Category Archives: Entertainment Design

N00b Proof Your Funware. Tech Support Will Thank You.

Funware is only fun if people understand what the hell is going on. How hard is it to confuse people by putting a game where they weren’t expecting a game? Well, it depends on the user experience… and sometimes users are more easily confused than you ever imagined.

This post will explain the potential usability problems if you add funware to your existing user experience, and what types of users are most likely to be impacted (hint: it’s not the dumb-as-dirt minority you are probably scoffing at already). In the conclusion, I’ll give 4 actionable tips to improve the usability of your funware (and drastically lower the chance that your funware will drive users to drive their tech support staff crazy).

“I Have the Pac-Man Game and I Want to Disable That?”

Have you heard the audio recording of a tech support call resulting from Google’s super-cute interactive Pac-Man logo? This poor woman uses Google for productivity and instead she found a noisy game on the Google search page, so she called tech support to try to get the game removed.

Awkwardness ensues, but the tech support hero helps her work through the problem (which is mainly that the game sounds are still audible while she is trying to do other stuff in her browser, the way she probably does every day). If you’re a good software designer you are going “oh that’s a problem, hm… how could they have avoided this issue” but if you’re a less user-focused software designer you’re thinking “what a dumbass, there were several ways for her to work around this without calling tech support.”

If you’re in the latter camp, you need to go work in tech support for a while. Seriously, it is boring and repetitive and you rarely get to solve any interesting problems but you can’t design good software unless you understand what it’s like to be a “pure user” with no idea how to troubleshoot or work around a software experience that doesn’t match your mental model. Continue reading N00b Proof Your Funware. Tech Support Will Thank You.

Nicole Lazzaro: a Useful Theory of Fun

Just watched an interesting video of Nicole Lazzaro speaking about her excellent research and insights into how game players experience emotions (her most cited work identifies and explains the multitude of human emotions that most people just lump together as “fun”).

Why Lazzaro’s Theory of Fun Is Useful

Lazzaro’s work is comprehensive and she thinks outside the box of the mainstream video game industry.

Her insight goes far beyond just making a game fun for the sake of fun. Unlike design professionals in every other industry, such as architects and productivity software designers, game designers sometimes resent having to design games that produce other measurable, quantifiable outcomes besides fun. Creating a functional building, working within end-user specifications and other design constraints is essentially what an architect is paid and expected to do but there are obviously major perks for architects that also create enjoyable, livable, beautiful spaces too. The aesthetic component is there, as with website design, but the practical constraints really define the design challenge. It’s the same in a marketing game or gameified application trying to achieve outcomes above and beyond a good time for the player.

When the game has to serve a purpose beyond simply being fun to play, I think it’s best to look to designers like Lazzaro for insight rather than to the mainstream video game industry right now. Studying Grand Theft Auto or the intricacies of a good tower defense game WILL NOT help you develop a great social media title that engages your customers with your brand. Studying how and why players experience fun, engagement, and motivation while gaming WILL help you. Continue reading Nicole Lazzaro: a Useful Theory of Fun

Game Industry Outsiders Weren’t Surprised. At All.

One thing that is always striking about the mainstream game industry is how surprised game developers seem when they learn about the success of games, virtual worlds, and game-like systems that wouldn’t impress professional game designers. I don’t think the problem is elitism, just that the world of entertainment looks very different from inside the fuzzy vertical market called the games industry.

Game Insiders Were Some of the Last to Know

This spring I sat dumbstruck in my home office, watching a video of genius entertainment designer Jesse Schell building the intro to his DICE 2010 presentation (about the future of pervasive gaming) around the idea that professional game industry people were surprised by mega-hits like Facebook’s Farmville and Mafia Wars. Really? Ok, maybe some people just took a while to get onto Facebook (I know I avoided it as long as I could because I needed another online social network like RollerCoaster Tycoon needed a movie adaptation). Some degree of Facebook cluelessness is comprehensible.

But Schell masterfully builds rapport with his audience by highlighting “surprise” hits like Guitar Hero and Wii Fit, and inquiring who in the audience thought the Wii would be the winner in the last gen console war (to which I wondered “who didn’t know the Wii was the only console with mass market potential?”). This makes more sense if you were following the games industry in the earlier half of this decade when every conference was full of game devs trying to comprehend how people could make money creating cheesy match-3 games instead of real games like Battlefield 1942 (thankfully, casual games are now given a lot more respect in the industry, but in 2002 they were a target of much dismissal and derision).

I know Schell was resonating with his target audience because I’ve attended these types of events myself and I keep in touch with game dev friends (though I’m in St. Paul, far from the game industry hotspots). There are certain mentalities and opinions that are oddly pervasive, until the overwhelming evidence and thought-leaders like Schell convince everyone that these other kinds of entertainment experiences matter. DICE gets more of a diverse crowd than GDC, but still people with too much games industry focus and too little attention to the broader entertainment industry and what most people actually do for recreation.

Still, you’d think the games business types would have seen the money, and lit a fire under their developers to learn these new markets.

Game Devs Didn’t See Where the Real Money Was

You might think it’s crazy that game developers didn’t see that the big revenue in Facebook games wasn’t really the “viral effect” of inviting as many people as possible, but rather it was the way the game design pushed certain players into socially competitive, almost irrational, behaviors: logging in every single day for repetitive low-production-value gameplay, paying real cash for game advancement, and participating in ridiculous sponsor offers for products players had no genuine interest in. There was next to no value in the twenty friends you begged to join you in Vampire Wars if they only signed up to help you out and barely played.

The real value was the power player (who invited all their friends just to increase their game influence, regardless of the friends’ interest in the game). The viral effect did pay off when power players roped in new power players who also started playing like it was their job. But overall, it wasn’t a volume racket, it was a social hack to put people into a hyper-competitive situation trying to one-up people they knew in real life (while clobbering random internet adversaries on the ever-present leaderboards).

So, even though many game developers tried to dismiss Facebook games as some bastardized multi-level marketing scheme that only served to collect as many registered users as possible, the real money was in the familiar place that game devs should have recognized right off: the passionate player. People were genuinely invested in Facebook games. And why was that so difficult to see?

Facebook Games Are Considered Shitty By Gamers & Game Devs

Bottom of the barrel. Any hack could design Fashion Wars. We’re talking text-based games that any beginning web programmer can whip up in a week, with one to three central mechanics, no audio or music, and scant 2D interface art. Who would play these games passionately? Who would pay to play them?

Schell explained to the DICE crowd that the sponsored offers and paid game advancement were psychologically justifiable because as the players did what the game motivated them to do (log in, invite friends, advance slowly, become impatient…), they had to justify their continued investment in the game. Eventually, it made sense to do the sponsor offers, to kick in some cash. It made sense to ask people who didn’t want to play to sign up anyway. It made sense to friend people and join groups just to find more people for your pirate crew or mafia gang. Basically, these simple bare-bones games that would earn you nothing but derision and eye-rolls from the pro game dev community had mastered something that many AAA games couldn’t get right: motivating the player to generate revenue for you.

Remember The Sims Online? It took a massive professional team, tens of millions of dollars, and over 3 million lines of code to launch that world of fail that barely motivated players to play, pay, or, hell, just keep logging in. If The Sims Online were free to play (and at the end, it basically was), it still would have bombed. That’s how awful the experience was, despite all the talent, craftsmanship, and innovation they tried to put into it. Yet here are these crappy online multiplayer Facebook games motivating the cash right out of player’s wallets for next to nothing in return.

You’d think game devs would be studying this phenomena to figure out what was pushing player engagement and motivation, but most game designers I’ve talked to basically dismissed Facebook games as shitty designs with repetitive, unimaginative gameplay. According to real game designers, these Facebook games were only successful in the sense that they had a lot of registered players, and they only got those players because of their viral invite features (which are simply the Request forms provided by the Facebook Apps API). It was unthinkable that these games were successful for any other reason.

Marketing Games Are Generally Considered Shitty Games

Now, I’m not arguing that the Facebook games I’ve played were original or even particularly fun, but I do maintain that many of them were extremely well designed to do what they were intended to do. They were marketing games pushing players toward the purchase of game rewards and participation in sponsor deals. They were 100% in service of a business goal.

Yes, players could have fun along the way. Yes, that was a key constraint in the design. But fun was not the only, or even the most important, measure of success for these designs. Success was motivating the players to generate revenue. As a concept, I know this pisses gamers off. And since most pro game developers are passionate gamers, designing a game with that primary measure of success is repulsive. A few designers dig persuasive games, but it’s usually in the context of promoting an educational, political, or social cause. When the design goal is just profits, that turns almost everyone off.

For professional game designers from the games industry, where fun is King (not conversions or content), there needs to be a shift in thinking from “hey, you know what would be cool?” to “hey, you know what would really engage and motivate people to convert for our sponsor?” if game designers want to be a vital part of the booming online entertainment and funware marketing industries. Thinking like a lowly marketer is definitely outside of the comfort zone for a lot of game devs, hence people prefer to work on real games (games for gamers like themselves). When do you ever meet a young person who can’t wait to work on advergames at an IGDA chapter meeting? Or someone who is working to apply game mechanics to persuasive messages outside of education or social causes? Gamer game designers don’t get excited about marketing games the way passionate marketers do.

You can see why some would look down their nose at profit-focused, pragmatic game design. However, the funny thing is… the market validated these Facebook games with huge participation. If these were really bad games, why did they make money? Why were they so popular?

It’s well worth considering the possibility that the pursuit of excellence in AAA games is like the quest to create fine art films that appeal to only the most sophisticated movie goers (while everyone else is happy as a pig in shit at Transformers 2).

BTW, These Surprise Hits Were Not for Socializers

Another misunderstanding (that isn’t touched upon in Schell’s presentation) is that game devs think Facebook games are all highly social games (because they’re on a social network platform).

Facebook games tend to tap the traditional gamer types of achievers, killers, and some explorers (the completionist variety who want to keep advancing in order to see what comes next). Interestingly, few of the mega-hits like Zynga and Playfish games actually provide a good social experience for the socializer gamer type (even though the games are technically hooked into players’ existing social graph, there was little opportunity to develop meaningful in-game exchanges with other players).

Players are much more likely to build and grow new friendships in a richer online game like World of Warcraft or Runescape, or  in a chatroom-focused game community like Habbo Hotel or Pogo.com. Likewise, there are few opportunities to achieve a positive social status in a helping or supporting role within Facebook multiplayer games. There is very little interpersonal contact to occupy the traditional MMO socializers who like to become organizers in their communities, guild leaders, and resources for fellow players.

Bartle’s familiar socializer and explorer traits won’t apply to some of the marketing games, pervasive games, and new hits in online entertainment. Many of the design theories in the game industry are going to need significant revision to account for the broader, previously overlooked reality of the interactive entertainment industry beyond just games.

Facebook Game Shock Isn’t Even the Tip of the Iceberg

The typical pro game developer is not surprised when the latest AAA console game sells well, but they seem a few beats behind when it comes to understanding how their craft relates to engaging, motivating interactive entertainment like Club Penguin, Stardoll, IMVU, Second Life‘s Ozimals, Foursquare, Polyvore, and HuffPost Badges.

People are starting to catch on, but I don’t really think game developers who were weaned on hardcore gamer culture appreciate how the gameification of life will impact the old school games industry.

To put it gently, the kinds of games that professional game designers like to design are no longer the only games in town. It might be a little disheartening to realize that what makes a good, fun game design in the land of game markets is not necessarily the same magic that works in marketing games, pervasive games, and persuasive gaming (though there are some folks who do think traditional game design skills are transferable). On the flip side, once pro game designers start thinking outside the games industry boxes, marketing games and more might improve dramatically.

Converging with Game Industry Outsiders

As Schell humorously highlights in his DICE talk, the pro game devs are generally not the folks designing these new hit entertainment experiences online. He jokes that it’s just whoever happens to be there, but the subtext is that many of the hot new entertainment hits online are designed by marketers, business people, and folks who hardly understand how their product even contains game mechanics (another reason that business-friendly concepts like Funware are so critical to get people framing these techniques correctly in the greater context of game and virtual world design).

When Schell described a day in the future, he only briefly touched on traditional game products (the game of Tetris on the bus, a game on the back of a cereal box, and some kind of multiplayer game played while watching television). Many of his other gameification examples involved the government, art foundations, businesses, and other non-entertainment entities handling these pervasive game services. And it’s true that game mechanics for government, non-profit, and business applications are HOT right now.

I expect that marketing people will be working on more games in-house as people learn how to use game mechanics effectively. With the convergence of traditional marketing and internet marketing, marketers need to learn about online interactivity. It’s very likely that there will be less need to outsource a game design in the future than there is now because the effective use of game mechanics will become part of the mainstream marketers vocabulary too. And a key take-away idea here is that game outsiders will be designing the experiences that compete directly with professionally designed games for player time and money.

People who make good games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Braid will be competing for customers and jobs with people who learned game design from studying the success of Farmville and Frequent Flyer Programs. I sympathize if you punched your desk or muttered an expletive of disgust just now.

Some Outsider Perspective Can Help Games Too

These outsiders might appear to bring nothing to the table for game developers, but sometimes a little perspective alone can be a welcome addition to a design team.

When I was about 22, I started taking a big interest in PC and console gaming. I loved chess, Scrabble and cards as a kid but I was never a gamer. My family never owned a console system. But once I played Civ III on a boyfriend’s laptop, I was hooked. By 24, I was reading game development books, following game developer blogs, playing as many games as I could, and subscribing to IGDA listservs to learn more about the mainstream game industry. I knew that these were the people who understood game design, the gamer markets, and the ins and outs of running entertainment software companies. I volunteered to work at GDC three years in a row just to afford the trip so I could attend the lecture sessions. So although I’m primarily an entrepreneur and marketer, I have a serious interest in game design too.

After about 4 years of that, I realized that the most valuable people to follow were academics and futurists, entrepreneurs, marketers, and economists. It’s not that the games industry isn’t full of experts in game design and execution. It’s that they don’t seem to have much vision for how to apply that knowledge in the problem spaces outside of console games, mobile games, web games, board games… games, games, games. They even call their industry vertical “the games industry” even though they are all really in the business of entertainment. The only thing more stubborn than their focus on games is their obsession with fun rather than the full spectrum of emotional engagement and motivation.

There’s an old marketing anecdote about the decline of the US railroads. None of the railroad barons thought of themselves in the greater context of the market they served. They only saw themselves in the railroad vertical, and they saw their only competition as the other railroad barons. Well, automobiles came along with many other technologies, national highways, and eventually certain freight markets and almost all passenger markets dried up completely. If the railroad barons understood that they were in the transportation industry, not just the railroad industry, maybe they could have developed trucking fleets and other products to meet the changing expectations of their customers.

Maybe when more people recognize the broader market for game design, professional game developers won’t be surprised at all when they see wildly successful non-game entertainment sites and crappy online games monopolizing users’ time and money.

I say “maybe” not because I don’t trust that the brilliant game developers will cotton on, but because I’ve been watching Gamasutra and IGDA for so long now that there is no excuse for anyone to be surprised by Club Penguin or its ilk. People have been talking about the new online entertainment options and all their ramifications for at least 4 years now. Yet every time, it’s the same chorus of “well, that’s surprising” which translates to “I thought that was a shitty product.”

Pour One Out For  Our Metaplace Homies

During this same period, some of the most celebrated game designers put their heart and soul into designs that were considered innovative by their game designer peers, only to see the market generally ignore them (I’m thinking specifically of Raph Koster’s Metaplace virtual world, which evicted its player-creators after a brief beta and quietly relaunched as a Facebook game company).

I only got into gaming in a big way as an adult so perhaps I’m just a lot more open to entertainment design ideas and trends from outside the games industry. But for the record, us outsiders were not surprised at all.

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Fun Is Not the Holy Grail of Engagement

This week, I had the pleasure of reading Gabe Zichermann’s article Top 5 Ways to Make Your Site More Fun. Hallelujah! I am very excited to see more people finally connecting the dots between successful interactive entertainment software (video game) design and effective engagement design in software and websites for business. This is the kind of stuff I preach to clients, colleagues, and my (polite but bored) boyfriend on a regular basis.

Game Design for Business Apps

Game-inspired engagement and motivation techniques that seemed obvious to me 10+ years ago are now being recognized as useful tools for user experience design in all kinds of business applications. I’m sure many game designers feel some sense of “duh, we knew this already” but that’s why the development of business-friendly encapsulations of staple game design techniques ( like Zichermann’s Funware concept) are exciting.

Zichermann is doing a great service by framing discussions of rewards programs and social network sites in terms of how they use game mechanics effectively. He is distilling a lot of tremendously valuable information about what works in interactive software design to non-gamers and people outside of the somewhat myopic games industry.

People who design websites, business apps, marketing campaigns, and fundraising events can now learn why game mechanics get results.

But Is Fun the Point?

However, I do have a minor quibble with the focus on “fun” as a main reason to use game mechanics in your website or application. My objection here is pretty much an extension of one I have with game designers in general: the obsession with entertainment that only culminates in a warm, fuzzy feeling of achievement or at least a satisfying resolution (winning, saving the day, completing the so-called Hero’s Journey, finally saving up enough points to buy a virtual item you covet, etc.). The focus on fun alone is also why game design, as an artistic medium, has not yet produced a Schindler’s List (or even a Life Is Beautiful), though at least we got Train.In game design, it’s largely presumed that fun is a positive experience with nothing but good, productive stress, and many an overly-serious Game Design book has been written trying to explain how FUN is crafted. People think of games as the candy in our media diets, not the whole grains or the steak.

The problem with fun, is that successful, effective entertainment does not need to be fun. People can be deeply engaged, motivated and, ultimately, entertained by experiences and media that is down-right disturbing, sad, and leaves us with more questions than answers, more tension than resolution. Moreover, people can be entertained by games, media, and experiences that are patently dull, repetitive, and frustrating as hell (for example, the grind to get xp in your favorite MMOG… sure it has a pay-off at the end, but it isn’t always fun while you’re doing it).

Interesting to me is that even when people seem to understand the trend of pervasive gaming, gameification of everyday life, they still focus on the element of fun. As if life, work, and everything important in the world can or should be primarily fun. I suppose with rose-colored glasses on, everything might have fun potential, but realistically, I don’t think every experience does have the potential to be fun. The feeling goes double for a lot of the mundane transactional chores we do in marketplaces for goods and services.

Rather, I think the savvy marketer will employ game mechanics to promote engagement and motivate key behaviors, with fun regarded only in proportion to how the consumer feels about the product and exchange of value. Big-ticket purchases like airfare and hotel rooms are considered both expensive and interesting choices by consumers. Household staples like toothpaste and toilet paper… not so much. The gratification your market will get from the game marketing you employ will most likely be a function of how much interest or expense the customers already associated with your product (before they even play your advergame or participate in your rewards program).

Motivation for the Win

The holy grail of engagement design, game design included, is not fun. The holy grail is motivation. How do you make someone WANT to keep doing something? There are many ways, and game mechanics are some of the most tried-and-true techniques software designers have to keep end-users doing whatever it is you want them to do.

If you’re making a mainstream video game, then fun is important. If you’re designing a rewards program for the loyal users of Charmin toilet paper (in order to sell more TP), then what you really want from game mechanics is motivation that drives your measurable, performance marketing campaign. Fun and whimsy doesn’t come into it as much as you might think.

Besides, what do you think will happen to the “fun factor” when every damn thing you buy or use wants to make that experience into a game? Do I want points and levels every time I buy more toilet paper, or is that just adding another distracting layer of complication to my already complicated life? Think in terms of motivation and choose your game mechanics accordingly, rather than trying to “gamewash” everything in sight.

Gamewashing = More Work Than Fun

Apparently, I just coined the term gamewashing. And by gamewashing, I mean applying game mechanics to shoehorn gratuitous fun into utilitarian experiences nobody cares to enjoy. The net result is often that the game and meta-gaming adds more busy-work in its misguided quest to make something more fun.

Case in point: Chore Wars. I mean aren’t chores time consuming enough without adding a meta-game process that requires me to keep a log whenever I scrub the toilet or fold the laundry? I’m a hardcore achiever in games and getting XP for life work does sound tempting… but not if tracking and awarding the XP actually creates MORE work (though I am perverse enough to want to write a strategy guide for Chore Wars, you know… for people who want to put in the extra time to meta-game their Chore Wars group in order to get maximum XP for minimum actual work). The longer I dwell on it, the more I think Chore Wars is just a brilliant way for one person (perhaps the neatnik or parental type who fusses the most over chores) to motivate others to do more than they were doing previously. In which case, it’s more of a social exploit, or a persuasive marketing game that people can use to influence their family, roommates, or co-workers. Chore Wars is certainly not a game one plays for the personal satisfaction of playing, though it has loads of entertainment value as comedy fodder.

Challenge = Motivational, Not Fun

Ever played a game well past the point where it was actually still fun? You kept playing because fun is just a positive side effect of the deep engagement—the motivation—created by any game, or any experience (since this whole concept of engagement goes far beyond games). We keep doing stuff, even when it is not fun, because something motivates us. Sometimes the challenge of the game experience feels quite frustrating, but we persist because we are effectively motivated to beat the challenge. Thus, experiences of frustration rather than fun, can sometimes be a big part of why a game is effective at engagement and motivation. This reality runs counter to what you might expect (especially if you think successful games are 100% focused on fun).

Nobody will argue that Tetris is not a successful, effective game. But unless you’re a real glutton for punishment (or expert player), Tetris is simply not fun at the higher, fast-paced levels. It pisses me off. But it also makes me want to become a better Tetris player, so I keep trying. One can argue that a frustrating challenge is a type of fun, but when I’m tense and exhausted from getting soooo close to beating my high-score, only to fail yet again… fun is not the first “f” word that comes to mind. Sometimes good games are not fun 100% of the time. Sometimes good movies, books, and life itself are not fun 100% of the time. But they can still be engaging and entertaining despite the lack of wall-to-wall fun (especially in retrospect, where the real “assessment” of value is made by the participant).

So remember the most addictive (yet frustrating) game you’ve ever played again and again. Or, if you are not a gamer, remember the most challenging romantic relationship you’ve ever had (more than likely, there were plenty of times it was more “engaging” for you than “fun”). Sometimes we need to build engagement without cultivating fun (for example, if your website and community is about bereavement or bankruptcy… maybe fun is not quite the right experience to shoot for).

Game Mechanics Don’t Enhance Everything

And it’s also fair to note that the mere presence of game mechanics alone does not create fun.

Coke Rewards is a successful rewards program that offers enough value that I don’t mind saving the codes and asking my kids to enter them (they also get to claim the points). However, I would not describe the experience of participating in Coke Rewards as fun. Entering the codes is a chore. It’s a chore I am happy to delegate to kids who are still young enough to thrill at a free pop redemption, but it’s not a chore I would spend my own time on, regardless of the points system, sweepstakes, and many well-designed features. There is moderate motivation in the program (stronger if you are broke or a freebie/coupon hobbyist) but generally, it’s more work than reward. Coke sure gets a lot out of it though, in site engagement, page views (ad views), and collection of some market research data. It’s gameified, and effective, but I do not think most participants are having fun the majority of the time they are participating in the Coke Rewards program.

There are also many applications and experiences where you just can’t shoehorn a genuinely fun experience into them because the engagement and motivation is too directly task or outcome based for the user. In these cases, any active game mechanics are only getting in the user’s way. Passive game mechanics might be useful, but there is no such thing as an entirely passive game system (at some point, to even be experienced, the game system needs some amount of attention from the user, else it is invisible and not really experienced at all).

As Zichermann says in his article, Quicken doesn’t leave you feeling elated and I suspect it’s because most people would be pretty depressed if they realized using Quicken was a highlight in their day. Remember that little bastard Clippy who tried to add some fun and personality to MS Office apps? I know he was part of an elaborate help feature that was supposed to assist you with MS Office tasks, but most people just found him (and his other fun, cute cartoon friends) an annoying interruption that actually created more work (you had to click to make him go away).

Don’t add so much “fun” to your application that you get in the way of people trying to USE your website or application. Again, it’s really the motivation and engagement that you want, not necessarily the fun.

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TweetCraft: the Twitter client for World of Warcraft

Why doesn’t Blizzard already have social media integrated? Why can’t you update your Facebook status while you’re waiting for a raid group to arrive? Why not play youtube videos in a little ornate metal-framed window above the skill buttons?

I’d volunteer it’s because we already have a client platform where you can play games and engage with social media (a web browser). But am I looking at this from the key perspective? No, because I’m not a social gamer. I’m an achiever/explorer type. I hardly need my in-game public chat channels much less a way to gab with people outside of the game.

When I’m playing a good game, I don’t want to multitask with real world bullshit. I’m in my magic circle. Let the calls go to voice mail, let the email go unread, and for the love of Will Wright, let the tweets STFU until I’ve logged out of the game world. A social media feed in my MMOs would be a very unwelcome intrusion, but that’s why it is so crucial for entertainment designers to design for the players rather than themselves.

TweetCraft highlights the fact that most online games still aren’t catering to the entertainment needs of social gamers. It’s not enough to be connected to friends in-world. For some, there needs to be omnipresent connectivity across online social services, across worlds.

Social media feeds in (and from) MMOGs are an interesting design consideration. I’m eager to see what the adoption rate is for TweetCraft and whether the underlying concept of external social media integration catches on in online games. It will be interesting to see whether Blizzard interprets this as a violation and bans the app or whether they start supporting social media integration in the core game client.

TweetCraft news via Mashable

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