The expression, “It’s a small world after all” has taken on a new meaning in this new era of innovation. And the buzzwords are: “virtual reality” and “metaverse”. When paired together, they unleash an unparalleled ability for billions of users around the world to interact in more synchronous, connected, and meaningful ways.
But how to successfully design for metaverses? Most companies will struggle to get it right at first go. Introducing new tech for mass adoption is difficult, even before we even spoke about metaverses. Google, for example, has a 36% failure rate… just think of Google+ and Google Glass. Great concepts, disastrous user usage and adoption.
So how can companies that want to create metaverses, get started on the right foot. But how? In a word – “gamification”.
How gamification fits into the larger picture
As gamification gurus, we are excited about the direction technology is headed. But to unveil our value in this venture, here are a few key terms:
- A metaverse is a digital world of overlapping, synchronous, and persistent experiences;
- Virtual reality is the tech that grants access to this world (e.g., VR headsets); and
- Gamification is the piece that keeps users coming back for more!
Most companies know how to access tech that can create some kind of metaverse/ But most do not leverage gamification enough. And this leads to unengaging function-focused design instead of human-focused design. It’s all “razzle dazzle” until users inevitably ask themselves:
What I am I doing here? What’s the point? Where is the fun, and how to use the fun to advance in real life too?
We give you 3 gamification hacks to keep your metaverse users hooked! These tricks are based on our renowned framework Octalysis, “The 8 Core Drives of Human Motivation”.
1. Give them purpose
A metaverse is the closest thing we have to a digitally-simulated world. So it majorly overlaps with reality. And what’s one of the most basic aspects of our realities, of our natures? Feeling a sense of purpose (Core Drive 1)! Because when we feel purpose, we feel like we’ve defined our unique place or role within society. It reinforces our individualism and thus individual importance.
Not to mention, when you have purpose, you often feel direction. Put otherwise, people aren’t just looking for purpose, they are looking to progress. So, by defining what their calling is, you’re also unlocking another core drive – Development & Accomplishment (Core Drive 2).
All you need is to create a storyline or narrative wherein each user is the protagonist (e.g., a sailor that needs to trade with clients from other islands to bolster the status of his/her own city-state).
2. Make it social
Social interaction is an inherent part of our realities. So, virtual or not, there is no “reality” without making your digital world “social” (Core Drive 5). This doesn’t mean you need to include coffee shops and movie theatres in your metaverse, unless it meaningfully contributes to your story/narrative (anything’s possible!). But it definitely needs to involve some element of cooperation and/or competition. This might mean teaming up with other users in real-time to accomplish a goal. Or competing with them to “get the gold” first.
Speaking of “gold”, another core drive is Ownership & Possession (Core Drive 4). This not only helps us to feel a sense of purpose, but a sense of self. But ultimately, this sense of self is relative. That is, when you include currency, coins, points, etc. that you can collect, it also creates “status” that can be used to motivate users (again, through competition).
On a similar but different note, you could also have other users provide feedback about a player’s progress, development, and success based on their creative decisions (Core Drive 3)! Sure, you could throw in a few speech bubbles that pop up saying “Good work!” or “Wrong way!” But it’s far more effective to provide feedback in a more social way (e.g., having RPG characters clap when a user walks by).
3. Keep ‘em curious
Would you read a book if you already knew the ending? Doubt it! That’s because one of our strongest intrinsic motivators is Unpredictability & Curiosity (7). It’s the cliffhangers at the end of each episode that tempt us to come back and watch the next, and then the next. And that’s why gamification is so important – it presses the right “motivation buttons” to make sure people return to your metaverse again and again.
The fact of the matter is that, with potentially billions of people accessing the same metaverse, they are bound to talk amongst themselves. All the hacks and clues and tricks will eventually be exposed, which will diminish the interest of users who receive these “spoiler alerts”. That’s why, when creating purpose (Core Drive 1), try making the narrative non-linear. That way, everyone can progress towards the same goal from different pathways, each of which can have its own surprises (e.g., powerups, treasures, enemies, etc.).
You can also keep them curious by keeping resources scarce (Core Drive 6). For example, if there’s an abundance of special powers for characters to gain on their road to the goal, then they won’t move with urgency or impatience (Core Drive 6). If you’re at a dinner party, when are you most motivated to eat cake? Surely, when there’s only a few pieces left! The scarcity they feel will also make them afraid of “loss”, since even though the “cake” or “powerup” was never theirs per se, they will still experience a sense of loss that will make them alter their actions to avoid similar losses in the future (Core Drive 8).
If you leverage these 3 hacks (or derive more hacks from Octalysis yourself, your metaverse is guaranteed to succeed! But there’s theory and then the application… At Octalysis, we not only created the gamification framework, but we’ve successfully applied it across 15 countries and countless companies over the past 2 decades.
We are currently helping a number of metaverse and blockchain projects to succeed with immersive and engaging design. But we also help them with creating cool white papers and give advice on their DAOs and tokenomics.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, then you’ll need to get it right the first time. So give us a shout and we’ll help you out!