The Genius of South Park
So I’ve been aware of South Park for over a decade now, but I wasn’t a fan because I just thought it was just some potty-mouthed kids who cussed a lot and loved gory death scenes. I didn’t even think the kids had different personalities.
However, last year my friends decided to watch a bunch of South Park for after-work relaxations, and I happened to drop in on a few episodes. What I realized, is that once you get pass the potty-mouth cussing and gory scenes (which I still don’t like), all the kids (and parents) have their unique personalities, flaws, insecurities, and moments of strength. It also actually brings a lot of insights to many deep social issues as well as psychological maneuvers that fit perfectly inline with my Gamification Framework Octalysis.
My mission here on the blog is to teach you how to do *good* gamification design, which is beyond just the Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, but ties directly into the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis (which are intrinsic motivations). But of course, it’s difficult to remember all 8 Core Drives, let alone using them in actual design and thinking.
Hence I thought presenting some lessons of gamification through fun episodes of South Park is a good way to learn in a fun way (after all, Education in Gamification is a big field these days).
In this episode, Cartman inherits $1 Millions from his deceased grandmother, and decides to use almost all it to buy a struggling theme park.
Instead of trying to improve its business, Cartman makes a TV commercial to show how fun “Cartmanland” is and emphasizes that no one besides him can enjoy it.
After realizing he needs to hire a security guard to keep people out, he starts to accept one customer a day to pay the security guard. Then he starts to realize that he needs to hire and pay for more things in order to sustain operations, so he started to open it up to 2, 3, 4, 10s, and then hundreds of people everyday.
Since people all saw how they couldn’t get into Cartmanland, when they learned that it is starting to accept more people, they rushed to get in.
Eventually, everyone wanted to go to Cartmanland and it went from a near-bankrupted theme park into one of the most popular ones ever. This is a great example of the Octalysis Core Drive: Scarcity & Impatience (#6), where people want something, just because they can’t have it.
2. You have 0 Friends
This is a pretty straight foward episode regarding the Core Drive #5: Social Pressure & Envy. In this episode regarding Facebook, Stan sees that every one of his friends is using Facebook, and all of them are feeling that they’re not really “friends” unless Stan adds them.
Stan eventually succumbs to the pressure and starts to use his Facebook account. Then his dad and girlfriend all get mad him for not adding them as friends or changing his status to being in a relationship.
On the other hand, Kyle added an unpopular kid who had no friends in school, which resulted everyone else unfriending him due to “bad association.” Unable to stand the social pressure, Kyle finally unfriends the unpopular kid in school, hoping to add back his popularity again.
In this episode, we also see Core Drive: Development & Accomplishment (#2), as everyone tries to keep track of their friend count, with Cartman jumping for joy when he sees that he had more friends than Kyle.
3. Butters’ Bottom Bitch
In this episode, after Butters becomes a customer of a girl who would kiss anyone for $5, he decides to start a “girl kissing business” where he would hire girls around school and kiss other boys for money.
To motivate the girls, Butters introduced an “employee motivation” system, where the girls would earn a sun on a calendar every time they got clients, but if the girls fail to show up to work that day, they would get a stormy cloud.
It works in kindergarten, and it works for pimps.