On a ritual daily basis most of us receive hundreds of emails, but I, unlike my husband who meticulously deletes every single unwanted email, just leave them until they fall into infinity. Fortunately my efficient technique resulted in finding a gem of an email during a brief floundering moment. The title “How To Make 5k A Month Thanks To Apps” really caught my eye! I had never before considered creating an app, but how could I possibly ignore this live webinar?
I waited three days with childlike excitement for these wise instructions; this is how to slow the passing of time . . . look forward to something! I also knew the webinar fell on the same day our house was to be turned upside down with the installation of our new boiler! Irrespective, at 8am UK time, with headphones to hand to drown out the drills and overall chaos, I sat down with my cup of hot green tea to listen to some pearls of wisdom!
Having sat through 90 minutes of entertaining jabber by an Irishman with a strong and very appealing accent (such an attention grabber) who provided statistics and a hint of the way forward, we finally reached the all expected climax of “Cost”! It’s the way of the world – nothing comes for free! Yet, at a tune of $997 per month for 3 months I was amazed that there were so many takers. Clever marketing tactics providing publically available statistics of income made from advertising, called “Freeium” would tempt anyone! Who wouldn’t be inclined to accept a fee of $3000 when we hear of the crazy income Flappy Birds made $50,000 per day, or Candy Crush makes between 1-3 million per day from advertising alone! Somewhat surreal if you ask me!
Me, I take ‘cynical’ to the next level. Safe to say, I did not take up the generous offer; their marketing did not work on me, but the statistics, yes, that did work! For me it also raises the question, WHY? What is the fuss and why do people get so hooked on these crazy games? Of course that’s not to say that the figures don’t interest me!
According to an article published in the Guardian, cyberpsycologists, Berni Good and Jamie Madigan state that we humans have a compulsion for reward. The ‘sequence of events that underpin most game design systems’ are based on our very own natural trait; Perform an action (risk); achieve a conquest (reward); new doors will open (opportunity)!
Our brains love to search for sequences in the world and so we have games where the aim is to match colours and shapes. To reinforce that, game designers add pleasurable stimulus to hook us even more. This is where the ‘reward’ comes in and is referred to as “disproportionate feedback”, for example, as with Candy Crush where a successful move results in flashing colours, upbeat music and praising words like ‘delicious’ etc. Game designers know that certain behaviour can be encouraged and manipulated! (If you want to read more follow this link to BF Skinner, a psychologist, who experimented with variable reward systems on rats!)
We humans like to tidy up, fix, correct, order and find things that are lost! As in life we want harmony. The game designers know all our quirks and weaknesses. These characteristics only create more revenue for the designers. Our impatience to complete tasks will encourage us to buy lives in order to complete a level!
All games played on traditional fruit machines, slot machines, consoles or mobile devices are designed to entice and hook! Where you might feel that it’s all to do with your skill, it is simply what Psychologists refer to as “the illusion of control”. You are under the illusion that the flashing lights, sounds and praise stem from your brilliance and skill, but you are simply a victim of their clever system!
All that said, with 1 billion computers and 2 billion mobile devices worldwide, one can see the viability. To think that a ‘Farting’ app costing $0.99 created revenue of $30,000 per day (considered to be one of the worse apps ever), Clash of Titans with revenue of $170 million over a three-month period, plus as I’ve already mentioned we have the crazy incomes of Flappy Birds and Candy Crush. To top that Call of Duty is expected to generate $2.6 billion revenue on day 1!
Maybe it is time for us to get behind the screen and make a little magic of our own?