Last year, gamification was a crazy buzzword indicating a trend that many predicted would be either the savior or the destroyer of education and training. (Playing games at work? But work isn’t supposed to be fun!) Now, it seems like we hear less about gamification just in general, but that isn’t because the idea of using game elements in non-game situations has gone away. On the contrary, gamification has made it into so many aspects of our daily lives that we hardly notice it anymore—if you’ve saved on groceries using a store loyalty card, booked a hotel online, or worn a Fitbit, you’ve been gamified.
Gamification is also working its way into more and more training and development departments. I’m not just talking
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 27, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) like the ones offered by Coursera, edX, and Udacity have been around for about two years now, and over the past year or so, I have written about how they have evolved and the impact they have had on corporate training. Now, after several ups and downs, MOOCs are starting to find their place, and it turns out that place is much larger than could have been anticipated: MOOCs aren’t just disrupting how training is delivered; they are changing how companies interact with their employees and others on a much grander scale.
As organizations continue to expand their use of new digital learning environments, we can identify some MOOC megatrends that are starting to shape up. I’ve touched on many of these trends before, but over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll look at each of these trends in turn, defining them, describing where we are in the process, and identifying challenges in their adoption. The goal for this series is to provide a complete picture of the place of MOOCs in training departments and in organizations as a whole.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 30, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamified simulations can change the way organizations train up; they have the ability to make normal, day-to-day business operational teaching more compelling and interactive. Gamification is just now beginning to be taken seriously within the simulation industry making organizations sit up and take notice. By utilizing game craft techniques we are able to make simulations that encompass serious concepts and bring them to life and mirror the real-world, just without the potential hazards for a wrong decision made and thus making every day ‘average experiences’ much more compelling. The incorporation of game dynamics through simulation is an intriguing concept and one that I am sure is here to stay.
Despite only being recently introduced, gamification is one of the largest movements of our time. When you stop to think about it you’ll realize that customer loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer miles, credit card reward programs and grocery club cards all encompass what gamification is designed to do; and that is rewarding interaction with tangible benefits. This idea is also able to transfer over into other aspects of life, such as a job promotion, being awarded a diploma, receiving a year-end financial bonus, and the list goes on. Although all of these concepts offer a reward in the end, they tend to lack certain elements that create an engaging experience for the user, this is where gamified simulations come into play (pun intended).
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 26, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Can simulations tell stories? The affirmative answer of yes suggests that gamified simulations built around narrative may be considered an anomaly by some seeing as how the term of gamification was only recently introduced. But for us it’s just common practice, so let me delve a little further into what I mean by narrative and how it has a profound affect on a gamified simulation.
Let’s first begin by further explaining narrative. By definition narrative is: A narrated account; a story. Alternatively, it’s the art, technique, or process of narrating. By further characterization, simulations are narratives; they have a story behind them. You can take a seemingly boring topic and actually breathe life into it to make it much more engaging for the trainee to learn. By utilizing a gamified simulation with narrative it aids in creating a story and context for a specific activity and makes learning more palatable.
“Narrative theory states that humans are primarily storytellers, thus people respond favorably to messages presented in a narrative framework” -Morgan, Cole, Struttman, & Piercy, 2002
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 24, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Since the introduction of Gamification a few years back some have begun to define the difference between Gamification Mechanics versus Gamification Dynamics. While there is a thin line between the two and it can be blurry at times, let me attempt to define each in the following post.
Gamification Mechanics: Also understood as verbs of gamification, in essence these are the elements that move the action (aka simulation) forward. Defined as the basic actions, control mechanisms and processes that are used to “gamify” an activity. These actions in which players take (“agency”) and the rules that limit those actions to create pressure (also known as “urgency”) are what make up game mechanics. The problem with the gamification mechanics definition is that is often a vague term to use “mechanics”. In essence it kind of becomes a catchall for operations and their effects. In effect anything that may seem related to how a game operates may be labeled as a “mechanic”. Granted, the essential idea behind gamification is to “just add in game mechanics.”
According to Gamification.org (http://gamification.org/wiki/Game_Mechanics) there are 24 types of gamification mechanics currently recognized, while I won’t define each one individually I will provide a list below of the 24 and most are pretty self explanatory without further definition needed.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 22, 2013 NO COMMENTS
This is your Brain on Games- The science behind gaming that proves gamification and simulation make sense
Computer and video gaming… It’s a $25 billion dollar entertainment business per year which in 2010 sold over 257 million video and computer games. While the first commercial video game hit the market over 40 years ago, the game industry has grown immensely in the past two decades. There are casual gamers and then there are serious gamers…a ‘serious gamer’ may be defined as someone who spends 20 hours a week on gaming or alternatively as an MMO addict that spends his/her days in the basement clocking in 40 to 80 hours a week spent trying to master a game. However, most research exhibits gaming from 5 to 10 hours per week as healthy and otherwise defined as ‘gaming in moderation’. Computer and video games can actually be looked at as a form of ‘brain training’; it’s an intuitive way to learn things (and actually retain what is learned).
When one is participating in a video type of game they enjoy intense determination, focus, a drive to achieve more, positive emotion… all of these are just a few ‘symptoms’ of gaming. Surprisingly, gamers are willing to fail 80 percent of the time. That’s a pretty high statistic compared to what people are willing do in daily life and how they feel they may fail. When you are immersed in a ‘game’ you amaze yourself at what you can accomplish. By participating in a state of play, it brings out our optimism and energy levels and actually has positive effects in a multitude of different ways.
“The opposite of play isn’t work- it’s depression.”- Jane McGonigal
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 15, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Forrester Research (http://www.forrester.com/Gamification+Level+Up+Your+Strategic+Approach/fulltext/-/E-RES95622) recently released a new study that highlights the fact that companies just don’t understand the concept of gamification well enough in order to make it work to their advantage. This helps to confirm the point that I have tried to make all along and that is… Companies and universities for the most part just don’t recognize the unique value proposition that gamification coupled with simulation technologies can bring to the organization to aid in training/teaching learners.
In the study, Forrester states that a company investing in gamification needs to know who their target audience is and what that audience finds as valuable. Also the organization must determine its business objectives and chart an action plan to reach them, and in addition use an “engagement loop to connect user motivations to those actions.” Past failures by some businesses have lead enterprises to question gamification applications even more so then they already were previously. The Forrester report also said, “It’s not gamification itself that fails, it is the poor application of gamification that does.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 20, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamification of Problem-Solving: It’s a relatively new term and may be a little trendy, possibly overhyped, and tends to be misunderstood as a subject. Let me delve a little deeper into painting a picture of what it is able to do (and solve). In essence gamification presents an innovative way to solve real-world problems in a simulated environment. We are seeing proven cases of success of it’s applications and it still has a lot of untapped potential and evolution to take place before making it full circle.
How can you solve problems through Gamification?
According to Karl Kapp, he states that: “It is one thing to teach someone how to solve a problem using gamification techniques; it is another to actually have people work on the problem itself. This is where gamification problem-solving projects like the U.S. military’s game platform for generating multiple ideas for defeating the Somali pirates, FoldIt, and Phylo come into play. Each of these gamified platforms has several similar components that can be employed when creating large scale gamification problem-solving efforts.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 17, 2013 NO COMMENTS
A look back in the history books…
When you stop to think about it we have been playing games in one form or another almost since time began. The meaning and application of games has changed dramatically over the years and although the concept of ‘game’ is not new, the term of ‘gamification’ is. Perhaps one of the first forms of gamification could be noted as a toy introduced through the infamous Cracker Jack box way back in 1912. Nothing really happened over the next 68 years, up until 1980. It was then that Richard Bartle co-created MUD1. This ‘game’ was a pioneer effort to introduce the first known massively multiplayer online game. This was the first time that people could experience a collaboration platform that was interactive (even though not interactive by today’s standards). It was MUD1 and others like it introduced way back when pc’s were more in the dinosaur age of evolution as compared to what they are today that helped to shape what gamification is and will be in the future.
It wasn’t until 2002 that another element of gamification came into play and that was in the form of ‘serious games’. Serious Games can best be summed up in stating that it’s a game, but one that is used for training/learning purposes through simulation, etc. It was this movement and the term coined as ‘Games for Change’ that began lying a path down for the real introduction of gamification. In 2007, Bunchball introduced the first ‘modern’ gamification platform. Since then a whole host of other companies have launched competing products revolving around a gamification-like platform and other systems.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 13, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Have you ever been gamified? My guess is that it’s happened on many occasions without you ever even knowing it. Allow me prove my point. If you are a member of LinkedIn and have strived to achieve a level of completeness on your profile… you have been gamified! If you are a member of a Frequent Flyer Program (FFP)… you have been gamified! If you are a cardholder to a grocery rewards program…you have been gamified! These are just a few of many examples that come to mind that prove that gamification is all around us in a vast majority of things we do and see on a daily basis. By definition gamified elements take advantage of our human psychological predisposition to engage and strive to attain a higher level (or compete against one another). But how are we actually able to measure the effectiveness of gamification?
According to Gabe Zicherman on a recent Huffington Post entry he wrote “Since the beginning of the gamification industry in 2010, over 350 companies have launched major gamification projects. These include consumer brands like MLB, Adobe, NBC, Walgreens, Ford, Southwest, eBay, Panera and Threadless among others. For B2B companies Oracle, SAP, Jive, Cisco, Pearson and Salesforce, gamification has emerged as a key element in their consumerization of the enterprise strategy. And in 2012-2013 alone, consulting behemoths Deloitte, Accenture, NTTData and Capgemini began practices targeting gamification of Fortune 500 companies.”