Garden Sneak Peek – Notifications

Things are fast and furious here at Natron Baxter Applied Gaming. We’re in the development trenches. Our socks are wet. Our crackers are stale. But still, like a blade of grass through a crack in the pavement, The Garden grows.

The Garden by Natron Baxter Applied Gaming

An Organic Approach to Increasing Employee Engagement

The Garden is an ambient gaming overlay for corporate environments. It nudges long-term employee behavior by using an equally long-term “growing game”. The Garden’s integrated desktop interface simulates a playful natural environment (a garden, tada!) designed to evoke an emotional connection with employees (an effect proven by recent psychological research studies noted below).

The following screenshots showcase the notification system prototype. In line with the gardening theme, vigilant player responses to notifications provide the flora with water, sunlight and fertilizer; inaction brings wilting, drought and pests. The garden responds to attention with new plants, critters, and special events, and cleverly and subtly unifies employee behavior with corporate objectives. We also happen to think it looks nice.

Garden Overlay - Positive Feedback

Click thumbnails to view full size.

The first screenshot presents a level-up response to employee achievement. The notification reads: “Your team has just surpassed the company record of 425 referrals in one month, set by CLICKCREW in 2009. Enjoy your bonus PTO!”

The Garden Gaming Overlay - Encouragement

The second displays a behavioral reminder that unlocks a butterfly. The notification reads: “Butterflies in the garden mean that someone has replied to your blog post. Post a follow-up to make this butterfly a permanent resident.”

The Garden Gaming Overlay - Negative Reinforcement Due to Inaction

The third screenshot displays a response to employee inaction. The notification reads: “You haven’t logged your hours in three weeks. Log them now to bring your garden a much needed rainfall, plus unlock special rejuvenation powers.”

If you’re thinking “When can I see more?” …

Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks. The Garden will be available for enterprise configuration and deployment in Q1 2010.

If you’re wondering “What is a digital game overlay?” …

Digital game overlays apply game design features and principles in the workplace with minimal interference with employee tasks. Overlay features include scoreboards, level-ups and achievements (to name a few) that engage employees in a fun way. Each feature is thoughtfully applied with a personality that is appropriate for your company culture.

If you’re the type who needs to see supporting research …

… so are we. Researchers at the University of Rochester reported in fall 2009 that exposure to natural elements, even virtual ones, makes people nicer. [1] Work by Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab, supports the Natron Baxter approach in his Behavioral Model, a framework that is designed to explain how to use technologies to get someone to actually do or contribute something. And Donald Norman, professor emeritus of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego, explains in his book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things that human decision making is dependent on both conscious cognition and affect (conscious or subconscious emotion), and that enjoyable interfaces put together emotion, heart and mind.

(Incidentally, we are endlessly grateful to the big brains that unknowingly influence the philosophies of Natron Baxter Applied Gaming.)

[1] Can Nature Make Us More Caring? Effects of Immersion in Nature on Intrinsic Aspirations and Generosity

Weinstein et al.
Pers Soc Psychol Bull.2009; 35: 1315-132

7 Responses to Garden Sneak Peek – Notifications

  1. Chris Worley says:

    Very very cool, fellas. I look forward to the next iteration.

  2. Natron Baxter says:

    OK! So like any development we’ve encountered the sort of obstacles that require us to sharpen up our approach. While our launch in Q1 is unlikely (but still possible), the extra time on the production table will bring even more bells and whistles to this cracking productivity game.

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  5. This is fun… and serious. Like it. Looking forward to seeing more :-)

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  7. Update: After several design iterations and working concepts, the Garden has been put on indefinite hold as we build bespoke client work. Fret not! We have the assets and leanings to turn on the machine in short order — just not the bandwidth.

    We’re currently noodling a Kickstarter or crowdsourced collaboration to push the Garden over the finish line, and we’ll be sure to make y’all aware if that gets underway. Thanks for your interest!

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