Rhetoric in gamification design

Gamification design often uses narrative and storytelling to allow the player to travel along a more meaningful engaging journey. The rhetoric used by various characters, including the player can influence the game play. Interpreting user motivations before you start the design is essential. Again it requires user research to obtain these insights upfront and then testing to find out if your interpretation and translation into actual words is appropriate and engaging or simply not adding any value.

What spurred me on to write about this, is that just after the general elections here in the UK a conservative party member was dismissing the understanding of young voters, who voted for labour as simply being because of the proposal to abolish university fees. Now I would say that played a role, but to make the young voters one dimensional is another story, it will be interesting to see the true breakdown of the age group here too, which so far I haven’t seen. But watching it I felt it was wrong and dismissive, I am pretty sure young people also considered other elements and decidedly stepped out against current politicians. But as a game play strategy it sets up one party to mess with the other party’s credibility and potential future moves.

In some games you can send the other player preprogrammed messages, which add to the game play to psyche out the other player or make them angry or emotional. I know when I play with my nieces and I am on a losing streak, playing the pity card works a little bit. As a strategy it is used in business whether we like it or not. In gamification design, you may want to consider adding rhetoric in, with which you want to encourage light hearted behaviour for example or gentle competitive banter. Deciding on the tone and deciding whether to have the functionality at all is a design choice.

In a recent design we had fun messages in code that only the players could understand and the tone of the instructions changed based on performance. So staying in favour of the lead mission distributor was a small factor.

Whilst it is not essential game play, in a strategy based design. The best way is to at least make the choice whether to include it or not a conscious one. Equally it needs to be congruent with the culture of the organisation and with the spirit of the game.

Where are you using rhetoric as an added game dynamic?

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