FarmVille’s Golden Game Mechanic

29 09 2010

At the Social Gaming Summit 2010, Mark Skaggs, Zynga’s VP of Product Development and FarmVille’s lead designer talked about time-based gameplay in FarmVille.  Appointment Dynamics, also referred to as a “Golden Mechanic” by Mark Pincus, is a game mechanic  where a player is presented incentives  to return at a predefined time to take an action.

In the case of FarmVille, the appointment dynamic is to return to harvest crops before they wither.

Mark shares further points in the video:

– Zynga tries to tap into implicit understandings: small plants take less time to grow than larger plants

– Analyze play patterns: offer variations for different player schedules

– Some people plant in the morning, return at lunch, return again at dinner, and then repeat the next day.

– Some people only play during work hours

– Most popular periods seem to be in 4 hour “chunks”, although they also offer 6 hour and 2 day (to cover players who play at work)

Using Gamification to Minimize Community Management Costs

28 09 2010

How much does it cost you to moderate your online community?

For World of Warcraft and its 11 million players, those costs include over 2,056 game masters and 66 community forum managers, and probably would have cost much more, if not for game mechanics to prevent conflict and manage community interactions.

Gamification is an innovative way to reduce coordination costs, decrease moderation requirements, and promote positive social behavior.  But before looking at examples of implementations, we first examine how our online infrastructures have evolved.

New York University professor of New Media Clay Shirky spoke at a TED conference in 2005 about the subject of Institutions and Collaborations.  (Video linked below) In it, he defines the coordination costs of a company as “all of the financial or institutional difficulties in arranging group output”.  He shared some of his insights:

…Because the cost of letting groups communicate with each other has fallen through the floor, and communication costs are one of the big inputs to coordination, [an alternative to starting an institution] is to put the cooperation into the infrastructure, to design systems that coordinate the output of the group as a byproduct of the operating of the system without regard to institutional models.

….When you build cooperation into the infrastructure…you can leave the people where they are, and you take the problem to the individuals, rather than moving the individuals to the problem.  You arrange the coordination in the group, and by doing that you get the same outcome without the institutional difficulties.  You lose the institutional imperative, you lose the right to shape people’s work when it’s volunteer effort, but you also shed the institutional cost which gives you greater flexibility.

Build the system so that anybody can contribute at any amount.

Here Shirky presents the power of a cooperative community; the ability to surpass any amount of effort an institution could do on their own.  And tapping into this resource brings it’s own unique benefits – in this case, previously undiscovered photography. But he warns that the power of broad-reaching communication comes with some side effects:


…(in reference to a teenaged pro-anorexia community), We are used to support groups being beneficial,…but it turns out that the logic of the support group is value neutral.  A support group is simply a small group that wants to maintain a way of living in the context of a larger group…

The normative goals of the support  groups that we are used to came from the institutions that were framing them, and not from the infrastructure. Once the infrastructure becomes generically available, the logic of the support group has been revealed to be accessible to everyone.”

So in order to maintain some semblance of values and social protocol within an open and accessible infrastructure, companies are having to deal with high costs of moderation and community management.   And the larger the community, the more resources required.  There may be opportunities to channel this collaboration through a game-based design and allow institutions a scalable method of injecting values back into the system without the high overhead of additional personnel.

Gamification can add a persuasive framework of rules within a social online infrastructure to help guide user behaviors and actions.  By offering rewards and positive reinforcement, designers can build a foundation of acceptable social behavior within a community.

There are 2 ways to implement this:

1) Create rewards and tools for self moderation.

2) Design the environment to minimize social friction in game play.

Looking at existing MMO’s we find several examples of mechanics that minimize potential social conflict.  Mythic’s  Warhammer implemented an innovative mechanic called a Public Quest which removed the awkwardness associated with player invitations or dealing with potential rejections.

Public Quests (PQ’s) are area-based quests that trigger upon entering a zone.  They  involve a large number of players gathering together to complete the task at hand, and all rules are automatically handled by the system.  Anyone can participate, and by basing your roll, prize, and experience point gain on your contribution to the goal, they promote a fair system of reward with minimum stress.  This automated ability of giving players the chance to join teams and work together simply by being in the same area, presents a social game play mechanic that adds to the community experience.  In essence, the PQ becomes a way to bring players together and creates a sense of community pride.   (More on PQ’s are found in an article by Garrett Fuller here.)

An example of self-moderation through game mechanics is the design of eBay’s reputation system.   For every exchange on eBay, both buyer and seller are asked to post positive or negative scores to the person with whom he/she transacted.  A general score is publically displayed,  representing a user’s cumulative reputation within the system.  For the most part, buyers and sellers are honest.  And although the system can be abused, a completely open or unregulated marketplace would probably require higher moderation costs.

eBay Reputation Screen

“The 2008 Tribalization of Business” study was conducted by Beeline Labs, Deloitte and the Society for New Communications Research, where they asked what were the biggest obstacles people face to making communities work:

Beeline Labs is now Human 1.0

Not surprisingly, the top 2 results were user engagement (51%) and community management (45%).  Gamification addresses many of these obstacles by offering a structure of incentives (points, achievements, titles, based on personality and motivations) that encourage users to vote (like/dislike), moderate content,  and invite people to join.


In essence, gamification is another way for companies to indirectly enforce value rules to a vast communications infrastructure.  And rather than penalizing users for bad behavior, the positive reinforcement rewards in gameplay may be enough to moderate the majority of participants, providing a scalable, efficient, and cost-effective system.  Ultimately some people will try gaming the system, so providing a method of constant feedback, either through analytics or surveys, will help you evolve the mechanics as necessary.

Promoting positive social interaction reduces the stress and overhead of community management, and creates a welcoming environment for your community to grow.  It can potentially transform an environment where people are reluctant to interact due to fear of negative reaction, into a more welcoming atmosphere that encourages participation.  There is a great amount of potential in the use of mechanics in this manner, and the associated savings from community management resources should appeal to most institutions.  We hope to see more of this implementation in future gamified sites.

Clay Shirky’s TED presentation: Institutions and Collaborations:

[Editted to add] Randy Farmer, an industry expert in building reputation systems spoke at Google Tech Talk where he shares challenges faced when using Gamification within a reputation system.  As always, designing for your audience is paramount, and certain aspects of Gamifiation may not apply to your users.  His comments, warnings and experiences are worth watching:

Reuters employs game mechanics to improve commentary onsite

Reuters is due to introduce a points system to its website that will manage and rate users’ comments, rewarding users with points and the ability to contribute without moderation…..Reuters’ plans will certainly encourage users to think about the way they’re commenting online if they want to continue to contribute to the community. If content and conversation improves, this will certainly have a positive impact on Reuters’ online reputation.  Read More.

7 Social Game Design Lessons from Playdom’s Steve Meretzky, VP Game Design

25 09 2010

Take a peek into game design lessons from Playdom, a leading developer of social games.  As a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company and part of Disney Interactive Media, Playdom games are played by over 44 million monthly active users across different social networks, and include games such as Social City,  Sorority Life, and Mobsters.

The video below is from June 2010, and recorded at the Silicon Valley Facebook Developers and Social Gaming Meetup, with presentations by Playdom and KISSmetrics.

Steve Meretzky, VP of Game Design at Playdom shares 7 design lessons in building and monetizing social games.

Although your gamification goals may or may not include revenue derived from game play, Meretzky offers ways to increase opportunities for monetizing.  Gamification designers interested in strictly user engagement could easily substitute monetization prompts with other user behaviors, such as sharing the site with friends, or completing user surveys/profiles.

Either way, your best results in getting a user to act will come from tapping into the engaged player.  An engaged user, in Playdom terms, often exhibits characteristics including 10x more play sessions than a non-paying user, and 10x more friends.

Playdom uses 2 methods of monetizing:

– Offer products/services to the impatient player (for example: in a system that uses a supply of energy which depletes and recharges over time, there is an opportunity to sell energy)

– Sell virtual goods (or soft currency which can be spent on goods)

Meretzky’s 7 Lessons learned by Playdom to increase monetized goods are:

Lesson 1: Engage the player first,  then monetize.

Lesson 2: Consistent sales/Time Pattern.

Rather than having an item available consistently in game, create demand by staggering availability across a time pattern.  Playdom metrics show that about 1/3 of all sales occur in the first 24 hours and then taper off.

Lesson 3: Gameplay value matters .

Often times the largest motivators are items that improve the user’s play, in particular goods offering a Player vs Player advantage.

Lesson 4: Vanity dives sales.

When dressing up avatars for example, items that look better or cooler, sell better.

Lesson 5: Involve the community

Communicate with your players, offer polls/surveys and act on results.  Social Games are a live service, take advantage of that fact

Lesson 6: Current event tie-ins work

Bring “real world” goods and events into the game.

Lesson 7: Shake it up, Baby!

Although  A/B testing leads to the “best” of everything (item type, duration, price, etc), repetition can become stale and new is better than best.  Shake things up, the user base appreciates it when you do something different.

How do you know your game designs are engaging?

Before launching a new game, Playdom often performs 30-minute company play sessions.   If they continue to see large groups of people playing during “off hours”, it’s a good indication that they have a hit.

For smaller companies that don’t have a lot of people internally, use friends and family and you’ll find out quickly if your game is really fun or not.

The presentations from Hiten Shah, CEO and Co-Founder of KISSmetrics  and  Matthew Davie, Project Lead, Publishing at Playdom are also on the video.

Steve Meretzky’s presentation is at  38:50 in the video.  (The complete video including KISSmetrics is approx 1 hour and 36 min in length. )

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Gamification Lessons from Sim’s Creator Will Wright

24 09 2010

Will Wright, one of the gaming industry’s most respected thought leaders, has been designing video games for over 25 years.  With blockbuster titles including SimCity, the Sims and Spore, Will has won numerous awards, earning Lifetime Achievement Awards by both Game Developers Choice and PC Magazine.

Will gave a insightful interview at the Web 2.0 Expo in 2009, where he shared thoughts on why his games have been successful at engaging people worldwide.   The following quote is from the video clip which is available for viewing (courtesy below:

“Most people are very narcissistic.   The more you can make the game about that person, the more interesting, the more emotionally involved they will get.

(Interviewer) “Isn’t that the same thing about Amazon?”

“Yes, like the whole web thing, when you think about it, people like the idea of communicating and crafting their own identity.  Before the technology we have now came around, people did that with their choice of their wardrobe, or the kind of car they drove, or the kind of house they lived in…nowadays people are crafting more of their identity on the web and it’s a much lower friction, you don’t have to have a lot of money to create a really dense web presence or an elaborate one.

It can also say a lot more about who you are really. [For example] If you are really about protecting the endangered ring-tailed lemurs, you aren’t going to present that with your wardrobe probably. On the web though, I go to your Facebook Page and I can very clearly find out about the things you are passionately interested in very readily.

I think the intersection of these virtual identities that we’ve been crafting and experimenting with is starting to intersect and collide with kind of our real “face-to-face” identities in the real world in an interesting way.   I think games are going to be an aspect of that, they’re going to be one possible dimension of your personality .”

Will targets an important success factor in his game designs that can easily be translated into any gamified social system.  People are interested in directing their experiences, expanding on their personalities, and portraying this within online identities in the community.  Their choices are important and help define their personalities.

Personalization doesn’t necessarily mean graphical avatars and a full 3D gaming environment.  It may be presented as a simple series of attributes, levels, titles, activities and achievements.  From selecting virtual gifts to acquiring a specific title of status, to selecting a challenge out of a list of player-vs-player encounters, personalization is  one of the strongest catalysts for game-based engagement.

An example of how a title  (status  mechanic) can achieve this personalization is found in many massively multiplayer online (MMO) games today.  A title is the text found before or after a player’s character name.  MMO enthusiasts have been known to work outrageous hours across many months towards obtaining a title.

Interesting, fun titles in various MMOs are:

  • “God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals”  – GuildWars
  • “L33t Skills” – GuildWars
  • “Pie Eater” – Lord of the Rings Online
  • “Legendary”-  Star Trek Online
  • “Treasure Hunter” – Guild Wars
  • “Love Fool” – World of Warcraft
  • “The Insane” – World of Warcraft

If presented within a well designed UX, a gamified system that offers many choices and many paths to success can truly engage a user.  And by tailoring the mechanics to accommodate various personality types, people are thrilled to work and win in their own ways.

The complete 30 minute interview video is (well worth watching) found at

The Power of Virtual Gifts in a Gamified World

23 09 2010

Question:  If you had the choice between a real rose and a virtual rose, which would you choose?

Before answering, let’s take that virtual rose, and present it in some context.  Perhaps the virtual gift is an invitation, hinting at fun and social entertainment with friends.  Now make that virtual rose persistent, so the flower is available at every visit to your site.  Display the rose in a public environment, where others see the gift from a friend.  And lastly, add functionality to the rose, perhaps the rose completes a collection, unlocks new content, or provides new status within the community.

Virtual Gifts are experiences that can be used as positive and powerful social exchanges.  They make a message stand out.  Gift-giving involves an expectation of reciprocity, and the more valued the experience, the more resources in time, effort, or money people are willing to invest.

Rarity (scarcity) increases a virtual gift’s value, and time-limited offers create urgency.

A virtual gift can also represent status in level, price, or value.

Gifts can refer to anything that makes the receiver happier, and may be creatively interpreted to  include invitations, thank you’s, compliments, thoughtfulness, and kindness.  It is an effective and encouraging way to get the user to involve their social graph, and should be one of the first game mechanics a designer considers for their gamified site.

Examples from Facebook:

Entire products can be completely based on the gifting mechanic, as in the case of Facebook’s successful iHeart app.  This simple game quickly amassed over 29 Million Monthly Active Users just by giving and receiving hearts.  With over 170 different hearts to choose from, users gauge their status through an animated “beats per minute” heart rate.

Google implemented a gifting strategy for Gmail, inviting 1,000 industry thought leaders, and allowing them to invite their friends and family members as beta testers.  At regular intervals, Google offered more invitations for these Gmail users to distribute.  They also created a scarcity that caused the aftermarket price of Gmail invitations to skyrocket, some selling on eBay for as much as US$150.

(Source: Wikipedia History of Gmail)

Gifts, as we have seen in most game mechanics, can be presented from the perspective of personality types and motivaions:


Because virtual gifts are experiences, the actual implementation and design of the user experience for both giving and receiving are very important.  Small details such as wrapping paper and personalization transforms the virtual good from advertising to gift.  Design the UX for convenience, offering a fast, easy way to select friends.

Some interesting options for gift-giving features:

–  Keep track of who the user has sent gifts to, and remind users to send gifts often, especially to those who may have been overlooked.

– Offer a special group of items that may only be received as gifts.

– Personalizing gifts and wrapping paper as an added experience or upgrade.

– Depending on the cultural background, public gifts may be more valued. For example, how many Valentines or birthday wishes have you received?

– Be aware that any social interaction within your community is a potential for gifting, and should be studied.

Many cultures put strong emphasis in gift-giving.  When building virtual gifts, it may be useful to note some cultural differences.  The following list is compiled from various online sources:

International Gift – Giving


– Symbolism is important, with colors and numbers having special meaning. For instance, at Chinese New Year, Money may be given in a red envelope; it must be an even amount, using an even number of “new” bills.

– Red is a lucky color; pink and yellow represent happiness; and the number 8 is the luckiest number.

– The colors black, white and blue and the #4, or four of anything, are negatively associated with death or funerals. Also included in this category are clocks, handkerchiefs, and straw sandals.

– Another example of the importance of color is if a man wears a green hat it indicates his wife has been unfaithful to him.

– Sharp objects like knives or scissors represent a ‘severing of a friendship or relationship

– Always wrap the gifts you give. The paper should be appropriate to the occasion. Never use a combination of white and black paper.

– Avoid clocks.  In many Chinese dialects, the phrase “give clock” sounds the same as “see off into death”

– Handkerchiefs are associated with crying and funerals.

– Avoid packaging Items in sets of 4 unless it is a set of two pairs.

– Avoid using white chrysanthemum because it is a funeral flower in Korea and in China.


– Avoid giving towels as gifts because they symbolize bad luck and might bring the receiver hardships in the future. 


– The act of giving itself is as important as the gift.  If gifting with avatars, both hands are utilized for giving and this should be accompanied by a bow.

– Gift giving is an art form, representing friendship, respect, and gratitude. The ceremony is important; the gift is always in a gift box, or beautifully wrapped in quality paper, and given with great respect. The symbolism is what’s important.

– In Japan symbolism is important. A gift with a pair of items is considered lucky, but sets of four or nine are unlucky.

– The number 4 also means death;

– The color red is associated with funerals, so don’t give a pen with red ink, and don’t write out a card using red.

– Books aren’t appropriate

– Sharp objects like knives, scissors, and letter openers symbolize ‘severing a relationship’.

Latin Culture:

– Personalized gifts are highly valued in Latin culture.

– Symbolism in this culture will also influence the choices you make for gifts and wrapping paper.  Black or purple paper isn’t used because it’s used during Holy Week.

– Items associated with death or funerals that wouldn’t be used include handkerchiefs, and yellow, red or white flowers.

– As in other cultures, sharp objects such as knives or scissors should never be given, since they represent a ‘severing of a relationship’.

Brazilian Culture:

– People in Brazil don’t give purple flowers as gifts because it is unlucky.

Mexican Culture:

– People in Mexico don’t give a handkerchief as a present because it might turn friends into enemies.

Muslim Culture:

– The Koran forbids alcohol.

– Also forbidden are products that come from scavengers. For example, both pork and pigskin items are not allowed.

– Do not give personal clothing items.

– Dogs are considered unclean, so any dog item, even something with a picture of a dog would not be given

– An ideal gift is a compass so he can find the direction in which Mecca lies.

– Always give gifts with the right hand, or both hands. The left hand is never used alone to hand someone a gift, as it’s considered unclean.

– Knives because they have a sharp edge – severing relationships- are not appropriate.

– Artwork that consisted of sculptures, drawings or photos showing the human body, especially a nude or partially nude female body, is not acceptable as a gift.

Jewish Culture:

– Orthodox Jews are not allowed to eat pork and shellfish.

Hindu Culture:

– The cow is sacred in the Hindu culture. It is safer not to give anything related to animals at all.

– Most Hindus also do not drink alcohol.

– Once again, use your right hand or both hand to offer the gift.

– Fish and all animal products except milk or butter are shunned. Therefore, you would never select any leather or food product from these categories.


–  Do not give frangipani flowers, which are for funerals

–  Wrap Gifts in colors that are considered auspicious such as green, red, or yellow.

Avoid gifts that appear to be leather or made from other animals

– Avoid gifts wrapped in black or white paper, colors that are considered inauspicious

– Avoid Images or figures of dogs to Muslims. These are considered unclean.


– People in Ukraine avoid giving a clock or a watch as a gift to young couples because it might cause the breakup of their relationships in the future.

Source for Cultural Gift giving:

How Zynga Tests New Game Mechanics

20 09 2010

Mark Pincus, CEO and Founder at Zynga, and Bing Gordon, Partner KPCB and ex-EA executive, spoke at a Stanford Technology Ventures lecture last year about Pincus’ entrepreneurial experiences and Zynga’s methodology in testing new game mechanics and ideas.

In the lecture, Pincus describes the Zynga process as constant iteration, design and testing with a starting stage at what he calls the “ghetto test”.  Ghetto testing is described in these steps:

1) The product manager creates a “5 word” description of the new idea.  For example “Want to run a Hospital?”

2) They post this idea on the web site, allowing it to go live for 5 minutes, monitoring hits and interest with their user base.

3) If sufficient audience interest is measured, then a one-week rollout of the first version of the game (mechanic) is created.

4) This game or feature is revealed to just one percent of the Zynga audience for play and feedback almost always with some modicum of “golden mechanics” – an appointment dynamic or viral, retentive quality – built in.

5) If these early efforts prove successful, the game grows more robust with each successive build.

Zynga avoids testing the same customer twice.  Pincus reports that the company is always testing several hundred products simultaneously, and that measuring this success online has never been easier or more affordable.

Around 1:04:00 of the video below, Pincus describes this process:

Tim O’Connor, CMO of PCDI/Ashworth, a Sterling Partners backed company describes “ghetto testing”, synonymous to “Interactive Dry Testing” in an article for Research Access:

Instead of surveys asking people about what they have done or what they might do, ghetto tests draw them in with an ad or suggetion of an offer, taking them to a landing page describing the offer and then asking some questions around that.

Now you might already be thinking that this sounds a little shady — a sort of “bait and switch technique”. But it isn’t. In his article Tim outlines some FTC guidelines and then shows how to create this type of survey.

“The Federal Trade Commission is normally OK with tests like this, so long as four conditions are met:

  • No representation is made that the product definitely will be produced.
  • There must be adequate notice of the conditional nature of the offer.
  • Those who order are promptly informed if it is not produced.
  • There can be no substitution of another product.”

Tim O’Connor’s complete article is found at

The social media online environment allows designers to rapidly create, deploy and test new features at relatively low cost, unlike traditional console or AAA games.  And that opens many opportunities for innovation with gamification.

Designing Gamification for the Most Frequent Personality Types

18 09 2010

Which personality types are found in your web site or game’s community?

When  designing game-based applications for a general US population, it may be of interest to examine the frequency of personalities in order to target the broadest reaching gamification strategies.  Many personality models are available for study and although each have their own criticisms in scientific approach, it is interesting to look at these reports as a starting basis for design.   Ultimately you will want to design, test, and iterate constantly to determine your own customer’s interests.

One of the most established personality models, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is termed as “the world’s most widely used personality assessment”.   Although the Myers-Briggs model is a general model and not specifically designed for game-based motivations, the types can be generally matched to gaming behaviors.

Myers-Briggs examines the following attributes:

I or E: introverted (I) or extroverted (E) – Derives  mental energy primarily from internal (I) or other people (E)

S or N: Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N) – Absorbs information from data/details (S) or by general patterns (N)

T or F: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) – Decisions based on logic/objective criteria (T) or on emotional intelligence (F)

J or P: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) – Makes decisions quickly (J) or prefers to take a more casual approach and leaves options open (P)

The Center for Applications of Psychological Type shares estimated frequencies for Myers-Briggs within the United States.  A general breakdown is shown here:

The estimated frequency table was compiled from a variety of MBTI® results from 1972 through 2002, including data banks at the Center for Applications of Psychological Type; CPP, Inc; and Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

The complete breakdown by gender is found here.

This CAPT data suggests personality types with the highest frequencies are:

ISTJ (11-14%)

ISFJ (9-14%)

ESTJ (8-12%)

ESFJ (9-13%)

Interestingly, the attributes of Sensing and Judging are found in each of these higher frequency personalities.

Sensing (S) personalities are concerned with what is actual, present, and current, keeping note of facts and remembers details that are important.  They favor the practical use of things and believe “experience speaks louder than words”.

The following statements generally apply to Sensing oriented people:

  • Remember events as snapshots of what actually happened.
  • Solve problems by working through facts until they understand the problem.
  • Pragmatic and look to the “bottom line.”
  • Start with facts and then form a big picture.
  • Trust experience first and trust words and symbols less.
  • Sometimes pay so much attention to facts, either present or past, that they miss new possibilities.

Judging (J) personalities have a preference to decision-making (Thinking or Feeling) in their outer life.  Their public preference is to planned or orderly ways of life.  Judging personalities like to have things settled and organized, feeling more comfortable when decisions are made.

(Note: Do not confuse Judging with judgmental, in its negative sense about people and events. They are not related.)

The following statements generally apply to Judging-oriented people:

  • Prefers to have things decided.
  • Appear to be task oriented.
  • Likes lists of things to do.
  • Like to get work done before playing.
  • Plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.
  • Sometimes focuses so much on the goal that they miss new information.

(Source: Myers-Briggs Foundation)

Most successful games (whether social/mutli-player or single player) have user experiences built upon these attributes and they can provide a foundational structure to add complimentary experiences and mechanics to.  From FarmVille’s crop management to Foursquare’s achievements to World of Warcraft’s quests, most people will find these logistical structures and goals attractive.

David Keirsey defines this S-J temperament as Guardian (Logistical).  Logistical games, involving the management of flow of goods, information and other resources between one point and other, are further explored in Chris Bateman’s book 21st Century Game Design.  A logistical game offers rewards by allowing players a facility to organize and optimize components while they meet needs of particular tasks.

How can a logistical design be implemented in terms of gamification?  By offering interesting choices for players to manage decisions and achieve within the system, offering an extensive selection of upgrades or virtual items, and a method to convert a player’s time, effort, skill, or real world money into in-game resources.

However, as we have covered in previous posts, achievements are not the be-all and end-all of game design.  Adding diversity in mechanics can maximize coverage and participation.  One of the reasons why Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is able to thoroughly engage  it’s 11 million player community is the game’s ability to tap into a plethora of motivations.  Whether the user is interested in Player vs. Player (PvP), socializing, team-based cooperative play, strategy, role playing or achievements, there is a facet in this MMO system for everyone.

It is important to note, however, that your community’s psychographics may differ from  the general population.  For example, a group that includes predominantly  “hardcore PvP gamers” may be more predisposed to power or manipulative sensation-based motivations, whereas a “casual gamer” may be interested in building relationships or logical rule-discovery challenges.

Iterative and incremental testing/development with frequent communication with your users will help tune your game-based designs.