Mobile games: Playing with the group dynamic

Games
It was the 16th Century English poet John Donne who said that ‘no man is an island entire of itself’ and this maxim has endured for almost 500 years. Effectively Donne was saying that humans need to be in groups, not in isolation.

The need to participate in actions is crucial to humanity. When we do this with things we love, our levels of engagement and happiness soar. Watching football is better in the pub or with friends around, playing sport is better in a team and going to a gig with mates is more enjoyable than going alone.

Same with videogames, be they console, PC-based, tablet or mobile. While solitary people can sit happily with Doodle Jump all day long, multiplayer games and the sense of belonging in a community is one of the largest driving forces behind the games industry today.

One such example is Kongregate, a free open platform for browser-based games that has more than 15 million unique visitors per month. Playing games in groups is good for the soul and even better for the platform that provides it.

The same is also true with the wave of mobile chat apps that have swept through technology over the past couple of years. We talk in groups, so why don’t we play in groups? That makes a lot of sense – games added to group-based chat apps.

Group dynamics can strengthen the game experience and, in turn, the game experience can enhance group dynamics, a win-win scenario. Players can encourage each other, exchange friendly banter and even mock each other, when their game actions take place within an open chat context.

A real-time and user-driven experience instead of a slow and asynchronous experience creates a sense of urgency and spurs activity between people. It’s like turning on a switch. Eyes dilate, people become excited, people jump in.

Moreover if a users add a bonus, extra feature, or other gameplay enhancers by unlocking them for a whole group, it is similar to buying a round for everyone in the pub. It is not necessarily about individual accomplishment, but perhaps more about appealing to the social context that is experienced within the game.

There are several concepts that works well within a text-based environment. But, when adding the group perspective, things get really interesting. How about raising a pet dragon along with your friends, taking care of a farm or creating a city together?

Players of clan-based games typically have to use chat apps as companion apps to their games. We’ve seen this happen a lot in our group chat app, Palringo. We cater to that audience, both by releasing ‘in chat’ games but also external native mobile titles, which are enhanced when playing connected to Palringo.

You might want to coordinate attacks, discuss new features, access certain game modes or just talk about the game in a more relaxed environment. This is further evolved by adding a group vs group dynamic. A highly engaging game mechanic that our company will be focusing on in the future.

Of course, group v group may be similar to the ‘every man is an island’ citation earlier in this post and island v island may creation its own dynamic, but in a world where the technology is good enough to keeps up with humanity’s need for groups, the future of games is likely to be like this. And a jolly fine thing that is.

Pimping ain’t dead… it’s just gone digital

29663215.047Who said pimping was dead? The pimp game has only reinvented itself in the digital world, disguised with selfie pictures as the new bait.

The line gets blurry between prostitutes, call girls, or girls just wanting attention (who later accept a proposition). Electronic Hoes, or ‘eHoes; as they are referred to, are using selfie pictures and can be found randomly on internet sites. Continue reading

Great ideas, great design, great name… Great Fridays

matt_farrarI am very fortunate to work with global businesses, and more often than not with executive teams who have been locked in a world ruled by writing systems and books for their entire careers.

It seems incongruous that working in design generally means working with a rectangular shape that is either used to write on or look at. Mobile phone and tablet design, as I saw from Mobile World Congress this year, isn’t moving forward.

The team at Great Fridays, on the other hand, has grown up in a world centred around design. We communicate at an optimum level with a whiteboard and a pen, because we know that we can visualise the challenge rather than giving our audience something to read, and for them to formulate their own view.

This simple approach has proven invaluable, and a methodology in which we have built our business. Taking complex business challenges and using our design approach to articulate, and play these back to executive teams so that they consume and understand rapidly.

There is so much data in the world, and business really doesn’t know what to do with it or how to connect it. There are so many digital and electronic channels, and so much personal and business information now.

The successful businesses will learn how to harness and present this information. I am sure you have heard the phrase that ‘data is the new oil’. I agree but only if you have the capability to, make sense and refine it (excuse the pun).

For Great Fridays the design process starts with the data, the insight and the research. Not only do we consume and understand this data, but more importantly, we are able to interpret it and present back to our clients as a clear pictorial story.

This is a very different approach to the way in which more traditional business consultancies work, and their allegiance to the writing systems of the past.

This design-led visualisation process is truly transformational, as we engage disparate and sometime cynical teams quickly and effectively, because we are able to communicate the challenges in a way in which nothing is left open to interpretation.

The great pioneers of data visualization such as the UK data journalist David Mccandless and Eric Rodenbeck from data visualisation agency Stamen inspire us. They are evangelising about the power of data visualisation around the world, and showing the impact it can have when interpreted.

I urge you to look at David’s TED talk and Eric’s talk from the Bloomberg Business Week Design event last year. Also the Information Is Beautiful book by McCandless is a great addition to any Design library.

So imagine that future where the rectangle screen isn’t a prolific part of our communication ecosystem, a future where data can be visualised in real time. Augmented wearable technology is commonplace, but more importantly it has become more concealed. I would suggest that the written language no longer plays a leading part in our evolved way of communicating, but more of a supportive role.

Great Fridays have become a pioneer of this revolution, using visualisations of data to interpret complex business challenges and to get buy in from disparate stakeholder teams.

The impact that this has in the first phase of our service design process has been transformational and so we now call it transformational design, I believe a lot of other companies are going to be following our lead.

LinkedIn is a better (and cheaper) way of dating

Woman Student with laptop on legs typing keyboard
LINKEDIN: THE NEW WAY TO DATE ONLINE

From nightclubs, to bar scene, to blind dates, and even to scared spaces of worship, these were all once traditional watering holes of those seeking meet and date someone one on quest for true love.

However, now that we are firmly entrenched inside the digital age, times and the people who inhabit them have changed. Young 20-Somethings are turning to none other than the Internet and frequenting online dating sites such as eHarmony, Match.Com, ChristianMingle.Com as online dating becomes the new normal.

After all, when opportunity meets need, innovation and improvisation are guaranteed. In just a few short years after online dating officially hit the scene, there is an online dating site for everyone—and we do mean everyone. 

According to research done by a University of Rochester psychologist, online dating is now the second most popular way to start a relationship, coming in only after meeting through friends. As a result, research group IBIS World projects that revenue from online dating will hit a whopping $2 billion by the end of 2013 ().

COMPANIONSHIP AND CAPITAL

Let’s take a minute and breakdown the numbers for a pair of the highest paid sites. The cheapest month-to-month subscription on Match.com is $18 for six months (or $108) and that’s just the basics. Want to try out Match.com for just a month? That’ll be $36, thank you. Or you can spend a month checking out eHarmony’s 20 million registered users for $60. Otherwise, the site’s value plan, a 12-month subscription, will set you back about $240.

LINKEDIN: THE NEW ONLINE DATING ALTERNATIVE?

LinkedIn, the premier social networking website for people in professional occupations, has become the newest sanctuary for finding compatibility and security. The biggest ‘hookups’ can be found among those who work in entertainment. A musician hooking up with publicist or a striving actress with a film producer is not uncommon.
 
“I must confess. It’s a turn on to find a guy with a good job. You can see his whole bio and get a feel for what the person is about using LinkedIn. It’s easy to connect with the opposite sex when you’re working in the same profession. I never saw so many hot chicks that work in technology,” says David, a Social Media & Digital Content Strategist.  

“You can find the hottest chicks on LinkedIn, it’s better than paying into an online dating site,”says Jasmine, a regular who a marketing and media specialist in New York.

LINKEDIN VS. THE REST (TRADITIONAL ONLINE DATING SITES)

The #1 thing LinkedIn has going for itself is the client’s ability to see a potential match’s profession and bio. If the potential match has other social media plugged in to their LinkedIn profile page, you can get an even better view of the person.

And, while online dating sites rely on complex compatibility algorithms, LinkedIn plays by the age-old rules of the hunt—like an ultra cool virtual game of “Hide and Go Seek.” Meanwhile, online dating sites things are almost entirely, everyone who pays a monthly fee to find love knows what they’re there to do. I’ll take true love; hold the mystique, please!

LinkedIn reports more than 225 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories—each of them eagerly waiting to meet you. Yet, what makes LinkedIn revolutionary is its ability to provide a user-friendly platform and anonymity. With relative ease, any of us can make contact with people we don’t know without so much as a hint of pretense. Just log on, search for your significant other on the sly, and watch one thing lead to another.

“LinkedIn holds great promise for helping adults form healthy and supportive partnerships,” suggests sex expert Leigh Van Der. “It’s the adult version of Facebook.” 

With a name like LinkedIn, it’s got to be good.

Clear speaker system makes a noise through Kickstarter

FH Speakers 1[2]UK ‘audio pioneer’, Ferguson Hill, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a ‘clear speaker system’.

As can be seen from the accommpanying image, they certainly look the part and are designed for music and TV sound, as well as the sound from the internet via a TV. The press release says it is ‘loudspeaker technology to satisfy all the audio and design needs of the contemporary home’… as well as a large number of other adjectives to describe the product.

There are/will be three systems available with a price range from £895 to £1,395: the Primary System (two horn speakers and one bass sphere); the Deluxe System (two horn speakers and two bass spheres); and the Deluxe Surround Sound System (four horn speakers and two bass spheres).

Moreover, the speakers will also be featured this Saturday over several episodes of The Voice UK, that appalling programme my wife likes and is watched by more than nine million people (bring back The Generation Game).