Introducing myself. Best known as artist incl Magic, Middle Earth ccg, early RPGs Worked on tabletop RPGs, card games, board games, early computer games for Interplay, EA, NWC ALA's poster for NGD
A whole world of information about innovation, creativity, motivation, games, critical and strategic thinking... how games have showed the way... how play overlaps with it all... how &quot;fun&quot; may be the most efficient/effective way to get something serious accomplished. Simon Sinek -- a name I'll bring up again – said &quot; Big ideas inspire and set direction.&quot; Big ideas need to be married to specifics to get things done but the framework here is to encourage you to try out the attitude, imagine the possibilities. I can only provide a thin framework for you to flesh out.
Thinking is, ultimately, all about the ideas we cook up. What catches fire in our imaginations.
Relaxation. Daydreams. Your mind drifts off on its own......going somewhere it hasn't been before.
Something sparks... sets your brain on fire
That's why they call them “bright” ideas.
“ Whatever gave you THAT bright idea??” Creative innovation is dangerous. That's the nature of the beast. The light sabre battle was choreographed in advance, practiced and executed by passionate fans of the Star Wars movies. It was done at lunch hour, interrupting no schoolwork. Students applauded it, for the finesse and skill and sheer exuberance of making a memorable event for the end of their schooling. No one was hurt or threatened. It's easy to envision what can go wrong. It's hard to see new benefits, new possibilities...after all it's new! Fear. Resistance. A lot of times, things stop right here. Wet blankets h ave their place... they stop forest fires before they start; they save lives and property. They also douse possibilities. Weinie roast, s'mores, romantic candlelight dinner... all require live fire. Sometimes, though... great ideas do happen.
Arguably just as disruptive or more so. But here the same passion, joy, exuberance, the same skill in execution was celebrated . It was sought out and put in place at the instigation of the higher authorities. What a wonderful attitude – the playfulness, the encouragment, the … here's that word … what an innovative way to draw attention to what a special place our libraries can be. Someone had to do the hard work to think “what could go right?” instead of (ONLY) thinking “what could go wrong.” Creative innovation also brings out the best. But it shouldn't be limited JUST to the Powers That Be. We should all be playful. It's hard because it's a two-edged sword.
Cognitive dissonance. We are of two minds about creativity, innovation, and playfulness. And that's why it confuses so many, especially in organizations and bureaucracies where hierarchies are rigid. We are very traditional and also cutting edge esp in tech … look at the tech behind this symposium, the # of attendees... We say one thing about ourselves but usu … do the conservative other. It takes courage to be different because someone is always watching you.... and because you can't know which way you'll be judged until afterward. If there is a SINGLE CHALLENGE to today – ammeliorate that dissonance, open yourself to very practical uses of play and fun. Integrate that into leisure, family, relaxation, other lifeworks and career, a more holistic unified self.
Creative innovation is essential – not change for the sake of change, but in response to a rapidly-changing world. We have new problems to solve these days. New problems need a new approach. Old problems still lingering around? They most certainly do! (Seth Godin) Otherwise, you'll just keep doing what you've always been doing, and getting the same results you've always been getting. We know about THAT definition, don't we?
Creative thinking brings out the best. Also, the craziest, the silliest, the chaotic and disrespectful. It requires a culture of trust, knowing you can try to succeed in new ways, even if a particular effort fails. Trust yourself … trust your co-workers... trust your staff... trust that you can weather the scrutiny of the world at large if what you're doing is for the betterment of your life and your world. If that's not reason enough, then... “ What's in it for me?”
All these people are spending a lot of time thinking about what motivates us, what gives our lives and careers joy, meaning, and value. And all of them put weight on the worthiness of having a playful attitude. Daniel Pink's description of intrinsic motivations (“Drive”) are inherent in what makes games and play more fun than carrots and sticks style of work – and result in McGonigal's fab four. Intrinsic motivations run the world. Seriously. Maslow's hierarchy, seeking peak experiences – in life, in games; games show us HOW. So let's look at play in our lives – as it is, as it might be, and ways play already touches you … and ways you can invite more of it in... in your personal life, your career and professional life, and for the services you offer in your libraries.
Advertisers understood us before anyone else. This is the hawt new thing. If you embrace the hype, it is the wellspring of all that is going to shape our lives for the next decade – how we shop, how we socialize, how we live. My LJ article from this Febrary tells you I don't really embrace that hype. I have very mixed feelings about gamification. I think it can be incredibly venial, shallow, and unrestrainedly exploitative. But I have to be honest w/ myself enough recognize that it's also beneficial at times – as someone said on a YouTube comment, “making broccoli that tastes like cake isn't a completely crazy idea.” Extrinsic motivations – carrots and sticks. Low on Maslow's hierarchy: starvation or fear of pain. Move up the pyramid!
On the whole, I think there's no there there. It's blatant exploitative marketing dressed up with lipstick, but it's still a pig. Extrinsic motivations, no real value. Form > substance. In fact, it may be there is no substance at all under the veneer. Advertising only out to change the bottom line … not the person, their life, or the world at large. Like wet blankets, advertising has a place in this world – but Jonathan Blow calls these games “evil” – these games exploit the players and their social connections, designed to take more than they give. Rooted in selfishness. What are your personal values, your philosophy in regards how you treat others? Greg Costikyan, another game designer and writer, recently wrote a lengthy article in Gamasutra (May 24) – unsocial “social” games. You don't actually play with them, asynchronous turns – you don't even play against them. Interestingly, June 1 st release of Empires & Allies , Zynga Facebook game -- press release calls it “strategy combat gone social ... think CityVille meets Risk.” Time will tell if it delivers fun, social interaction, and intrinsic motivators. Foursquare, however, still seems to be on the skids – the motivations are largely extrinsic and that is typically unsustainable.
These examples are the other side of the bell curve (and everything is a bell curve, not B&W). While substantive in content, they are designed foremost to be FUN GAMES. Challenging, rewarding (intrinsically), and that they deliver something valuable in a gamified package. Fun is a tricky Humpty-Dumpty word – playful is easier to recognize. Here, gamification works as more than a cheap advertising gimmick. Still pretty shallow but at least there is something under the gamified veneer.
Those examples are all great and weighty – easy to accept as valuable. The “Serious Games” movement rooted in the idea that if games and play are really all this important, they need to be harnessed to social good and betterment of the world. I'm all for that. But I think it is still falling afoul of the mindset that says “if it's fun, if it's playful, then it's still really not okay unless we dress it up and make it something serious and conscientious.” It isn't either-or. There is room in the world for both … for fun and gravity alike. Oddly... sometimes from exactly the same source at the same time.
Frankly, many educators are way ahead of us. Those who aren't shackled to “teaching to the test” are branching out -- ISTE annual conference whole section on “Digital-Age Teaching and Learning” with 17 presentations on “Games and Simulations” Not the tedious chores of school workbooks. Commercial off the shelf games teach under the radar, are designed to be fun FIRST … and put to purpose of learning in context. Here, teachers – and potentially librarians – frame what's done, give context. You don't have to know you're being taught in order to learn. Situated learning, engaging emotoins, genuine desire for master of difficult-but-achievable goals, low consequence to failure (Gee), purpose aligned with passion. Companies like Mayfair Games and books like this specifically detail how games align with school curricula and state standards. Soooo many resources. No excuse to “gamify” a workbook … it's the same error of trying to build a veneer of form. The substance it wraps may be good, but it is still veneer. Still shallow trickery.
This slide is all about depth of resources. MMO …. tabletop RPG … CCG fan art, fan fiction Literary substance – original, and the epic sources of the original work, and contemporary “read-alikes” of the original works Movies Mythopoeic Soc = non-profit organization devoted to the study of mythopoeic literature, particularly the works of members of the informal Oxford literary circle known as the “Inklings.” We do not have to go far afield to get a lot of great stuff to bring together.
Ultimately – It's all about you .
Something for every taste. This is about attitude, not “my game is better than yours.”
With so much variety, can you really say nothing would interest you? Try something. If you fail at it – and you will – you can get better. Games don't want you to fail permanently; they want you to win.
They're just going to make you work for it – make you make mistakes, and sometimes a lot of them. This is how humans learned for millenia. It's how we learn as little children, playing. It's only in the last century that educators decided it should be done differently, and now those assumptions are being reexamined in light of studies of motivation, the need to develop student engagement, and the evidence that games are doing a better job at both than schools are. Games let you fail – they even MAKE you fail. You learn from your mistakes. You get extra lives. You get resurrected. You hit Restart. You set up the board and start over. You can fail, but keep playing. Keep getting better. In fact, you have to. Resilience... optimism. McGonigal: research = full engagement and joy in failing . Peak experiences failing... you just learned something about how not to do it. Optimism to succeed next time.
Eli Neiburger (AADL), Jennifer Nelson (Hennepin County Library) Beth Gallaway (InfoGoddess) and me at the 2008 Techsource Symposium … the game in front of us is Tsuro.
You have 168 hours every week. Sleep for 56 of them, if you're lucky. You're probably at work 40, maybe 50. That's some 50 hours left over... spare a portion of them for playful activity? Laura VandeKamp's 168Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think... is personal development valuable to you? Is the pursuit of happiness important?
Neilsen report – statistical average in American households, the TV is on 35.5 hr per week. Most of the studies I have read about people who play games as their primary leisure activity or hobby -- something like World of Warcraft, widely called one of the most “addictive” games [and I hate that word used casually in such a non-medical context] – play around 20 hours a week. Jane McGonigal “Reality is Broken” maintains that amount per wk is carrying all the beneficial effects of games … and still less than Neilsen's TV report. Negative effects begin to kick in if you're playing more than 28hr/wk. Social – interactive – mentally challenging – often thought-provoking vs Not particularly social – uninteractive – and last I saw of TV some years ago, the vast majority of shows were anything but mentally stimulating or challenging.
Think seriously about how to have fun but take actions that feel fun. Phx Public once had a speaker, talking on a topic much like this one, who handed out foam rubber clown noses to all the attendees. Even if you're just sitting at your desk doing mindless grunt work, would it feel different if you did that mindless grunt work wearing a clown nose?? Thanks to Mary McKinney of PCPL for the Predict the Winners game played in the branch! Any public contest would do … what is the big sport in your town?
Safety in numbers = community partnerships, business partnerships, and collaborating with a like-minded co-worker. We all know what happens in a horror movie when someone goes off by themselves... Who is doing the really cool stuff in your town?? Get together with the lead people for networking happy hours, prepare talks to be held for the good of the community. Go for the usual suspects – but go for the NOT usual suspects too. Who are they? Don't want to get TOO extreme too fast? Bring in a writer … who is also a game designer. (There's lots of them...heard of RA Salvatore? Matt Forbeck?) or writers talking about game design books … many of them are written with every bit as much passion for the craft as any book on your shelves... Christie Golden ... Eric Nylund...
Get out of your echo chamber. Tech conferences: SxSWi, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) starts TODAY. Game conferences: PAX (PAX East and Pax Prime in Seattle), GenCon or Origins, Essen Fair. Origins and ChiTag have free or discounted memberships for librarians and teachers. Essen is in Germany – what is elsewhere in the world, outside the US? I know Canada and the UK have game conventions like GenCon and such; I've been to them years ago. Australia? Surely you do too?
Teams fulfill visions you can not possibly deliver on your own. John Blyberg 2007 Guerilla Innovation … thought-leaders. Identify them, give them opportunities... or are they “troublemakers and upstarts who need to be put in their place? My library has been holding “Everyone's a Leader” workshops... and it's true. You don't have to have a title to be a thought-leader. Those with titles need to pay attention to anyone, be able to listen to anyone. Those without titles need to believe in themselves and their ideas... and to acquire resilience. Remember the “learned optimism” of games... you can always hit Reset, drop back to the last Save, play another round. Can't get too personally invested in a particular project – some will succeed, some fail. That's okay. How's your resilience? Your optimism? Innovation isn't easy. It's risky, costly, but will you look back in 10 years and say “I coulda been a contendah”
If they don't then they're just managers, and not leaders. Simon Sinek – start with why, and more on the nature of genuine leadership. “ Notes to Inspire”... Great leaders ... overestimate what we are capable of and inspire us to believe the same. here's another... “ The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.”
Google corporate attitude/culture: put in 20% of your time on personal projects that “merely” interest you. Don't wait for someone else... that includes everyone from directors to pages. Share your passion. Be prepared to carry the burden, but those around you should be prepared if you ask for help too.
My thanks to everyone who provides Creative Commons art and imagery!