With a heat wave pounding Northern California with the hot sun, I did what all smart folk do. I hopped a BART subway this morning into San Francisco, where it’s always 20 degrees colder than anywhere else (yea, fog).

Unfortunately, I over-slept and arrived at the Virtual Items Summit West too late to see Tripp Hawkins (Digital Chocolate) and Andrew Sheppard Kabam!) Apparently, I missed Mr. Hawkins proclaiming that virtual items would be $100 billion business (yes, Dr. Evil, I said billions).

Luckily, I did not miss the presentation given by Gabe Zicherman about gamification. Like all Gabe Zicherman speeches, this one did not disappoint. According to Gabe, the whole world is a game. He gave 3 secrets to designing anything into a good game mechanic:

  • A good game should focus on experience and not redeemable points (if only for the legal ramifications of redemption)
  • Reputation matters for the players.
  • Design your game around your priorities.

These all makes sense, but it’s funny that the most popular games out there, such as Foursquare, do not always adhere to these rules.

He also suggested the most ideal leaderboard for a game is not a Top 20 list of the top scores as you would see in the arcade games of lore. An ideal leaderboard would show where you are and two friends above and two below. Very interesting stuff.

Gabe’s running Gamification workshops at his Gamification Summit in January. It’s almost worth signing up just to get advice on public speaking.

In other news, Mark Rose had an interesting presentation where he shared that his company Playspan is creating “monetization as a service.” It was a good presentation and interesting pitch, I hope to interview him soon about it.

There is more to the summit, but I just escaped to enjoy the day. It’s not every October you get a heat wave in Autumn.