Customer Engagement, Gamification & Social Games – 2

In my last blog I referred to  the term “Gamification” as use of game design techniques in  non-game applications.This gamification exploits a humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.

But let’s get our attention back to actual gaming applications like “Mafia wars” and to my very own “Seduction“.. had to mention it ..can’t forget my baby ;).

In terms of genre,social media games are not much different from other entertainment mediums like movies  ( “Reservoir Dogs” or “When Harry Met Sally” ).The difference is that most of the social media games focus on a very limited set of genre and lack creativity in publishing story lines that cater to adults.

Most of them seem to be either fighting with aliens or plowing neighbors patch of fallow land ( “Farmville” ).I have nothing against these genres.They are very successful and have been designed to engage gamer’s attention for a long time.

But the market segment served by these genres is limited.Social media gaming industry is still new and hence we are witnessing this explosive growth.There is a very interesting statistics that I found here:

These numbers are impressive but there is still a huge untapped casual gaming market.A well chosen genre with excellent delivery of gaming experience  can attract lots of new gamers from under served market segments.

Important point to note in above statistics is that “more women play social network games” compared to men.Traditionally in console gaming industry,men dominated the market and still do,but more women play social media games.

Seduction” is a humble effort to fix this anomaly 😉

Team Building,Cloud Computing and Startups

Since 2004,two critical factors that  immensely helped projects and sustained my start-up ventures, were; a great team and best of breed enabling technologies.I had this great fortune to work with a superb, dedicated, informally bonded talent pool of young technology professionals spanning three continents .This  network of young and talented team is always hungry to learn new skills, technologies, develop new systems ,solve real world problems and find pride in their work.

A combination of breakthrough technologies facilitate the collaboration between these enterprising groups of people and substantially reduce start-up costs.

Vishy..and his team of ninjas..three cheers to you guys!!

Over the years, there are three groups of technologies that were the backbone of operations and critical to our success –

a) Cloud computing

b) Online collaboration tools and source code management

c) Open source software frameworks

My views about cloud computing and the help I got from cloud computing, as an entrepreneur, in bootstrapping phase of  CherryBelly™ are succinctly captured in this article.

Here’s the excerpt:

With all the gloomy economic headlines in recent months, one can be forgiven for thinking we’re in a hopeless economic morass. But if you look beneath the surface of today’s technology shifts, you may also see potential for one of the biggest economic booms in a generation. How so?

As with all other economic booms, this boom will arise from the spunk and innovation of an emerging class of entrepreneurs, many being young and just out of (or still in) college, and others being veterans of workforce experiences relatively void of opportunities. In this next boom, another thing will be different as well – today’s entrepreneurs have an incredible resource available at their fingertips at minimal cost – cloud computing.

Unemployment is high right now, and there are many, many, many professionals who see the startup route as a more sustainable alternative to seeking full-time employment. There is now an incredible abundance of resources available on demand, for little upfront cost, to businesses.

We were looking for hosting solutions that were cheap, had capacity to scale with varying load (elasticity), and still be reliable. Vishy quickly came up with this idea of renting Joyent® cloud server instances.

Joyent offered a great promotional offer that was not hard on our pockets and was tailored for social media gaming titles.We have been using GoToMeeting® (from Citrix) as well as Skype for last several years. So those were the obvious choices for the team.

The capability to share desktops has given the team, dispersed in three continents,a powerful medium to share and collaborate like never before. I strongly believe that these tools give a better collaborative environment than two people sitting next to each other in a room,sharing the same computer.

Next in line were the open source frameworks. Open source community has been helping developers like us for decades. These communities have served a role of incubators for start-ups and innovations lead by breakthrough technologies and minimal start-up costs.Even Fortune 500 companies readily adopt the well tested frameworks following all proven architectural design patterns. These patterns make the software re-usable, reduce re-work, limit the number of inadvertent bugs, reducing development costs and faster time to market.

Spring, Hibernate, Drools, Codeigniter were selected for their maturity and prior extensive experience of the team in delivering integrated solution with these technologies. Subversion was mandatory to make sure all the artifacts were properly versioned, and have control over simultaneous changes in same set of artifacts.

Next .. analytics..