Experience Economy Goes by Many Names

Experience is called many thingsJoseph Pine and James Gilmore noticed this thing they called the Experience Economy. They think we’ve moved beyond purchasing mere goods and services – now, we can purchase “experiences” (hence, the experience Economy). In their newest book, they blend the idea of experience with something they call Authenticity.

But Experience or the Experience Economy isn’t the only thing this notion is called – this post will introduce you to some other similar terms.

For example, when I read their book, I didn’t see much in the way of website experience. Certainly, the underlying ideas were there, but no concrete examples were given (it was written in 1999, so I’ll give them a break). That bugged me enough to write my own book about it, and I called the website version of it the Digital Experience.

Rohit Bhargava, who writes the Influential Marketing Blog, comes from a customer engagement and marketing/PR background. In his book Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get it Back, he calls it personality. Here’s a quote from the introduction that explains what personality is:

“The theory of Personality Not Included is that personality is the answer. Personality is the key element behind your brand and what it stands for, and the story that your products tell to your customers. Every element of your business, from your interactions with your customers to the packaging of your product is an element of your brand personality, and these are the elements that inspire delight or indifference among your customers. In short, personality matters.”

I heard Jane McGonigal speak last year at SXSWi 2008. She presented on gaming and alternate realities … and called it happiness. Here are some notes I took from her presentation:

Question – are you in the happiness business? Our primary product soon will be happiness… Happiness is the new capital

Four key principles of happiness:

  1. satisfying work to do
  2. experience of being good at something
  3. time spent with people we like
  4. chance to be a part of something bigger

McGonigal’s description of happiness sounds VERY similar to Pine & Gilmore’s description of experience and Bhargava’s description of a company with personality.

Ever heard of Touch Points? It’s sort of like usability … but doesn’t focus primarily on how the thing works. Instead, it focuses on the experience customers have during their interactions with the product or service or website.

Ok, one more. A few years back when Kathy Sierra was still blogging, many of her blog posts focused on this same concept – but she called it enchantment and kicking ass.

See what’s going on?

It’s not quite usability (but lives there). It’s not quite marketing (but it lives there). It’s not quite design (but it lives there too). It’s not quite customer service (yep – lives there). Not quite library 2.0 (even lives there).

There’s a convergence in many different fields right now – gaming, marketing, PR, web design, customer service, etc. – that all have, as their utmost goal, providing the customer with a positive experience … an authentic experience … happiness … attracting them with personality … enchanting them … helping them “kick patootie.” (ok, my wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap upbringing just kicked in – sorry ).

Question – how are you working to enchant your users? Not just meet their information needs … but delight them? Are you providing a positive experience, and if so – how?

SXSWi2008, Day 4: Closing Remarks

Title: Alternate Realities

Speaker: Jane McGonigal

Showed “The Lost Ring” – video preview of a game – you can find hundreds of screenshots of this video in flickr, looking for hidden clues

She focused on the game designer’s perspective on the future of happiness

Question – are you in the happiness business?

Our primary product soon will be happiness… (think experience)

Happiness is the new capital

four key principles of happiness:
1 satisfying work to do
2. experience of being good at something
3. time spent with people we like
4. chance to be a part of something bigger

Multiplayer games are the ultimate happiness engine

We can be good at something (in games) that we can’t do in real life

Games give you instant feedback (you never get a “great job at speaking – you gained one speaking experience point”)

better feedback all the time in games – we know how we’re doing

better community – we feel part of something

Quality of Life – for many gamers today, their gaming life is better than their real life.

Bad News:
multiplayer games – it’s like we invented the written word, and we decided to only create books – why are we chaining the game to a PC or console? Why not free it into the real world?

Real world game examples:
Chore Wars – you do household chores, you gain points
Zyked – video games are fun, excersising not so fun – they give points for excercise
Serios – give work mates points for doing stuff at work – helps you set priorities. And you can see where the virtual money is being spent… it shows connections

Citizen Logistics – what if life were like a team activity? Treating everyday reality like a game by doing stuff in the real world

all these are in beta/alpha

to imagine the future, always look backwards

Soap analogy:
1931 – soap kills germs… it took many thousands of years to figure this out! Games are kind of like soap – we should be installing them everywhere. Instead of killing germs, we are killing boredom

Games kill alienation – for people who are socially challenged

games can kill depression by giving you community and a sense of purpose

She’s making the point that it’s not alternative reality – it’s alternate reality – still real, just alternate – another way of experiencing existence

World Without Oil as example – live your real life like this statement was true. People actually converted their cars to non-gas power and made videos of it. It sounds like a social activist kind of thing – figure out how this works, and attempt to do it. It lasted for 32 weeks.

It was alternate reality in real life

10 skills/terms in gaming that help amplify happiness…?

1. mobbability – ability to collaborate on large scales. Think crowd conrtol

2. cooperation radar – who would make good collaborators

3. ping quotient – ability to reach out to others in a network, easy to resspond to them

4. influency – adapt your persuasive abilities to different environments

5. multi capitalism – somem people want money, some want social capital, etc – different types of currency and how can you trade amongst the groups

6. protovation – rapid, fearless innovation – not worried about failing because you’re still learning

7. open authorship – think blogging. comfort with giving content away and knowing it will be changed. Also a design skill – knowing it won’t be broken when people change it

8. signal noise management – they hear lots of signals, and can sort it out

9. longbroading – ability to think in much broader systems

10 emergensight – spot patterns as they pop up

[aside – interestingly, these are all business-related skills or team-building skills with a game-based name…]

how do we start?

start with twitter

nike ipod – it gives you feedback, challenges by friends

sniff collars for dogs – the collar measures speed, “dog friends” etc in real life

Prius – “my car is a video game”

trackstick – records your gps locatin every 5 seconds

new brain scanner thing that shows when you’re tired, angry, etc while in a game

the important stuff:
– most of us in this room will be in the happiness business
– game designers have a huge head start (think experience in gaming, in web, in real life)
– important because they signal the desire, need and opportunity for all of us to redesign reality for real quality of life


Q on how much is good. some people are breaking their broken reality with gaming. Also – some have perfectly happy, normal lives. We won’t replace face-to-face

sf0.org – no online story. It’s about real life stuff.