Anyone who has played any of the top Facebook games has run into a pretty standard setup of gameplay. You can play for five minutes a time (or longer, if you choose), complete one or two tasks, post some sort of a reward or activity on your wall, send or accept some free items, and move onto the next game. But have you ever taken a second to think about the structure of the games themselves – to try and determine why it is that they’re so addictive?
Speaking of all metagames, Amy Jo Kim, CEO of Shufflebrain, has presented an in-depth slideshow addressing the rewards structure of our favorite Facebook games, including FarmVille and Pet Society, as examples. The slideshow details the three main factors of metagame design: a points system, feedback and rewards, and viral outreach.
Points are experience points or skill points – things that you earn directly through interaction with the fundamental system of gameplay. The feedback and rewards section, then, deals with the achievements, levels and overall reputation that that can be earned by players who dedicate time to the system. Finally, the viral outreach section deals with the gift requests and news feed items that have come to form a love and hate relationship with Facebook users.
The slide show is a long one, but it’s definitely interesting. Here it is, for those who would like to see Kim’s take on the metagame landscape.