Four Traits of a Game

One way of motivating people to do things they didn’t really think they would do, is to make a game out of it. Gamification if you like. From Jane Mcgonigal’s book, I’ve found her defining traits of a game:

“The goal is the specific outcome that players will work to achieve.” It gives players purpose.

Rules place limitations on how players can achieve the goal.” They push players to “explore preciously uncharted possibility spaces” and “unleash creativity and foster strategic thinking”.

“The feedback system tells players how close they are to achieving the goal.” This refers to points, a score, progress bar or levels. Real-time feedback pushes players.

Voluntary participation requires that everyone who is laying the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback.” It establishes common ground between players.

She says that everything else in games works to enhance these four primary traits. Wow.

King of Two Wheels Launch

To test our ideas about motivation, and to get some insights into different bike personas, we’ve decided to launch a game in our studio. Four contestants, a map over New York City, and 500 feet of yarn are some of the ingredients required to (hopefully) make this work. Here’s an early prototype:

The contest is mainly a race to make people bike more during a week. But in addition to measuring how much you bike through pinning yarn on the map, there will be different challenges. These challenges are crafted to touch upon some of the themes we’ve been researching lately; Way-finding, Tracking, Discovery, Group rides, Safety, etc. And to make sure we capture our contestants thoughts, joys and worries when it comes to biking in the city, we’ll make them pour their heart out in the video confession booth. As this also is an experiment in designing for public interfaces, we’ve tried to design the booth as a “walk-up-interface” so that you don’t need people guiding you through the process. Cartoonish drawings of people are hopefully enough to make our contestants talk:

We’re also thinking of different ways to involve the rest of our classmates. Our hypothesis is that a big part of motivation for many is the social pressure – which is why sharing the love for biking will be valued even more than just riding long distances solo.

It’s hard to plan a game like this. We’ve made a program for the whole week, but we need to plan for potential adjustments throughout based on how things evolve after the launch. If all goes well with our last preparations, the game starts Tuesday morning. We’re very excited that our bike princes and princesses have accepted the challenge – to fight to become the King of Two Wheels:

Guri, Cooper, Tash and Dave – GOOOOOOD LUCK!