My sister and I (She’s in Ukraine and she speaks Russian to me!! sometimes) We were arguing about ChronoTrigger the other day. She absolutely loves it and thinks its ace. I have not been able to play it, in that, I tried and didn’t like it much. ‘But!’ my sister argues ‘It’s got great stages and level-ups, you can time-travel and end the game in 13 ways!’ Oh well, that’s all chipper, but I’ll stick to Final Fantasy, thank you very much.
Our conversation, made me realize that despite Chronotrigger having such fantastic gameplay with great Challenge/Reward loops, it didn’t appeal to me. Right now, I don’t even know what the goal of the game was. This is an element that must be put into consideration for any design. ‘Are people interested in achieving this goal?’ ‘What kinds of people?’ If I’m not interested in getting to a particular place, despite the ‘enablers’ I would more likely drop out of the process. I must really want to get there first.
I read this article –> The Newsonomics of Gamification and Civilization some days after my sister and I spoke. The comment by Kathysierra really drives home the point. It cannot just be about making things fun, or introducing reward/challenge loops, people have to first want to do a thing otherwise it ends up being manipulative and forceful. And it’s great that we can have these options because well, variety is the spice of life, I didn’t play chronotrigger, I played Final Fantasy instead, I achieved my goals and had fun.
The main points of learning I’ve taken from all this is
1. There must be a goal we want to achieve, not one that someone wants you to achieve. And if designing a gamified system, make sure you cater to this need.
2. It may not all go according to plan. Games provide a safety valve (Reset, Save, Extra Life, ‘Cheat’ mode ) incase of the unexpected happening ( Mario falling into a pit or NEPA switching off power just in the middle of killing off Raiden) In life, when designing make allowance for ‘Safety valves’
3. Rewards must be tangible and should contribute to actually helping to achieve desired goals. (A better gaming pad over badges, any day!)
4. It is a life-long learning process, we shouldn’t design like we have all the answers. Design to enable the users learn something along the way. Make the experience as wonderful as achieving the goal would be.