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Watch “The Popularity of Cozy Games” with David Pogue

Correspondent David Pogue explores the increasing popularity of Cozy Games, that fulfils emotional jobs of normalcy, control, and predictability.

Some of the most popular video games nowadays are not shoot-’em-ups or frenzied competitions. Many are simulation games that are “cozy.” No timer, no opponents, no losing! Correspondent David Pogue explores the increasing popularity of such games as Unpacking, Lawn Mowing Simulator, PowerWash Simulator, and Airplane Mode, where you’re not a pilot but a passenger – in coach!

In 2020, where everybody’s lives got completely flipped upside down, and the chaos rocks were on just got even more chaotic. A lot of people were looking for normalcy, control, and predictability, things that were missing. We’re finding games these cozy games are tapping into those needs that are not being met in our day-to-day lives.

Kelli Dunlap

Cozy games are soothing because you have a task, you do it, and you can very clearly see the connection between your action and its consequence. This helps us to feel a sense of control over our environment and that our actions matter, two fundamental ingredients to psychological well-being.

The Popularity of Cozy Games

My Takeaways

In a previous article, I mentioned that — when customers evaluate a product or service — they weigh its perceived value against the asking price. Marketers have generally focused much of their time and energy on managing the price side of that equation since raising prices can immediately boost profits. But that’s the easy part: Pricing usually involves managing a relatively small set of numbers, and pricing analytics and tactics are highly evolved. What consumers truly value, however, can be difficult to pin down and psychologically complicated (Almquist, E., Senior, J., & Bloch, N., The Elements of Value, 2016).

I also mentioned that — because Jobs-to-be-Done don’t mention solutions or technology, they should be as timeless and unchanging as possible. Ask yourself, “How would people have gotten the job done 50 years ago?” Strive to frame jobs in a way that makes them stable, even as technology changes. (Kalbach, J. Jobs to be Done Playbook, 2020).

In that same post, I also mentioned that it is important to remember that customer outcomes are stable over time. People who shave, for example, have always wanted to minimize the number of nicks, minimize shaving time, and minimize the number of passes that must be made. These and other shaving-related desired outcomes will remain the same for years to come. What does change is the degree to which these outcomes are satisfied by new technologies and product and service features (Ulwick, A. W., What customers want, 2005).

So, bringing everything together, I’ve argued that

  • Jobs-to-be-done can help you quantify emotional value from users’ perspectives.
  • Jobs-to-done can help us be confident in pushing our vision horizon far out, knowing that — if we focus on the jobs that deliver the greatest value to our customers from their perspective — the outcomes our vision is trying to address are stable over time.

This is when we have to acknowledge that this pandemic was once in lifetime inflection point: while the general emotional jobs that games tend to fulfill (fun and entertainment) tend to be stable over time, in times of great uncertainty, other emotional jobs tend to grow in importance, like reduce anxiety!

The Elements of Value Pyramid: in the lowest level of the pyramid, Functional; one level higher, emotional; one level higher, life changing; in the upper most level; social impact.
“30 Elements of Value” in The Elements of Value (Almquist, E., Senior, J., & Bloch, N., 2016)

I’ve been working on Enterprise Software for 25 years and have seen many leadership members ignore conversations about emotional needs. And I get it: designers (and compassionate business leaders) find it hard to make convincing arguments connecting emotional needs and the business bottom line. The COVID-19 pandemic — and the “Great Resignation” that followed — came as a wake-up call that emotional needs cannot be ignored for long.

man in red long sleeve shirt holding a drilling tool

Bringing Business Impact and User Needs together with Jobs to be Done (JTBD)

Learn how Jobs to be Done (JTBD) work as an “exchange” currency between designers, business stakeholders and technology people.

About Kelli Dunlap

Kelli Dunlap is a clinical psychologist and game designer. She currently works at Take This, a gaming and mental health non-profit, as the Community Director. She is a licensed and practicing therapist and also teaches each Spring and Fall as an adjunct professor of game design at American University’s Game Center.

About Merry Kish

Mary Kish works at Twitch on the Community Marketing Team. She streams indie games on Monday, Dead Space on Tuesdays, and Silent Hill on Thursdays.

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP and lecturer of Project Management for UX at the M.Sc. Usability Engineering at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences .

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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