The Engagement Loop is the 4th conversation of game design (see our earlier post for an introduction to The 5 Conversations of Game Design). It is represented on the UGaWo Game Board by the Action and Scoreboard squares.
The Engagement Loop is at the core of every game. Action and feedback are what makes a game fun to play.
Players are inspired to take some sort of action. Their action has an effect. The result of their action is reported back as feedback and based on that they are inspired to take action again.
The key is feedback. Clear. Immediate. Meaningful. Feedback.
Here’s an example from the famous House of Dead light gun arcade game: I shoot my gun at the zombie’s head; the zombie’s head explodes; my points go up and my ammunition goes down. I took action; the result encourages me to shoot at more zombie’s heads and collect more ammo. This is fun over and over and over again.
Now, let’s imagine an alternative design: I shoot the zombie’s head; somewhere in the background the game tracks this and it affects the average score of the players in my area; everyone in my area gets a coupon for a free coke. Sounds like a terrible game because it is a terrible game and yet that’s how the game of work is too often played: the feedback is not clear, it’s not immediate and it’s not meaningful.
Yes, team Celebration (part of the 2nd Conversation: The 4 C’s of Narrative) is a powerful intrinsic motivator. However, there is unlikely to be many wins to celebrate if mastery or a sense of progress isn’t present.
To be successful it helps to be experiencing success. When we perceive ourselves as successful we’re more likely to be successful. Too often we keep that experience from ourselves; we store it up for the end of the project. Providing positive feedback in real-time reinforces the behaviors we want to exhibit.
The action and response can both be positive or negative. Therefore, to create high performing organizations that are likely to achieve their Epic Win, we must understand and design appropriately engaging feedback loops.
nb this post originally appeared on www.ugawo.com.