It’s Not About Us
As we press on with our plan of
forced sterilization better living through play, we’ve grown considerably more systematic in our efforts to distill and understand that which has worked (office ham cabinet) and has not worked (office wolf). Heck, we’ve even started writing things down in the hope of archiving the emergent truths discovered on Mr. Baxter’s Wild Ride.
One such scribble has summited the regular pile of drivel. It now stands as a proud declaration, like Tenzing Norgay in an “I’ve climbed Everest” T-shirt, and this declaration – we shit you not – shall henceforth be a part of the contract between Natron Baxter and our clients (folks what whom generally sign far more thoughtfully worded documents).
It’s a critical humdinger, we feel, because we navigate a wobbly slackline when we align game objectives with business objectives. Those objectives quibble like two enchanted ventriloquist dummies sharing a steamer trunk. But ultimately, we believe that a successful game – even one that abstracts the role of the business sponsor – is designed first and foremost to reward and delight the player. And our most successful clients* truly understand when to serve business objectives and when to serve player desire. To wit:
A Declaration of Player Stewardship
As co-discovered by Natron Baxter and their sexy, progressive, socially conscious clients (we’re looking at you, Maude’s House of Rugs).
1) We will put the player first, and check our decisions with a simple question: “Who does this serve?” We will only ask for something from a player – their time, their opinion, their hard work – if we offer something equitable in return. Gameplay, brand loyalty, and meaningful engagement all flow from this player-centric design.
2) We will learn what players want (and not presume to know). And sometimes, we will help them discover what they want. Regardless, we’ll treat the entire situation like that creepy tree stump in Flash Gordon, prodding various holes until something bites us. Only then will we say with certainty that players do not want our hand in their tree stump.
3) We will seek authentic, meaningful connections. We will not require players to like us on Facebook in order to play an amazing game; we will let them play an amazing game in the hopes that they will like us on Facebook. Because, um, a Facebook like is the most meaningful connection ever.
4) We will expose our intentions. It’s bad form to leave our business objectives lurking in the shadows like secret code within an episode of Little Orphan Annie, only to squelch the pre-Christmas cheer of a monocular youngster with an appeal to drink his Ovaltine.
5) We will make play voluntary, no matter how much money we spend, or how many hours we fritter away incorporating requests from every department, or the number of ever-deepening wrinkles on the foreheads of our superiors.
6) We will look inwards. If we discover that players are, en masse, cheating, challenging, or rejecting the game, we will first strongly consider what’s wrong with the game. If no one wants to dance with you, check for boogers.
7) We will violate these rules at our own peril, and only under the most compelling circumstances. We shall envision ourselves saying to our spouse “Yes, honey, I’ve been unfaithful … but check this out!”
Natron Baxter Applied Gaming
Maude’s House of Rugs
* Cheers, of course, to the insightful, patient clients who have sharpened this appreciation of the fine balance between game and business objectives. And to those writers and designers who’ve blazed the trail with their own versions of a Players’ Bill of Rights, thank you. And to our moms – Doris, Leila, Shirley, Carol, Lena, Holly, Mélisande, and Colleen – we love you. Keep reppin’ that supermax.