Five Features of a Successful Game According to Al Gore

by Pam Abrams
June 20, 2011

Al Gore doesn’t know THAT much about video games but who cares? He’s Al Gore, and he believes enough in their potential to have given the keynote speech today at the 8th Annual Games for Change conference at NYU where he pronounced, “Games are the new normal.” Gore is a warm and generous speaker and he gave plenty of credit where it was due, in particular to Bing Gordon, a partner at investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as he laid out the 5 features of a successful game:

1. First impressions matter. You’ve got about 5 seconds to make a gamer feel smart, and to leave her with a good or better impression than she expected.
2. Gamers better be able to win, and win fast, if you want him coming back for more.
3. Your landing page is crucial. Make sure your graphics are first rate and your interface is intuitive.
4. Badges, points, and avatars matter — but not to the exclusion of that all important “fist-pumping moment” a gamer will show you when have a winner on your hands.
5. By a 3-1 ratio, games based on cooperation beat out games based on competition — which is “encouraging news,” Gore said, about gaming and social connectivity.

“We know play is important,” Gore said, “and we know we like to make social connections.” When you add those two things together you get an explosion — “and that’s a positive trend.”

Gore cited Zynga as an example of a public/private game partnership via Farmville‘s seed purchasing program, and gave nods to environmental games Trash Tycoon and Oceanopolis.

Perhaps his most authentic moment came when he talked about “gaming” An Inconvenient Truth (on an IOS platform–“my preference,” he noted, mentioning his status as advisory boards member for Apple.) Maybe Al Gore knows more than he lets on.