Immanent Gaming

Game dynamics are about motivating people. And you can put game dynamics into almost any activity to motivate people to participate.

Like running, for instance.

Jane McGonigal, doyenne of the ARG world, has Nikes (and a little imagination) that make running into a video game. She’s just posted on the shoes she’s using – they’re linked to sensors so her iPod records the physical profile of her whole run. Then she posts it online.

Anyone with an internet connection can see how far and how hard she’s been booking it. Anyone with the same system can post their run profile on line . . . and if you can post online, you can compete . . . with the whole world. So your run becomes a game.

The idea is that you run more when you run with/against other people.

Quite a reasonable idea, I’d say.

It’s not just running. Raph Koster has posted some interesting talks on using game design to attract people to web sites – even sales and info sites with no ‘entertainment’ content. One of the core ideas is to apply rankings and a reputation system. That way any user can see how they rate compared to the others – and climbing social ranks seems to be something we’re engineered for. See here for a good presentation – it really got me thinking about applying game dynamics to other systems. The audio to that is here.

The point is that if you structure some game dynamics into almost any activity, it can motivate people to participate.Game dynamics in action

That’s what this is about—>

Game dynamics in action!

Here’s a perfect example of how Amazon.com has adapted this idea to motivate participation in Askville, an online question-and-answer site. Askville users get Experience Points and Gold for participating. If you contribute a lot, you accumulate experience points and level-up, just like in a role-playing game.

What can you do with your gold? Nothing, for the moment. But you can have it. And you can have more than the next guy. That’s enough of a motivation for a lot of people, apparently.

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