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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks


Book Review: The Engaging Web

Manning's MEAP (Manning Early Access Program) books allow early access to electronic version of the chapters as they are completed. Manning provided me with a review copy of a MEAP version of The Engaging Web by Gabe Zichermann & Christopher Cunningham. Being inquisitive about technologies & ideas related to the Web, I dived into the book intrigued by it's title. Having finished reading it, I'm now sold on the idea that the concepts which make Games popular can be applied to engage users of a website and contribute to achieving the site's goals.  The term Funware is used in the book to describe any application that integrates social game design theories or mechanics with software and services to increase stickiness, user engagement and revenues.
The design philosophy of Funware can basically be summarized as “every application and user interaction can be made more fun.” Through the systematic application of game design principles, fun can be embedded even within the most utilitarian applications.

The authors show examples of how real-life sites use Game mechanics without making us realize that we are engaging in a game (a characteristic of "Funware"). Although they don't mention StackOverflow, the hot technical Forum site that has got popular in a short span of time, I feel it qualifies as a good example of "Funware".

This book builds on the premise that the endearing & addictive qualities of Games can be extended to non-game contexts like Web applications; ranging from anything like consumer finance to booking corporate travel.

The first chapter shows how eBay in fact is a game in the way it induces us to play, win and compare our scores & ratings. It explains how basic game designs (frequent flyer, leaderboard, casino) can be "mashed up" with existing websites and applications. Chapter 2 discusses approaches to offering a game channel. Chapter 3 covers the topic of building websites that don’t just leverage game mechanics, but that are focused on games as a thematic or commercial enterprise. Chapter 4 dwells on principles of Funware and tactics to help you build your own fully integrated Funware applications. In Chapter 5, the authors pick an open source Ruby on Rails Forums application called Altered Beast & extend it by implementing Funware elements into it.

If you want to learn about how game design principles can be applied to a website to improve its viewership  & better engage its users, this book is for you.

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