Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

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Anticipation Parade: Gamification Design Technique

Today we shall explore another Gamification Design Technique I coin as the “Anticipation Parade” (Game Design Technique #15). This gamification design technique can be used for heightening the excitement and engagement levels in various mediums such as games, movies, and even business software. So, let’s unfold this narrative and venture into the depths of Anticipation Parade, a technique that not only engages users but sometimes makes an experience more gratifying.

An Anticipation Parade is a sensational event that builds up to a climactic moment. It is that pulse-quickening period just before an exhilarating event is set to unfold, generating an ambiance saturated with curiosity and excitement. The beauty of this technique lies in its ability to prepare the audience mentally and emotionally for what’s coming, fostering a state of heightened eagerness, and even a bit of impatience, driven by a tantalizing foreplay of what is about to occur. This buildup often augments the overall experience, making it vastly more engaging and immersive.

Let us step back a bit and analyze this technique through the lens of film history. One of the quintessential examples that illustrate this technique flawlessly is the theme music in the movie “Jaws,” a well-known thriller that had audiences gripping their seats. The music in the movie crafts a significant amount of tension, setting the stage for the shark’s appearance which in itself may last for just a fleeting moment.

However, this orchestrated build up of sound and tension, often lasting minutes, enhances the entire scene manifold, making the shark’s appearance feel a lot a more prominent than it actually is. It’s an orchestration that signals to the audience that an exhilarating event is imminent.

Similarly, in the animated world, series like “Dragon Ball” have utilized this method to great effect. The series, peppered with such instances, features characters like Vegeta who, before executing a powerful move, exhibits a buildup that is often accompanied by distinctive background musical scores. This musical cue not only sets the scene but also amplifies the gravity of the impending event. In the popular Parody Youtube Series, “Dragon Ball Z Abridged,” viewers love to joke about the Anticipation Parade. When Vegeta was full of rage and building up his powerful attack, his allies would try to stop him from destroying the earth, but since the piano scored as started to play, there was no going back.

Transcending beyond the realms of movies and animations, this technique finds its echoes in animated series like “Disney’s Aladdin” as well. Remember the time when Aladdin discovers the magic lamp? That moment wasn’t simply about the Genie popping out and offering wishes. There was a deliberate buildup, a spectacle that signaled to the audience that something wondrous was on the horizon, thus making the Genie’s eventual appearance more significant and delightful.

Now, let us shift our focus towards the gaming sphere where Anticipation Parades play a critical role. In games like “Heroes of the Storm” or “Overwatch”, the act of opening a loot box or a card pack isn’t a straightforward affair. The process is transformed into a theatrical event, adorned with animations and accompanied by musical cues that enhance the significance of the activity. Even though the rewards might not always match up to the buildup, the Anticipation Parade ensures that the process feels eventful and rewarding.

Now, I would like to bring your attention to the element of sound in creating this buildup. In many scenarios, especially in gaming, a spinning wheel is used to heighten the anticipation. The sound of the wheel spinning, accompanied by music that escalates in intensity, often serves as an auditory cue for the impending reward. This auditory buildup, coupled with visual elements, creates a rich tapestry of anticipation, making the eventual revelation a more rewarding experience.

Moreover, this technique is not limited to entertainment mediums. In the non-entertainment domain, a simple drumroll preceding an announcement serves a similar purpose, fostering a brief moment of heightened anticipation before the revelation. This technique leverages Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness, drawing people into a communal experience of anticipation.

Furthermore, in the realm of business software, companies like MailChimp had cleverly integrated this concept into their platform. Before sending out a newsletter to a large audience, a figure is depicted nervously poised to press the send button, visually echoing the sender’s own apprehensions and thus connecting with the user on an emotional level. This builds a brief moment of tension, which is then followed by a congratulatory message, thus transforming a mundane task into a more engaging and gratifying experience.

As we traverse through this journey of understanding the Anticipation Parade, it is evident that it is a powerful tool in human-focused design, a methodology that centers around human feelings and motivations as opposed to mere functionality and efficiency. It takes into consideration the human proclivity towards excitement and anticipation, and utilizes it to craft experiences that are more immersive and rewarding.

In conclusion, I’d encourage you to take notice whenever you spot an Anticipation Parade, possibly even finding avenues to incorporate it into your projects. Whether in media, movies, software products, or even in classroom settings, this technique has the potential to amplify the engagement and excitement levels.

I invite you to share examples and insights in the comments section, fostering a rich discussion that could potentially inspire many in our community. Let us explore how this technique can be woven into our narratives, making experiences more engaging and exciting.

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