Here it is. My take on making comprehensive overview of what to think about when designing an event or an activity of any kind. Things to think about is who is it for and why should they care about doing it. Look what others have designed before you and steal the best parts and experiment with them.
Make things full with Flow, Fun, Friends and Meaning [Design For Engagement]
When designing any kind of activity, game, competition, event, learning, system or challenge it’s good to have in mind the basic fundamentals of what motivates and triggers people to join in or take action. This is also great advice when doing crowdfunding events on sites like Kickstarter and Rallygate.
The activity can be learning a skill or a trade. All things we do is practice and leaning in some way towards some form improvement or mastery. When things are “Just For Fun”, it’s mostly then we are learning the fastest. Getting into “Flow” is usually the most effective way of learning something or to be the most productive in that activity. Some of the thinking here I have borrowed directly from Amy Jo Kim’s lecture mostly about gaming. I think it can be applied to most human activities. I also focus mainly on the positive motivations. Sure there are many strong negative feelings that drives change and motivation like fear, hate, revenge. But I don’t go to into how to design for them here. Instead I try to focus what makes things fly.
If you think something is missing or needs to be changed just comment below or contact me :)
Lets do better design thinking when we design our activities.
Triggers of The Element
[Competition – Cooperation – Exploration – Expression]
There are 4 elements in an activity that can be combined to trigger different kind of things in people: Competitive, Cooperation, Exploration, Expression. The users, combatant, player and adventurer is just not one style but a combination of these. Get to know your different user styles of the activity. Find out what types they are and how to design for them.
Many of us trigger by the need to compete and measure us against each other. Be it the sole competitor or a whole team against each other. This is a basic human need. The need to seem strong int the tribe. And to seem extra useful for the Tribe. This usually followed by increased status, fame and attractiveness in the fair sex.
Competitions, Sports, Games and different forms of Challenges can been used to trigger this part of us.
Humanities greatest feast is the ability to co-operate towards a common goal. A lone human had little chance of survival in the past. A great tribe of a 100 individuals could solve almost anything. We have it built into our DNA to work together and get rewarded for it on many levels. Jonathan Haidt explains this so well.
It feels great giving and helping others without the need for reciprocity. It is what binds tribes together.
We humans are also explorers by nature. Not all but some of us get the sudden urge to seek out new unknown territory to wander in. The lust for exploration is very strong and can take form in many shapes. This is very powerfully portrayed in the this epic clip narrated by Carl Sagan: Wanderers.
Activities that includes Adventure, Mystique and Puzzles Solving are all good ways to “explore” this drive in human nature.
One of our most unique traits is the ability and need to express ourself. From how we look, dress and garnish our body to external expression through art and stories. The need to be unique and fit in, in the tribe at the same time. To put our twist on our self. And also the need to create, tinker, improve and “hack” things.
Radical Self-Expression is also part of one the 10 principles of Burning Man.
Making Things Magic!
Of course there are many more needs and desires that drive us humans like love, lust, belonging, righteousness, rebellion, fear, hate, revenge and need for the adrenaline rush. Still, these 4 big is a great way to start when designing an activity. Just focusing on one of them works great. Or combining them for a complex activity that attracts different people for different reasons works great to. Especial if it’s an activity done together with others.
With this is in mind we can easier understand how to make an event more magic.
What are you designing for? Verbs to use – From Amy Jo Kim
Intrinsic Motivations and PERMA
When we know what kind of activity to make we can then increase the level of engagement people feel when doing it. There are many models and names for the intrinsic motivations we have. I chose to incorporate them into Martin Seligmans’s and Jane McGonigal’s PERMA model. In it we divide out internal motivations into 5 categories. One that can arguably be siad is missing is the reward we feel during and after any physical performance. And ultimately like I do, the ability to put oneself into trance and triggering the Hive-Switch in the brain. Still here we go. Put more PERMA into your deign:
P – Positive Emotions – We all like experiencing positive emotions like urgent optimism, joy, peace, gratitude, satisfaction, trust, pride, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love. These emotions move us along when triggering the other forms of motivations. Arguably we can put the feelings we feel when sexually aroused or the rush we feel when dancing with danger here too.
E – Engagement (or flow) – When a situation, task, or project are in the sweet-spot between our current skill level and the difficulty of the activity we often experience a state of flow. We lose track of time & space around us. We becomes totally engulfed in the activity at hand. The ability for a person or a whole team to themselves into flow has been measured to be the largest contributor to the success of any endeavour. This is linked to the oh so popular concept of following ones passion. This is the right path towards mastery.
R – Relationships – The need for belonging in a social context is very strong. WE all want to be seen, heard and acknowledged within the tribe. It’s also more importune to been known for contributing to the tribe than actually doing it without any recognition.
Being social with others is at the core of what it is in being human. When having good relationships with others is when are at our best. Co-operation and friendly competition brings out the best in us. Make the user interact with others in the system or have them sharing about content in the system outside it.
M – Meaning – Meaning comes from creating a purposeful narrative about our lives. A story where we are part in something bigger than our-self. We will often sacralize something in the group that brings meaning to us. Finding ones purpose in life can be a powerful thing indeed. Humans have it in them seek meaning and spirituality. It’s what we do. Here is great clip about Burning Man explaining it all.
Designing activities with a greater purpose and a greater vision behind them is the way to go. So many things and leaders in our society, act without a clear vision where they are taking us.
A – Accomplishments – We often seek Mastery in some form. And completing our goals and following our core values. Or we can just good feedback and rewards from an activity we are carrying out which also give great satisfaction. Enhance the progress the user is making by giving them great feedback.
Integrate feedback into the activity loop of the current activity. We just love checking things of our to-do list. Or getting the great feeling of completing or launching things on a grander scale. When we down that boss in an epic game. Throw your arms in the air for that great Fiero moment.
What humanity desperately need right now is a vision where we can go as a species – #BurningMan
Another way and model that I also like is the one called the 4Ps by Storyarchitects with People – Purpose – Passion – Pleasure developed by Jasmine Idun Lyman. You can probably match where this model overlaps with the one above.
People – Purpose – Passion – Pleasure developed by Jasmine Idun Lyman
Flow – Mastery and Passion
On of the most talked about thing now is the notion that you should find and follow your passion. This both true or as Tai Lopez calls it Accurate. It’s all about design an activity with life-cykle aspect in mind. Start with Onboarding for the Newbie like Amy Jo Kim says. Then makes sure there are different challenges with increasing difficulty so that a participant can easily get into flow depending on their skill level. Not all event should have all skill levels depending on what type of activity it is. Over time a well design activity develops passion in the participant as they increase their skill level on their journey.
Tim Ferriss has a new TV show out called The Tim Ferriss Experiment where he tries to master 13 different challenging skills in just 5 days. In order to do this he needs apply a very precise set of points to stay in flow take the quickest route towards the path of mastery. He shows us that it is possible to learn a skill very fast with the right and best teachers, science, technique, motivation, attitude and design thinking.
Design an activity towards mastery with flow all the way
Choice – Sacrifice – VIP – Stories
All great activities and products have an inbuilt story. One that we can tell our self while doing it. A kind of internal Self-Narration. And another that we can tell others and share before, during and after an activity. Here it helps designing content and context around the activity that can be shared and easily internalized.
We are basically a storytelling ape with a big brain that is excellent in recognising, enjoying and telling stories.
Sacrifice and Pain
Some activities also benefits if there is some kind of built in sacrifice, hardship and pain built into them. It scares some people away and attract others. Physical challenges and some competitions often use this to great benefit. The benefits of doing something hard and painful are often enjoyed after the event. When the pain is forgotten and all we have left is a good story. Doing hard stuff together with others and sharing the pain also brings people closer together and builds bonds.
Try to sell the story people can tell when they are part if an exclusive tribe that have mastered the challenge.
Scarcity and VIP
We all like to be VIP och part of some exclusive tribe sometimes. By making an activity only available to a selected few who either cued of the event or paid extra to get extra treatments and perks is great way to increase the overall attractiveness of the event. This is used with great success in crowdfunding activities with different perk levels. Here scarcity both in time and in the number of available slots serves a way to make people sign up faster.
Give people the ability to feel or dream about the status and exclusiveness that a special offer or VIP treatment brings.
Feel the Rush
Some activities is all about the adrenaline or rush we can feel when doing something exiting and dangerous. Some people become adrenaline junkies and are looking for more ways to experience this feelings.
Choice and Autonomy
People like making choices. This makes us feel autonomous. It’s just that we are different when we think about what rules we want to follow when making choices and forming habits. Gretchen Rubin divides us into 4 different type of people when adopting new habits: Obligers, Questioners, Upholders and Rebels. Of course given inside a certain system we can like the excitement and angst when choosing between different options.
Life and gaming is about making interesting choices :)
And remember: Be nice!
Holistic Thinking Ninja
Design Thinking is complex when trying to comprehend the big picture