Game patterns in mundane applications

22 Nov 2006 - 12:45pm
7 years ago
10 replies
928 reads
Lorne Trudeau
2006

I'm a big fan of pattern libraries. In particular, I really enjoy taking
patterns that appear primarily in gaming environments and applying them
through my work (web application development). Things such as:

- Keeping Score

- Customization/Personalization

- Progress Indication

- Item Collection

- Random Discovery

Does anyone out there have any thoughts or interesting stories/examples
of applying game theory to traditionally more "mundane" contexts? What
other patterns have people found appearing in game development?

Lorne

P.S. This thought stems from the Gambits discussion initiated by Mark
Canlas.

Comments

22 Nov 2006 - 2:01pm
Robert Brown
2006

- Keeping Score

In Turbo Tax they have an indicator in the upper right that shows if you
pay or get a return, which makes doing your taxes a bit like playing a
slot machine, not really but this small indicator defiantly takes the
mundane, or pain out of the process.

Thank you Turbo Tax

22 Nov 2006 - 2:20pm
gretchen anderson
2005

The ING website has an odometer of the running total of "Total interest
paid since Sept. 2000". It's currently in the low billions of dollars
and they tick by quickly enough that you feel a little like you're
making money just going there.

Gretchen

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22 Nov 2006 - 3:58pm
jbellis
2005

Lorne,
I design a large workflow system where users process tasks, ad nauseum.
After playing around with WoW a little, I proposed adding some features from
massively multiplayer online apps, such as a tiered incentive system for
completing tasks. At the low end of the reward spectrum, users could get
decorations on their online character, which would appear on their
application desktop. In the middle tiers, I suppose they could win T-shirts
and whatnot. I figure that at the highest end, without costing the company
any cash, the user who performs 10,000 tasks could get to choose his
supervisor!

Another feature might be seeing the other users wandering around your
desktop, and you could click to chat with them. Maybe trade tasks? (Oh
noooo, somewhere a manager is turning beet red and smoke is coming out their
ears.)

So far, these proposals have passed the "ignored as if the words weren't
even spoken" stage, and the "manager left the company" stage, and even the
"ignored as if it wasn't serious" stage... and I'm still on the case. I hope
to get to the stage where the president comes to my office and says, "You
should see my kid's WoW game. We should do something like that."

-Jack

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lorne Trudeau" <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com>
To: <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 12:45 PM
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Game patterns in mundane applications

> I'm a big fan of pattern libraries. In particular, I really enjoy taking
> patterns that appear primarily in gaming environments and applying them
> through my work (web application development). Things such as:
>
>
>
> - Keeping Score
>
> - Customization/Personalization
>
> - Progress Indication
>
> - Item Collection
>
> - Random Discovery
>
>
>
> Does anyone out there have any thoughts or interesting stories/examples
> of applying game theory to traditionally more "mundane" contexts? What
> other patterns have people found appearing in game development?
>
>
>
> Lorne
>
>
>
> P.S. This thought stems from the Gambits discussion initiated by Mark
> Canlas.
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

22 Nov 2006 - 4:24pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Nov 22, 2006, at 9:45 AM, Lorne Trudeau wrote:

> Does anyone out there have any thoughts or interesting stories/
> examples
> of applying game theory to traditionally more "mundane" contexts? What
> other patterns have people found appearing in game development?

Funny you should mention this. The session I've proposed as part of
the IxDA Workshop at the IA Summit this year is about this very topic.

I'm also considering this as a topic for an Adaptive Path Master
Class in May/June 2007, which are new workshops for advanced
practitioners on specific topics like this one in a small, non-
conference-like setting. Let me know offline if you'd be interested
in participating in this.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan Saffer, IDSA
http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
www.odannyboy.com

22 Nov 2006 - 4:50pm
Lorne Trudeau
2006

" a tiered incentive system for completing tasks"

Jack,
One of the biggest problems I've found with applying these sorts of
patterns is that I have to be careful with regard to the "politics" of
the application.
For example, if I propose some functionality like you've described where
the system counts tasks completed and ranks users according to task
completion, there have been issues around creating an inappropriate
atmosphere of competition within the organization. The worker who ranks
lowest in the results might feel that they are not good enough or might
otherwise be discouraged by the system.
One concept I was playing with was having some sort of map or
visualization of all the tasks in the system. It would indicate the
various states of tasks and change colour or size according to the
number of tasks in each state. All the users would then work together to
try to keep the visualization in a positive state. The visualization
could be something fun ... like a balloon that continues to inflate as
tasks build up and deflate as tasks decrease. If the balloon pops, the
manager is notified that they are getting overwhelmed with tasks (uh oh,
overtime!). The key here is that the visualization is applied for the
whole team, not an individual.
Lorne

22 Nov 2006 - 5:25pm
Josh Seiden
2003

This is a really interesting point, Lorne. I've worked with systems that
measure elements of user performance and feed that performance metric back
to the user and the community. This feedback loop influences user and
community behavior--which was the goal. The tricky thing is that the
influences created some unexpected results. It took a number of generations
of tweaks to the metrics and the visualizations and other feedback
mechanisms in order to drive the desired behavior.

JS

On 11/22/06, Lorne Trudeau <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com> wrote:
>
> " a tiered incentive system for completing tasks"
>
> Jack,
> One of the biggest problems I've found with applying these sorts of
> patterns is that I have to be careful with regard to the "politics" of
> the application.
> For example, if I propose some functionality like you've described where
> the system counts tasks completed and ranks users according to task
> completion, there have been issues around creating an inappropriate
> atmosphere of competition within the organization.

22 Nov 2006 - 5:30pm
Ryan Nichols
2005

Great topic. I think 'Keeping score / Progress Indication' pattern is
one of the strongest and really touches home emotionally for a user. I
think it can easily apply to many mundane business apps. As a designer
one can look for what is the positive motivator within the user goals.
Uncover what the main desired outcome of the user is, and use these
types of feedback indicators to elicit positive feelings of motivation
and reward.

For a online banking application, the concept of saving in a savings
account can easily be game-ized. The user can set a savings goal, and
the numbers can be broken down with a visual feedback graphic that
offers incentive as the 'pot' grows towards the user goal. Positive
language with a light and cheerful tone encourages meeting the goals,
with 'rewards' as the monthly / quarterly goal is obtained.

I love these game concepts. With just a splash of creativity, our
interaction with apps can be shown for what it really is...both a
cognitive and emotional experience.

Ryan Nichols
Creative Director
Apples To Oranges

Lorne Trudeau wrote:
> I'm a big fan of pattern libraries. In particular, I really enjoy taking
> patterns that appear primarily in gaming environments and applying them
> through my work (web application development). Things such as:
>
>
>
> - Keeping Score
>
> - Customization/Personalization
>
> - Progress Indication
>
> - Item Collection
>
> - Random Discovery
>
>
>
> Does anyone out there have any thoughts or interesting stories/examples
> of applying game theory to traditionally more "mundane" contexts? What
> other patterns have people found appearing in game development?
>
>
>
> Lorne
>
>
>
> P.S. This thought stems from the Gambits discussion initiated by Mark
> Canlas.
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

23 Nov 2006 - 10:36am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Nov 22, 2006, at 12:45 PM, Lorne Trudeau wrote:

> - Keeping Score

I've often thought we could increase the nation's GDP by putting a
high-score function in Excel.

Seriously, ideas like this have been battered around for a while and
even included. Digg (http://www.digg.com) is probably the most
prominent example of a scoring system integrated with a design.

There are two issues the come from this, which I think are very
important:

1) The measures have to be very important to production of the
results. As has been recently discussed over at SIGIA-L, if you
measure the wrong thing, you get the wrong result. People work
towards the measures. (Joel Spolky talked about this here: http://
tinyurl.com/y9efu3 )

2) People game systems. Optimizing a tax return for refunds
potentially introduces opportunities for an audit. Short term gain
(getting the biggest refund result) will become long term pain
(meeting an IRS auditor and losing time going over every portion of
the claim). The system has to be designed to avoid gaming.

MMORPGs suffer from both of these. If the measures aren't
interesting, players lose interest in the game (and the companies
thereby lose subscription revenues). If people game the system, it
can make it unfair for those who are just trying to accomplish their
goals outside of the "game".

Digg suffers from these regularly. My colleague, Josh Porter,
regularly follows the gaming issues at Digg on his blog, Bokardo:
http://tinyurl.com/vgzu9

So, my thinking is that any design patterns which are talking about
game elements needs to also talk about the social dynamics of those
elements. Otherwise, designers are unlikely to implement the patterns
in a way that won't have difficult downstream effects.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

23 Nov 2006 - 3:32pm
Lorne Trudeau
2006

One of the reasons I bring this up, is that it seems to me that the game
industry has traditionally lead software UI development. They were the
first to really take advantage of GUIs, mice, 3-D environments, etc.
This might have something to due with the amount of money being spent on
game development and a necessity for games to differentiate themselves
in order to be successful. But whatever the reason, I think they offer a
wealth of information.

Moving beyond the pattern of "keeping score" (which is a fairly obvious
and well used pattern), I'd like to offer another example. I'm a huge
boxing fan and enjoy playing the Fight Night series of games from EA.
Traditionally, boxing games involve pressing a button to get your
character to throw a punch. EA found that by using the analog controller
to indicate the motion of the character's hands, the player could have a
much more natural and fluid way of controlling punching.

So how could we apply this principle to, say, web development? Well,
that's exactly what the "Don't Click It" (http://www.dontclick.it/)
people asked. They threw out the very basis of web interaction and
considered an alternative. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. Maybe it
works for some things but not others. I don't really know.

Here's a small collection of some game interaction design patterns:

http://www.eelke.com/research/usability.html

How might some of these patterns fit into your projects?

Lorne

27 Nov 2006 - 4:37pm
David VanEsselstyn
2006

There was a good blog post on the nike + running kit ipod attachment a
couple of months back, and how running with the system is point/game based.

http://www.cabel.name/2006/08/multiplayer-game-of-year.html

Running, to me, is as mundane as it gets... yet I can see how this feature
would make it less so.

--D. VanEsselstyn

The second best part about the Nike+ running — the cool, video-game like
part — is that you not only run, but you also get points for running. Your
score ever-increases. Better still, if you set goals for yourself, you even
get awesome virtual trophies and ribbons, resplendent in their vector
beauty. Just like Pac-Man got to eat the occasional delicious (albeit
high-sodium) pretzel treat in-between hundreds of dots, the Nike+ runner
gets the occasional trophy treat in between the miles. As I understand it, a
lot of people run for so-called "exercise", but let me tell you: points are
way cooler.

On 11/23/06, Lorne Trudeau <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com> wrote:
> One of the reasons I bring this up, is that it seems to me that the game
> industry has traditionally lead software UI development. They were the
> first to really take advantage of GUIs, mice, 3-D environments, etc.
> This might have something to due with the amount of money being spent on
> game development and a necessity for games to differentiate themselves
> in order to be successful. But whatever the reason, I think they offer a
> wealth of information.
>
>
>
> Moving beyond the pattern of "keeping score" (which is a fairly obvious
> and well used pattern), I'd like to offer another example. I'm a huge
> boxing fan and enjoy playing the Fight Night series of games from EA.
> Traditionally, boxing games involve pressing a button to get your
> character to throw a punch. EA found that by using the analog controller
> to indicate the motion of the character's hands, the player could have a
> much more natural and fluid way of controlling punching.
>
>
>
> So how could we apply this principle to, say, web development? Well,
> that's exactly what the "Don't Click It" (http://www.dontclick.it/)
> people asked. They threw out the very basis of web interaction and
> considered an alternative. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. Maybe it
> works for some things but not others. I don't really know.
>
>
>
> Here's a small collection of some game interaction design patterns:
>
>
>
> http://www.eelke.com/research/usability.html
>
>
>
> How might some of these patterns fit into your projects?
>
>
>
> Lorne
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

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