Robert Tercek took the stage at Casual Connect this morning to share his thoughts on the state of gaming in today’s connected world. He began his presentation by pointing out that games are not needed everywhere. The over-gamification currently happening clearly is not to Robert’s liking (a theme very popular among presenters at this year’s Casual Connect conference).
In Robert’s experience, when games are available everywhere and to everyone, the exposure and maximization of the player base can actually turn some people away as they get more than they bargained for. This change in gaming dynamics can be disconcerting for the player and must be managed accordingly.
Robert clearly targeted Facebook gaming (Zynga in particular) with the remainder of his presentation. Specifically, he called out CityVille (which, based on the number of active players is pointed to as the most popular game in the world). In essence, he likened the game to running on a treadmill.
Furthermore, he took issue with the constant bombarding the player to buy stuff. He summarized CityVille as more or less a "boring game" wherein Zynga expects the player "to get bored". This boredom then leads the player to actually pay Zynga to accelerate the pace of the game.
To be clear, Robert concludes CityVille players are actually paying Zynga so they don’t have to play the game.
Gifting was next up for Robert’s presentation. He pointed out that every time you gift something, it brings with it a form of obligation and the feeling of reciprocity. To leverage this, of course, Facebook game developers limit a player’s progress if they don’t have enough friends playing the game. Roberts conclusion is that THIS is the game. The game isn’t CityVille…the game is, ‘how often can I spam my friends and lean on them before they push back?’.
Robert likens the Facebook / Zynga relationship to the Shark / Remora relationship.
Again, Robert laid his feelings out on the table when his first statement.
“Gamification sucks. We are stripping something out of games when we gamify.”
In the gamification world, the challenges are not game goals. They are marketing goals. This is the current battle between the gamification realists and the gamification idealists (or the Gamification Cynics and the Gamification Zealots).
All that being said, Robert was quick to acknowledge the fact that gamification permeates our lives. He went so far as to share an image of all the rewards cards intended for his wallet (over 60!).
Gamification is a virtual Skinner Box. These point programs put the hamster wheel in your head and makes the player very highly attuned to points, progress, and conditioning.
Finally, Robert called upon all game developers to take a stand against gamification and to get back to the essence of great game design. He discussed four key points.
- Mythology: Gamification is missing the fun factor. Games are meant to be fun, not productive.
- Transgression: Consider street art. It’s edgy. It’s a bit naughty. Gaming should be too.
- Spectacle: While many struggle with making games spectacle worthy on small screens, consider 3D projection mapping as the future.
- Deception: Check out Marco Tempest’s iPod Deception video.