Sunday, August 11, 2013

ZTEP - Zombie Technology Elimination Project; Spoonful of Zombies

Spoonful of Zombies
With a team of about 10 people, I am leading an internal engagement enhancement project to make the conversion of old technologies to new technologies more fun and more likely! As suggested by my friend Rebecca who is also one of the likely players, we're using Zombies!

I drafted up the Gamified experience complete with a narrative / story that frames the player experience. Since that time, valuable feedback has been received and the concept refined. The story is:

“Zombie Technologies (ZT) are plotting to take our community over. Why? Zombies Technologies are jealous of anything that is prosperous and fun. We, the Zombie Hunters, will take them down with new technology. It’s time to engage the enemy ZTs with a Zombie Technology Elimination Project (ZTEP).“

Our specific target behaviors are for the players to:
  • Replace an old technology code item with new approved technology
  • Support a player via news feed. Guest support is even welcome
Progression Loops
A player can progress through different levels of zombie technology engagement. Levels based on Zombie Points are:
  • Zombie Hunter Newbie - 0
  • Zombie Hunter Apprentice - 100
  • Zombie Hunter Journeyman - 500
  • Zombie Hunter Master - 2000
  • Zombie Hunter Hero Level I - 10000
  • Zombie Hunter Hero Level II - 20000
And so on for every 10000 points thereafter…
Points are calculated as: 10 x ZT Code Item Difficulty x number of Code Items converted

Example difficulty levels are 10, 20 and 30. We opted for values like 10 and 20 in case we want to adjust them up or down. If we chose 1, 2 and 3 we would have no room for motivation adjustments.

The points go through a promotion process. Thus, there are two types of points: WIP (Work In Progress) Points and Zombie Points. WIP Points reflect source code changes just saved to the source code repository. Zombie Points reflect code changes that made it all the way to production. Having source code changes that made it to production means that the people are using the changed code. We're talking about internal and external products. Since I work for CARFAX, that could even mean (Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and not CARFAX's).

Since levels are based on Zombie Points, a level is not earned until the code change is in production.

Player Has a Big And Elaborate Avatar
To appeal to the different player types (Amy Jo Kim), we are using an avatar to show successes and let people collect different reward items aka Item Drops. The avatar reflects the names (real and nickname), Item Drops obtained while promoting converted code items and his or her scores. Here's a very rough stickman representation of the concepts.

"Pete the Zombie Hunter Newbie” is composed of two parts: 1) a nickname field 2) the level achieved.

When zombie code items have been replaced in production, player gets a chance of getting item drops listed in a secret document titled Zombie Technology Item Drops.

Some example Item Drops are swords, plants, and zombie art. A complete list of all the items owned is available on an inventory page. On that page, I envision placeholder areas existing for items not dropped yet in order to excite the player’s imagination of what might be discovered. The complete list of specific items is a secret because we want the specific items one can get to be a surprise.

So at a general level, the Engagement Loop loops like the following:
  1. Player changes code
  2. Player stores code into source code repository
  3. Player tells a game coordinator
  4. Game coordinator see the changes, enters in the WIP points and change-management related information needed to track the changes going to production aka live. 
  5. WIP Points are assigned and show up in the avatar immediately
  6. The coordinator will follow up to make sure the code change has been put into production. Once the changes are in production, the coordinator converts the WIP Points to Zombie Points earned for those player(s). The coordinator personally notifies the players and tells them they did a good job!

As an aside, points are divided up between a pair of players as needed since we do pair programming at CARFAX.

Zombie Technology News Feed
System generates feed items in response to achievements entered; Examples include (items in bold are data driven variable values based on achievement):

  • July 10: Lucky Judy found a Baby Green Plant!
  • July 10: Adam is now a Zombie Hunter Master!
  • July 10: Adam and Judy earned 1500 Zombie Points each by killing some <some zombie technology> zombies! (Note: total points earned was 3000 but split between Adam and Judy.)
  • July 8: Lucky Bob found a sword!
  • July 8: Bob cashed in WIP points and got 2600 Zombie Points for killing some <some zombie technology> zombies!
  • July 6: Bob earned 2600 WIP Points by killing some <some zombie technology> zombies!

There will be a dashboard available which shows the players and their levels of achievement with stamping out Zombie Technologies. The person can navigate from the dashboard to the specific person profile page via click. Players are sorted by their real name. On purpose, we are not sorting by score at this time.

For this project, we are out of the inception phase and into implementation / execution phase. It should be noted that items specified above are subject to change based on player-concept-testing, what is discovered during detailed user experience (UX) design, small releases and any resulting product pivots.

I look forward to play-testing the ideas before we get too far into the implementation. Even more than that, I look forward to helping people get the recognition they deserve and enjoy their lives more while they are serving everyone well by shoring up our systems with the new technologies. Thank goodness for this fun approach and great people!

Update: See this article and more on Gamification Co