who has specialized in game development for 20 years, published an op-ed on TechCrunch
that predicted the end of the current gaming revolution in the Bay Area and expects the 2.0 version to begin, unpredictably so. One particular line caught my eye -
They have also proved to have significant shortcomings in certain areas – especially the key area of gameplay value – but those will in time be folded into a second generation of social games.
Gameplay value is the benefit to the player who participates in the game playing activity. I argue that is largely because of the Behaviorism (or Behaviourism) has gone rogue - game designers are focused on increasing product adherence rather than risking redesign that is more attuned to their players' needs.
Let me explain.
Companies often see people's role as consumers. Politicians often see people's role as voters. Non-profits consider people to primarily be donors. But the organization hasn't traditionally seen its members as anything more than "feeders" (versus contributors). A recent trend and publications
encourages companies to co-create products with their consumers to yield greater margins and more adherence.
But there is a fundamental problem with the word "adherence" as Doug Solomon
@ IDEO pointed out last week at the Health 2.0 conference. To paraphrase, he said that the term "adherence" indicates that something is wrong with the user and not with the product.
In other words, if a designer wants to increase adherence, it needs to be a consequence of the product's (or game's) viability to the user, not just the desirability.
If game designers continue to focus on desirability with richer graphics, greater pixels, and more realistic effects, the next revolution in gaming is likely to face similar obstacles of adherence (among others).
My hypothesis is to focus on the drivers of viability - emotional, cognitive, and social needs (versus desires) that change with time, location, and context.Desires versus Needs
Although I need to do more research in this area, I consider desires to be fundamentally more short-lived and changeable while needs to be fundamentally long-lived and non-negotiable. Companies are familiar with external rewards (i.e. extrinsic motivation methods) and appear to focus on converting desires into needs. Mr. Kelly's op-ed clearly shows that this does not work so well. Such a flawed focus is because our current paradigm suggests that it is impossible to know someone's emotional/cognitive/social needs but we can learn about their desires because of their actions (for eg., purchases on Amazon). However, this is about to change with innovations at the intersection of big data, behavior, and business.
But without a framework and appropriately designed tools, we will repeatedly (and dangerously) sway into increasing adherence narrowly for each product/company (using failing and external methods of motivation aka promotions or rewards) causing both experiential (cognitive) dissonance for users and lower sales for products due to lower adherence or losing user trust (with increasing failure of products, users are less likely to experiment within the category).
So what would such a framework look like? How can we even conceptualize such products?A Framework for Conceptualization
"Get Out of the Building" is a familiar line in the field of consumer innovation these days. But what we do before we get to the parking lot? How do we prepare and determine what to test?
I believe that product managers and executives who conceptualize products
(before designing them) can benefit from such a framework before they leave the building. A product conceptualization framework that can lead to products with personalization features, such as an adaptive UX layer and habit-driven recommendations, by being fundamentally more attuned to a user's needs instead of their desires.
This framework is not necessarily for gaming but for any consumer-oriented products/services.More Posts to Come
My future blog posts will address some of these features in further detail. Please feel free to comment on what you would like to see and if you've tried addressing the same problem.