Category Archives: Gaming and Game Development

I play all kinds of games including pen and paper RPG’s, board games, TCG’s, LARPS, and video games… There isn’t much I wont try. This is where you can see what I’m playing right now and what I think of it.

Playing around with P2PU and Open Badges.

P2PU Logo from P2PU.org

P2PU Logo from P2PU.org

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I am very interested in games and how they can be used to influence behavior. So much so in fact that a BIG part of my Doctorate in Education work has focused around gamification. A very closely related field is badgification. I originally became interested in it when I noticed how I would continue to play an Xbox game I did not like much JUST to continue gathering achievement badges. I’m fascinated by the power of the badge to keep you engaged in a process that is marginally interesting or fun just to get more badges. So, one of the things that has been on my mind for quite a while is that I need to work on increasing my coding skills and what better way to do that than to experiment with badgification at the same time! Obviously I can do a bit with HTML and CSS and I have learned a little JavaScript over at Code Academy, but I stumbled onto P2PU and just HAD to play with their badge system because it looked so cool and was integrated with the Mozilla Open Badge Program. As soon as I figure out how to share my Open Badge Backpack I’ll post a link here.

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?

 

What makes a game?

Atari 2600 JoystickEarlier 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?

 

Why Gamification Fails!

Why Gamification Fails

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?

-Brad

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.

Can Tabletop RPG’s Make You More Confident And Successful?

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?

Mayfair Games- Le Boomb!

I love fast small games so when I saw Le Boomb at PAX for just $5 I HAD to buy it and give it a go!

Mayfair Games Le Boomb

a game using dice that is very similar to hot potato

Well folks, I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed! For $5 this game is a pretty good value! You get the special Le Boomb Dice and also the black bomb that acts as a carrying case for it. the rules are fairly simple. Roll the dice… If you get the bomb with the fuse your good. If you get the bomb you have to hold the bomb. If someone rolls the explosion while you hold the bomb your out. I know it sounds overly simple, but it is fun and I hear that there is NO WAY this could be converted to any sort of drinking game! ( he he he!)

Anyway… I played this at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) while waiting in line for events and again with my wife and 3 year old Sarah this morning and the game was a BIG hit. Sarah got it immediately and had a blast! She did NOT want to stop playing. I can see this as a good backpack/ purse game that you could pull out in a restaurant and play with friends or to keep the kids calm or as a warm up game while waiting to get your weekly RPG going.

For such a simple game I have really enjoyed it so far and highly recommend it for anyone looking to kill a few minutes with good clean fun!

Do you have games like this that you enjoy? Share them with me! I love learning about new games and am always looking for new stuff to play!

 

Code Hero – PAX Game Trailer!

Code Hero screen shotI purchased Code Hero several months ago while it was seeking funding on Kickstarter because I’m a gamer, and I’m also very interested in making games and learning to code so I thought a game that taught Unity and Javascript was a GREAT way to learn. Funding the Kickstarter gave you access to a proof of concept level and since playing through that I have been impatiently waiting for its launch! Well I saw the Code Hero booth at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) last weekend and I have to say I am VERY glad the guys at Primer Labs are taking their time and making this game right!

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?

Pax 2012: Skallops

Check out Skallops! You can use them with a deck of cards to build anything!

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ZombiU for the Wii U!

When I first heard about the Wii U I was not very excited to be honest! That was until I saw the latest trailers for ZombiU! I bought my Nintendo Wii shortly after launch, but never played it as much as I thought I would. I was sucked in by the innovative game play and motion control, but was very disappointed by the graphics quality and spent most of my time and money on my Xbox 360 because I liked the feel of the controller, the pretty graphics, and the epic stories in true next generation consoles. From the looks of these two videos Nintendo nailed it this time. Good use of motion control, pretty graphics, and truly innovative gameplay! I like it

So… What do you think? Did Nintendo hit a home run this time? I feel like they did, but I’ll know for sure when I finally get to play with it at PAX Prime 2012. One things for sure… Unless im horribly disappointed at PAX the Wii U will be under my Christmas tree this year!

The Bladepad for the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 – Kickstarter

The Bladepad for the iPhone 4s iPhone 5 and iPad 3 / New iPad

I’m just going to come right out and say I LOVE first person shooter games. I am not at the Major league Gaming level, but I’m not bad and I really enjoy playing online multiplayer and testing myself against others. That said… I have always been disappointed that the gaming experience I have had on my iPhone and iPad 3 has been a major let down.

 

Enter the Bladepad for the iPhone 4s and iPad 3 (iPhone 5 to launch in December):

I’m very hopeful for this product. It looks like they have really thought this out. First it had duel analogue thumbsticks something my Nintendo 3DS XL (on pre-order) does not have. You don’t really get to see much game play on the video, but I like the layout of the device (It is VERY similar to the layout on my X-Box 360) and I really like how easy it is to un-clip the controller from the protective case so you do not have to lug a bulky slide out controller around in your pocket. I can see myself playing this on the bus on my way to work, on the plane, or just hanging out at home. For $69 on Kickstarter with a MSRP of $99 this looks like a steal! More good news is that it is releasing for Android soon!

So, what do you think is this a fund, wait and buy at MSRP if it works, or a no-go?

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