I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time playing Disney Magic Kingdoms. This point and click, timer game with a weak, long play story line puts you in charge of your own Disney Park. It’s amazing. I’ve digitally collected Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Prince Charming, Hamm, Woody, Jessie, and Tinkerbell. I have four parade floats but can use only three of them. I also have Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Pixie Hollow, Mickey and Goofy’s houses, and a couple of concession stands. California Screamin’ was given to me as I cleared away the Disney Park land from the curse Maleficent put it under. I’m at the beginning of the game, so I don’t know what surprises are still in store for me. But I am looking forward to them.
What’s the Appeal?
Aside from the fact that I get to build my own park, it feels like I’m accomplishing something. Intellectually, I know I’m not really doing anything. Twenty years from now, playing Disney Magic Kingdoms won’t have left me with anything. There’s no retirement plan. There’s no physical gratification. Still, it’s more rewarding than what I am currently doing for work outside of the game, and it’s more fun. I get remember my trips to Disneyland, and the soundtrack is nice to work to.
Not Just Disney Magic Kingdoms
It’s important to note that Disney Magic Kingdoms is just one example of this kind of game. Farmville, Hero Age… There are a lot of these types of games that require you to be on the computer to click at a certain time. The more time you spend on them, the more virtual rewards you get. And psychology tells us that our brain processes fiction in the same way as it processes reality, which means those rewards release the same kinds of good-feeling chemicals as real-life rewards do.
Disney Magic Kingdoms uses random chance with its treasure chests and rewards. Every time I redeem a chest or get a reward for a specific building or action, I have the opportunity of winning a great prize. I don’t know what the prize is, but I don’t care. It’s the anticipation and the hope before the reveal that are really exciting. It could be anything. I could get a set of Hamm Mouse Ears or Jessie’s Lasso or a thimble! Wait, what? A thimble? Yeah, it’s for Tinkerbell! Heck, Yeah! I got the thimble!
Creating something, even if it’s virtual, is an important part of the human experience. I may not be doing anything IRL, but I am building a theme park online. More importantly, it’s a sure thing. As long as I put my time into the game, I’m going to get something out of it. IRL, I could write a thousand articles and a hundred books and never get anything from them. I could work at a regular day job, work 12 hours a day, and still, wind up with nothing. Success isn’t guaranteed if you show up and/or you work hard. In these kinds of games, you can be successful as long as you know the rules and show up.
One Change for Attractions
Specifically for Disney Magic Kingdoms, the game lacks three essential elements to achieve that Disney experience. The first is the character interactions. You do get some storyline, but you don’t actually get to meet the characters. In Disneyland Adventures, they offer character interactions including high fives, dancing, and hugs, so it can be done. And it doesn’t have to affect the game play.
In Disney’s Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for the NES, the game goes two steps further. The first thing I would add to Disney Magic Kingdoms is the ability to experience the attractions POV. Just being able to go on the rides would be a thrill. Add in some gameplay option, like the NES, and Magic Kingdoms could be amazing. Another part of the NES game features trivia. If added to Magic Kingdoms, players would be able to grow their rank based on their ability, as well as random luck. They would also be able to improve their knowledge of the Disney Company and its characters. That would be truly amazing.
A Small Payment
Look, all these games make their money in the same way. The first way is that they offer special prizes, like a treasure chest with a guaranteed character, gems, or a limited-edition character. Comfy Aurora won’t be around for long. The second way is through advertising. Most of the time, it doesn’t make any sense to pay money for some in-game prize. There are exceptions. Maybe, you love the game and want to see it developed more, or you’ve played the game for a couple of years and want to reward the company for the entertainment. But Advertisements? Yes, please. I’ll watch all of them. I even do this for YouTube channels of people I know. Let those creators earn a living from my watching ads. I’m totally okay with that. (It must be a remnant from 1980’s Saturday morning cartoons.)
Bringing It IRL
I want to bring this into real life. If we can gamify our accomplishments that matter, we can push aside those obligations that don’t make our lives better. I’ve tried it before where people registered on my website and sent in photos related to their accomplishments. They got digital rewards. And by “they,” I mean “Amanda,” who was the only one to participate. But what if it were tied to a card game or a motivation box and each person could regulate his or her own prize process. Or maybe it could be a subscription. Pay so much a month, send in your evidence, and your collection will grow based on what you do. There could be different themes… I have a small idea, but I don’t know how to make it happen right now…
If you want to help bring this idea to life, join our Patreon. If you want to read more about Disney-related things, subscribe to this blog and check out my books: “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”