“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
I attended GSummit in San Francisco this week. (The “G” stands for gamification.) This annual conference looks at ways to increase user engagement through gamification and games. With all of the online “noise” surrounding us and the invasiveness of mobile technology pulling people in many different directions, no industry – not even the legal profession - is immune from the problem of getting the public’s attention long enough to convey a message.
As I’ve written before, I am researching ways to increase online engagement between the public and the legal profession. Specifically, I am looking at ways to use online games to educate and empower the public about their legal rights. While I knew this conference was aimed more at how companies could increase brand loyalty and engagement of consumers, I thought the lessons here were definitely something that might translate over to our profession.
I was not the only person thinking this. There were a couple other people from the legal profession, including a member of the Legal Services Society in BC and someone from a big law firm scoping out methods of gamification to motivate associates to collaborate and share work. I gathered a lot of useful information in the sessions that I will be exploring further in my research at Stanford.
Below are only a few of the top take-aways from GSummit 2014. With each of these, I am thinking about multiple applications of the concepts to our profession, such as 1) implementation in a large law firm for associates, training, employee motivation, etc., 2) a technique that a legal tech startup or existing branded network for legal services could adopt, or 3) a way that games could be created that would educate the public about the law and where to go for legal assistance whether that’s to a legal aid organization, a branded network, a law firm or a solo practitioner.
1. Games can be incredibly adept at explaining complex systems. – IBM’s Serious Games Solutions (And what could be more complex than the legal system?)
2. Games can be used to change cultures in a positive fashion. – IBM’s @INNOV8ATE
3. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may not be specific enough to explain behavior. Behavior is systematic. Designing should be for behavior change and not for persuasion. – BJ Fogg (Stanford) (@BJFogg)
4. How to troubleshoot when a behavior is not happening (such as people not take some preventive legal action): 1. Trigger the behavior (Tell them “You need to have this legal document executed!”), 2. Is it simple enough? Can they do it from an ability perspective? 3. Motivation (do they want to do it? do they understand the legal consequences of doing or not doing an action?) – BJ Fogg (Stanford)
5. Validation, especially social validation, is always better than out-right rewards, but it’s harder to orchestrate. Rewards have a short-term result. – BJ Fogg (Stanford)
6. For intervention and prevention, you only need to create an experience that is short but impacts the player for a longer time. This is contrary to the belief that you have to build a game that people will keep playing repeatedly or come back to. You only have to get them to do it in a short burst and that exposure to the experience in the game mechanics will be long enough to have the impact desired to convey the lesson. – from a recent study on games that Jane McGonigal spoke about during her session
7. Technology didn’t make a difference in the results regarding the success of a game. It could be a pen and paper game and innovative technologies or apps didn’t make a difference. – from McGonigal’s talk [McGonigal also told about the push-back she has gotten with her games and research geared towards improving people's health and how the "bias" against games by the medical profession is unfortunately preventing potentially useful clinical data from getting into the hands of the people it could help. I expect the same initial resistance with the legal profession. Gathering user data and outcome reporting is going to be important.]
8. Co-op play, social gaming, or adding a social component to the game increases positive feelings about the players and increases interaction. – McGonigal
9. Connecting the subject you want to teach to pop-culture references can have enormous impact at both increasing the engagement but also in spreading the lesson to people who otherwise might not be interested in engaging long enough to learn it. – Neil DeGrasse Tyson spoke about his work as an astrophysicist and how he teaches by finding ways to connect his ideas out into pop-culture references. The same could by connecting legal games with pop culture icons and references – maybe even cat memes. While that may sound “distasteful” to some in the profession, it would actually work really well to get the engagement necessary to teach the legal lesson.
10. There is a psychology of fun (her slide deck on this) and different types of fun that can lead to desired engagement. – Nicole Lazzaro, XEODesign
Top insight gleaned: The legal profession is not engaging with the public we serve in ways that will make a meaningful impact. As society becomes more mobile, it will become increasingly difficult for us to get the public’s attention and therefore more difficult to increase access to justice and help guide them to self-help resources. There are ways we could use gamification and game mechanics to create meaningful connections between the public and legal services providers and/or legal information for self-help purposes.