This week I was fortunate to visit a few sessions at the London Olympics (and even witness a GB gold!). Apart from the trials and tribulations of actually trying to get a ticket (let’s not go there), I found the whole experience very positive – from a user experience perspective that means high scores in effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction.
There were many factors that contributed to this experience, but one of them which seems to get almost universal spontaneous postitive comments is the level of friendliness, cheeryness and helpfulness of the ‘games makers’ – the volunteers who show you where to go, help you with information, keep you from getting run over etc.
Why are these volunteers so damn cheery and positive?
One reason might be precisely because they are volunteers and therefore are explicitly not getting paid. The volunteers are motivated internally rather than by some external reward such as money. It would be interesting to compare the volunteers to those in similar positions that are receiving a wage – indeed many similar experiments have been performed in the past. In these experiments (often with children or students), it has been repeatedly shown that intrinsic motivation out performs extrinsic motivation in getting people to perform well and continue to perform well. One intrinsic reward for the Olympic volunteers might be ‘being a part of it’ – in part social inclusion and social recognition – again recognised by psychology research as being strong motivators.
Our games makers might be getting some extrinsic rewards (such as the occasional chance to view an event or meet a sporting hero) but these are not tied directly to the job they are performing so well – research has shown that when extrinsic rewards are given then when they are variable or unexpected then performance is generally better.
What does this teach us about design?
In designing a system or service we should:
- look for intrinsic rewards if possible rather than extrinsic rewards – things like a sense of ‘doing good’, ‘achievement’, ‘belongingness’ – rather than 3p off
- if rewarding with extrinsic rewards then do so unexpectedly and not part of a fixed contractual engagement
- seek to include a social element where appropriate
You might notice that many of the above are factors associated with ‘gamification’ and some of the reasons why it can work so well.
We are currently developing a training course for ‘designing for the human mind/brain’ that cover topics such as memory, vision and the other senses, attention, reading, trust, emotion, motivation.
If you are interested in hearing more about this please contact us