Andy's Workshop

Game chat and stories along with some articles probably for the more geeky among us,
all written by me, Andy.

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Tuesday 2 July 2013

Zynga - How To Make Your Feelings Known

This post has been inspired by two things, firstly a Copy/Paste that can only come under the heading of "you're not helping" and also this quote, taken from the inimitable CVG website regarding new Zynga CEO Don Mattrick...

"Divinch also believes Mattrick, and Microsoft, deserve credit for taking an "active listening approach to their consumers and reversed key business policies as quickly as they did.""

Let's be honest, that sounds pretty good, right? A sentence that includes active listening, consumers and reversed key business decisions... all attributed to the new Zynga CEO. Course, we'll see when it happens, but still, lets try to be positive.

So to the point of this post, because an active listening approach requires something to listen TO... so I thought I'd put a few notes and ideas into a guide, what to do, where to do it and how to write it so that we maximise the chances that we get our voices heard.


Because, well, what else are we going to do?

I think this game deserves a chance, and I think we deserve to be listened to. I worry, however, that too often feedback doesn't help because of fixable factors. So much of feedback relies on what is written, how it's written, even where it's written and a lot fails at least one of those.

We're still here because we're enthusiastic about the game, and that's what needs to come across. We don't hate them, they've just hurt us... but we're prepared to give it another go if they'll change.

OK, this may not go down well, but after all it is one of the main focuses of the post... Don't do a copy/paste chain post. Ever.

(A copy/paste is when you see a post complaining, the latest one started Dear Zynga, and it entreats you to simply copy it word for word.)

Instead of taking a few seconds to copy/paste, take a few minutes to write YOUR thoughts down, your own personal words. It doesn't matter if you write like Shakespeare, Dan Brown or Aaron Rayburn, cause of the funniest review on Amazon ever, it doesn't matter if you write in English, French, German, Esperanto or Pictish Runes your own words will always, ALWAYS beat some generic copy paste.

They need to know we all feel strongly enough to write OUR thoughts down, not just 'meh' enough to press Control-C, Control-V.


OK, I know it's cruel to go back to the Copy/Paste that partly kicked all this off, I'm sure it was done with the best intentions but it also included a pretty daft line in this:


What does that achieve? A warm glowing feeling in the mind of the original writer as he or she watches his words flow through Facebook?

What it won't achieve is, well, anything with Zynga. They don't read our walls, even in the most paranoid fantasies of the doomsayers. It's not even that great a call to arms, what would have happened if the US Revolutionaries like Washington and Adams had just penned a short letter complaining about us Brits and told everyone to copy it word for word and... put it on the wall in their kitchen.

Equally it doesn't help to tell people to email, live chat, tweet, message or carrier pigeon Support, they're systems are built for issues, not feedback.

No, what we need to do is get people to write in the right places...

First up, the feedback section of Zynga's forums, and I mean specifically the Feedback Section, not General Discussion etc.

Secondly the specific PT Feedback form which is HERE.


OK, this part might cause the most grief, but here goes. HOW you write feedback and complaints is extremely important.

Take the aforementioned Copy/Paste one last time, then I'll leave it alone. It was a hard to read block of text with random capitals, multiple punctuation (!!!) and negative emotive language. None of those things help. Feedback has to be easy to read and make a good impression of the writer (you want them to know you're a person worth listening to).

Take a step back... The best tip I can suggest for all of this is write what you want to say but DO NOT post it yet. Writing is cathartic, it makes us channel feelings and emotions and it often overwhelms us with them. It's why I adore writing, but it's also why it doesn't work for this kind of thing.

Write what you want, then go get a cup of tea, stroke your dog/cat, play peek-a-boo with a baby and relax for a few minutes. Let the adrenaline and endorphins drop a bit, I'd suggest at least 10-30 minutes, and then go back and read what you wrote.

I'd bet a clover crop to a bucket of Horseshoes at least one part makes you cringe, you'll spot errors, repeated words, things that would make you wish you could turn back the clock if you spotted them after you'd sent it. There's a good chance you'll also spot things that in a calmer emotive state you realise either shouldn't be there or worded differently, so now you get to re-write it and make it even better.

Avoid incorrect absolutes or rumoured facts... Only write what you KNOW is true, too often these things either contain things we think are true (you don't bother fixing the games) or we want to think are true (it's NEVER our computers, it's always you). If you include something they know is factually or technically untrue, or launch a conspiracy theory, it derails it instantly.

Be realistic... When you're asking for things, try to make them realistic and doable. Asking for things that will kill the game as a viable business (no requests) or will alienate other players (no missions for 6 months) just won't happen. Take a second to think of it from a business point of view, if YOU ran Zynga and wanted the game to make a profit, would you do what's being asked? Try to find a compromise, Less requests is possible, none is not, as one example.

Avoid negative emotive language... There are two types of emotive language in writing, positive and negative. The first is always far better as a tool for convincing people to do things, say for example you're haggling for something, lets say a TV. Which of these statements is more likely to help?

"I love this TV, but I don't think I can afford that price." or "You're just being greedy, drop the price or I walk."

Think of it from the other side, the TV seller... which of those is more likely to make you want to help?

Use positive emotive language when you're talking about changes to Pioneer Trail, point out the reason you want this is because you love the game and you want to be having fun playing it, point out that you want this game to succeed. What will save this game is a dedicated fanbase who want it to be as good as it was, as fun as it was. 

Someone who rattles out "or I'll quit" gives the impression of being one foot out the door already... give the image of someone wanting a reason to stay, not looking for a reason to go.

Mind your language... Swearing, insults and abuse is the last recourse of a lost argument, don't be that person. Understand that there are many, MANY sympathetic ears in Zynga, it's not some evil entity staffed by people with social disorders.

Remember they're people too... and on that note, the final point. The person who reads your feedback is, well, a person, and more than that they're most likely not the person that made the decision(s) you disagree with.

When you go back to reread what you write before sending think dispassionately and logically about how YOU would feel to be on the other end of it. Totally disconnect yourself from it and read it like it's been sent to you. 

What now

Who knows? Will doing this make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. Will Mattrick make a difference? Maybe, maybe not.

But we're still here for a reason, and we need to get that reason across, that this game could be great.

We, as players, still have a good and effective voice when used well, and we need to make sure it is.

Now you've finished this, why not read my follow up Five Step Plan on how I think the game could be made better, because... well, why not, there's hours before posting time...