43 things customers think are fun

We’ve all played games as children. Today, millions of people ‘lose’ themselves in massively multiplayer games (MMPG) like World of Warcraft, strategy games like League of Legends and social media games like FarmVille. Games satisfy our need to interact, compete, and exercise our imagination. And they’re fun.

What if a business offered those rewards to their customers?

In his book Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games, Jon Radoff identifies 43 things that customers think are fun.

  1. Recognising patterns – Anything from visual patterns, motion patterns, strategic patterns or mathematical patterns.
  2. Collecting – Collections communicate status, suggest organisation, lead to rewards, represent wealth and are mementos.
  3. Finding random treasures – Like winning a jackpot or slot machine, finding shells at the beach or opening Cracker Jacks to find a surprise.
  4. Achieving a sense of completion – Giving players a constant sense of finishing something like progress bars, to-do lists, achievements and levels.
  5. Gaining recognition for achievements – Achievement systems provide a sense of accomplishment and a chance to be recognised.
  6. Creating order out of chaos – Sorting, lining things up and classifying give players a sense of control over their environment.
  7. Customising virtual worlds – People enjoy leaving their mark and place great value on things they’ve made.
  8. Gathering knowledge – Studying and being taught are not fun, but learning is fun because we are naturally curious.
  9. Organising groups of people – Organising groups of people to achieve shared goals is a source of enjoyment.
  10. Noting insider references – Discovering “Easter Eggs” gives player a sense of being a part of the “in crowd.”
  11. Being the centre of attention – Satisfy the human need for attention by putting the player at the centre of the universe.
  12. Experiencing beauty and culture – Games feature artwork, music and designs that appeal to the human senses.
  13. Romance – Games can provide opportunities for flirting, wooing and building relationships with the opposite sex.
  14. Exchanging gifts – Players enjoy giving gifts to their friends and the act of giving triggers reciprocity.
  15. Being a hero – Playing as the hero appeals to the human desire for power.
  16. Being a villain – It’s about the fantasy of having power without consequences.
  17. Being a wise old man – This is typically a high status role that may also touch on the motivator of family.
  18. Being a rebel – The opportunity to flaunt society’s rules while remaining basically good.
  19. Being the magician, a keeper of secret knowledge – People enjoy the thought of knowing something that nobody else knows.
  20. Being the ruler – The chance to be a person with considerable power over other people.
  21. Pretending to live in a magical place – Players enjoy imaging being in worlds different than their own.
  22. Listening to a story – Stories appeal to our curiosity about people, places and things.
  23. Telling stories – Games provide an opportunity for players to construct and tell their own unique stories.
  24. Predicting the future – Predicting the future makes people feel smart, in-control and influential.
  25. Competition – People enjoy the sense of power that comes from winning.
  26. Psychoanalysing – Predicting, guessing or understanding the motivations of others can be a source of fun.
  27. Mystery – Striking a balance between revealing a little while holding back the rest can create a fun experience.
  28. Mastering a skill – Increasing one’s mastery without becoming frustrated gives people a sense of flow.
  29. Exacting justice and revenge – Justice and revenge provide a sense of idealism and tranquility when wrongs are righted.
  30. Nurturing – Growing things stems from your motivations for family, saving and power.
  31. Excitement – Suspense, horror, competitive action and anticipation help create an addictive, exciting experience.
  32. Triumph over conflict – Resolving conflict provides the player with a sense of victory.
  33. Relaxing – Games can create a mental vacation which can lead to tranquility.
  34. Experiencing the freakish or bizarre – People crave new and unique experiences that are different from their everyday lives.
  35. Being silly – Players enjoy an escape from the serious and mundane.
  36. Laughing – People love to laugh, especially with their friends.
  37. Being scared – People enjoy the sensation of danger without the actual danger.
  38. Strengthening a family relationship – Players enjoy feeling companionship with members of their family.
  39. Improving one’s health – People dislike exercise, but love to feel fit.
  40. Imagining a connection with the past – Nostalgia is a powerful emotional trigger for good and bad emotions.
  41. Exploring a world – Understanding your environment gives you a sense of power and control.
  42. Improving society – Players can satisfy their need to leave the world a better place than when they came into it.
  43. Enlightenment – Games provide a way for players to explore decisions and their consequences, leading to greater knowledge.

Adapted from the book Game On: Energize Your Business with Social Media Games by Jon Radoff (pages 108-124)

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