How can a game design improve Slovakia?
Why, when talking about public spaces, services and citizens engagement, should we think as game designers?
In my opinion, the key to why even ask this question are these photos:
We can see motivated, focused and engaged people. Even though all these are different emotions, they have one thing in common. These are photos of people, who are playing.
And now imagine having these motivated, engaged people cleaning our public spaces, following traffic rules and regulations, or even fighting corruption.
At first glance, that may seem like an absurd thought, but at the same time somewhat enticing, a thought, that I would like to illustrate with couple more successful examples.
Classical games have one beautiful aspect. They are designed with one and only purpose: to amuse us.
And since it is a design as any other, a question comes to mind:
What can we use from game design, so that we create a similar experience and support an achievement of a specific goal.
This approach is called gamification. For us, in luducrafts, is gamification an everyday livelihood. And while most of the time we spend on assignments form commercial clients, today, it should be about examples, that focus on public spaces and social engagement.
In 2010, at the dawn of gamifiation itself, a camera in Stockholm was capturing drivers and measuring their speed. Those, that went too fast, got a ticket and had to pay the fine. The money would end up in common pool and — yes, you are guessing correctly — those, who drove responsibly could win the money. They too got a ticket, but this time, it was a lottery ticket and the money was from the fines.
Poop o meter
If you have ever got lucky and stepped into the final product of a (usually dogs) digestive system, it would be possible, that besides challenging the eternal gods of glory, you were trying to think of a reason, why did the owners not tidy it up. This simple thought was not only your concern, but the designers of this solution were thinking it too.
And who is not the biggest fan of technological solutions, this is an example just for you. In the terms of internet scam:
The cleaners hate it. This simple trick took their job.
Most of us has probably been persuaded to give blood once or twice. It is needed, noble and anyone, that has the opportunity, should do it. But we sometimes forget, or do not always remember it and, unfortunately, the saying not in sight not in mind is probably accurate on this one. But not in Sweden. If you donate, everytime the blood is used, you get a thank you message. How would you feel, if next month, out of the blue, someone thanks you for your good deed? Maybe you would realise, that it was a good thing and it was worth doing it again.
Often, it is about the details, and this example from Netherlands may be one of the simpler once, but in no way less impressive.
Getting of the morning bus in a good mood could completely change your day as well as the day of others.
Deed was not done
It is never too early to have the perception of corruption.
That is why, not long ago, we have emerged ourselves in creating a prototype of a board game, that shows kids (and their parents) what it means to solve a corruption case in an abducted state.
Fingers crossed this project will have its own blog post soon.
In my opinion, these examples are only the top of an iceberg of what a game design can create. The reasons, that these solutions work and have better results than, lets say repressive orders, lie in the behavioral science and game design. To go about this concept in detail is just not for this type of blog post. But to simplify it (colleagues from the field, please forgive):
Games are designed in a way, that they can willingly (or unwillingly) address and fulfill our higher needs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
If we succeed in intertwining common activities and public spaces with interactions, that motivate us to overcome ourselves, to win over the system, make us feel the triumph, prestige, or even the simple joy from unexpected (positive) feedback, we could be on the right track to more active society.