In the past year and almost a half since I started working at the Ad Council, my team has been able to work on four different games related to our PSA campaigns. Why are we investing in games as part of our campaigns? One word: engagement. By offering people an opportunity to engage with an issue by playing a game, they spend more time playing and (hopefully) learning/thinking/changing behavior around an issue.
I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Games for A Change Festival this week and was inspired by game designer and professor Jesse Schell’s talk about how to get people to care about your game. Lots of people can create games, but it doesn’t mean the game is good, and if you are creating a game designed to bring about change, getting players to care is essential.
So how do you make players care?
Intrigue. Schell talked about using intrigue or people’s natural curiosity to pull them into finding out more about the issue or game, which will lead to the player caring more.
Ego. Remember the sword in the stone? The idea that YOU could be the one to pull it out plays to your ego. So do leader boards in games. Let the player feel like they can be a big winner and they will care more.
Connecting with fantasy. The magical quality of many games that allow you to fly or be someone or something fantastical makes people care more. Schell gave an example of a game that taught typing incredibly well… by killing zombies.
Get players to make a plan. Schell gave an example of a bakery that had a sign that said chocolate chip cookie $.40 or 3/$120. While you are not getting any savings from buying three cookies – the owner said since he posted the sign, more people are buying three vs. one. It makes them plan (and care).
Completion desire. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how inane what you are doing is — if you can see the end and are rewarded for getting there, you want to get there. You care about getting there.
Rule breaking. It’s fun to break the rules. Let your players break them occasionally. They will care more.
Great tips to add to your toolkit if your organization is going to use games for a change.