Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Engaging sleep mode

First of all, best wish­es for the new year.

Before look­ing ahead, a quick look back. 2015 was great for us. In our end-of-year review of 2014 we said we want­ed to bal­ance cre­ative suc­cess with more com­mer­cial suc­cess. And we did. Busi­ness was good in 2015. We did much more con­sult­ing com­pared to the year before and we worked on one big pro­duc­tion project through­out the year. We also con­tin­ued to find time to con­tin­ue work on our own projects.

Not a bad place to start the new year, right? But after six years of run­ning Hub­bub we feel our con­fig­u­ra­tion as a bou­tique play­ful design agency and per­haps more impor­tant­ly the frames of ‘seri­ous games’ and ‘gam­i­fi­ca­tion’ have out­lived their use­ful­ness. Para­dox­i­cal­ly ‘games’ itself feels averse to our main inter­est: the role of play in the design of humane tech­nol­o­gy.

After some soul-search­ing we have decid­ed to sig­nif­i­cant­ly scale back our day-to-day invest­ment in the organ­i­sa­tion. Effec­tive­ly this means Hub­bub is going into hiber­na­tion for the fore­see­able future. We won’t take on new engage­ments in 2016. It goes with­out say­ing we will be hon­our­ing our pri­or com­mit­ments to clients and we will con­tin­ue to pro­mote and sell our own prod­ucts Bycatch and Cup­pings.

But the prin­ci­pals, that is to say me and Alper are free to pur­sue oth­er paths. Alper has joined Research­Gate in Berlin as a soft­ware engi­neer. Kars is spend­ing half a year in Sin­ga­pore and has returned to free­lance con­sult­ing.

We look back with great fond­ness on these past six years and are proud of all the work we have done. We are grate­ful to all the peo­ple who put their trust in us as clients and to all the peo­ple who chose to col­lab­o­rate with us. The core of Hub­bub may have remained tiny through­out the years but the cir­cle of tal­ent­ed indi­vid­u­als who became part of our net­work has con­tin­u­ous­ly grown and remains its great­est asset. A big thank you to every­one involved.

And final­ly our thanks to you dear read­er for join­ing us on our jour­ney for how­ev­er long it has been. Here’s to new begin­nings in 2016.

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Project KOKORO – a mental health coach for teenagers

In the sum­mer of 2015 we worked with men­tal health care organ­i­sa­tion Ixta Noa on a project code­named KOKORO, a men­tal health coach for teenagers and a life skills teach­ing tool for edu­ca­tors. The goal of the project was to help teenagers gain greater insight into and con­trol over their thoughts and feel­ing. The idea was to pro­vide teenagers with a dig­i­tal tool that would allow them to help them­selves deal with the every­day chal­lenges of ado­les­cence.

A coaching app and a teaching tool

We cre­at­ed a pro­to­type of the coach­ing app and the teach­ing tool. The aim of the pro­to­type was to enable Ixta Noa to (1) test wether the cho­sen approach would be engag­ing and effec­tive and (2) con­vince poten­tial part­ners to sup­port the fur­ther devel­op­ment of the prod­uct.

The coach takes the form of a mobile chat app. Teenagers check in with a char­ac­ter called Noa and talk about what is both­er­ing them. Noa offers sup­port by help­ing them struc­ture their thoughts and feel­ings and for­mu­lat­ing cours­es of action. The con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­face is imme­di­ate­ly recog­nis­able and fun to use.

Screenshot of coaching app

The teach­ing tool con­tains les­son pro­grams which sup­ports teach­ers in the train­ing of life skills in a class­room set­ting. It also pro­vides teach­ers with insights from the data col­lect­ed by the dig­i­tal coach. Such data is anonymised and none of it is col­lect­ed with­out pri­or con­sent from teenagers.

Screenshots of teaching tool

The coach­ing app also ‘knows’ which parts of the train­ing teenagers have com­plet­ed in the class­room and con­nects these to the issues a teenag­er reports to be strug­gling with. In this way life skills are con­tex­tu­alised by each teenager’s unique sit­u­a­tion.

Workshopping, prototyping and playtesting

To kick off the project we ran a design work­shop with the client in which we used our engage­ment loop mod­el to col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly sketch out pos­si­ble approach­es to the prob­lem. The work­shop out­comes were syn­the­sised in a design doc­u­ment.

We also inter­viewed teenagers indi­vid­u­al­ly about how they deal with life chal­lenges and what things they already use to do so. This pro­vid­ed us with won­der­ful sources of inspi­ra­tion some of which found their way into the prod­uct quite direct­ly. Most notably, we includ­ed the idea of out­putting aspi­ra­tional images at the end of ses­sions for them to save and share. This act­ed as both a fun reward and also as an authen­tic word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing mech­a­nism.

Example of aspirational image in the coaching app

After the work­shop and the inter­views we pro­ceed­ed to design and devel­op a pro­to­type over the course of two sprints, each last­ing rough­ly three weeks. Halfway through we ran a playtest and we fin­ished the project with a demo.

We test­ed the pro­to­type with a group of teenagers from dif­fer­ent schools and back­grounds. We brought them togeth­er in one room and invit­ed them to all bring their own device (most of them afford­able Android smart­phones). We began with an open-end­ed con­ver­sa­tion about the sub­ject which sur­faced the broad range of indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences. After the dis­cus­sion we invit­ed them to use the pro­to­type as we walked around and qui­et­ly observed and made notes on their behav­iour. We fin­ished the ses­sion by col­lect­ing feed­back from each teenag­er indi­vid­u­al­ly, organ­is­ing it and dis­cussing it. The playtest out­comes pro­vid­ed us with the raw mate­ri­als for the sec­ond sprint’s back­log.

Playtesting the coaching app

Technology and next steps

The pro­to­type runs in any brows­er, is designed mobile first and requires no serv­er side log­ic. The con­ver­sa­tions were writ­ten in Gingko because of its unique branch­ing mod­el. We devel­oped our own JSON for­mat and Javascript engine for con­ver­sa­tions. The fron­tend was rapid­ly devel­oped using the ZURB Foun­da­tion frame­work and CodeK­it.

Screenshot of the JSON format

The project pro­vid­ed Ixta Noa with a clear way for­ward for the product’s devel­op­ment. An inde­pen­dent team has been spun off from the organ­i­sa­tion which is now plan­ning the product’s fur­ther devel­op­ment. Our work has enabled them to test assump­tions ear­ly and in a brief time­frame. They have also gained deep under­stand­ing of the resources they will require in order to move for­ward. We look for­ward to see­ing the results.

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Project KUMA – a learning and recruitment game for KLM Care Team volunteers

Dur­ing the sec­ond half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 we worked on a project code­named KUMA. We helped KLM Busi­ness Cam­pus under­stand and explore the poten­tial of game-based learn­ing for the pur­pos­es of recruit­ing and train­ing KLM Care Team vol­un­teers. Care Team sup­ports vic­tims and their next of kin in the case of an inci­dent.

The cen­tral ques­tion explored in this project was if and how games could help poten­tial vol­un­teers under­stand what the work of a Care Team mem­ber entails and why they should con­sid­er sign­ing up.

In this project we cre­at­ed a brief, a con­cept port­fo­lio and a pro­duc­tion plan. Sub­se­quent­ly, we cre­at­ed sto­ry­boards and mock­ups for one game con­cept select­ed from the port­fo­lio. Our efforts helped KLM Busi­ness Cam­pus make informed deci­sions about how to best make game-based learn­ing a part of their broad range of learn­ing tech­nol­o­gy inno­va­tion ini­tia­tives.

Workshops

Our approach was high­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive. We were not just con­cerned with cre­at­ing high qual­i­ty deliv­er­ables but also with max­imis­ing knowl­edge trans­fer from us to the KLM Busi­ness Cam­pus team. To this end we organ­ised a num­ber of work­shops at our Utrecht stu­dio. Each work­shop had a spe­cif­ic focus, rang­ing from under­stand­ing applied game design fun­da­men­tals, through gen­er­at­ing game ideas, all the way to plan­ning a game devel­op­ment roadmap.

The work­shops were lead by our prin­ci­pals but we brought in help from our asso­ciate Sebas­t­ian Deter­d­ing and from illus­tra­tor Agnes Loon­stra. Sebastian’s deep exper­tise in game-based learn­ing proved invalu­able as he he cri­tiqued our deliv­er­ables and pro­vid­ed valu­able input. Agnes joined us for the work­shops to rapid­ly visu­alise game ideas as they emerged.

Workshop under way

One of a series of game idea visualisations by Agnes Loonstra

One of a series of game idea visualisations by Agnes Loonstra

Mockups

After com­plet­ing the work­shops and deliv­er­ing the brief, con­cept port­fo­lio and pro­duc­tion plan we went on to select one con­cept and devel­op its design fur­ther through sto­ry­boards and mock­ups. We invit­ed artist Tim Hengeveld to join us for this effort.

We out­lined the sto­ry we want­ed to be able to tell using the mock­ups, sto­ry­board­ed it and final­ly pro­duced high­ly detailed screens. In par­al­lel we wrote the copy to be used in the screens. At every step we spent time with KLM Busi­ness Cam­pus to review and refine the work at hand.

One of a series of game design concept mockups by Tim Hengeveld

A play­er is invit­ed to expe­ri­ence what it is like to work as a Care Team mem­ber.

One of a series of game design concept mockups by Tim Hengeveld

The play­er must observe the liv­ing sit­u­a­tion of a cus­tomer close­ly to pro­vide them with the right sup­port.

One of a series of game design concept mockups by Tim Hengeveld

The sat­is­fac­tion of Care Team work is derived from real­ly being able to help peo­ple. We want­ed to get this across in the game.

The out­comes of the work­shops and the visu­alised game con­cept togeth­er huge­ly increased KLM Busi­ness Campus’s under­stand­ing of game-based learn­ing. After work­ing with us, they were able to con­fi­dent­ly make impor­tant deci­sions about the mix of learn­ing tech­nolo­gies they would employ for the train­ing of KLM Care Team going for­ward. And they had acquired skills and knowl­edge enabling them to start devel­op­ing game-based learn­ing solu­tions in-house.

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Project TEDASUKE – a self-development and self-organisation tool for volunteer children’s book readers

Voor­lee­sEx­press is a project by social inno­va­tion agency SodaPro­duc­ties. Vol­un­teers read books to chil­dren in need of extra help learn­ing the Dutch lan­guage. The project is a huge suc­cess. It oper­ates in 100 munic­i­pal­i­ties, employs 4000 vol­un­teers who read 3700 fam­i­lies annu­al­ly.

In the sum­mer of 2015 we worked with SodaPro­duc­ties to devel­op a design con­cept for a new tool for Voor­lee­sEx­press vol­un­teers. We designed a respon­sive web appli­ca­tion which helps the vol­un­teer read­ers keep track of their work with their fam­i­lies, sup­ports them in the devel­op­ment of their read­ing skills and con­nects them to oth­er vol­un­teers.

Our design con­cept was bro­ken down into three deliv­er­ables: a user jour­ney map, mock­ups and a func­tion­al spec­i­fi­ca­tion. Togeth­er, these pro­vid­ed SodaPro­duc­ties with the nec­es­sary input for them to cre­ate a plan and bud­get, acquire funds, and find a devel­op­ment part­ner. Our work laid a sol­id foun­da­tion for the tool’s fur­ther devel­op­ment in 2016.

User journey map

Our user jour­ney map tells the sto­ry of a volunteer’s work with Voor­lee­sEx­press, from signup, through the 20 weeks of read­ing to a fam­i­ly, to cel­e­brat­ing and shar­ing her accom­plish­ments. It sheds light on the goals, activ­i­ties, thoughts and feel­ings of the vol­un­teer at every step in their jour­ney. For each step it also describes what the future tool will pro­vide her with to sup­port her in her work.

We pro­duced the map in col­lab­o­ra­tion with SodaPro­duc­ties lead­er­ship and experts. Dur­ing a dis­cov­ery work­shop we sketched out a first draft of the map. In the stu­dio we refined the map over sev­er­al iter­a­tions and used data from a wide range of research reports to enrich the sto­ry. Even before com­ple­tion the map was already in use by SodaPro­duc­ties to tell the sto­ry of their plans to their part­ners.

Sketching the user journey map during the discovery workshop

Part of the finished user journey map

Mockups

Using the user jour­ney map we iden­ti­fied a num­ber of key screens to visu­alise. We iter­at­ed on the mock­ups with fre­quent review ses­sions at the SodaPro­duc­ties offices, going through rough hand drawn sketch­es and more detailed wire­frames. Final­ly, we brought in fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor Simon Scheiber to cre­ate high­ly detailed mock­ups.

We built on the exist­ing Voor­lee­sEx­press brand and devel­oped it fur­ther into a visu­al lan­guage suit­able for respon­sive web appli­ca­tions. We also includ­ed exam­ples of real­is­tic con­tent in the mock­ups so that they could be used along­side the user jour­ney map to tell the sto­ry of the tool as if it was already real.

Sketch, wireframe and mockup of a screen side-by side

Functional specification

Being strong believ­ers in agile plan­ning, we pro­posed to not cre­ate a detailed func­tion­al spec but in stead to write a list of user sto­ries. These user sto­ries were based on the user jour­ney map and mock­ups but also cov­ered func­tion­al­i­ty avail­able to SodaPro­duc­ties through the tool’s back­end. We also esti­mat­ed the ‘weight’ of each sto­ry using t-shirt sizes. By extrap­o­lat­ing from our own expe­ri­ence design­ing and devel­op­ing sim­i­lar prod­ucts we could sub­se­quent­ly pro­vide SodaPro­duc­ties with an esti­mat­ed bud­get, which they used to bench­mark pro­pos­als from poten­tial devel­op­ment part­ners.

Part of the functional spec

The user jour­ney map, mock­ups and func­tion­al spec togeth­er paint a suf­fi­cient­ly detailed pic­ture of a tool that helps SodaPro­duc­ties take the next step in grow­ing Voor­lee­sEx­press and helps vol­un­teers devel­op them­selves and organ­ise their work in a has­sle free and fun man­ner.

Pay­ing close atten­tion to vol­un­teer moti­va­tion proved key—as it does in any Hub­bub project. Voor­lee­sEx­press read­ers do the work because they enjoy becom­ing a bet­ter ver­sion of them­selves and feel­ing use­ful to soci­ety. Vol­un­teer­ing is a great expres­sion of auton­o­my and we were very care­ful not to make any design choic­es which would neg­a­tive­ly affect this sense if auton­o­my. This is chal­leng­ing, because of course there are cer­tain things a vol­un­teer must do. Vol­un­teer work is not with­out com­mit­ment. Our strat­e­gy was to con­nect such chores to learn­ing activ­i­ties. As read­ers improved their skills through var­i­ous dig­i­tal resources and reflect­ed on their own devel­op­ment, they also auto­mat­i­cal­ly record­ed the data required of them. In short, the per­ceived chores were giv­en a new con­text and in this way were made mean­ing­ful.

We think much vol­un­teer work can ben­e­fit from dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion sim­i­lar to project TEDASUKE. Our col­lab­o­ra­tion with SodaPro­duc­ties has pro­vid­ed them with new expe­ri­ence that will help them not only trans­form their own organ­i­sa­tion but con­ceiv­ably makes them well-posi­tioned to help oth­ers in the field make progress. We look for­ward to see­ing the results.

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Week 331

Hope you had a love­ly Christ­mas.

Due to the hol­i­days this was a very short week for us. Alper con­tin­ued to put the final touch­es on an upcom­ing release of Cup­pings. He also ful­filled some more Bycatch orders. Oth­er than this we took care of some end-of-the-year admin­is­tra­tive stuff and that’s about it.

Have a good New Year’s Eve, and see you back here in 2016.

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Week 330

With the big push I report­ed on last week behind us, we took it easy in week 330.

Alper took some time off and head­ed to Ams­ter­dam where he checked out some new spots for Cup­pings. He also con­tin­ued to take care of Bycatch ful­fil­ment.

I fin­ished our work with State of Flux on project HENDO by writ­ing a brief note on how we think the next stage of the project would be best han­dled.

And that’s it, real­ly. Not much else of note to report.

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Week 327, 328 and 329

It’s been qui­et around here due to a big push on wrap­ping up our cur­rent client engage­ments before the end of the year.

Most of our time was spent on HENDO. I head­ed over to Berlin to spend a few days with Alper in the same room, fill­ing white­boards as we worked towards a design con­cept. I left Berlin with a first draft of a slide doc describ­ing our efforts. The next week, I reviewed the doc­u­ment with State of Flux in Ams­ter­dam. And the week after, I processed their feed­back into a sec­ond ver­sion and also did some sketch­ing to visu­alise the product’s com­po­nents and expe­ri­ence of use. The whole thing has shaped up nice­ly and State of Flux is already mak­ing plans for the product’s next stage of devel­op­ment.

Then there is Free Birds. The big news is that, after ten months of design and devel­op­ment, we released the game to the App Store last week. This is a soft launch. Mar­ket­ing of the app by our client the Dutch Muse­ums Asso­ci­a­tion will prob­a­bly kick off in the new year once a cou­ple more muse­ums have joined in.

But for now, if you’re curi­ous, you can load up the app on an iPad and take the fam­i­ly to Air­borne Muse­um ‘Harten­stein’ in Oost­er­beek and give it a go. (I’m sor­ry friends abroad, the game is only avail­able in the Nether­lands.)

Before we could release Free Birds, we had to take care of a few last small things that result­ed from the review of the gold mas­ter and then sub­mit it to Apple. The app was approved swift­ly, and so now we are done, which feels great.

We’ll write the whole thing up in due course but for now I will just say I am proud of what the team achieved on this project. A spe­cial shout-out to our col­lab­o­ra­tors Tim and Niels for their great work on the game’s art and writ­ing, respec­tive­ly.

I think we’ve pro­duced a unique muse­um game: loca­tion-based using iBea­cons, a con­ver­sa­tion­al UI, cross-gen­er­a­tional play, mild­ly sub­ver­sive and filled to the brim with big dilem­mas.

The final client engage­ment is NAMI. I’ll keep this short: I had two pro­duc­tive ses­sions with the peo­ple at Tin­ker Imag­i­neers in which we col­lab­o­rat­ed on a con­cept deck. Then, I joined them for a pre­sen­ta­tion at the client, which was received well. Our con­tri­bu­tion has come to and end now that we’ve helped them under­stand the seri­ous games space. Tin­ker will go on to plan the next stage, which will be design and devel­op­ment. I look for­ward to see­ing the end result.

And last but not least, we worked on our side projects. Bycatch received a nice bump in orders due to some nice tweets from taste-mak­ers in the field such as Pao­lo Ped­erci­ni and Robert Yang. And Cup­pings is inch­ing ever clos­er to a big new release as Alper and Simon work on some sweet final micro inter­ac­tions.

So yeah, we’ve wrapped up a lot of things in the past few weeks and what loose ends remain will like­ly fin­ish before Christ­mas.

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Week 326

The big thing this week was us fin­ish­ing the gold mas­ter release for Free Birds and review­ing it with our client, the Dutch Muse­ums Asso­ci­a­tion. Bar­ring a few final small fix­es we are ready to sub­mit to Apple after which it’s fin­gers crossed.

For project HENDO I head­ed over to Ams­ter­dam for the first work­shop with the State of Flux team in which we col­lec­tive­ly orri­ent­ed towards a promis­ing design direc­tion. Sub­se­quent­ly I attend­ed their final cocre­ation ses­sion for tem­po­rary spa­tial improve­ments to the Buik­sloter­meer­plein area.

In between all this I vis­it­ed Tin­ker Imag­i­neers twice to help them fig­ure out the design con­cept for a cor­po­rate onboard­ing game app.

Mean­while Alper took care of some house­keep­ing. The projects we opened up on GitHub now have prop­er readmes and licens­es attached. And we are prepar­ing the long-over­due move of this web­site to hubbub.eu.

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Week 324–325

Rolling two weeks into one for these notes, ‘because rea­sons.’

We com­plet­ed what is offi­cial­ly the last sprint on Free Birds, get­ting every­thing in ship shape. We now have a ‘gold mas­ter’ sit­ting ready for release, which will hap­pen at the client’s ear­li­est con­ve­nience.

On project HENDO, we mapped State of Flux’s cur­rent process so that we have a com­mon point of ref­er­ence. Once we get this wrapped up we can move on to the next step, which is trans­lat­ing this process map into game mechan­ics.

A new small con­sul­tan­cy gig (code­named NAMI) took off as well. I am help­ing out Tin­ker Imag­i­neers with design con­cepts for an onboard­ing game app they are mak­ing for a com­pa­ny in the semi­con­duc­tor indus­try. It’s most­ly me drop­ping by their stu­dio a few times a week to go over their progress and offer insights from my expe­ri­ence mak­ing sim­i­lar things.

I pub­lished my write-up of a short lec­ture on how to shift the con­ver­sa­tion from gam­i­fi­ca­tion to play­ful design.

And final­ly, Alper received good news with regards to his Inter­ac­tion 16 pro­pos­al. He’ll be in Helsin­ki in the new year to share his expe­ri­ences pro­to­typ­ing and build­ing con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­faces.

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Shifting from Gamification to Playful Design

This is a light­ly edit­ed tran­script of a short lec­ture I deliv­ered some time ago at an off-site gath­er­ing orga­nized by one of NL’s largest con­struc­tion-ser­vices busi­ness­es. The event explored the poten­tial of games, game design and gam­i­fi­ca­tion for prop­er­ty devel­op­ment and con­struc­tion. This talk cre­ates a com­mon frame of under­stand­ing about gam­i­fi­ca­tion and why ‘play­ful design’ is a more pro­duc­tive approach.

Feedback Systems

Let’s start with a def­i­n­i­tion of gam­i­fi­ca­tion. The Gam­i­fi­ca­tion Research Net­work offers the fol­low­ing: “using game design ele­ments in non-game con­texts.”

Foursquare remains the blue­print for most ‘naive’ imple­men­ta­tions of this idea. Take a prod­uct or ser­vice and add fea­tures such as points, badges, leader­boards, etc.

How­ev­er, such fea­tures are feed­back sys­tems and these are not unique to games.

Now, the assump­tion is that adding such feed­back sys­tems leads to high­er engage­ment and moti­va­tion from users.

But from a prac­ti­cal stand­point we quick­ly run into a prob­lem. In which case should we use which par­tic­u­lar sys­tem? This grab bag of feed­back sys­tems lacks an instruc­tion man­u­al.

If we want to be able to answer this ques­tion we need to stop focus­ing on feed­back sys­tems, and instead look at the peo­ple we are design­ing for and the con­text in which they use our prod­uct or ser­vice.

Motivation

Like I said, feed­back sys­tems are not unique to games. A bet­ter start­ing point is the actu­al source of what makes them fun: learn­able chal­lenges.

Put dif­fer­ent­ly, what we should do is shift from game ele­ments, to a gam­ing state of mind. This gam­ing state of mind is also known as game­ful­ness.

So let’s unpack this gam­ing state of mind. Learn­ing is a huge source of plea­sure in games. We enjoy the expe­ri­ence of com­pe­tence.

But next to this mas­tery of sys­tems, explor­ing game sys­tems and express­ing our­selves through them is anoth­er huge source of plea­sure. We enjoy this expe­ri­ence of free­dom. If game­ful­ness is char­ac­terised by the need for com­pe­tence. Play­ful­ness is char­ac­terised by a need for auton­o­my.

And in both the case of com­pe­tence and auton­o­my, we derive plea­sure from play­ing along­side oth­ers. We enjoy relat­ed­ness.

So these are three sources of plea­sure in games and play. In fact, they are innate psy­cho­log­i­cal needs.

Engagement Loops

These con­cepts give us a start­ing point for apply­ing game design to prod­ucts and ser­vices. They can be the start of our instruc­tion man­u­al.

The first step is to under­stand what moti­vates our par­tic­u­lar audi­ence. From these moti­va­tions, we can rea­son back to what feed­back sys­tems will pro­vide peo­ple with the desired need ful­fil­ment.

The next step is to return to the con­cept of a learn­able chal­lenge. For there to be a chal­lenge there must be goals. These goals are informed by what we want peo­ple to do, and what peo­ple them­selves want to achieve.

If we know what goals users will be pur­su­ing, we can start think­ing about what tools and resources we need to give them in order for them to be able to do so.

These tools con­nect with the afore­men­tioned feed­back sys­tems. The feed­back sys­tems have already been con­nect­ed to user moti­va­tions and from these moti­va­tions we can loop back to the goals we have iden­ti­fied.

The mod­el I have just out­lined is what we call the engage­ment loop, and it is at the heart of how we think about and design for moti­va­tion and engage­ment. It is a much more sophis­ti­cat­ed approach than gam­i­fi­ca­tion.

Playful Design

So we shift from gam­i­fi­ca­tion to play­ful design. The key idea is that we can make things that are use­ful, that peo­ple use to achieve cer­tain things, but that at the same time allow for a play­ful atti­tude.

By focus­ing on play­ful­ness we remind our­selves that moti­va­tion is as much about mas­tery or com­pe­tence as it is about cre­ativ­i­ty. We can design things to allow for both a sense of achieve­ment and a sense of free­dom. We can make our designs adapt­able to a range of social sit­u­a­tions. And so ulti­mate­ly we can make them more humane.

I can’t empha­sise enough how our intent is to add degrees of free­dom, not to be more con­trol­ling. More con­trol lim­its play­ful­ness, instead of enabling it.

So in sum­ma­ry (1) instead of feed­back sys­tems think learn­able chal­lenges, (2) under­stand that moti­va­tion comes from the sat­is­fac­tion of the needs to feel com­pe­tent, autonomous and relat­ed and (3) use this under­stand­ing of moti­va­tion to con­nect goals with tools and tools feed­back and (4) play­ful sys­tems are humane sys­tems. If you care about peo­ple-friend­ly tech­nol­o­gy, you should care about play.

Further Reading

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