If ALL technology converges so that every app, media, program, everything, is in every location and on every surface–if Jesse Schnell’s gamification is realized 1010%–the player’s butt will always have control over the design.
Although the content of this article applies to all software and media, the focus is on gaming.
Aside from the obvious, “if your butt says you need to pause the game, you pause the game”, it’s about location. Certain games work better when your butt is on a couch verses when your butt is on the go.
People have expectations for spaces and the games that occupy them. The big three for games are the Relaxation Space, Work Space and Mobile Space. To a lesser extent, education, family, community and dining spaces.
- The mobile space currently covers the most ground and will eventually break apart into other spaces.
Relaxation Space: Player’s butt is where it wants to be.
Relaxation space expectations:
- Privacy (not mandatory, but expected)
- Comfortable place for the player’s butt (couch, chair or bed)
- No social pressure, dress code or conformity.
Couches have been around a lot longer than computers and if an apocalypse happens, couches will outlive most technology. Everyone has a relaxation space where they can unwind and escape. This is where the primary entertainment hub is located; big screen TV, surround sound, gaming consoles. When the player is in this space, they are ready to be exposed to their highest quality of entertainment. Your big budget, high quality games and media thrive here, and will always be in demand.
- There has been a reduction of games in this space lately as the mobile and work spaces have grown.
- This space will increase again, especially as mobile and work spaces become fully saturated with premium content. The growth won’t be massive, but more gradual.
- As more people are exposed to high-quality content through new spaces, any desire to continue gaming will lead them toward their relaxation space. As long as people primarily regard games as entertainment instead of work, they will gravitate toward the space that supports entertainment the most.
Time is valuable, but relaxation-time is always in greater demand than any other type of time. I liked CityVille, but I’m not going to play it on the couch–there is way too much waiting time. CityVille is meant to be played at work, when you are multi-tasking and discouraged from focusing on a game.
Work Space: Player’s butt is busy.
Work space expectations:
- Social pressure, dress code and stress
- Need to be alert
The only people who will not have workplaces are the crazy rich or the super lazy. The first image that comes to mind for work space gaming is someone playing FarmVille at the office. Yes, an office is a work space, but so is a kitchen, workshop or hospital. People have work spaces at home or outdoors. The basic work space expectations remain the same even when no computer is present.
Facebook games thrive in offices. Zynga games even more so because they support the ideas of the space: Multi-tasking, schedules, being social and being alert. Offices have computers, so Zynga has thrived on Facebook, and their move to smart phones should be profitable because their are many other work space environments that can only be reached by phones. A landscaper won’t have a laptop, but will have a phone. What is to stop a construction worker from watering his friend’s FarmVille crops while they let concrete settle?
Mobile Space: Player’s butt is on the go (and could be anywhere).
Mobile space expectations:
- Short chunks of time
- Need to be ready to shift attention
- Hands may not be free
Mobile games are a catch-all for many spaces because mobile-devices (smart phones and hand-held consoles) are the only game-compatible devices that can access certain spaces. Having designed games for Nintendo DS and iPhone, one of the main design constraints in play-time. It could be less than a minute between bus stops or hours on a train–waiting in line at the grocery store verses at a theme park.
Right now, the most successful games in the mobile space are designed to support the lowest-common-denominators. What is currently referred to as “Mobile” will break apart as technology annexes more spaces.
Technology has an easier time accessing spaces where people spend greater amounts of time. For example, one space that will separate from the mobile space is the long-travel-time space. Airlines have begun introducing game-compatible technology to their flights (a slow introduction) for some time. Going back to the “player’s butt” premise, the player’s butt is stuck in one spot next to strangers for several hours (and may have to deal with motion-sickness). This space has different rules than killing time between classes/meetings.
Where’s the Money?
Right now everyone is gold-rushing Facebook and Mobile because they granted access to new spaces. Just like the gold rush, the only groups that made big money were the ones who got their first and the ones who sold the pick-axes.
If you’re looking to make crazy money, identify which spaces will become available for “mining” (sticking with the gold-rush analogy).
- There are theories on which spaces will become available, but that information is only available to partners of Play Eternal upon request.