Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Making education Fun

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The game I am co founder of Tune Hopper Just received an awesome review on Appolicious!

My favorite part
Jessica Daily says, “Ah, why isn’t all education so enjoyable? While aimed at kids there’s no reason someone new to music or trying to learn an instrument couldn’t use this to start learning music theory.”


on gamification and repetitive learning

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Since I am working on an educational game for teaching children different aspects of music theory, I feel like I need to address this issue of gamification.

It’s so sad to see the word “gamification” become so abused because, honestly, it could be used to express the idea of applying the best concepts of game theory and education to learning and interaction.  Instead, most implementations of “gamification” are (pondering how to be nice and failing) LAME, boring, annoying or even worse EVIL.

Gaming is not just about points, badges, levels, leader boards, rewards, and missions.  Gaming is more than the mechanics.  Some of those mechanics are highly useful both for monitoring, encouraging certain behaviors, and creating visibility, but is it a game? Does the end product contain all the pieces that make a game sustainable?  Does it achieve flow – that special mind state that we humans find enjoyable and learn faster when experiencing?

And for me – does the tactic of gamification add value to the world?   I used to work in the gaming industry, but I was tired of making addictive games that did not benefit society. We purposely created games that were as addictive as possible.

Sadly enough I was so anti-gaming at one point (a divorce where game addiction is a factor will do that to you) that I didn’t consider what I learned from game theory valuable.  I saw gaming’s ability to encourage addictive behavior as a dangerous tool and to be avoided and I dropped out of the gaming scene.  My discussions with Jane McGonial, at foocamp and her whole hearted displays of physical and personal interaction melted my hardened heart.  Thank you Jane!

“My own personal metaphor is that gamification is the high fructose corn syrup of engagement. Ultimately, very unhealthy for all but the repetitive, dull, boring tasks for which there never WILL be intrinsic rewards. There IS great value in that… It is when gamification is applied to stuff that does (or could) have potential for intrinsic value (like, say, READING) where the damage lives.”

I would instead like to look to gamification and addiction as a way to help people get over the difficulty of repetitive learning.  For example, our game TuneHopper appears to be a fun little game while, slyly in the background, it is training your musical ear.  It is also slowly introducing scales and notes so that unconsciously you begin to gain a better understanding.  In the next version of the game, I want people to actually sing the notes into the mic instead of pushing buttons.  They’ll truly learns what E sharp sounds like.  I also want a composer app where players learn the notes and the sounds while creating their own songs to share.

I have hopes.  I like that Greg (our little green dude in tunehopper) purrs and giggles when you do things right and cries when you don’t and that inspires my nieces and nephews to work hard to feed Greg and make him happy. I like that teenagers at my family christmas party were challenging each other to see who could get a higher score and, as musicians, saw it as a reflection of their musical prowess.  I believe we can make learning more fun and gamification is a way to achieve this!



Friday, November 12th, 2010

Evidently the word “Gamification” is becoming a bit of a bad word. I suppose it is because too often it is being used in a Tom Chatfield sense and not in a Jane McGonigal sense.

Tom stresses much in regards to the game play rewards system. Having worked in the industry and watching games like Farmville and such arise. He is not wrong. Those are all crucial elements of addictive game play. What he says isn’t new. In the gaming industry, we talk often about the circle of addiction.  Things like the importance of immediate feedback w representative rewards, multiple goals of varying length, element of surprise, and interactions w peers.

Jane talks much of making the world a better place.  Of the importance of choosing important goals and of fostering motivation.

I love the concepts of Jane’s games.  I have signed up multiple times.  But I never end up playing them.  I think often her games are missing an important aspect – the addictive factor.  The feedback is rarely as immediate as I need.  And even though she talks about the freedom to fail – making those immediate posts… is actually asking for a rather large commitment.

I think both could learn much from each other.  What I would like to argue esp in regards to Tom’s presentation is that Real Metrics are motivational ONLY if people can see the correlation.  That is why money typically fails as a motivator. (Well that and fear – money makes a game real.)  And I believe this lack of correlation is why “Gamification” is becoming a dirty word – a word marketing people use. (duh duh duh DUM!)

Jane – you really have to control the fear aspect in regards to asking people to be creative.  Doing blog posts, posting videos etc are acts only a certain generation of extroverts can accomplish.  I, the gal that dances everywhere, have a truly hard time posting a video of myself dancing online.  I mean first I have to get someone to help me make the video.  Secondly I have to get over looking like a dork and realize – I am not as hot of a dancer as I thought I was…. So my need for perfectionism- means I internally don’t feel free to fail :-(

I guess I need those tiny steps complete w rewards to get there… And those haven’t worked for me in the design of your virtual games I have played so far.  I believe that is why only 8000 played superstruct.  I wanted to like it.  I really did.  But oof that first step was a doosy.  But I do have to say your peer pressure tactics work great in Real Life (as evidenced at my participation at foocamp :-)) Maybe if there was a better way to pressure Real life communities?

Honestly though, I do believe the world can learn much from good games…

Constant relevant feedback

Meaningful metrics

Valid reward systems

That certain element of surprise…

and yea people – remember the whole essential ingredient of the whole Web 2.0 explosion…