In terms of what I've been able to gather so far, there's a few different variations on the theme with regards to this general notion of flow and or fun. According to social architect Amy Jo Kim, the elements to pay attention to with regards to game design include:
- The ability to concentrate on that challenge
- Clear goals
- Immediate feedback
- Deep involvement on the part of the participant
- Sense of control over one's actions
- The concern for one's self decreases
- Sense of time is skewed
Wouldn't it be great if all the users of your products and or services felt like that all the time? Seems to me that elements of flow or good game design need to be factored into the overall product development cycle.
Building upon what I've encountered so far (I'm still going through Csikszentmihalyi's book on flow, among some other references) I would say that for product development that helps prospective and current customers achieve that flow state, the following items must be considered throughout the entire design process:
Assuming that a user does a specific action and something happens behind the scenes, the following items should be considered:
Feedback -- Message appears in location selected
Personalization -- This could be as simple as providing a personalized greeting acknowledging contribution in your native language, listing your name, etc in a conversational style or as complex as a personalized email doing the same.
Connection -- Provide links to other people who posted similar content or who are interested in similar content
Mastery -- Enable a notion of leveling tied specifically to the action of posting. The more messages a user posts, the more adept they are at the interface. Acknowledge the time (no matter how small) it takes for them to post a message. Something as simple as listing the message count, or something as complex as a reputation system tied to the frequency of content creation could be implemented here.
Optimization -- "Leveling up" needs to open up new opportunities for folks to do more. As a particular individual masters a specific action, let them do more to further optimize their experience. It could be skipping steps in a workflow because they know how to best do it, or it could be granting of additional options for them in posting a message.
Zooming back down to my day to day with blogs and forums...my sense is that much of this already exists to varying degrees. Granted, it could tie together more. For that matter, it could even tie together flow states for both blogs and forums. There's likely a lot more here...so I appreciate any thoughts and comments folks have on all this. thanks!