Notes from GSP, day 2 – Social Games

I had one of those moments of clarity during the social games section of GSP, which, even if you’re not a game provider (like me), there was a lesson to be learned.  The game folks got their users pegged.  They know what motivates them, and what turns them off.  To build a successful game, the interaction, or in GSP terms, “engagement” – should to be compelling and when/if possible, derived from the actual game-play, thru person-to-person interactions, or some form of “advancement”, whereas users are compelled to regularly return, and try again.

One interesting technique into virality was limiting the initating of notifications from the acctual app provider (i.e. invites/alerts/SPAM); and instead let game-play incorporate a the “take a turn” format, where users interacted with the games at their pace, in which the game/app would notify the “next” user to take their turn, driving
 the user back to the game/site, in a non-invasive way.  interesting huh? 

Another obvious, but often overlooked characteristic is the need to keep content fresh.  Users get borred quickly, your app should be different in some way, each time they return.  Enable discovery, let users keep digging, surfacing an nearly endless experience.  A user should never be ‘done’ with your app, keep them wanteing more and coming back often, think youTube, once you watch a video, its extremely easy (and addictive) to watch others of similar interest.

Anther interesting take on this, is the post-office model; whereas you visit the post office regularly, but you never run out of mail to send/receive – seek this kind of re-occuring interactivity.  Consider advanced game-like implementations, such as leaderboards, ability to un-lock levels, make users feel like they’re making progress, esp. if its self-promoting and/or competitive.  And, most importatnly, let the app drive inter-activity among users.

In closing, a compelling strategy may be to facilitate a tool, with a utility that never ends.  People always have more packages to mail, read more books, and find new things to share with their friends.  Put another way, create ratio metrics, whereas users have to check back twice for every one ‘activity’.

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