The suggested reading for this week by fellow student Anders is a chapter called Envy from the book Evil by Design, interaction design to lead us into temptation by Chris Nodder.
I’m already quite familiar with this book, since I`ve used it for both my programing courses already. So this is kind of going back to an old friend. Its been a while since those courses, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of Nodders readings.
Quite early in the chapter Nodder writes ” To use envy as a motivating force, it has to first exists.” This is a simple sentence, but it carries a lot of weight! If you look at almost every form of social media or large forums, there are tools in place to invoke envy amongst its users. You have achievements, numbers of likes, upvotes, shares and reposts, all of these are designed to make us envious on one another. Everyone wants to at least once, be the person that receives hundreds of likes on Facebook, get thousands of hearts on twitter or instagram due to reposts or be the one that makes is from the drudge of user sub to the front page because of fake internet points ( the indigenous name for upvotes on the site Imgur ).
Enacting envy amongst its users are also to enact participation, or at least try to create the want to participate. It is a genius way of using our feelings to manipulate us into activity, and in such a way, generate more data for the sites themselves as we go.
Desire to be amongst the select few, and the envy of those that are, its is a remarkable play on feelings if you can afford to sit back and give it a critical and reflected view.
How easily manipulated we are.
Nodder writes about having people feel ownership of a product before they even buy it, or the product is finished. This is especially true in the gaming industry, where pre purchace now has become a normal thing, and those who do so will get early access to the game, or at least parts of it. There is a lot of arguments going around about this, where most people think that this practise is ruining the gaming industry. By buying products long before they are finished, but that is a (loooong discussion) for another time.
This early access is also inciting envy, some people get to play the game you are so anxiously waiting for, so why not prepurchace it aswell so you can be a part of it also?
Even though you pay for an unfinished product, that might be cut short, be riddled with bugs and errors, and in worst case, might never be finished. Envy caused you to buy it, and in the end, you turn envious on those who didn’t buy it. It’s like a two-edged sword.
Other ways to make us envious towards each other is evident in apps like Imgur and Snapchat, who cleverly have implemented a feature called trophies, which are basically achievements in all but name. They are linked to your profile, and are open for all to see, so that you can brag, or others can spy and become envious. The trophy/achievement system is put in place to give users a sense of accomplishment, and to, as mentioned, enact envy, so that others are hopefully pushed into earning the same goals.
In some cases, you don’t even need to create envy, you can just build upon it. Nodders example here is the sale of premade and leveled up characters and accounts for the game World of Warcraft. As he writes, “[…]players who have more money then time.”
Create a shortcut and someone is bound to use it. An easy enough notion, and one that obviously works, since the sale of gaming accounts have been going on for 2 decades or more.
It’s quite clear that feelings are used to its fullest extent in having us grasping for more in our online activities, and that most people are clueless as to what extent their favorite website goes to in order to invoke these feelings.
If you happen to disagree with my comments, or if you feel I`ve missed a point, feel free to leave a remark.