Anyways, I am currently enrolled in the Webmaking 101 Challenge at P2PU. Part of this challenge will have me writing posts over here about things related to webcraft, coding, and other stuff showing off what I need for peer review and the eventual rewarding of my cool badges to show off my newly acquired skills. As I progress I’ll also share some of my thoughts about the program and it’s strengths and weaknesses and how I feel it is preparing me to eventually create some of my own apps, games, and other interactive media.
Have you had any experience with P2PU, Code Academy, or any similar sites? what was your experience?
Earlier this week I talked about Why Gamification fails. Today I’d like to talk about what makes a game. On the surface I think we all THINK we know what makes a game but many of the things we think of as core features are simply not required to have a game. Games to not have to have scores, points or clear winners. Wow! Who would have thought? A lot of games DO have some or all of those things, but they are not required. So what IS required? Jane McGonigal give us a great list of things to think about in her book Reality is Broken: Why Games make us better and how they can change the world. She says a game needs only 4 things to be complete
Goals – A specific outcome you are trying to achieve
Rules – Set limitations on how players can achieve these goals
A Feedback System – How close are you to a goal? Points, scores, progress bars, players personal knowledge of an outcome, for example the game is over when…
Voluntary participation – This requires everyone to knowingly and willingly accept the rules, goals, and feedback. You can not force anyone to participate, and this ensures that any challenging or stressful work takes place in a manner that is safe and pleasurable.
That’s it… That’s ALL you need! points, scores, winners, graphics, etc are all tools to increase the players engagement in the game but they are not core to the game itself.
Lets look at some examples. In one of my favorite games Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) there are constantly changing story driven goals and the obvious goal of leveling up my gaining XP (Experience Points) You have the dice and Dungeon master as a source of feedback, and lets face it, no one is forced to play something as awesome as DnD! the most important one is no player wins DnD. The party may lose battles, but the game has no real winners and losers the story just progresses.
Starbucks reward points: After 20 drinks you become a gold member and start getting a free cup of coffee every 5 drinks and other perks. Guess what? it’s a game… You have a goal: get 20 points for the perks then free coffee every 5 points. You have a feedback system with the little stars in the coffee cup of the app (a progress bar of sorts) the rules are quite clear, and again everyone agrees to play.
Other examples are fuel rewards, frequent flyer programs, Foursquare, and Mozilla Open Badges. Games are everywhere you look once you know what you are looking for… They are used in marketing, management and education on a daily basis. What are some examples that come to mind for you and how do you feel about them? Are you engaged? Why or Why not?
Foursquare used to be my favorite check-in tool, and now I have to say that I still use it, but I’m loosing interest fast. How does a company that beat out it’s competitors and had a solid niche as the only (popular) gamified check-in app fall from grace?
In the beginning everybody fought to be the mayor of their favorite Foursquare hangout but over time the buzz surrounding the social media app seemed to have waned as many users simply stopped caring about the game’s badges and check-ins. Source: What happened to the game mechanics on Foursquare?
Gamification.co nailed it… I can remember the first few times I saw a social check-in on Facebook and thought “How did they do that?” I immediately saw the value in sharing your whereabouts and was hooked on the game sa soon as I downloaded the app. I checked in everywhere I went and even got my Overshare badge. I was even more excited when check-ins started netting me tangible items like the grocery store that gave me a free doughnut every time I checked in! Pubs gave mayor discounts and there was some cool factor to being the mayor of your favorite locations and battling to keep the title. Unfortunately, things got a little stale and Facebook came out with a check-in system of their own as did Google +, Yelp, Meet-up, and basically every other app on my phone. It makes me sad, because the game was fun and the added benefit of check-in rewards was awesome. but the game never changed and now sadly we are seeing Foursquare pull back further and further from the game and transform itself into another Yelp not that the world needs that.
So what happened? In my opinion the bottom fell out because they did not attract enough mayor or check-in specials early on. This was simply a sales problem and one I think they could have still solved. The demise of Foursquare is going to be them entering into a crowded space and dropping the key feature that made them famous… This kind of gamification is a marketers dream and I can not believe they would walk away from it.
Why Gamification fails… Just a few quick thought on this topic before I go to bed tonight. I think about this a lot because as a sales manager I see “games” put out by senior management all the time that are not well thought out and poorly implemented. They push these to the field and then no one engages with the “game” because it’s neither interesting or fun, then one of two things happens. Scenario 1: Mid management pretends it was successful inspiring additional time wasted on something no one cares about. Scenario 2: There is tremendous bellyaching from the field and the idea is chalked up as a loss and never done again.
So the question is: Why does gamification fail and what can we do about it? I think I can sum up the problem in one word. Engagement! The number one problem I see with “games” put out by management is there is a LOT of thought as to how to manage and measure the metrics the game is designed to improve. There is also a lot of thought and effort put into the collection of data and additional work placed on lower level managers to track and report results, but very little thought is given to why anyone would want to play the game in the first place. Herein lies the problem… games like this may inspire a few people but most employees will ignore them.
Why? Because we failed to engage them. When designing these games there are two key things that need to be thought about. First, what key metrics am I trying to improve (The more there are the harder this is to do), and second how can I ensure that the maximum number of people are actively engaged? Our problem is we talk a lot about the first issue and very little about the second.
I’ll talk about how to do this tomorrow, but for now I’d like to hear about your experience with games managers have made and what your experience is with them as a developer or player. Were you engaged? Why or why not?
PS: If you are looking for a GREAT book on gamification and how to make it work I recommend Reality is Broken. It is truly fantastic and will change the way you think about gamification and what it can do for you and your business.
When people think of tabletop RPG’s the first thing that most people think is “Wow… Huge nerd!” I have for many years thought that there were countless uses for games as a tool for teaching children, developing skills, and developing quality real life relationships. So much in fact, that I have committed a lot of time and study to the idea, so it’s always nice to see that someone else agrees with you!
By the way he uses DnD as the example, but the case is just as true if you use Shadowrun, Traveller, World of Darkness, Mouse Guard, Eclipse Phase, or any other game you can think of. Honesty, I believe the more games you play the more this may be true, because it is teaching you to be flexible and uses different systems and tools to solve a similar issue.
Games teach imagination, problem solving, strategy, and social skills. They also encourage reading and develop strong long-lasting relationships with others. I honestly can not think of a single reason a parent would not want their kids to grow up gaming. I understand the argument about violence many people will make. To that I will say some of the best gaming sessions I have had have lasted 4-6 hours and not have a single combat. Fighting is not always the best way out of a problem and nearly every game has rules for negotiation and other alternative solutions many of wich are far more entertaining! That however is a topic for another post. 🙂
The question here is: What do YOU think? Can games make us better people?
Here is the PAX trailer:
Here is the original trailer used for Kickstarter showing the proof of concept level:
As you can see the PAX trailer has a LOT more polish and gives a lot more insight into how the Unity Game Engine is simulated through the game to modify the world and teach skills that can be translated into actual game development ability. I had a chance to talk to Alex the Lead developer at PAX and he said things got a little crazy leading up to PAX but that the Alpha build would be released to all Kickstarter backers in the next week or two. As you can see when comparing the two videos it’s well worth the wait! He also hinted that there was more Code Hero DLC coming where other skills would be taught like compiling a Linux Kernel! His goal is to be able to traing software engineers using nothing but games! I’m really excited to be along for the ride!
Did you back the Kickstarter for this? What do you think about games being used to teach real life skills?