Blog Archives

Having “Fun” Without Technology?

Image of a multiplication game praising child on job well done with animated creature

Multiplication app uses game elements of points, immediate feedback and badges/trophies to improve student performance

Today while getting my requisite coffee, there was a cluster of moms.  I know they were moms because they were discussing their young kids, as moms often do with one another.  One woman was struggling to encourage her kids to have fun without technology (no, we aren’t going to go into this topic- this is a tech blog after all).  Another woman said that her younger child wanted a phone like their older sibling (even though the younger kid didn’t understand that the older sibling’s phone didn’t have a phone plan).

Yet another mom said that her kid did better with his multiplication on the iPad (over writing them out)…. wait for it… because he earned points and could earn badges.  Bet she has no idea what Gamification is, but she sees that it works… she identified its benefit.  You can’t seek out a better testimonial than a parent seeing positive results when all they want is for their child to succeed.  Let’s make learning fun, let’s make work fun… because when designed well, there are positive benefits. Education.com has provided a good list of multiplication apps.  Know a better app not on this list?  Drop us a line and let us know!

Games kids play- Your first time?

My first game that I remember playing was Carmen Sandiego followed by Oregon Trail. I’ll tell you a secret if you won’t tell anyone. Promise? Okay, I still enjoy playing both of those games as an adult. I keep playing because I want to beat the games and I want to make it to Oregon faster and with more money than I did the last time. I’m competing with the game myself.

MOTIVATED TO PLAY GAMES?

Photo of person dressed as Carmen Sandiego

copyright (c) 2012 by tr.robinson (flickr)
available by Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

What made you keep playing? This refers to the “stickiness” of the game. Some people play games for a sense of distraction, to make the time pass in a more entertaining way like when they play punch buggy or I spy in a car. While others play to make a period of time more interesting, to up the stimulation ante such as those they playing drinking games during Walking Dead shows or while reading a silly blog post on gamification. However stickiness refers to qualities that make you pick the game controllers back up to keep playing.

So what keeps you playing, player? Were you trying to beat your own high score, to level up or white-knuckled to beat the game? Exploring imaginary worlds or role-playing as a unique character on an epic adventure? Connecting with friends or making new ones? These are some qualities that make games addictive and games are designed to be addictive.

In fact, there’s an app for that- well maybe not an app but at least a website to address video game & Internet addiction. The website is not an exaggeration of conservative folks going off the deep end. From the addiction website, it states that scientist conducted a study in 2005 that found dopamine levels in players’ brains doubled when playing. Dopamine as a mood-regulating hormone is associated with feelings of pleasure, which indicate that gaming could be chemically addictive. If you want to learn more about your brain on games, check out this great article referencing studies by James Gee.

On another note, what makes you stop playing a game you enjoy (or once enjoyed)?

In the next few blog posts, we’ll address WHY games and game elements are important, to identify the importance they play in gamification. Remember that a game does not make gamification make. For example in the reading of the previous blog post (task) that was gamified with a drinking game (game element), you were encouraged to drink more water (behavior change). Think of it this simplified way: Game Elements + Tasks/Activity =Behavior Change.