Skip to content

The Player’s Journey: Designing Over Time

 

I’ve been enjoying this lively Branch discussion around points, levels, and leaderboards in social software – and even more this thoughtful response by Tom Tunguz of Redpoint, who added a much-needed “over time” perspective to the discussion.

When I engage with Web developers building digital services, the most common mistake they make is thinking about their social stats and UI as static. A key lesson I’ve absorbed from years of game design is to Design Your Player’s Journey Over Time.  Great games are compelling because the player’s experience and expertise changes over time in meaningful ways. Games dole out just the right amount of challenge and learning to keep the player engaged and on the edge of her ability. In short,  games are compelling because they’re pleasurable learning engines – they offer up skills to master, and reward you with greater challenges & opportunities. (Raph Koster write eloquently about this in A Theory of Fun for Game Design,  great background reading)

Progress metrics (points, badges, levels, leaderboards, reputation systems) are icing on this learning/mastery cake: very helpful to gauge where you stand, and how far you’ve come, but meaningless as a stand-alone system without the learning engine to keep you truly engaged.

Design Over Time thinking also can help you grow a successful community. The features that propel a digital community will CHANGE as the community scales from 500 to 5000 to 50,000. The story of Digg’s leaderboard (referenced in this Branch) – which worked great when Digg was up-and-coming, then backfired when Digg got big and well-known – is an object lesson in how effective game design must scale along with community growth.

So when you’re creating your next social app, website or game, focus first on what your community needs to kickstart social – but pay close to attention to what’s working over time, and be prepared to change and evolve your social and gaming UI as your community grows.  Don’t be afraid to remove a stuff that’s not working! It doesn’t mean you’ve failed – on the contrary, it’s a natural part of growing a strong community.

What’s your experience? Have you seen these dynamics in action? Want to learn more about this topic? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it.
    I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new things
    you post…

    December 19, 2012
  2. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    February 17, 2013
  3. You made some really good points there. I checked on the net to learn more about the issue
    and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

    April 19, 2013
  4. Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post is just excellent and i can assume you are an
    expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS
    feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and
    please continue the enjoyable work.

    May 2, 2013
  5. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about!

    Thanks

    May 3, 2013
  6. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but typically folks don’t talk about these subjects.
    To the next! Best wishes!!

    May 22, 2013
  7. What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge regarding unpredicted emotions.

    June 22, 2013
  8. Hello! Can you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?

    July 10, 2013
  9. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your
    weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.

    July 11, 2013
  10. fantastic publish, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts
    of this sector do not realize this. You should continue your writing.
    I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

    July 16, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Designing Sustained Engagement: 3 Questions to get you started | Amy Jo Kim
  2. Links for October 24, 2012 | Andrzej's Links
  3. Relatedness: The Often Ignored Glue of Gamification | Andrzej's Blog
  4. Relatedness: The Often Ignored Glue of Gamification « DataTel Technology Group
  5. Flow, Player Journey and Employee Satisfaction | Andrzej's Blog
  6. The Developer’s Journey: LeanUX meets the Customer Lifecycle | Amy Jo Kim
  7. Links for December 10, 2013 | Andrzej's Links
  8. Customer Journey Maps for Games | Gbanga

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: