Hey ARMY, Play This: A Game Design Analysis of ARMYPEDIA

I was a presenter at BTS: A Global Interdisciplinary Conference Project in January 2020, where I shared “Hey ARMY, Play This: A Game Design Analysis of ARMYPEDIA.” The conference was organized by and hosted at Kingston University in London.

See the full conference program here.

ARMYPEDIA was a multifaceted campaign to engage BTS fans (known as ARMY) that took place from late February to late March 2019. The main pillars of the campaign were the ARMYPEDIA website, a platform for archiving fans’ memories and experiences related to BTS, as well as a global game-like challenge for unlocking over 2,000 pages of that website. Pages could be unlocked by finding and scanning QR codes which were released both online and physically in major cities. Each of those pages represented a calendar date between BTS’ debut in 2013 through the date of the campaign announcement. “Completion” of ARMYPEDIA involved unlocking all the website’s pages as well as filling those pages with memories about BTS that occurred on the corresponding date.

My presentation abstract:

“This paper presents an analysis of BTS’ 2019 ARMYPEDIA campaign from a game design perspective. Strengths of the campaign include appropriately reaching the target audience (ARMY), engaging many fans in the lead-up to the release of Map of the Soul: Persona with a clear purpose, and thematic connections to BTS’ other creative work and activities. A psychological perspective is also presented to discuss ARMYPEDIA’s potential for positive effects related to experiential goals of writing about the past, savoring memories, and cooperating as a global community. Additionally, consideration is given to untapped potential for greater reach and depth of user engagement and reasons this potential might have gone unrealized. Two main barriers are identified: a mismatch between pre-launch framing and the reality of the experience, and an over-emphasis on scanning codes at the expense of writing and reflecting. As part of this discussion, the “core loop” (primary mechanics) of ARMYPEDIA’s interactivity is defined and analyzed. Suggestions are offered for how these mechanics might have been modified to, potentially, better meet experience goals and increase the quantity and quality of ARMY’s engagement.”

Among other things, ARMYPEDIA was about savoring and documenting precious memories related to BTS. So, as a supplement to my presentation, I also adapted a psychology intervention for writing about positive life events for this purpose. In the original study (Burton & King, 2004), free-writing from a prompt about intensely positive memories for 20 mins per day, 3 days in a row, improved health and mood more so than writing about emotionally neutral topics. You can download the worksheet I provided here.



*Burton, C. M. & King, L. A. (2004). The health benefits of writing about intensely positive experiences. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 150-163.

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