Nobody said that inspiring Engagement was simple or easy, quite the contrary. It is in itself a challenging, complex process. Before launching heads first into any project, the first stop is always to consider how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to design a successful, meaningful solution.
Initially, participants can often show lack of interest for reality because they have learned, day after day, that situation does not add any real value to them (learned irrelevance). To affect these levels of indifference, any solution addressing engagement needs to develop a strong, captivating narrative along with complicit, dynamic challenges, that together set the scene for a more inviting reality for participants. The narrative structure can modify passivity by bringing energy and a path for the project to follow. By creating a ‘World’ or ‘Universe’ within the Engagement Experience that is unique and exciting, but at the same time highly customisable for the organisation or participant, we can take key steps towards hooking the users into the content or targets. However, it’s important to not lose focus and get overly caught up designing a storyline that does not then link to the project’s purpose or psychological foundations; or else we are designing a game or storyline with some educational or formative components (serious game), and not a well-rounded Engagement solution addressing behavioural objectives.

The typical elements within narratives, similar to game components, can only be effective as long as they are subject to the main behavioural objectives of the Engagement Experience.

Subsequently, the next risk to the solution’s sustainability comes as participant’s interest levels peak and fall. Participants may experience boredom and habituation once the initial effects of discovering the new ‘world’ and narrative wanes. To avoid this problem, it is essential to incorporate game components (energisers) to the solution that provide continuous fun and enjoyment for participants throughout the experience. However, much like with establishing the narrative, we must not forget that energisers are also components that should be connected to the project’s psychological core. If game elements were to take centre stage or precedence over other factors, it is very likely that we wouldn’t achieve the desired enhanced engagement, because the participant would perceive the solution as fun, but lacking in significant content or purpose.
That is not to say that serious games are not useful- they are very effective for delivering fun-related goals. But they are not the holy grail for challenges that seek to generate long term well-being and commitment; they are best playing a supporting role in an engagement solution.