Thursday, January 08, 2009

Game 11: Top Golf

This is Mike playing Top Golf. He doesn't know I took this picture (or posted it). He may kill me if he reads this blog.....

BTW - by the time you read this - I should be on a beach, umbrella drink in hand....

Game: Top Golf
Platform: The Top Golf facility in Alexandria, VA
Price: Varies.

Imagine a really tricked out practice range. Or a live version of a golf simulator.
That's this place.

The game is played with the following:
- 20 balls with a chip inside that has your name registered in it.
- A large field with flags and holes.
- Golf clubs.

Try to aim the ball at the holes. If the ball drops in one of the holes, you score. The score is based on how close you are to the flag. The ball doesn't make it in the hole - you don't get points.

Here's a link to the FAQs.

Is the game fun? Why? What I like about this setup is that you have a target you shoot at. The Top Golf folks have done a nice job of modifying their games for different levels and objectives. The standard Top Golf game allows you to aim at any flag - but if you accidentally get it in another flag, that's OK too. Other games are not so forgiving.

Do I want to play this repeatedly? It's pricier than the practice range. However, if I either want to goof off / play with friends and it's too crummy for a round OR I want to accomplish something very particular with more detailed distance feedback than I get from the practice range - this is a good place to go.

What did I learn playing it? That I am still crummy at golf.

First - the competition aspect. If I play with friends - I find that I am more inclined to practice distances that I am already strong at (the yellow flags at 75 yards out get LOTS of play from me). Depending on the objective - this may or may not be a good thing. In this last session - my strategy probably served to improve the accuracy of my mid-range game, but did NOTHING to help my distance.

Second - the allowance for slop. Top Golf has a series of games - some games require you to hit a specific target. Others allow you to hit ANY target. For first time / beginner golfers, the fact that you can still get points even if you don't hit it where you are aiming may be motivating. For more advanced golfers, misses might be inadvertently rewarded and potentially result in bad habits - like the time I was aiming at the green flag (125 yards out) and hit a fantastic shot into the brown flag (150 yards out). If I were on a REAL golf course - that baby would be in the woods / water / sand.

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work?
When choosing to develop a competitive element, it's good to make sure that the act of competition does not inadvertently undermine the objective.

When designing the rewards structure, make sure you are not rewarding slop while keeping beginners motivated. Top Golf addresses this through different games - but the default game is pretty loose.

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