The Impacts of The Fun Theory

– By Catherine Orence 

“The Fun Theory” is a campaign that has created a series of successful and effective viral videos that are clever ‘design interventions’ targeted at influencing behaviour change through making things ‘fun to do’. One of many examples is the ‘Piano Stairs’ a staircase in a Stockholm subway that was made into piano keys which actually played the piano notes as you stepped on them, this encouraged people to take the stairs rather than the escalator. The concept was a success resulting in a 66% increase in people taking the ‘Piano Stairs’ over the escalator on an average day. A few people even considered to stop and jump on the stairs as they found it intriguing and saw the fun aspect of the unexpected experience. The campaign has inspired entrants to test and observe if people will change their everyday behaviours for the better by applying ‘fun’.

Taking a few ideas used from BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Changing Products Model the ability to use stairs is assumed. The other factors influenced include triggers and motivation. Though, motivation is somewhat present eg. A person at the bottom of the stairs wishes to get to the top somehow. “Can we get more people to utilise the stairs instead of the escalator” isn’t the same as “Can we get people so interested in going up and down the stairs so much that they do it again and again?”

The triggers are what the interventions are: adding some feature or cue which forces people who already have the ability and the motivation to choose which way they prefer of getting to the top of the stairs. Once it has triggered the attention of a person to get involved to use them the element of reward is evident in the “Piano stairs” example. The impacts within ‘The Fun Theory’ are the emotional and affective interaction. The user experience is designed to have an emotional reaction, to encourage engagement through fun.