If you’ve read my posts A Tribute to Emma and How I Became Creative, you’ll notice I’ve had my fair share of heartaches in my life. But I also talk about how I’ve been able to work through those difficulties to find rainbows in the end. Here’s a poem I wrote at the very moment when I found my rainbow:
Have you ever seen pain?
I’m not talking about the sight of a child who skinned their knee,
Or the empathy felt with someone struggling from illness.
I’m talking about the stabbing edges that appear on the smoothest objects,
Or the heaviness perceived at the sight of a feather.
I’m talking about the blood-red sheen that permeates even the prettiest of sights.
I’ve seen pain.
I’ve looked away from the photos that ignited heartache.
I’ve drowned in the darkness of grief from love that I’ve lost.
I’d even close my eyes in anticipation for a seemingly destined gloom.
But, I opened my eyes.
And I forced myself to see through the pain.
And then, the heaviness lifted like a kite in the wind,
And the edges melted like an ice cube in the sun.
Soon, the redness transformed into the most brilliant rainbow!
And since I know what it’s like to truly see pain,
I know I can say I’ve truly seen beauty.
A true legend of design, Bill Moggridge passed away on Sept, 8th 2012 at the age of 69. After designing the first laptop computer, Bill pioneered interaction design, cofounded IDEO and most recently was the Director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Here’s a wonderful video outlining his achievements and design methodologies:
I was honored to have a photo of myself collaborating with other Toy Inventors at IDEO included in his book, Designing Interactions. While you’re there, check out the great video interviews of Bing Gordon, the founder of EA and Will Wright, the creator of the Sims franchise.
We’ll miss you dearly, Bill.
I’ve come across an excellent video blog on the Harvard Business Review’s website by David Roche, president of Hotels.com. He points out that people with strong advantages in the workplace might also have very strong weaknesses. He points to creativity specifically, which is very relevant to my own thoughts. I agree with David – tolerating individuals weaknesses often enable the more important strengths to shine through. I believe it would be a diservice to them and to the organizations they work for to prevent them from achieving their goals by not tolerating their weaknesses.
David Roche, you are my hero!
“Fail Early and Often to Succeed Sooner” is one of my favorite IDEOisms. Just today, IDEO London’s Design Director, Tom Hulme was featured in a video in the Harvard Business Review. Tom briefly explains this theory and updates it to reflect the current state of the industry. Take a look here:
Here are some of my thoughts on Tom’s theory and how I believe it pertains to the social games industry:
#1 Skip the Focus Group
While Tom does have a point for products like soda, in the case of mass market social games, I don’t agree with skipping focus groups all together. Depending on the circumstances, I find getting my ideas, the artwork or the prototypes in front of people as early as possible helps me to empathize with them and see things I would have missed otherwise. Also, in mobile games it’s easy to put people in the ‘real’ environment since people play mobile games anywhere anyways. The problem however, is making sure to not skew people’s judgement and to get enough of the right people to take a look. That’s a finesse skill – see my post on feedback to get some pointers.
#2 Test it’s Appeal Online
I love that the example he uses to demonstrate this point is from Zynga. I’ve actually posted about one of Zynga’s click-tests in another blog post (TBD) – they tested a roller coaster themed game through Facebook ads. I agree with this approach wholeheartedly and think it is immensely important in the development of new game IP. Luckily for Zynga, they can easily target their audience through Facebook ads – there are numerous different demographic criteria available to them to get incredibly useful data. For games outside of Facebook like mobile games, there is no service quite as useful as this.
Through my experience, I’ve learned it’s very hard to judge what the mass market will like by using my own intuition or by asking a sample of people. In fact, in doing tests like these I have been proved very wrong before! Imagine if I went with my gut instinct in those cases… yikes!
#3 Launch a Mock Version
This sounds like an excellent idea for certain scenarios. However in social games, the trend has been to launch a ‘minimum viable product’ and to perform rigorous testing before investing any further into the game. Social games don’t typically take too long to build, and the important details are usually worked out while building them anyways. It wouldn’t make sense to launch a game that isn’t representative of the final product. But that’s not to say a MVP can’t be changed if data from it’s beta test reveals problems. For best results, test in a small market like Canada before launching worldwide.
Finding success can be like the roll of a dice. For the best chance of success, use tried and true strategies and plan for ways in which you can fail safely and learn from it. This is the approach I personally use to determine a game to make:
- Start with feedback from a small sample of people – this will be qualitative data which can be used to uncover insights and opportunities and point out any major disasters.
- Then, get data from a wider audience through internet ad tests - this will be quantitative data which can be used to validate the mass market appeal.
- Finally, launch a minimally viable product in a small market to prevent spending any extra time in case the game does not work out as intended.
As a woman in a the male-dominated field of social gaming, I often find myself struggling with my identity. I tend to be more emotional and compassionate than my male counterparts who tend to be strictly competitive. However, I’m seeing data that describes women’s friendliness as having an economic price for them:
One of the interesting conclusions was that friendly women pay an economic price because by demonstrating warmth signals they are seen as less competitive and self-interested.
So what does this mean? Trying to be my natural self might be costing me in the long run? Should I stop being friendly and start being just one of the guys? I mean – I do want to be one of the guys. However, I’m also reading this is bad too!
women who violate gendered expectations incur negative social consequences. In other words, evaluators tend to make negative judgments about women who behave in masculine ways to fulfill the needs of their jobs.
Yikes! So what’s a girl to do?!? As it turns out, there are studies suggesting women should take a different stance – they should use their sex to their advantage by being flirty to increase their negotiation skills at work:
Should you Flirt to get Ahead at Work? Study says: YES!
Women who Flirt, Um, Negotiate, at work are more Successful
Flirting your way to the Corner Office
What?! So I have to flirt in order to be successful? As dirty as this feels – I can certainly see where this is coming from. Outside of the workplace, I’ve been offered ‘extras’ by men without even flirting at all. Get your head of of the sand! I’m talking about things like extra slices of meat at a sandwich shop, drinks at a bar and of course free entry to dance clubs. The articles point to the fact that women who are flirtatious in negotiations actually come off more confident. I already know I’m confident… but do others perceive me to be that way?
Even still, there are people in the opposite camp who suggest flirting is bad for a woman’s career and there are those who urge women to be careful not to go too far:
When Flirting Goes Wrong
Hey Women: Turns our Flirting and Not acting like a Man will get you Everywhere in your Career
Flirting with success: Women can indeed charm their way to better deals, study shows
In fact, Laura Kray, the woman who conducted this study shares her thoughts:
Kray acknowledges that to be overtly sexual is demeaning and can have negative professional consequences. But she argues that there are “shades of grey” to the approach.
As the book goes, there are fifty shades of grey. It’ll take some time to wrap my head around this one!
Ever wonder how many of the women you work with have experienced sexual harassment? Look around your office and count the women you see. Now divide that number by 4 . That’s how many.
ABC News posted an article last November detailing that 1 in 4 women report having experienced workplace sexual harassment. And, only about 41% of these women reported the harassment to their employer. What’s worse:
Among those who’ve experienced harassment but did not report it, four in 10 were either concerned about the consequences of making a report, or didn’t think it would do any good. (Fewer, three in 10 didn’t consider it important enough,) And only a modest majority of women, 56 percent, think that if they did report harassment it would be handled fairly.
Let’s speak up and put an end to sexual harassment. Let’s take it seriously and let’s not let it be a taboo topic.
After every blog post I publish, WordPress launches a side bar showing how many posts I’ve published in total. They even have a very game-like mastery meter. And every so often I fill it up and achieve my “goal.” I use quotations because I’m not the one who set these goals for my blog!
I’ve just now published my 45th blog post and achieved a new goal:
But where’s my reward??? Aren’t I supposed to get some premium currency or unlock something new?!? While it’s a nice touch, WordPress’ experience meter doesn’t motivate me to publish more blogs (well, besides this one).
Perhaps if they numbered each goal much like a player level in a social game and surfaced it to the writer, to the WordPress community and/or allow the writer to surface it on their own blog it would make a difference. *hint, hint WordPress! But then again, it’s not how many posts are published that matters, it’s the quality of the posts that they really want.
The best “game mechanic” that WordPress has is actually a part of their statistics. My favorite is the “Views by Country” feature. Like in the game of Risk, I’m trying to CONQUER THE WORLD! I want to get as many countries on the map colored in! (Can anyone say – hoarder… completionist?) 38 countries and counting