Unlocking the Potential of Game Incentives

In this presentation from the 2010 DICE (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit, Carnegie Mellon professor Jesse Schell analyses the success of unusual games and predicts how that same model can be applied to life to give people incentives to use certain products and accomplish tasks at work or elsewhere.

Schell describes the paradox of Farmville, which at face value is just another Facebook flash game, but which has generated over $600 million and has more user accounts than all of Twitter. He also notes the success of other outliers from the typical game model, including the Wii, Guitar Hero, Webkins, and Xbox’s Achievement Unlocked reward model. Schell argues that all of these games and game elements have a commonality: they “bust through to reality.” Schell claims that this parallels a trend in media. The surge of reality TV, organic food, and other “real” products suggests that the public has a desire for authenticity. According to Schell, “everything is about reality now.”

In the second half of this talk, Schell goes on to theorize how this model can be applied to serious games. He states that the reason for the success of the Achievement Unlocked reward system is that it suggests a higher level of achievement – it goes beyond the fantasy of the game and acknowledges success in reality. Schell recognizes that companies are already using this model to give incentives – for example, a Ford hybrid model has a plant gage alongside its gas gage on the dashboard. The more gas the diver saves, the more the plant grows. “They put a virtual pet in your car! And it changes the way people drive!” Schell exclaims. He goes on to describe Lee Sheldon, a professor at the University of Indiana who has disregarded the traditional grading system in favor of giving out “experience points” for each assignment. Students can see how many points they need to “level up” to a higher grade. According to Schell, this model resulted in better class attendance and participation.

Hours spent gaming are never wasted

TED speaker and game designer Jane McGonigal has a radical idea: games are not merely for playtime. She argues that they can be exceptionally valuable to education, and if we can harness the attentive and competitive way that a gamer seeks to increase their skill we can see results in "leveling up" in more valuable topics such as problem solving. She cites the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, which proposes a "theory of success" based on cognitive research . According to Gladwell, 10,000 hours of concentrated study will make a person an expert at what they are studying. McGonigal draws a parallel: the average young gamer today will have spent 10,000 hours playing online games by the time they are 21. "And so, now what we're looking at is an entire generation of young people who are virtuoso gamers. So, the big question is, 'What exactly are gamers getting so good at?' Because if we could figure that out we would have a virtually unprecedented human resource on our hands."

This is only one of many thought-provoking points that McGonigal argues in the following lecture.

iEducation: the iPad as a Learning Tool

East Elementary School of Kodiak, Alaska is integrating the iPad into their curriculum and finding it is having a positive impact on learning. Each grade level gets the iPads for one day of the week. In one classroom, students create their own slides with audio and video to present to the class about the human body. In another class, students play a game to learn the states and their capitals. Virtual flash cards and picture books are other assets available through the iPad. The teachers find that the iPads not only get the children excited about the lesson, but also allow each child to learn at their own pace. "Instead of reading the packet like we used to do at school, they each have an iPad, and they each can go to a slide at their own pace," said one teacher.

BrokenMyth Studios has been bringing similar ideas to the work place for years with great success. How can enhanced learning tools like 3D interactivity and mobile apps created at BrokenMyth Studios enhance your training methods?

Achievement Unlocked: Making Work Enjoyable

The buzzword currently making its way around business circles is “gamification.” Gamification is the use of gameplay mechanics to reward users for completing otherwise mundane tasks. In this win-win situation, employees are becoming addicted to the friendly competition and positive feedback of earning virtual trophies and companies are reaping the benefits of increased productivity. The article below takes a look at the opportunity in this market and how gamification is already taking roots.

Serious Gaming Takes Flight

Flight simulation has grown up from the entertaining Microsoft games of yore to quite a serious business. Boeing has pulled out all the stops to create what is perhaps the most realistic flight simulator to date: the Dreamliner Flight Simulator, a training system complete with an interactive cockpit and 3D view of the exterior of the Boeing 787. Check out this video and you’ll wish you were a pilot in training!