At SXSW, we caught up with Kellian Adams, Founder and “Mastermind” of Green Door Labs about how to “game for good.” This week, we continue with the second half of our interview with her where we focused on best practices for brands looking to create their own game. You can catch up on the first half here.
Ad Council: What’s the most important thing to consider when creating a game for your organization?
Kellian Adams: It’s really important to first figure out what you want. Games are really different from other media—book, movies, songs, websites. With those platforms, the user gets to engage on their terms. With games, you’re engaging them on your terms. You’re asking them to do a, b, or c. So, you really need to understand what you want and what you want them to do.
The more specific you can be, the better. The universal appeal of Angry Birds is pretty rare—everyone plays it. Usually, games need to be much more targeted—that’s what they’re best for. You’re using them to target a very specific group of people and ask them to do something.
AC: What’s the best way to get started?
KA: Identify your goals first. For example, we created a mobile detective game (Murder at the Met) for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Why? The Met wanted more teens to visit their museum and let the public know the museum has wifi! Next, asses your internal resources and then decide what you can do. Many organizations say “I want something like Angry Birds!” but they don’t have a budget or team to build it. Start first with: What are your learning goals? What do you want people to do? Then decide what you’re working with: What kind of budget do you have? For example, one organization we worked with had an incredible artist on staff. So they created a very visual game. Or if you a great writer, make the game really involved. Does someone at your organization make video? Take a close look at the talents of your staff and see what you can use.
AC: But don’t people play that once and then leave the site?
KA: No. The engaging thing about SPENT is there’s replay value—you think “I can beat this!” and keep playing. I think the average time players spend on the SPENT website is something like 11 minutes, which is much higher than average. The genius of the game is that it challenges people’s belief that poverty is something that “could never happen to me.” It really tests your assumptions.
AC: What are other games you like?
KA: I also like Quandary: it teaches kids about ethical decision-making. The idea is you you’re the captain of a spaceship and creating a new colony. It teaches kids how to make and weigh decisions—looking at both facts and opinions–and coming up with a solution. Another favorite is the Boston Children’s Museum’s “League of Extraordinary Bloggers,” a game to help kids explore Asian cultures.
AC: What if you have a really small budget?
KA: Experiment with arbitrary rules and games–like something on Twitter or Instagram. For “Museum Selfie Day,” they challenged everyone across the world, to go to a museum and take a shot and submit online. It was free, fun and promoted museums.
AC: What’s the best way to evaluate if you’re game is working?
KA: Like anything else–clearly define your goals upfront and then set up metrics to track. For example, for the Murder at the Met mobile detective game, we set a goal to engage 200 youth in the gallery. And we wanted to get photos of visitors interacting with their devices on their own free will. So, we encouraged the teens to dress up and take photos and upload to their social channels. The Met could then use these photos in their press and outreach to highlight that the museum as wifi. For the game Re-Mission, which encourages children with cancer to take their meds, they are literally measuring kids adherence to meds, pre and post game.