Social Games and Service Design

Games’ design has always been very strong at devising complete users’ experiences. However in terms of business models, the industry is now also moving from product to service. And inevitably that is affecting the creation and production processes.

As many others, the video-games industry has traditionally being a product based sector. Once the game is finished there was little to do but marketing (or the next version) – a one-off-product.

But with the internet the whole economy is changing. Online gaming is transforming the market, the users’ expectations and therefore the creation process.

Most of online games, especially social games, give out a good deal of their content for free. The revenue comes from in-game purchases and publicity. Sustained income requires now long term relationships and high levels of engagement.

Online games have become organic systems that evolve with their users. They are never finished.

In terms of content its core will always be the game mechanics, graphics and interface. However social interactions have now also become part of the design process. Furthermore, designing the before-&-after the game and the interactions around it are becoming more important and need to be seamlessly integrated in the whole experience.
In my opinion, a service design approach to it could help that transition.
Looking at the game as an experience beyond the “playing”
Making an especial emphasis in understanding the users – not only their “gaming profiles” but the people behind
Rapid-prototyping and testing with users from the very beginning.
But it is not only that…

QUANTITATIVE SERVICE DESIGN

Service Design is usually based on qualitative data, which provides with great insights. However, social games are all about numbers.
What I am exploring at the moment is Quantitative Service Design, so data mining but with a service design perspective.

One of the main challenges is to sustain that user engagement. Companies gather loads of data (clicks, purchases, most used icons, procedures, screens…) but it is hard to know what to do with it.

I believe data-mining has three main parts:
– Filtering information: What data may be relevant? (Qualitative)
– Data mining: pure statistics (Quantitative)
– Interpreting data: What can we do with it? Can we predict behaviours? (Quanti-Qualitative)

For me, Filtaring information translates into identifying touch points, mapping interactions, understanding the user journeys… in two words: service design.

As well interpreting the data has the qualitative component of visualising all that information and making sense of it.

Quantitative service design, my new challenge!

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