We just signed up for our 7th trip at Cazerdero Family Performing Arts Camp. In early August, we’ll make our yearly pilgrimage to a majestic Redwood grove near the Russian River, and setup camp with dozens of other creative-minded families. We’ll spend our days playing music, making art, taking dance classes, eating delicious meals cooked by a gourmet chef, and lazing by the river, watching our kids splash around and try and catch tadpoles. At night we play boardgames in the lodge, or wander outside to the amphitheatre and jam until midnight under the bright starry skues of rural California.
For one magical week, we leave our everyday selves behind, and become our “camp selves.” At Caz, my primary identity is NOT Designer, Business Owner, Mom, Spouse, PTA member – instead, I’m just AJ the bassplayer – trudging through the woods from class to class, dragging my kickass Mark bass amp and my beloved Tobias Killer B, supremely happy to be holding down the bottom end in the gospel, funk, and hip-hop classes.
Going to Caz reminds me of what I love about the games – that feeling of being immersed in an alternate, simplified reality, a place where you can escape from your everyday life and everyday persona. I’ve had that sensation with so many great games – but most deeply and strongly while playing MMOs. Why is that? I think it’s because, like every great long-lived summer camp, well-run MMOs have mastered the fundamentals of Lifecyle Design:
- they keep regulars coming back by providing multi-level learning opportunities that grow with their skill
- they empower enthusiasts and experts by offering earned roles in performing, teaching, and leading
- they attract newbies through direct referrals – and make sure they have fun and learn the ropes when they first arrive
So how do you apply the basics of Lifecycle Design to your own game, app or service? In a series of upcoming posts, I’ll layout the basics of Lifecycle Design and give you tools and best practices for creating sustained engagement.