Happy New Year 2015! Let the Games Begin!!!
Happy 2015! Let the Games Begin!
2015 finds us starting the year full of excitement at the upcoming adventures with clients old and new. With gaming business models in full disruption, new gaming platforms spawning like fruit flies, and the promise of game mechanics buttering everyone’s slice of bread, 2015 is poised for some real changes.
Looking back at 2014 I am full of appreciation and gratitude for all our amazing clients, colleagues, and friends. Thank You. The wild ride of 2014 sent XEO around the world and revolutionized businesses close to home. We closed out 2013 introducing the magic of the 4 Keys to designers of every stripe at a keynote at the AIGA centennial; and a palace in St. Petersburg Russia to inspire mobile developers and hardware resellers. In 2014 we significantly broadened XEODesign’s research agenda to keynote GDC’s Free to Play Summit, Casual Connect, Serious Play, GSummit, meet ups like Women 2.0, and closed off the year with IBM & TED (see below) and the Samsung Developers Conference.
These gave us a chance to present new research including four emotions that monetize free to play games (and the dangers of current approach was featured in the Guardian and Technorati), the psychology of fun, what it takes to be an evil game designer (seriously), 4 ways games can make you happier (game to get your daily DOSE of these neurochemicals), and how to use emotion to deepen experiences for VR, Smart Watches, and the internet of things. I also had a grand time discussing games, neurons, fun, and happiness on several podcasts including three with Clark Buckner from Technology Advice and the Game Design Round Table with Dirk Knemeyer and David Heron just last week. Check out XEODesign’s new website or ping me if you want videos or slide decks on unlocking human potential through play.
XEODesign’s 2014 consulting doubled our project load over last year with a remarkable number of repeat customers. In 2014 we helped starts ups and the big fish increase the fun factor for technology and games through several player studies for Nexon Mobile, over half a dozen PlayShops, a steady stream of design reviews to keep things interesting, and a record breaking number of from scratch designs for games and productivity tools that leverage the emotions and engagement from play.
At XEODesign we help people learn how to create super fun player experiences. In 2014 we conducted an amazingly high number of PlayShops from one day creativity boot camps to five day intensives where we took teams from initial concept sketches to player testable prototypes. For example we hosted a PlayShop for our friends at the Wonder Workshop to help them invent new kinds of code-teaching play for their educational robots Dash and Dot. Congratulations on their launch this holiday season! Take a look at their blog post for a sneak peek at a PlayShop in action. We went back to Singapore for another round of PlayShops at the Civil Servants College. There participants from instructional designers to representatives from the Prime Ministers Office jumped in, played our special creativity boosting games, and created ground breaking games of their own to improve the quality of life for citizens in Singapore. While visiting Singapore’s multicultural melting pot we hosted several masters classes to provide detailed design feedback on serious games already in development. Back home in the US our PlayShops focused on using game mechanics to improve the workplace, social networking, and making the world a better place. And we rounded this off with innovative game designs where the main goal was to exclusively to have fun.
2014 saw several successes from previous clients. Congratulations to Girl Zone who launched their Girl Zone Challenge Health App for teen girls this year in the App Store with support of major brands such as H&M, Uggs, and Blue Goji. XEO did the UI and game design. App Store Link Also, we are proud that the government procurement game Sense and Sensibility designed at one of XEO’s Singapore PlayShops was accepted to the Korean serious games festival. Fiero! \o/
Our own serious game Tilt World we are proud to announce that players planted 6,000 new trees with our friends at WeForest.org. The continued success of Tilt World over the past two years is very exciting. With a total of 16,000 real trees planted in Madagascar, Tilt World is living proof that games can change the world.
Speaking of change 2015 brings many challenges to those working inside and outside of games. New platforms face significant challenges. 1 in 5 mobile Apps are used only once. And for those developing for VR up to 40% of feel simulator sickness. These present huge challenges for games on new platforms trying to get loyal user bases, not to mention smart watches and the internet of things where 50% of fitness trackers are abandoned because of poor user experiences.
With new gaming platforms changing faster than Mine Craft Mods, the need for innovation and killer apps has never been greater. The good news is that understanding Design Leadership can provide companies the edge. Management is about organizing chaos and incremental improvements. Leadership is about change and in times of great change Design Leadership of products and services provides strategic benefits. Design Leadership creates innovation. Groundbreaking products contain Design Leadership. Design Leadership is something we embody in all our designs here at XEO and something we teach in some of our PlayShops.
For those new to the concept, here’s the high level: Game systems both manage and lead the player. Games have both management and leadership systems inside their mechanics. The solution to increasing engagement is the use of game mechanics to provide leadership like services inside the game. Like a good leader Design Leadership provides an innovative product that creates strong emotions so people know how to feel about the new design. Design Leadership ties the product to a larger vision and leads by example to help the user accomplish that vision.
The emotional qualities of leadership come from crafting emotional responses to actions in games. Like a personal trainer the game provides feedback on progress and performance. A game’s quest, points, and badging systems are management techniques to help players reach a goal. They organize the chaos to ensure that the player knows how to get the goal. In our experience it’s the leadership like qualities of a game that provide the emotions, motivational feedback, and progression systems that create player experiences that are fun.
Design Leadership in games has three qualities. First Design Leadership casts a grand vision, leads by example, and offers a promise of an epic adventure. Design Leadership attracts people to the design with a unique value proposition that’s easy to communicate. Design Leadership in games creates emotions from player actions with moment to moment feedback inspiring and motivating like the best of pocket sized cheerleader and vision evangelist.
Here’s What We Predict Design Leadership Looks Like in 2015:
In the world outside of gaming Design Leadership leverages emotion analytics as you can see IBM do as it presented XEODesign’s 4 Keys on the TED stage. Other efforts design emotions into features of sales tools, project management, and social networks increases engagement, productivity, and workplace happiness. Management is adding points, quests, and badges. Leadership is challenging critical workplace factory model assumptions, diving deep into player psychology, to design deliver exciting emotion inspiring tools and training simulations that generate enthusiasm on par with the best motivational coaches.
Mobile Design Leadership see success from games that challenges the dominate free to play microtransactions model as players become increasingly wary of both the addiction and the credit card bill they racked up in 2014 playing Candy Crush and Clash. Mobile Design Leadership benefits from players who bored with games they “feel compelled” to play decide to spend more time playing games that feel fun to play. Pushing the fun needle from interesting to epic is one of the things we like doing best.
Design Leadership in VR gaming in 2015 comes from experiences other than virtual palace tours, first person shooters, or ports of last years hit console games. Ports and clones are portfolio management. Design Leadership creates ground up experiences with controls and mechanics honed and tuned specifically for the platform. Design Leadership in VR casts a compelling vision and leverages game mechanics and controls to create emotions only possible on the VR platform. We’re looking forward to working with some of you on these kinds of games.
For more on Design Leadership ping me or see my upcoming blog post.
This is why in 2015 I’m looking forward to playing new kinds of games. Most of all I’m looking forward to working with more of you on your projects to unlock human potential through play!
What’s new and exciting in your world? I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to an amazing fun-filled 2015!