Gabe Zichermann wrote a good techcrunch article on the topic of game mechanics. “What if everything we did was a little more fun?” he asks. Features such as points, badges, and scoreboards have been growing in popularity. Example: the badges on foursquare. Zichermann coins the term Funware for game mechanics applied outside of games.
While I don’t know about the term funware, I do agree with Gabe that game mechanics will be applied more and more. What impresses me about these features is the way it can motivate users. It’s not about fun as much as calling on the competitive human spirit to drive usage of a product. It also shows us that users want credit for their contributions, and users want feedback on how they are doing. It’s very pavlovian – users are more likely to return to a service that gives them a reward, even if that reward is virtual.
Task management is probably one of the least “fun” topics out there. We think we can make it less painful by adding an element of game mechanics. For those of you wondering about the name LazyMeter, this may start to give you more context. We believes we can deliver an experience that feels more like a game; but unlike most games, it will actually be a productive use of your time. Mission impossible?