Electing a candidate is the “epic win scenario,” but we need lots of intermediate waypoint “wins” in between now and then to create a culture of engagement that excites supporters more than ever before. The best possible guidance to building the next generation of political engagement and organizing tools is, surprisingly, the world of gaming.
Consider World of Warcraft. The designers created a game that players have to commit hundreds or thousands of hours to beat, but has a virtually unlimited number of intermediate smaller “wins” to keep players motivated and give them the feeling of optimism that they can make it to the next level.
Some missions require players to band together into small groups to beat them, increasing social interaction and feelings of camaraderie and common purpose. The missions get harder and more complex as the player gets better, but “you’re always playing at the very edge of your skill level, always on the verge of falling off. When you fall off, you feel the urge to climb back on.”
To me, that sounds like how I want political activists and volunteers to feel and act in search of our next Epic Win. Today, those tools exist in only the most rudimentary sense, but I’m hoping that in a year or two, gaming and motivation system principles will heavily affect political outcomes.
(Quotes are from Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken. Her work inspires a lot of mine.)