Game thinking for activating service experiences

For a while now I believe in the use of gaming principles for creating engaging interactive services. In the last week I visited different events where some things come together connected to that theme. In the visit to the University of Film & TV in St Petersburg, the conference Design for Conversion and the Festival of Games all connect to this vision with different angles.

I visited St Petersburg as part of the Business trip organized by Intrimic called Digital Perestroika. Besides Russian media and online companies we also visit the university of Film & TV. Professor Nina Dvorko is responsible for interactive storytelling and introduced the discipline and 9 students presented their work. The are taught to direct interactive stories and the results were a mix of interactive movies and games. In this interview Nina Dvorko explains the study.

The quality of the work was not all good, but the angle of the study was interesting and different. The background of the cinema is found in basis of directing interacting stories in stead of creating interaction designs for useable services. The story is crucial and they good ones created a flow with a target that combines with node of choices where minigames are used to make the choices.

The study is very much aimed at a arty level, so it was hard for them to imagine commercial use, but I see it for sure. I think that services are all about the value you can create and come to life by using the service. So instead of designing the presentation layer on different devices you need to design the usage. It is about creating a story that can be adapted by the user. You should look into the interactions and relations that will exist between consumer and producer.

However this may sound like a walked path, it always occurs not a shared practice. At the day of Design for Conversion this happens also with the case presentations of the groups. The quest for the screens is dominant. The takeaways of one of the keynote speakers – Hannah Donovan of – were interesting in this concern. She described the way to design for good experiences and stated that this is all about managing the gap between expectations and perception. Making magic by mixing the right amount of expected and non expected experiences. You can find the presentation on Slideshare.

At the Festival of Games there was one session where a nice example of this combination was presented. In the The Making of…-slot Kars Alfrink invited three spreakers that shared their ideas. Adrian Hon showed made for UK television serie Spooks Code 9. The regular serie had an interesting addition with live newssite Libertynews. All the tv-viewers with a computer on the lap could experience an extra layer with the live news that was added on the moment of airing the episode.

A very smart concept, not only from the point of experiencing for the viewer, but a very fine example of a realtime service. The usual concept of a site with a tv-show is to extend the lifecycle of viewing. In this case it deepens it and stimulates the urge to watch it live and connect to others. A very strong concept in keeping attention to the commercials for instance.

Back to the inspiration out of St Petersburg. For me it triggered my thoughts again on the way we should shape interactions. Interactions that are not static but depending on the moment of use. To do so the following should be taken into account.
– starting in values of use, not ease of use, based of user insights
– define the role of the user and organization as if it was a play, create a storyline to the target
– create a system with the user, the story and the organisation where the user is part of the emerging of a services
– define context driven variations and define the nodes in the storyline
– create games to experience the choices
– build a system that can transform in time, that is modular and flexible
– don’t make it to perfect, create opportunity to hack and play

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

One thought on “Game thinking for activating service experiences”

  1. I was also on the same trip and had similar thoughts on the art school in St Petersburg. Only a few of the stories created mystery and intrigue that drew me into the story, urging me to explore or do things to crack codes to proceed further. In some cases what we were seeing was a linear story broken up into bits that didn’t go any further unless you pressed some buttons. Your point about it being too perfect or finished is very true. Kids I speak with complain about websites being rather like the Hermitage. Its grand, impressive but you’re not allowed to do anything to make it better for others.

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