Gamification

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Do you hear that? Sounds like joyous arcade music, the smell of popcorn, and the promise that you’re about to have the time of your life! Well… at least for a few hours anyways. But that sound…it reminds me of that crazy zing that electrocutes your very senses, along with the myriad of blaring, neon, game signs that captivates your eyes. There’s also a lot of people around usually, and who can blame them?

Each of these arcade stations are a gateway to impossible new stories, adventures, friendships, and a sense of life made possible through an exhilarating fire with every coin insert. Meet your inner kid, or the kid you have, who can be unleashed, and who’s never forgotten. Welcome to the world of gaming that we remember and cherish, the one that’s been giving us creative bursts of energy through everyday life, making us look forward to the next round, to the next electrical high. Welcome to being citizens of a society in which gaming is slowly being accepted into the mundane blandness that we call routine. Sounds just about too good to be true doesn’t it?

Music: *Technological 1 by: Cory Gray/ *Source: http://freemusicarchive.org/search/?sort=trackdatepublished&d=1&quicksearch=technological+1

That’s why I’m here! To assure you, it’s very real, and it’s happening right now. So, let’s just sit down for a moment, to think about why Gamification? What is so important about games that there needs to be an entire podcast about it? Well for one thing, I can tell you right off the bat that it’s a staggering concept that is literally affecting everyone in today’s modern world. We’re talking technological revolution here. More specifically, the integration of the concept of fun, that motivates the highest work performance in society. Specifically, I will be investigating how these techniques have and can be applied to education, and workplace industries. Not to mention why it’s a good thing, or more accurately, a great thing!

So we’ve had a run in with the arcade world of videogames at the beginning of this adventure, but games are found in a variety of forms. There must be some athletes, board game enthusiasts, the occasional party goer that enjoys a few shot games. Let me point out the obvious here and say that games are all around us, and we enjoy them in whatever form they come in. Some more than others. However, videogames are taking precedence over the traditional Monopoly, scrabble, cranium, and other board games. Not that those aren’t fun, on the contrary they challenge the player in a “sit down and think you’re way out of this” kind of way. This challenging edge games have, that motivates players, is the sort of thing that workplaces and schools are trying to incorporate.

But enough of that, let me shed a little light on the wonders of gamification.

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Ok, so, a little bit of repetition here, but I’d like you to consider this for a moment: gamification in education, featuring process engineer gone school teacher Ananth Pai. Now this guy is a noble man with an interesting new idea that’s boggled the mind of many educators, parents, and society alike. What’s the number one problem in schools, particularly younger kids when it comes to classroom learning? PAYING ATTENTION! Things are not very straightforward, too bland, or in some cases also a little too easy. Multiple factors apply with attention loss, and this isn’t counting ADD, or ADHD.

More on this in the link on my transcript: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/798.html

Carrying on with Mr. Pai, this savvy academic decided that for the sake of keeping his students interested, to try a different method! He threw away all the books—I’m just kidding—with the use of gamification, he decided that he could use game-based elements in both math and literature with his grade 3 class. His tool kit consisted of Nintendo DS’s, computer games, you name it, he used it, and he used educational games alone on these devices so that his students could have a more hands-on experience. Gabe Zichermann explained in his TEDTalk (2011) on Gamification, that in 18 weeks his class bounced up from below third grade level reading and math to a mid fourth grade level in literature and mathematics. The kids applied themselves, and all because a different set of tools were used.

It made all the difference in the learning ability of the students!

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Now, how is it that by trading in pencils, text books, and notebooks for game consoles, such dramatic results were achieved? Simply because we’re getting smarter. There’s an entire book dedicated to this called *What Videogames Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy, *published in 2003. The author, James Paul Gee supports the concept of using gamification in education with the following quote:

*James Paul Gee: “Recent discussions have shown that the application of videogames in the real world such as school, has developed a new sense of experiencing the world, and opened doors to new learning possibilities. It’s even hinted that cognitive skills can be improved upon, using classes and computers.”*

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A greatly illustrated way of highlighting the benefits of gamification in education. That being said, there’s an even simpler explanation that is quite obvious. Kids just like video games, I mean it’s just something that they do! I’d come home and play video games when I was a kid, and for those adults out there who did the same thing or have children gluing themselves to the television, please…don’t panic. It just so happens that the difficulty level that new games provide is what is helping children develop faster cognitive thinking, and multi tasking skills. To put it into more detail, we’re going to swing on back to Gabe Zichermann (who may I add, is also specialized in integrating game mechanics into the business industry)

Music: *Technological 1 by: Cory Gray/ *Source: http://freemusicarchive.org/search/?sort=trackdatepublished&d=1&quicksearch=technological+1

*Zichermann: “The maximum skill that I was expected to display was simple hand eye coordination. Today’s kids deal with: Chat voice, chat text, operating character, managing short term objective, managing long term objective, manage interrupts. Extraordinary multi tasking skills. Things like this make you smarter.”*

If you want to watch the entire video on Gabe Zichermann’s *How Games Make Kids Smarter*, please click the link in the transcript: https://www.ted.com/talks/gabezichermannhowgamesmakekidssmarter

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Impressive? Absolutely! So you see, these stimulating games that rely on so much involvement doesn’t necessarily rot our brains with trashy story lines. On the contrary, these games are asking so much of their players, and making it so much fun that, it makes the audience willing to put in the effort and time to perfectly pass the level! This is the goal of Gamification in education and workplace industries. How to stimulate these feelings in an environment that is beneficial to the student, worker, and in a large scope of things, society.

A popular game from 2014 was the critically acclaimed game The Last of Us. This isn’t a game review, but based on personal experience, the amount of thinking and smooth transitions between scenes is very engaging. Between getting from one scene to the next it’s a flawless storyline that compels you to get the characters to their next checkpoint before the bad guys get them. It really pushes you to try, and the more you do it, the faster you get at solving these puzzles. The hyper realistic graphics are all the better to really jump in and submerge in the experience

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Music: *Technological 1 by: Cory Gray/ *Source: http://freemusicarchive.org/search/?sort=trackdatepublished&d=1&quicksearch=technological+1

However, the are more elements to gamification than how much stimulation your brain receives. One of them being as simple as knowing how to fail, and trying again. Astoundingly this has a huge impact on the psyche of players who are taking…who are taking life in a game-like approach. The beauty of gaming is that it allows you to fail, along with trying again as many times as you need until there is improvement. Until you get it. You learn quickly that failing isn’t a death sentence, it’s a way of learning and evolving your intelligence.

Now, there is someone who shares a passion for gaming and has made it her life’s mission to try and get the world to look at their lives as a type of playing field. By doing so, you are learning to cooperate with others and opening up to new possibilities that you might have been close-minded about before. In an interview with Gamer and Public Speaker Jane McGonigal, she expresses how profoundly gaming can impact us:

*Jane McGonigal: “It’s the mindset of knowing that trying is what helps us learn. Allowing students to try and fail, and not having that be a grave.*” (TED Talk, 2010

It’s understandable if you still don’t believe me. Unfortunately videogames have been put in a pretty nasty picture frame. I’m not saying psychologists, and scientists are completely wrong, excess in any circumstance is unhealthy for anyone, and it’s true that videogames can lead to a lack of motivation in everyday responsibilities.

In the words of author Harry J. Brown:

  • Brown: “In the last decade, public discourse on videogames has made the opposing claims that the emergent medium will either elevate us, making us faster, more creative thinkers, or degrade us, making us illiterate, socially isolated, and pathologically violent.” (Brown, 2008) *

This is an excerpt from his book Videogames and Education published in 2008. Things have really come a long way since 2008, and that wasn’t that long ago. So this illustrates our worries quite nicely, as well as the great possibility for evolution.

Why do I say evolution? Because things aren’t what they used to be. There’s more and more kids itching to get out of their seats, and fling spit balls at people every year. Traditional methods, although effective, should leave some room to breathe for games. Fear not, change won’t come swooping in over night, stealing chalk boards and text books, like the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’ll ease in quietly, over time, much like it’s been doing.

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So far, gamification has been used in small doses. Although we’ve been exploring it’s greater impacts, it is still best to keep using it with good measure. As I mentioned before, too much gaming, and it can lose the positive effect that it’s had in the classroom setting. What many are afraid of is that gaming will take over the traditional method of learning, which is not necessarily the case, and if not a long shot from ever happening. We can’t let the very tempting power of gamification turn into a full out distraction for students, because at that point it can definitely hinder and do harm to their in class learning. That’s why gamification is best served with a mediator. In a school setting anyways.

Moving on, technology is not only all around us, but it’s also changing every year. Our IQ’s are getting higher because we can deal with using these hyper-fast objects and programs that evolve on the daily. The amount of stimuli that is going on is even being studied by scientists and psychologists, because as a society we are engaging more and more with games and virtual reality. However, this isn’t just happening to kids, it’s affecting us all. That’s right I’m looking at you money-makers out there. Hard working people such as us go about our days with work on our minds which is customary routine! *The Impact of Computer Use on Children's and Adolescents' Development *(how wonderfully specific). The authors (Subrahyam. K et.al. 2001) had this to say about the matter:

*Subrayhal: ”Nonetheless, selective increases in nonverbal or performance IQ (Flynn, 1994) scores during the last century seem to relate, in part, to the proliferation of imagery and electronic technologies in the environment that has occurred in this period of time (Greenfield, 1998).”*

Though the book title says mentions the words children, and adolescents, it has everything to do with adult life, because let’s not forget, we were all kids once too. The emphasis on how electronics are aiding the intelligence level of which we are capable!

He’s highlighting the incredible effects that videogames can give us, and where in our brains they can see the improvments. That’s why workplaces are implementing Gamification in the form of activities, competitions, and more popularly…lotteries. I’m quite certain that we enjoy other games, but the game of chance is an exhilarating one we all enjoy. Winning the big money, and placing our money and faith in chance, just in case we’re that lucky one that wins the big million. There’s no reason not to participate in these events, it brings people closer, it’s completely fun, and it brings a few new revitalization to everyday life. These are all just little examples of gamification in the workplace. As for industries themselves, well let me tell you something interesting.

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Gabe Zichermann presentin the Speed Camera Lottery on TED Talk (2011) Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photonquantique/6364954157/in/photolist-7M4Sos-aGs47V-hu9Pzb-efb6RV-5DcgzX-5DgpY5-5Dccev-5Dgo6w-5Dgv5j https://www.flickr.com/photos/photonquantique/6364954157/in/photolist-7M4Sos-aGs47V-hu9Pzb-efb6RV-5DcgzX-5DgpY5-5Dccev-5Dgo6w-5Dgv5j

Bringing over to Stockholm, Sweden, an intriguing game of lottery is taking place all around.

It’s intention is to slow down traffic, and make roads safe. In other words law abiding citizens who are good drivers, and have a good driving record end up the beneficiaries. The catch is that they are entered into a draw for the chance to win money paid by people who’ve been speeding or breaking the law. The cumulative amount is up for grabs for the good citizens, and it’s dealt a great deal of positivity for road safety!

They used speed cameras to capture the speed of cars driving by, the idea of turning traffic safety into a game was inspired by a man called Kevin Richardson after seeing three kids getting struck by cars. Having invented this game-like system to something as mundane as driving and traffic has seen a decline in speed by about 22%.

This idea was funded by the Fun Theory contest from Volkswagen.

The article (by: Elizabeth Haggarty—The Toronto Star) can be found on: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2010/12/09/speedcameralotterypaysdriversforslowing_down.html

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Now that we’re on the subject of being swaddled in electronics, a more recent development’s given a revamp to personal security in your own home. Recently invented by Vivien Muller is the Ulo. This is a cute camera system which uses adhesive magnets to stick wherever you want in the house, and is used to record what is going on. If movement is detected say, by a pet, or an intruder then it sends you an email with a video of what it observed. Noting that it’s small and round, it goes easily missed. Now the game quality kicks in when you can personalize the owl’s eyes to your taste (colour, glimmer, etc.) and it’s eyes move and react in the direction of the person or object that got it’s attention. It’s rechargeable, compact, and meant to look like a little companion that looks after the place while you’re gone. It’s little, appealing things like these that are useful, that help make life a little easier, and easier to cope with. Giving an inanimate object “life” is a form of gamification in that it creates an interaction with the user and the computer using AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Here is where you can learn all about the Ulo: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vivienmuller/ulo

Gamification is an appealing marketing strategy that has captivated many consumers. The idea of an AI companion is popularizing, having a “conscience”. Scratch that, the idea of an AI, being in and of itself is amazing enough. Recent games have developed engines that are able to remember the decisions you make, causing it’s characters and storylines to react differently depending on what you choose. The fun about these games is that it simulates a more life-like concept that we relate to everyday. We act differently with everyone, the situation, the place, the time, many factors cause humans to change the way they are in the moment. Game developers have taken this into account, providing gamers with an experimental ground that is safe, with no real consequences.

If you’re really interested in learning more about AI and how else it’s integrated into videogames, click on the link of the transcript to read up on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificialintelligence(video_games)

Also if you’d like to know more about how teenagers are affected by these gaming environments, I’ve written a little article about it on our class blog. If you wanna catch a good read, please refer to the link, located on my transcript: http://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/045e4c3a-83b4-40a5-987a-eacd82dc3572?rq=virtual%20social%20life

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Generations have been bridged together through the livelihood of technological advancement. Gamification is the demonstrative power of what the human mind and society has achieved. Through our demands, through our lives, through our needs, we’ve been able to push the boundaries of what “impossibility” is. Dreams are now closer to our reach than ever before, no not dreams, futures now within our grasp. As a society, we will learn how to function in harmony with each other and the evolving technology that surround us. We will be able to perform along side machines, evermore creating a world in which we will advance as a species. There is no doubt that Gamification is helping us improve intellectually, and emotionally with every passing year. Why? Because the smarter we get, the more improvement and challenging games become, pushing both the players and creators to push for more on their ends. A small piece of evidence that has identified this is a small excerpt from *Videogames as Tools to Achieve Insight Into Cognitive Processes; *an article published in 2015 by Walter R. Boot.

  • Boot: "Though traditionally designed for entertainment purposes, video games are increasingly being used by psychologists to aid in our understanding of skill acquisition, cognitive capacity and plasticity, development and aging, and individual differences.”*

We can no longer pretend that videogames are a terrible influence on children when it is clearly reshaping all industries, and minds. The concept of gamification is slowly evolving the way in which we learn, in which we interact with each other in our lives. This adventure has come to an end, now you can look at videogames with a new eye.

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Citations

  1. "How Games Make Kids Smarter." Gabe Zichermann:. TED Talk. Web. 4 Oct. 2015. < https://www.ted.com/talks/gabezichermannhowgamesmakekidssmarter>
  2. ”Gaming Can Make a Better World." TED Talk. Jane McGonigal. 1 Feb.
  3. Television.
  4. Brown, H J. "Introductions." Videogames and Education. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2015. 136. Print.
  5. James Paul Gee (*What Videogames Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy-2003*) argues that it helps us develop our versatile cognitive skills
  6. Subrahmanyam, Kaveri, Patricia Greenfield, Robert Kraut, and Elisheva Gross. "The Impact of Computer Use on Children's and Adolescents' Development." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology: 7-30. Print.
  7. Haggarty, Elizabeth. "Speed Camera Lottery Pays Drivers for Slowing down | Toronto Star." Thestar.com. Toronto Star, 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.
  8. "Ulo." Kickstarter. Kickstarter, 2015. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. < https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vivienmuller/ulo>.
  9. "Artificial Intelligence (videogames)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.
  10. Cacella, Sarah. "Virtual Social Life." RSS. Square Space, 19 Nov.
  11. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.