At today’s Worlds in Motion Summit at GDC, rmbr.com’s CEO Gabe Zichermann gave a talk concerning game-centric approaches to making web content more fun, or as he defined it, “the use of gaming design in non-gaming contexts.”
Pointing out that this concept already exists incidentally, he discussed three examples of what he called “incidental funware.” The first example was Ebay, which he sees as “two games in one. It is A.) A shopping game [and] B.) A meta-status game.” saying that it may be more accurate in a way to describe people not so much using Ebay, as playing it.
His second example was Facebook which “looks, feels, smells like a game.” Lastly was Yahoo Answers, which he described as “a research game [and also] a status game.” He brought up these tree examples to make the point that “there isn’t a singly type of application that wouldn’t benefit from being more fun.”
Going further with the Facebook example by comparing it to a virtual world (in this case describing Facebook as a “non-fiction” game), Facebook has “so many more users, and hours spent on [it] than any comparable virtual world”.
Looking at why it was so compelling he broke it down into the following reasons: it’s easy to use, 2D, and made with HTML. It has tangible benefit in real life, and is free without any hidden frees.
It’s fun, he explained, describing it as a “socially-propagating story," and portrays status, likening it to a fireplace mantle of trophies, except you don’t need to invite people over to your house.
This led into talking about his company, rmbr.com. “We built an application that is a reflection of my discontent with photographs in real life.” Instead of having someone show every step of their trip to Peru, he wanted to be able to see the photos that would hold interest to him.
He demonstrated a feature in which the user can import photos from flickr, then have them used in micro games such as a memory game using the imported photos.
Another game was called Photo Psychic, which asks you a series of questions about a person’s photos such as, ‘what tagline did they write?’, or ‘what mood did they assign?’, with a rating as to how well you know the person given at the end.
Speaking broadly about funware, Zichermann said “I want to fix the shopping experience. I want travel to be more fun... and I want product makers to be more fun” saying automotive companies web sites should be more entertaining. “Financial services could use a makeover.”
Summing things up well, he said that “there’s no upper limit, everything can be made more fun.”