolution to Guitar Hero throughout rock
band knows how incredible that company is making great feedback that makes an exciting
experience but gets you better. You become a better singer by playing the game. Brain
ages is another great example that's a DS space it was originally DS it's now in every
platform by Nintendo and it give you this feedback over time that show your brain getting
younger which was an incredible hook for a lot of people. So, feedback comes in many
forms as real-time feedback yes, I click the bottom and what I thought I was going to do
I did. Basic real-time feedback but there's also feedback over time. How are you doing?
Are you getting better? How is your friends doing etcetera. All that kind of feedback
is very engaging, drives engagement, drives your PA use, drives the person toward mastery.
Feedback also just playing all that's fun. I would argue that Google maps one of the
reasons that took off was successful other than incredible product design and engineering
is it--you just get letter feedback with Google maps you can move stuff around and you have
more control. It's--that's one of the key things. And here's an example of a hit game,
big surprise hit game called "Cooking Mama." How many of you've ever played Cooking Mama?
It's a great--that's cool. Yes, so you know. It's this very mundane activity, learning
how to cook, and it's all gussied up with this incredible feedback that's just right
and it's--at least for me and for my kid, totally addictive. And so, once again, it's
just the power to engage you, a feedback. Now, just like with points there is game feedback
but there's also social feedback. Social feedback in the form, of say, notifications on Facebook,
and people freinding you, and people retwitting your twits, and all that stuff, that's social
feedback. And again as with points that's even more powerful. So when you're engineering
your systems thinking about, okay, how--I'm going to give the person feedback from the
system but also from other people. How are they going to see that? How often are they
going to see that? How can I design that to be effective and not overwhelming? Those are
all key questions when you're putting great feedback into your system. The fourth is exchanges.
An exchange is a structured social interaction, a back and forth, call and response in music,
a conversation, taking turns when you're playing chess, trading gifts, those are all exchanges.
And this is a very primal basic form of social interaction. Many games have this built right
in, chess, checkers, two-player games, any turn based game is a form of an exchange.
Trading, this is a trading screen from Wow, trading is an exchange, it goes back and forth.
Now, both of these are an example of what I would call explicit exchanges. That means
that it's built into the actual structure of the system that there is an exchange. Trading
had you--both people put their objects in, it's held and then it goes. It is one person
can't do it one way, that's an explicit exchange. There is another kind called "Implicit" or
"Emergent Exchanges" and this is even more interesting and potentially more powerful.
Ebay is a great example of that. You do not have to leave feedback for someone whose left
feedback to you, it's not built into the system. We argued about this a lot too whether to--force
it, whether to built it in like your forced to do a two-way friend, it's now how Ebay
works. What happened is that it's become emergent in the social culture of Ebay that if somebody
leaves you feedback, if you buy something and that person leaves feedback, they're expecting
feedback in return. And you can get some very unpleasant interactions if you don't, depending
on the seller, that's an implicit exchange. Another example of that is gifting. In just
about every gift application I seen, as it is in the real world, you don't have to give
a gift, it's not built in, it's not like, you know, trading. But it engenders obligation
when you give someone a gift and they're likely to give you a gift back or to give you something
else back in return. Again, that's implicit exchange. If you have both, you tend to have
a richer social environment. Both Myspace and Facebook are good examples of that. Adding
a friend is an explicit exchange, it's two-way, as you know it can be one or two way, it's
two-way, both have to do it just as with the trade. However, leaving a comment is more
like a gift. You don't have to do it both ways but people do tend to leave comments
for people who've left them--left them for them. So that's letting the exchange be emergent
out of the system. It's something to always think about if you can facilitate that. Customization,
again, a lot of software that offers customization games are particular good at it, you can get
great ideas from looking at games. Character customization is one basic type. If you're
designing in Wow or you're designing your profile on Myspace, you're expressing who
you are in a way. And basically the more full you're able to do that the harder it's going
to be to leave that system because you're invested. Another kind is interface customization.
Again, using Wow as an example you can just customize the hell out of that interface,
it's--you can do a lot and you see that, that's very typical especially in console games.
But we also see a lot of interface customization on the web. I think YouTube is a great example,
the extent to which you can customize your channel and, you know, really have something
that looks different from everything else that's there, that's a good basic kind of
mechanic to offer. So I want to turn the tables a little. And I've been talking about how
games are influencing or can influence social media, but what about social media going back
and influencing games, what's going on there. So there's a few trends that I'm very interested
in and I've been following. The first is making software accessible. And there's three things
that I mean by that. One is making the UI accessible. We've seen a dramatic increase
in these UIs in the last couple of years, it's a big thing. Partly it's the changing
demographics. Partly it's, you know, Ruby on Rails and other ways of letting people
built stuff quickly. But it's also just an expectation, its competition. There's people
like Google. I think pioneered the ECD'z and a lot people are following that. The second
is devices, you see more and more web services launching and they reach out to many different
devices wherever you are. It runs on the web, there's all this client runs on your cell
phone, twitter is a good example of that. And the third is open API's make software
much more accessible, and much more able to lead in different forms. If you developing
a service that's something that makes sense. All those are part of trend of software becoming
dramatically more accessible to more people. Second trend is what I called recombinant,
recombinant data objects and what I mean by that is more, more social media services and
software services are allowing their basic date objects to be remixed and redistributed.
YouTube is a good example of that flicker, you know, twitter. They all have basic data
objects that you can search and sort and then deliver different feeds of and people can
have different clans that run on them. And all of this is enable by this very basic architecture
which might seem obvious but if you're coming from games most games aren't design that way
they're not designed to be recombinant. And the third is syndicated. Now this is bill
on top of one. Once you've the recombinant data objects in some sorts content sharing
network you can basically syndicate that if you choose to it. YouTube was early leader
in that by allowing people to pose videos on their blogs. So I'm using the terms syndicated
in very pure scents which means content that leaves outside of where it sourcing was. And
you see more and more services that aren't just a destination or maybe not even primarily
a destination site which is what I think of is the older model from web to that but really
live everywhere and are generating a constant stream of content that lives in many different
places in many different forms remix and also rescan. So how I a few case studies and this
is the part where if you're so incline, I love to have you, tell me what you think just
by, you know, raising your hands or calling out about I'm going to post some questions,
okay. So I think YouTube has done a great job in a great in game mechanics in a very
natural way into their software and I like to use it as an example. So first of all what--what
do you collect on YouTube? Anybody? >> Favorites.
>> KIM: Favorites? You collect favorites. Anything else? You collect subscribers. Anything
else? I collect videos. I have my list. I just-I feel like I collect-I have my videos.
So there's--the point is there's a lot of things you can collect on YouTube that's why
I showed the list all those different things. One of the things YouTube could do if they
want to make the collecting mechanic more powerful was to make your collection look
more like a collection to the player. That just make it feel like more tangible that's
one way to drive with that mechanic. How do you earn points on YouTube?
>> Star rating. >> KIM: Star ratings, views. See that whole
list? All those are ways turn points. Again YouTube has multiple parallel leader boards
that's what I call them. And that's great because that's means there's a lot of different
ways to raise at the top. There's a lot of different ways to get your moment. There's
lot of different ways to explorer and discover content. So that's very powerful. How do you
get feedback on YouTube? Comments? You also get feedback with something called the videos
response. Oh, I guess I have that in the next one--sorry it an example exchange. And then
there's this inbox that show you people messages, things people have shared with you. Another
way you get feedback on YouTube is stat, like circle dot there on the--the right of the
screen. YouTube gives you a bunch of stat that's another great way to get feedback.
In some systems stats can be an alternative to leader boards if leader board introduce
a competitive element that's not working for you, you can surf its stats, like you're in
the top 15% that sort of thing. So that's something that this game is were often thinking
about. Where can you have an exchange that one to one exchange on YouTube? Does it offer
that? Well I would argue that the video response is one form of exchange. That back and forth
feeling comments for another form of exchange but, you know, there is probably room to this
something else interesting there with videos and exchanges to make it more game like and
then the fifth is so how do you customize you experience on YouTube? This is an example
of a customize channel. Are there other--do any of you who use YouTube? Have you done
anything else to customize your experience? >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: Right. So you can customize your profile. That is skinning it. Right? And you can determine
what is no there? So you can decide which--which through there. Yeah, these are all ways of
customizing your experience which gives you different experience but more importantly,
let you present the--a version of yourself. A version of what you want to show to other
people in--in the way that you control. So is the service accessible? I will argue, yes.
I think one of the main reasons YouTube took off. There is many reasons is you can upload
videos really easily that takes different formats, it walks you though it. That was
a big thing when they launch. It was big thing for me. Getting my videos up there is so easy.
And runs on a lot of different platform, runs on mobile, very easy to use, you sent somebody
a link, my mom can use it. All the--all the check points it think it has and open API,
correct? Yes, yes so. All--that whole trend YouTube is right out there. Are the data objects
are where [INDISTINCT] yep! You can have different sorts and streams of videos. It is pretty
easy to put together a playlist. Not a problem. Can a service be syndicaded? Absolutely. It
is continuing to innovate. Not [INDISTINCT] was an early leader. So no, let us take a
look at Twitter. Very different service but has some has the same trends flowing through
it. What do you collect on Twitter? Anybody? Followers. You also collect friends but really
you collect followers and you see the in part of it is the way it is express visual aids
you can see here but it is also what people brag about. It is what people are, you know,
feeling, measuring as valuable. How do you earn points? Well on this pa--I'm sorry, on
this page you can see there is points. Anything that is number people are got to think is
points. They just are. So there is updates followers and following. There is services
like "Twitterholic" that turn us to on the leaderboards. Twitter itself does not leaderboards,
they do not need to. They have open API somebody else built it. How do you get feedback on
Twitter? Do you guys use Twitter? [INDISTINCT] >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: Right. So there are several ways to get feedback and what is great is that you
can decide which of those you want to get an email. If you live in your email. I personally
still live in my email plan. So where do you have exchanges? Same--same think really app
replies, direct messages, that is how you have exchanges. Their--they probably could
express the exchanges a little more concretely and that would [INDISTINCT] the power. But
basically, you know, they have underline mechanisms to do it and what we are seeing is that a
lot of the innovation in the UI is coming from the third-party clients, not from the
main service. Can you customize your experience on Twitter? A little bit you can have a custom
background. So this is my favorite custom backgrounds. So far this guy--this is--he
is just the, you know, it is just an image. He made a custom background that looks amazing
for a custom background. So people are getting very creative with the [INDISTINCT] and again,
I think there is a lot of room that Twitter can improve with customization but the direction
that--that services going is to [INDISTINCT] that kind of [INDISTINCT] improvement and
innovation in the third-party clients and if they could just figure out this is mall,
that whole thing should [INDISTINCT] really well. Is the service accessible? I would say,
"Dramatically." Super easy to use, super easy to get in your desktop, on your mobile, wherever
you want and it is super easy and importantly super easy to integrate. Integrate with photos,
integrate with all the different kinds of services. Are the data objects where recombinant,
tweets? Absolutely! And the--all the flurry of activity around them is partly based on
just a basic fact that you have the simple recombinant data model. Can the service be
syndicated and it is syndicated? Yes! Definitely. It is you can put it on your blog, you can,
you know, put it on different kinds of places and it takes many different forms. Part of
that it is because the simplicity of the service and of text. But none of less, I think it
is great example this trends. So, now I want to talk a little bit about the project that
we at Shuffle Brain that we're working on for the last six months, it's called Photo
Grab, and it's basically our first small steps in a larger vision of brain games, that is
games that are good for your brain meet social media. The on-going stream of your experiences,
on your artifacts that are generated by interacting socially online. So Photo Grab is--first all
of all how many of you have play photograph? Okay, that's something fun that you can try
later, it's search on photograph on Facebook, you'll go right there, you go to shuffle brain.com
it's link on the front page, it's very easy to find. So, I'll take you to this quickly,
what--so, in Photo Grab, what do you collect? well, there's two things; on the left hand
side this is my profile, actually it's another player's profile, you collect awards, badges,
this is a very common game mechanic that I'm starting to see other people to non-game software,
if you ever played x-box live they have a great award system and you see more and more
of this. Basically, you say, okay, you've done X, you've played five games, you've shared
your games, you've gotten five people to play your game, etcetera, all these little achievements
you marked them with collectible badges and then you both tell people what you expect
them to do but you also give them something that they can show off and get a sense of
achievement for. The more that you expand your identity and this is a from of expanding
your identity, all the badges you've earned, just like being in the boy scout. The more
you do that, the harder it is to leave the service because you've developed your identity
and people get very attached to that. You can also collect games, you can create game
or play games and we make them visible, all the games you've ever play or created. We
can certainly do a better job of making it look like a collection so I think there's
a lot of room for improvements in out own software there. So, how do you earn points?
Well, there's quite a few ways, the basic one is you play games and you level up, you
do better, you get faster and better at the game, you improved your skills, you can earn
points that way. You can also earn points from leaving comments, you can earn social
points and most importantly, you can earn points by creating your own games which by
the way takes about three minutes, very easy and having other people play those games and
those are all ways, so there's a variety of ways to achieve within the system. How do
you get feedback? Again, there's couple of many ways within the game itself, in a very,
I would say traditional game way, we can get feedback after you played, how did you do,
it's social, you can say how you did against everyone played that game, friends and everybody.
And you can also see how your rating is, how it affected your rating and how's that related
to your friend's rating as well. And that's in game feedback, pretty good, standard stuffs,
makes you want to get better. But we also have a lot of out of game or meta-game feedback,
specially in the form of notifications, so when you've created a game, and people play
it, you get notified and if people leave a comment, you say "Hey" respond to their comment,
if somebody that is on your friend list passes you, you get notify and these are all more
social graph ways to give people feedback, it's what I called social feedback. What about
exchanges? I think this is actually one of the weaker parts of our current game, partly
just because we've, we're in [INDISTINCT] and we only built that so much, we have a
comments, and the comments are nice, you can leaves comments in game and also on, on the
on html game pages. And we--you can have notifications that functions as exchanges, similar to how
comments functions as exchanges in YouTube. I think that, in a game another kind of exchange
to look at and this is something more currently in the midst of designing is challenges. And
you can also apply this to general software, so you can have the social exchange comments,
etcetera, you can have a challenge, you know, "Hey, I got this score on this game or I got
this, this total score on this three games, can you beat me?" And those are another kind
of exchanges, game like that's also can be applied pretty broadly. Can you customize
your experience in our game? Yes, you can have custom backgrounds for your game and
the game itself customizes what you see, so this is--home, the homepage on there, on the
left, that's the homepage of the meta-game where you seeing what's available to you to
play. And that's completely customize for each person, that each list you see is essentially
a feed, so you get, you get notified there when your friends have created new game and
you've friends have leveled up, when they've earned certain achievements, when they played,
etcetera. So that, in of itself, that's a different kind of customization, their skinning
which is very visual, but there's also data customization where what you're shown is really
customized to who you are and who you're relationships are. So, service accessible? this is the thing
we probably worked the hardest on, it's making it extremely easy to and accessible both game
you [INDISTINCT] and also game creation. Went through a lot of iteration, I know you at
Google are familiar with that, and made something that, you know, my mother who's in her 70s
could use, that was one of our targets was, you know, eight to eighty. We design this
to train the brain so that older people could use it, but also we believe brain training
is an everyday life activity. We don't think it's, you know, old people in a retirement
home only for them with white guy with a white lab coat shaking his finger, that's today
kind of brain games. But we think of brain games as just games that are good for your
brain, games that are design to not screw up your life and get you addicted and, you
know, playing all the time, games that are design to be healthy in every sense of the
word for your brain but also for your lifestyle, and so that's what we're striving for here.
We--I think we got the interface well. We're working on the API right now on turning this
into a platform so that it can live in a lot of other places which is the other piece of
accessibility that social media has really led the way on. Are the data objects recombinant?
This is something where I feel that we're at least trying to innovate in saying, okay,
how do you make games into recombinant data objects that could have feeds and be sorted
and delivered and blog and all the things that you can do with recombinant data objects.
So each of our games is three to five images, each image gets marked up just like you mark
it up with tags but you're marking it up with details and then stored so you can both recombine
the photos you've marked up into new games and you can say, "Oh, you know, I took a trip
to the beach. And I remember I made that game, I can use those photos from the beach and
add one more and I have a new game." So it's recombinant within the system. Buts it's also
recombinant outside of the system in that you can just have feeds and we actually have
that in the game now, you could subscribe to a game feed of everyone's game, your friends
games, just this one friend's game, however you like. And so that's something we're really
pushing on and think will become more popular as more and more games are built to live everywhere
not just in one place. And can the service be syndicated? Yes, because of the recombinant
data objects. We have a widget that shows you the latest games that's on shufflebrain.com
and it's live. And we're working on widgets for external clients that will show the stream
of games that's specific to their content. So that's some of what we've been thinking
about games in social media. I'm really interested to hear about what you're thinking now in
the Q&A but also please feel free to go to shufflebrain.com, share your thoughts in the
comments, send an email, join the discussion. And here's my contact info if any of you want
to follow me or email me or play the game, feel free to friend me on Facebook and then
you'll have access to all the games I've created. So that's it.
>> Thanks a lot Amy. I think we have a few more minutes for questions so just please
raise your hand and voice your question and then Amy, if you could please repeat the question
so we get it recorded for the talk. Thanks. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: So you're correct in that, it doesn't all have to apply. So don't--oh, I'm sorry.
So the question is--Sharon, right? Sharon is designing a programming environment for
nonprogrammers to write android programs and wonders how this applies, how these ideas
apply to her programming environment. So the short answer is it's completely contextual.
And I can't really answer that without knowing more about your programming environment. What
I can tell you is that--there's some low hanging fruit here that you can apply immediately,
feedback is I think a very obvious one, giving people really good and really fun feedback,
putting a little energy into making the feedback fun, huge payoff. People--and again that accelerates
mastery. So that's--when people asks me, you know what, if I just had to pick one, I'll
usually put--point them to feedback because it's so accessible. And then also, don't forget
about that feedback overtime, how am I doing, am I getting better, showing people that they're
getting better is tremendously powerful in making them feel confident, in making feel
like they want to keep learning. So that's--that's one place to start.
>> [INDISTINCT] >> KIM: The question is how do you deal with
customization when you're customizing the game itself and your experience is impacting
other players? Do you have a specific example? >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: You mean the ugly profiles? >> Yeah.
>> KIM: Okay. Yeah, that's--you know, that's like--I'm glad that you brought that up because
that's a really great point. The--so the question, MySpace versus Facebook. MySpace, people have
tremendous variety of options for customizing their profiles. Music, graphics, animation,
you know, blue text on light blue background all that stuff. And this really impacts the
readability and the perceived quality of the profiles. So how do you balance that, is the--is
that correct? So I would argue that MySpace--one of the reason MySpace took off in the way
it did is not--it's no longer the new darling but, I mean, it really took of was exactly
that power of customization. And I--as a designer I'm horrified. But as a social architect I
look at that and say, "Man, are they smart." And I look at MySpace profiles kind of like
a room of a teenager, especially if you look at who the demographic is, it's, you know,
you walk into a teenagers room there's music blaring, there's posters all over the wall,
there's clothes on the floor it's just like a mess, right. But it's them. And that's what
it's about. It's about--but it's my mess, if you're a teenager. And I think that this
is my mess, this is my expression. Be it loud and obnoxious and not particularly well design
is for the MySpace demographic for the people that use it that's just what they want. And
it has definitely differentiated MySpace in terms of their--who their core audience is,
you don't have nearly that much freedom on Facebook. Facebook is much more of communication
medium than a self-expression medium partly because of the affordances of what's there
to your point. So, I think the answer is you need to know who your audience is. And sometimes
audience isn't who you thought they were, who knows if MySpace is set out to be that.
But once you know who your audience is and what you want you basically deliver what they
want and I think that that level of customization very much gave the people that were, you know,
teenagers and young--young people finding their identity, experimenting with different
identities, it gives you a lot of power that way. It also gives up and coming musicians
which is in a sense the core DNA of MySpace, a way to really differentiate and express
themselves. And I think as people grow more sophisticated because people aren't just going
to reproduce MySpace they're going to do something new and different, you can find ways to take
that level of powerful self expression and make it a little bit more well design to put
just a few constraints on it would--is probably what we're going to see more of in upcoming
services that that tackle that. But I think there's a lot of wisdom in those ugly profiles
in terms of what the audience actually wants. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: That's great. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: So the question is if you add a lot of game mechanics to your software does that
privilege the competitive people that just want to get a lot of points. And YouTube is
one example where there's both people posting a lot of videos and people posting high quality
videos, so neither one of those is right. I mean, I think YouTube is, as a service serves
both people. The high quality videos probably do more for YouTube in terms of its business
model and were it's trying to go. But without all those people uploading, YouTube couldn't
be where it is today. So due--so, your specific question, does it privilege the competitive
types when you have a lot of game mechanics? It depends on how you actually reward and
surface the results of the game mechanics. So I can just speak to our own experiment
with photograb which is still beta, it's pretty new on Facebook. We have a lot of competitive
elements, we also very specifically created a noncompetitive thread to make it so that
if you weren't competitive you could still gain some fame, you could still have your
game surface, you could still have people play them et cetera. And what we've learned
is that our audience now naturally subdivides. And we've got maybe a fourth or a fifth of
our total players are rabid gamers and they're competing and you can see that when somebody
passes them they get really competitive and pass them again. It's great for us, they're
playing a lot of games. You know, they're generating an interesting dynamics for us.
But it's not the majority of the people. The majority of the people are playing a game
every now and then, they're creating a game out of their vacation photos to share with
their friend because they get some more fun way to share their photos, just really the
point of our software. And those people aren't playing competitively when we look at our
analytics and look at the play patterns, we got this like obsessive 20, 30 games at a
time play pattern over several weeks. And then it'll sort of die out, for the competitive
ones. For the other ones, they'll come back a couple of times a week, maybe miss a week,
then they'll come back and they'll play in this way that we actually designed it. We
designed it not to be played obsessively, we designed it to be played in a healthy way
which is a little bit all the time. And so we struck that balance. If you look at the
leader boards, those people are in the leader boards. But our leader boards aren't front
and center, they're there if you're interested. But they're not in your face. You could never
see the leader boards and have a great experience, and that all kinds of social engagement. That
was what we tried to do to strike a balance. I think the challenge as a game [INDISTINCT]
who's embracing social media, is to get enough engagement without the obsessive play. The
people will actually keep coming back and you can make a bible business. And part of
why people use game [INDISTINCT] and do that obsessive form of play, is that those are
often people you can extract the money of it. So what we're trying to do is create this
very healthy style of gaming that can generate enough volume and enough business. That can
be the primary mode of play, not the hyper-competitive. Yes.
>> So one of the means that[INDISTINCT]the questions here as--that, you know [INDISTINCT]
people do interacting more, you start to get a little bit [INDISTINCT] information [INDISTINCT]
you know, you are [INDISTINCT]you got lots of [INDISTINCT] I just recently started working
on [INDISTINCT]like mobile [INDISTINCT] and calendar wherein, you know, they're all about
interaction. But in fact, it's really [INDISTINCT] someone would get points for sending out really
good e-mail rather than its [INDISTINCT] you know, this kind of like, [INDISTINCT] think
about [INDISTINCT] where you actually [INDISTINCT] I like the [INDISTINCT]stuff rather than just
try to generate do play more. >> KIM: That's a great question. So the question
is, how can you use game mechanics and specifically points to reinforcing surface high quality
rather than volume, is that correct? So--well, one thing that you should always ask yourself
is, is points the right mechanic from what I'm trying to do? Personally, when I've seen
people trying to attach points to e-mail, I have not seen that work. I'm not a fan of
that. However, if somebody gets it just right, it'll be fine. But that, to me, doesn't seem
like a natural fit for the points mechanic. So in one thing step back and say, am I using
the right mechanic? That's one way to reinforce. The--I mean, the traditional or the more common
ways of surfacing quality is crowd sourcing, through ratings, or through, you know, metrics
like interestingness. But that takes time. To do crowd sourcing, you have to have people
play at and then you get the rating, etcetera. We have that within our system as well. But
if you're trying to do it in real time, and you're trying to reinforce quality, I--you
know, again, then that wasn't in details. I would have to know in detail...
>> [INDISTINCT] >> KIM: So let me make sure...
>> [INDISTINCT] >> KIM: Right. So let me make sure and understand.
So the question is in Gmail--so in Gmail, you can star the messages that are important
to you. And so that informa--does that information flow back in anyway. Do you think it should?
I mean, it could. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: It depends how you do it. There's a few different ways to do it. One of the
tricks that game designers sometimes use to balance that kind of potential system problem
is to give a limited number, so one thing you could do is say, you know, you have X
stars a day or X stars total, you have--you make it a limited resource. And that can do
like 90% in your work in terms of balancing a system 'cause then, you're not just going
to star indiscriminately, you're going to start the ones that are important to you.
But considering how the feedback feed that back to the user, it seems like a great, the
person you sent it, it seems like it's got some problems but it's potentially a great
idea and we're pushing on because that can give you that kind of feed back that one makes
it more compelling in game like and two, will drive quality to Jerry's point. [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: You may--so the question is, "Does it make sense to look for universal game mechanics
that could apply to a product like Gmail? And everyone, who uses it, is it more something
that would be relevant for and this community? >> [INDISTINCT]
>> KIM: Right. So, the game mechanics I've talked about today are pretty basic and they're
pretty human and they apply broadly. Whether anyone of those game mechanics makes sense
in Gmail is a question that, you know, has to be looked at in the whole context, first
of all. There isn't like Gmail should or shouldn't have points, I don't know. Each of those--and
there was many other game mechanics I didn't talk about today that might actually be great
for something like Gmail. But the general idea of game mechanics, I would say that the
basics of like collect--how powerful it is to collect something and see your collection,
that's universal whether it makes sense or not. But points earning points in letter board
tends do not be as effective with older people for example. It depends--I mean, if you get
the 50-year-old women are playing Bejeweled 24 hours a day then, you know, that's a separate
issue. But in general, people that have grown up with games. So there's a divining line
that we see a lot just in play pattern. People that have grown up with games, grown up with
consoles and Nintendo, et cetera and now have grown up with playing game like experiences
on the web tend to be much more comfortable with and not as stressed-out by. Things like
points and letter boards. I've seen--I did a lot of user testing for clients and I've
seen older people just really gets stressed out. They might be motivated by points but
it's stresses them out, "Oh no, now I'm performing, and." You know, it's just not necessarily
a great--a great technique. But something like really good feedback, that's universal.
You know, and showing people getting better over time, I would say that's really universal.
I think, the presentation layer, the layer of what you show is incredibly important.
And if you show a letter board that looks like a letter board when someone saw on a
game they wants to play, bingo, that's the association they're going to make. If you
show someone a search box that looks like the Google homepage, bingo. So, the game mechanics
generally useful not applicable all the time, the presentation I think, that's where often
having difficult presentation layers for different niches can really--you can see a lot more
success with that. Because of the association that people have with a particular experience.
I'm not sure if that answer your question, but--okay. Thank you guys for the great questions
and for having me here.