If Wearables Are Going to Grow Up, Games Might Point the Way

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If Wearables Are Going to Grow Up, Games Might Point the Way AllThingsD Conference attendees packed one of the meeting rooms at the Los Angeles Convention Center last week to hear Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin and VP Unni Narayanan pitch games for…

Sky V. King‘s insight:

We’re so close to making the “Sight” video a reality.
Would you want a gamified layer on top of real life, smart glasses that help you navigate life?  Google glass is here… just needs a little more development.

See on allthingsd.com

Size Matters! Grow a Bigger Brain By Playing Video Games

Proof is in the pudding, so they say.  Businesses look to the “bottom line” and growing their wallets so yes, size does matter!  In the field of education we look to grow a person’s passion for learning, learning retention and brain power.    Lifehacker quotes a study where playing games, specifically Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes over two months increased certain areas of grey matter in the brain.  Generally increased grey matter has been associated with better memory, while decreased grey matter has been associated with mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder and dementia.  Specific areas of the brain that grew were related to regions responsible for memory formation, strategic planning, muscle control and spatial navigation.  Here’s an article from Huffington Post that mentions this brainy video game study and others- 9 reasons why videos games are good for you.

Does Playing Video Games Increase Learning Retention?

Brain X-RaySo if playing games increases grey matter (which we can universally agree is good) and if those games contained educational content, would that improve learning retention?  Similarly what if immediately after playing a stress-relieving game, you received instruction- would that also improve or maximize learning retention?  This blog article by 1 to 1 Schools mentions several instances that notes game play improves learning retention short-term, although video games are too “new” to scientific study for long-term data.  Anyone willing to play games for the good of science?  However, this white paper states active learning increases long-term retention.  Simulation games are a great way of fostering active learning.  It’s all in the design.  Leave us a comment if you’ve played a game that has helped you learn something new or help you learn a topic better.  Do you think in the future that you’ll tell your kids to play some video games before they do their homework?

Infographic about Neurology of Gaming

The White House cares about games, but not for the reasons you think – TechHive

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TechHive The White House cares about games, but not for the reasons you think TechHive Mark DeLoura, the White House’s Senior Advisor for Digital Media, expounded on the government’s games policies at the Gamesbeat 2013 conference Tuesday, focusing…

Sky V. King‘s insight:

The White House thinks that video games get a bad rap, much like writing did in the past and wants to see what can be done to change perception on the issue.  What do you think- do violent video games cause violent behaviors in children?

See on www.techhive.com

TRENDING: Disney’s Second Screen Live Gamifies the Movies!

We’re going to take a break from talking about game elements that contribute to gamification right now and discuss a new trend in entertainment. Yes, I know I said that this blog was about gamification applied to education, but it’s a complex world where most everything is related.

Ever hear about the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone National Park? I rest my case about the fact that everything is connected (which I would love to include the article link, but as I’m writing this there is a government shutdown affecting the websites- link was placed in after government continued functioning fully).

American Idol & The Voice Give Opportunities for Engagement


By Lestat (Jan Mehlich) [CC-BY-SA-2.5]

American Idol and The Voice are singing competitions where audience members can vote on their favorite performances. American Idol allows audience members to vote during a two-hour window by calling, texting or submitting their votes online. The Voice allows audience members to vote through iTunes song downloads.

Both shows encourage live tweeting with performers and judges. These two shows really set the stage for audience members interacting with each other and their entertainment shows.

Disney’s Second Screen Live- Gamifying the Movies

Disney re-released “The Little Mermaid” in theaters with the following twist: bring your iPad downloaded with Second Screen Live App to interact with the movie while you are watching it. In fact when you enter the theater, you are split up into different teams named from the different characters to add a sense of competition to the mix. In addition to tapping out bubbles and fireworks, audience members solve trivia questions to rack up points.

Disney has applied game elements such as points and competition to watching a movie. Would you pay movie theater prices to watch a movie you’ve already watched? Most likely not, unless you have special connection or you watched it when you were a kid and now you have kids of your own. Disney’s betting on that too.

McDonald’s Monopoly Game Uses Gamification

In a previous post, we shared a monster of a list noting examples of gamification to include: McDonald’s Monopoly Game. “McNopoly,” as I’m coining it, encourages you to buy something that you might not normally buy in quantity, in the hopes you “win” something. Everyone likes to be a winner. It’s like like the phrase, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Someone wins at McNopoly, somewhere. However, lots of little prizes: free fries! Bet you buy a Coke to wash those fries down.

Gamifying the Movies- So What Does It All Mean

Most of us multitask, some even while using the toilet. I know, TMI. Do we really need to add another layer of stimulation in our movie theater going experience? However, the entertainment industry wants to capture ALL of your attention.

So what does this means if it was applied to education? How can we increase interaction and engagement by using some of the same elements that Disney has used? Perhaps live tweeting during classes using a specific hashtag (#FSULIS5385)? Hogwarts house style points system for answering questions correctly or doing the right & good things?

What would you do to increase engagement in learning? Would you see “The Little Mermaid” Second Screen Live if it came to a theater near you? Drop us a comment or two about what you think? Until next time, go get your game on! Don’t forget to drop by our Facebook page for additional #gamification content: http://www.facebook.com/tech2games .

Can Virtual Reality Keep Us Safe During Disasters?

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Screenshot of Virtual Reality Game to Prepare for Disaster

The United Nations recently commemorated the International Day for Disaster Reduction, an annual effort to raise the profile of disaster preparedness.

Sky V. King‘s insight:

Games are useful when applied to a variety of fields.  Here the United Nations uses games to help us prepare for disaster while “gamers solve decade old HIV puzzle in 10 DAYS! http://www.zmescience.com/research/studies/gamers-solve-decade-old-hiv-puzzle-in-ten-days/

See on elearningindustry.com

A Game By Any Other Name… Defining a Game

What’s in a name? that which we call a game, By any other name would play as fun?

Hold up, wait a minute!  How could I blabber on about gamification without even defining what a game is?  You might say, “Silly goose, everyone knows what a game is.”  You might be able to identify a game by virtue of its fun factor, but what qualities make a game, a game?  Let’s take an example and break it down.

Is Tug of War a Game?

Sepia image of Zulu men posing for picture, playing tug of war in 1903

by Okinawa Soba (Flickr); CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Everyone will probably agree that Tug of War is a simple game.  First you need a rope and two teams, right?  Then you place the rope on the ground, unfurled and straight.  In the middle, there is a real or imaginary line drawn.  Equal numbers of players (usually 8 per side) aligned themselves with the ends of the rope on each side of the center line.  When the command is given to pull, each team pulls in the opposite direction to get the other team to cross the center line.  There are variations on these rules and more formal ones can be found the Tug of War Federation rules page.

I’m not keen on using Wikipedia as a scholarly resource, but it does have a nice definition of what a game is: “A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements.”  Games include the following components:

  1. Goal
  2. Rules
  3. Challenge
  4. Interaction/Choices.

Using our Tug of War example, the goal is to get the other team to cross the center line to prove which team is stronger.  Our rules include using a certain number of equal players on each side, defining the center line etc.  The challenge of game is overcoming the obstacle of the other team’s strength.  Interaction doesn’t necessarily refer to interaction between players even though in this example this occurs.  Interaction or choices refers to a player’s feedback from interacting with other players or acting upon game tools.

Another good but very general definition of a game by Kevin Maroney is “a game is a form of play with goals and structure.”  Simple and easily expressed; however, it folds rules, challenge and choices into “structure.”  Later when we talk about what makes a good game, we’ll want to have these different aspects separate for evaluation.

Watch a Video: Popcorn Time

Check out this TEDtalk by Will Wright, creator of Spore, the Sims and Sim City.  He talks about the birth of his game Spore and how he believes games can change the world.  Can you identify the four (4) game components of Spore we mentioned previously in this post?  I know, it’s a little long but totally worth it! Drop us a comment or two about your definition of game or your thoughts on gaming changing the world.  We’d love to hear from you.  Until next time, keep on gaming!

Video Games Represent the Most Powerful (and Potentially Dangerous) Era

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Boy with headphones playing videogame on TV

Video Games Represent the Most Powerful (and Potentially Dangerous) Era in …
Huffington Post
Over the course of one weekend, I lost 12 hours, 42 minutes and 1 second. I don’t know how it happened. It took me like a fever.

Sky V. King‘s insight:

Do you think videos games are dangerous or does it depend on the type of game?

See on www.huffingtonpost.com

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Top 3 “Fun” Fitness Apps to Keep You Fit for the Zombie Invasion

Congratulations, by clicking on this post you’ve burned approximately 1.42 calories!  Not many love exercising- it is what it is.  Most of us don’t have super active jobs anymore so we need to exercise in order to maintain our health and fitness, or improve it.  I won’t harp on the exponentially rising obesity rates in the United States, because we ain’t got time for that. Games are a great way to motivate us to get on the exercise ball!  The combination of video games and exercise, termed as “exergaming” has steadily been on the rise since Nintendo Wii’s inception. Let’s move on, or just start moving!

3. Nexercise

Here’s a basic gamified approach to exercise that awards badges, points and also uses leader boards (BPL).  You can also win rewards: swag, ie free stuff and discounts to merchandise/services.  Share your results easily with friends to add to the  competition game element.  What’s so great about this app?  If you are competitive and a high achiever, this app will get your started on your fitness journey.  However, there is no storyline in Nexercise and no direct engagement while you are exercising.  This app is more akin to a activity monitor with perks!

2. Fit Freeway

Screenshot of Fit Freeway app during play

Lose weight and get fit playing video games. Really! The key is finding exercise you enjoy – that’s Fit Freeway.

This app will get you racing to use the elliptical or stationary bike!  Fit Freeway is an old-style arcade car racing game.  Available for iOS devices, it uses the iPhone/iPad accelerometer to track your activity while you use the front facing camera to steer your speeding car.  Seeing as you need to hold the phone in front of your face for this app to work properly, you’re going to lose some intensity while running/jogging.  However, the faster or more intense your activity- the faster your car goes!

What’s great about this app?  This is fun and sometimes that is all you need.  The fun factor provides a distraction from gym boredom of staring at the wall or the TV.  However, a review stated the vibration detection to determine the car’s acceleration wasn’t spot on.  Fit Freeway might be left in the dust compared to the next top “fun” fitness app listed below.

1. Zombie Run

Zombie Run 2 logo

Get Fit. Escape Zombies. Become a Hero.

Download either Zombie Run ($3.99) available for iOS or Android.  Zombies are big now, much like most of our waistlines. The premise is you are not undead, but the undead are chasing after you.  While you run, you pick up ammunition and medical supplies that you need for your home base.  You create your own music playlist and in between song tracks voice recordings or radio announcements are made updating you to your storyline.  After your run/jog, you use supplies to build up your home base.

What’s great about this app?  Run or die. The future of humans is depending on you; it’s a race for survival.  It’s a severe thought, but a motivating one if you role play in this situation.  In addition, this game has a creation component that allows you to create a virtual living environment as you are responsible of the success and viability of the home base/township.  Psychologically speaking, this type of activity gives an user a sense of control and accomplishment.  This game has 33 free missions (more if you pay for them) to allow you to level up as you play. In addition, this app easily allows you to share your workout logs with others via social media, like Facebook and Twitter.  Stay alive and go get your game on!

Badges, Points, and Leaderboards: the new black?

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” -William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Welcome back players! As we discussed in the previous blog post, each player plays their game of choice for different reasons and game designers develop qualities to the games to make them addictive.  Designers want you to play the game and when you are not playing the game, they want you to think about playing the game so that you return to playing the game as soon as possible.  They use different game elements to make it so.

Basic Game Feedback Types

  • Blue and gold badge in shape of shield with image of person typing on keyboard and picture of dialog bubble

    The Socialite Badge is given to learners who are able to post in a discussion forum, attach a file and reply to a discussion post. This badge was designed by S. V. King for Florida International University’s ENT4113 taught by Professor Kaihan Krippendorff.

    POINTS: You play pinball and you try to get your personal best high score.  You continue to play the game based on points feedback.  You’re the pinball king (or queen)!

  • LEADERBOARD: Oh no!  You’re not in #1 place anymore, player ZED has bumped you.  Time to get playing to regain your bragging rights!  This is related to points, of course.
  • BADGES: We’re going to talk a lot about badges later (they are the new black).  So let’s say you set up your account in a game and linked your Facebook account, so they awarded you a badge.  You’re like “Cool, that was easy!  What other badges can I get and what do I need to do?”  Badges are related to activities or tasks.  You look at the badges, see the activity requirements and start badge collecting like a rockin’ badger would.  You want them all.  Who doesn’t want bling on their trophy shelf?  It’s a sign of success and accomplishment.

Scaffolding in Games

So how do you get from looking at a game, to playing, and then to becoming engaged.  There’s a lot that goes into game design.  From a player’s perspective once you start playing a game, the game’s scaffolding helps to “hook you” into the game.  You could read this very academic paper on “The Scaffolding Mechanism in Serious Games,” but it might be simpler for me to break down what scaffolding is and how it is used through an excellent example of a never-ending game: Farmville.

Image of woman avatar with six plots for crops in Farmville game

Screenshot of Farmville starting crop plots

When we begin playing Farmville, we are given a set of simple directives: 1) Grow crops, 2) Raise animals and 3) Play with friends in a box with a button that says “Let’s Play” so we know what we will be doing.  It covers the middle of the screen so instinctively we know ( or most people know) to click on “Let’s play” to get started.  We are represented by an avatar in the middle of the screen with 3 plots of dirt- some with crops already growing and some ready to harvest.  A bouncing yellow arrow points to a button on the toolbar.  This let’s us know in the tutorial what we should do next.  Once we click on the appropriate button, a tool tip/message appears telling what’s next.  Things we need to click upon are highlighted or have arrows pointing to them, introducing one feature at a time.

As we complete different functions within the tutorial, we are rewarded with gifts to use within the game, points and within a short amount of time, we level up.  Game designers make leveling up easy at the beginning as we are learning,  so that we feel successful early in the game.  We have a good feeling associated with the game, we’re encouraged to go on and maybe that dopamine kicks in. Once they take us through the basic functions of the game, the tutorial is usually completed.  This is scaffolding- the gentle guidance through short term tasks to complete a larger or more complex activity.  Other games use storytelling narrative to develop their scaffolding structure.  Can you have a game without scaffolding?  Of course, but good scaffolding improves game play- the overall experience of playing the game.

Remember in using gamification, we want to apply these game elements to other activities.  Drop me a comment if you can think of other activities besides games where scaffolding takes place.  Until next time, go get your game on!  Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/tech2games .