Posted in online community, Safety/Privacy, virtual worlds, web business

My Interview on the Community Signal Podcast

This past month, I had the honor of being interviewed by Patrick O’Keefe, for his community management focused podcast, Community Matters.  You can download it on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app, or stream it here:
On the podcast, we talk about many things, but our focus was on the treatment of those staff on the front lines of community – the moderators and engagement staff that actually interact with customers.  I feel very strongly that while some of the burden of choosing and keeping a potentially toxic job is on the employee, an equal, and in some cases larger, portion of that responsibility is on the employers and brands hiring those individuals.
Often times, they are highly marginalized team members – many are contractors with little or no interaction with the larger team or the client/brand team.  They are usually paid very low wages, even state-side, being told that they should be “happy” with their work-from-home status.
And that’s just when the content they are handling isn’t toxic.  On most moderation teams, they have to screen out all the “bad” content, so that the audience doesn’t see it.  But the moderators still see it and are usually not given the support required to handle emotionally volatile content.  Even in communities for children, moderators can come across triggering content and some teams do not prepare their staff for that possibility.  “Becoming numb to it” is an awful skill to have to develop on the job.
I also worry about the increasing trend to offshore moderation work to low-wage countries.  As an employer, I understand the urge, but it is difficult to maintain high quality with non-native speakers, not to mention the difficulty of oversight of procedures regarding the emotional well being of those moderators.  Just because they are offshore, doesn’t mean negative content won’t affect them the same.
I am interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Let me know what you think in the comments or via twitter.
Posted in gaming, marketing

GDC09 Notes: Designing Engaging Relationships

GDC09 presentation by Scott Rigby at Immersyve
Powerpoint deck and white paper available at:

– Fun can have negative aspects – not always positive
– work involved, stress, etc – all can be fun

– Collecting Behaviorial Data (telemetry)
– Outcome based rather than Causal

– The underpants Gnome Dilemma (South Park reference)
– 3 part business plan
– Collect Underpants
– Something
– Collect Profit
– We know that if we make the game fun then people will love it, but what is the middle part – how do we ensure fun

– Motivational Research is happening at the academic level

– Player Experience of Need Satisfaction (PENS) Model
– Competence – to grow in skill
– Autonomy – experience personal agency/choice
– Relatedness – meaningful connection to other players – real or NPC

– Just tracking fun is not an indicator of retention – using PENS is better
– long term and short term (they had data from their study to back claim)

– efficiency, growth, mastery
– High intention to outcome ratio
– Mastery in Moment-to-monent gameplay
– getting good feedback in wins and loses
– granular, sustained, cumulative
– w/i session, w/i game, global
– guitar hero is a good example of this
– Rewards
– not just happy things, but also info to get better works well as a reward
– Challenge
– stretch, don’t overwhelm
– watch for boring and anxiety extremes
– sustained challenge is high on fun, but low on PENS
– player gets exhausted if challenge is sustained too long
– being able to express mastery is key
– Shaming is not helpful

– sense of personal agency or volition
– I am the cause of my actions, not the game design
– Opportunities for Action (OFA)
– Interactive opportunities x Possible Actions = OFA
– Not about creating more, but about perceived opportunity
– density of choice
– Make sure schemas are met
– If in other situations things work a certain way, make sure that it consistent
– in one game when you shoot at a box on the wall it explodes, but in another level the box is just a texture on the wall and does nothing when shot
– player is reminded of his place in the game at that point and enjoyment decreases

– connected/mattering to other people, either real or NPC
– Give positive contextual feedback – especially in the case of NPC, don’t make them just filler
– Random dialogue and serious attitude in NPCs is demotivating to players

– Ask questions during game design phase
– How will overall or specific game play satisfy needs?
– Can I satisfy multiple needs simultaneously?
– Heat Maps in Game
– Push Short Surveys in game in different areas to gauge what needs are being met or not in what areas of the world

These concepts were found to be fundamental – across geography, age and game genre