Games and Gamification EDUCAUSE Webinar presentation (Mar 27, 2013)


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  • A webinar presentation on Games and Gamification for the 2013 Horizon Report for Higher Education (read more here: ). For more information, contact: Ryan Martinez <> or John Martin <>
  • Today we ’ re going to be talking about the impact of games and the concept of gamification from both the Horizon Report and our own personal interactions with using both in education. If you attended the most recent EDUCAUSE meeting in Denver, you ’ re probably familiar with the idea of using badges, hence this slide. We ’ ll talk more about the idea of badges in a bit, but before that we should probably hit on a definition of gamification .
  • So the relative basics of gamification, and what I believe would be one of the few things that both sides — the PRO camp with theorists such as Jane McGonigal, and the CON camp lead by Ian Bogost — can agree on, and as proposed by Sebastian Deterding is that gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts . So choices that already have consequences get additional elements worked in to either motivate or demotivate you —
  • — eventually changing the way you look at situations and inevitably how you perceive your reality. Or at least modifying things that you already do and adding more incentive.
  • As I stated earlier, there is no shortage of both academics and school administrators looking discussing the proper implementation of a gamified experience. These competitions and conferences are just a handful, and the number increases every single year. Unfortunately, with the massive interest and implementation of gamified environments in learning environments, there are a lot of really bad examples. But I would like to show you an example of what I feel is a great direction for gamification on a wide scale.
  • This is the home page to a USC developed gamified environment called Reality Ends Here . Jeff Watson, Simon Wiscombe, Tracy Fullerton helped create this experiment in 2011. The concept was quite simple.
  • Students from the USC film school could go to the game office to pick up a pack of cards. Each deck was different, and had cards with different properties. Students were encouraged to collaborate with others in their program to produce an artifact based on a combination of cards, and then submit their project to the main office to get points for completion.
  • Here is an example of what the students received. The card on the left is an illustration; the card on the right gets into the game mechanics. The colors on the edges of the cards indicate which others cards you can pair with. Blue has to go with blue, and so on. The numbers on the right corner are points you can earn depending on how you pair them.
  • This card configuration was made by a large group. All of these cards and their properties ended up being this extreme example.
  • There are many examples of products from Reality Ends Here ; this photoshopped poster was the product of all those cards that you saw previously. Which brings me to another issue and what I feel is a primary concern we educators face with gamification: what motivates players (students) to participate in gamified environments . Motivation or more specfically...
  • two types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation
  • To elaborate a bit more on how to differentiate these two types of motivation. Think of it this way. You, on the left, just took a picture of a child family member. The motivation for you to do that ...
  • ... is happiness you feel inside. There may be no other real reward besides that it made you feel good making the other person happy.
  • With extrinsic motivation you complete a task because you expect something in return. So If you see on the slide this looks to be some a chart for a child ’ s work and behavior. If he or she makes the bed in the morning or reads a book they will receive a star. Five stars will give that person a reward. They ’ re not necessarily compelled to do the work because they want to, it ’ s because they ’ re gonna get something cool for doing the crappy work.
  • Edward Deci from the University of Rochester headed up a metaanalysis of 128 studies which dealt with how extrinsic motivation affected intrinsic motivation. They found extrinsic motivation actually DECREASES free will intrinsic motivation . Meaning, those who accomplished goals didn ’ t do it so much for their own growth and sense of accomplishment, but for rewards and achievements given by other people to denote an accomplishment took place.
  • Assessment without purpose (in the eye of the user) is a large oppositional issues in gamification. Because of the talk Schell was invited back to debate social gaming/gamification with Zynga ’ s chief game developer Brian Reynolds. Schell did not discuss the definition of gamification so much as he wanted to go into greater detail about the concept of pleasure. Essentially that if you get pleasure out of something, that is when you will do the action, play the game, etc. But what Schell gets and unfortunately a lot of game and educational game designers do not is that the pleasure is contextual. If we really enjoy doing something it ’ s not necessarily for the extrinsic reward like what is offered as the carrot in many gamified environments. (A lovely look at a Gamification Dystopia in Schell ’ s DICE talk )
  • There was an episode of Family Guy where he and Quagmire are at a party, Quagmire asks Peter if he wants play drink the beer, Peter obliges and drinks the beer asking what he wins. “ Another beer! ” responds Quagmire, and Peter responds “ Oh I ’ m going for the high score ” . This illustrates the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that Schell talks about. It ’ s the pleasure of drinking that really drives Peter ... he was going to play drink the beer anyway because it makes him happy. Same for the episode that parodies Willa Wonka when Peter is trying to find the golden ticket for a tour of the Pawtucket Patriot factory. He just really likes drinking.
  • Ian Bogost is a games researcher who strongly believes that gamification and the implementation of it up to this point is questionable. He thinks gamification is just a corporate ploy to attract more people to their product with additional bells and whistles. He proposes that we use the term “ exploitationware ” as a more correct definition of what exactly these applications and games are doing in regard to our consumer and life choices.
  • As an example of this marketing, or games as propaganda, IDF Ranks , a game sponsored by the Israeli Defense Force, is a social media project where players were rewarded through Facebook or Twitter when they redistributed news posted by the IDF to as they state ‘ let the world know what ’ s really going on in Israel ’ .
  • In IDF Ranks, when the user logs into their Facebook or Twitter account, their activity, their likes, shares, retweets and comments earn points that advance them through IDF ranks. Retweeting something five times is a badge, ‘ learning the truth about Hamas ’ through the IDF earns a badge, as is learning more about recent rocket attacks between Israel and Palestine.
  • Jane McGonigal, on the other hand, would not deny some negative implementations of gamification, but offers a much more positive spin to what Bogost proposes. Her feelings are that there are very powerful motivations in games that can be harnessed to improve the world. (Jane ’ s TED Talk about this is here: )
  • McGonigal ’ s idea is to try to use games for the betterment. According to her she “ believes that many of us become the best version of ourselves ” when we are in these game worlds. She and her group, the Institute for the Future based on Palo Alto, have developed collaborate gamified environments with cooperation from the World Bank and other major groups. One of her newest games, Superbetter, was designed for people to take proactive steps to a better lifestyle, being rewarded along the way.
  • But even though McGonigal ’ s view is very different from Bogost ’ s, she also acknowledges the difficulties in gamifying environments where the player does not want to participate. The game will only work, if you want to play.
  • That is the biggest problem with the early implementation of game layers to real world environments, is that we have rushed to shoehorn in these types of play into our work and education.
  • A not-so-distant Garner report found that up to 80 percent of gamified environments will fail because of poor design. Whether that be people abusing the system or simply not caring enough to play are major questions, and just one of many reasons why while gamification is an interesting proposal to advance training and education, we cannot see it as a panacea.
  • Sebastian Deterding is a PhD researcher at the graduate school of the Research Center for Media and Communication, Hamburg University. In his talk “ Pawned: Gamification and its Discontents, ” Deterding speaks of the perils of unintended kinks in the gamification design. One example was a game sponsored by BMW to support their line of fuel efficient cars. They challenged people to use as little fuel as possible and then record it for a leaderboard in their area. People were really taken with the challenge. Anyone know what happens when you stop at a red light? (PAUSE) What does idling do? (PAUSE) It uses gas. So what uses less gas? (PAUSE) When you just keep going. So drivers starting practicing unsafe driving habits like not stopping at red lights in order to be the better, more efficient fuel driver. These are side effects of design and some of the perils of gamification according to deterding. Simply slapping on game layers to real world environments does not make it better.
  • Both Schell, McGonigal, Bogost, and Deterding acknowledge that game spaces can be powerful motivators if not for playfulness, corporate advertising, or health and critical thinking. As such there is bubbling up another conversation
  • What steps and design techniques can we use in the near and distant future that will make our gameful layers in work and school less like blue and gold stars.
  • And more like actual play? Thank you.
  • Where Gamification is the process of adding game elements to an existing structure — and in education, we tend to think of that something as an entire course — we can also look to games to help teach the specific content. For that matter, we can also start smaller by gamifying any single component in a course, whether content-focused or administrative focused. Or we can just include any already-created game in the curriculum if it can address what we want it to; OR, if your students see a connection, even if we don ’ t! The top row are augmented reality games that John has been involved in creating. The second row is from game jams we ’ ve held as part of classes for high school and college students. The third row are science games created by colleagues in GLS, and the last two rows are some of the games our friends at Filament games have been making.
  • Your students have a life outside the classroom, right? And in that life, many of them play video games that cost millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours to create. How can we compete with that? Well, it ’ s really hard.
  • There ’ s some success (relative success) by simply adding sound effects and badges and levels to what you ’ re already doing; some call this “ chocolate-covered broccoli ” . What many in the Games + Learning + Society research group instead look at, is the learning that takes place in (and outside of) professionally-created games. The GLS conference — bringing together folks fromthe games industry, games scholars, and educators — is a good place to start, as there are sessions on all sorts of games and gamification topics.
  • Or, if you can ’ t come to Madison in June, but want more on videogames and learning sign up for the MOOC taught by GLS scholars Kurt and Constance. Ryan and I are doing instructional design for it. It should be good. But here ’ s the thing about MAKING educational video games — it ’ s hard and expensive to make good ones. So for the next few minutes let ’ s focus on first steps.
  • First, start thinking about learning from the perspective of game players. My colleague Seann Dikkers, at the University of Ohio has been experimenting with bringing gaming elements into the curriculum. What he did was simply change the paradigm of the course structure from one where you start with an “ A ” and maintain it, to one where you start with nothing, and have to earn your way through levels. There ’ s more about it here:
  • He also started to harness student-to-student interactions. Students are better at entertaining each other than you are; social interactions are far more rich and vibrant and emergent than anything you can write into your game. Instead of tightly controlling the game (and “ cheating ” ), let things emerge.
  • We ’ ve heard much about badges lately, and they seem to work for some people (Achievers), so it ’ s hard for me to dismiss their potential. Personally, I am not very motivated by badges, etc. I like to play games that let me play them my way (I ’ m an Explorer). So, if and when you build a game, be sure to create multiple ways to engage in it. If you make it a solitary task about collecting points or badges, you ’ ve alienated many of your players.
  • Here ’ s a simple “ Magic-style ” game we ’ re developing to teach Science Literature research, where you build your deck with articles, using the Journal ’ s Impact Factor (among other things) to figure out values. Then you play them against other players ’ articles. (this card is not complete)
  • Here ’ s a shot and screenshot from a Sustainability game we just finished using ARIS. 120 students walked through six campus buildings to see and interact with sustainability themes. They had roles and goals, and collected items, and were prompted to interact with each other — and it was alright. It wasn ’ t a fantastic game, BUT it was 1) PLAYFUL, and 2) it SITUATED THEM in an authentic environment with real issues, and 3) it got them thinking at a very low level about some of the issues. Most importantly, they had a group experience with all the themes of the class that the instructor can refer back to as she covers them more in depth througout the semester. This one took several hundred TA hours to create a 2.5 hour game experience. (For more on ARIS, see )
  • Here ’ s a similar one done last Fall in ARIS ( for a Folklore class, where 80 students geotagged their campus with 1) a significant place ; 2) a story (inteview); and 3) two examples of folk art (grafitti). That alone made it a wonderfully-emergent and personal game, but the social genius of it was that the instructor had them visit two places that others had tagged, and comment on the Folklore themes and class statuses that were tagged (e.g. what did freshmen tag vs seniors). Was it fun? sort of; it was more frustrating than fun due to technical difficulties of uploading video with bad cell covereage, but it WAS very engaging, and the engagement helped them get through the frustration . This one took ~4 hours to create a 3-week game experience.
  • So start simple and slow! Start by making one week or theme, or one over-arching theme for the semester into an extra-credit game or game-based assignment. Don ’ t make it voluntary, but make the stakes REALLY LOW! Build off the successes and expand to larger chunks.
  • If you shoot too high, be aware that your awesome game that you ’ ve spent 2 years and all your grant funding to build WILL SUCK. I have personally built many terrible games that felt good to me. I was wrong because although, in and of themselves, instructor-created games may be wonderfully educational —
  • ... relative to what your students are playing, the graphics are terrible, the worlds are tiny, the ways to play them are limited, the algorithms are off, they look like educational games — and your students will judge you harshly.
  • Instead, have them make games . The games will actually be worse than yours (which will make you feel smart!), but they ’ ll enjoy making them, they ’ ll engage in critical thinking by integrating course concepts, and they ’ ll enjoy sharing them with the other students — and it ’ s better than a final paper.
  • This “ Chutes and Ladders ” variation uses the TV show “ The Wire ” to start a discussion about Achieving the American Dream. First of all, it raises the question of whether it ’ s all about luck by rolling a 6-sided die to get to the top row. But then notice that when you get to the top row, you have to roll a 7 to win — there ’ s actually no way to win . The game is then over, but now the discussion really gets heated! — this is a teacher ’ s dream!
  • At the K-12 level, Minecraft is being used to teach all sorts of things; it ’ s a creative, collaborative open environment that can be harnessed by higher education as well. See this: (How might this connect with Maker-bots? See this: )
  • Speaking of discussion, we ’ re probably at a point where you may have some questions... so let ’ s end it here.
  • Games and Gamification EDUCAUSE Webinar presentation (Mar 27, 2013)

    1. 1. LEARNINGGAMESGAMIFICATION Ryan Martinez John MartinUW-Madison Games + Learning + Society UW-Madison Academic Technology
    3. 3. THE BASICS (Deterding, et al. 2011)
    4. 4. THE BASICS
    5. 5.
    7. 7. INTRINSIC
    8. 8. INTRINSIC
    9. 9. DECI, ET AL. (1999) 128 Studies Extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation Rewards for tasks completed decreased free-will motivation
    10. 10. You have to find game design that resonateswith what you are trying to do and brings outits essence; mental context. Business travellers(sic) care about status, but if you were at ToysR Us and the cashier announced you were nowa ‘platinum level toy buyer’ you’d beembarrassed; pleasure is contextual. ~ Jesse Schell, 2011
    11. 11. More specifically, gamification ismarketing bullshit, invented byconsultants as a means tocapture the wild, coveted beastthat is videogames and todomesticate it for use in the grey,hopeless wasteland of bigbusiness, where bullshit alreadyreigns anyway.~ Ian Bogost, 2012
    12. 12. Ultimately, the real reward of seeingfriends more often and breaking outsideyour routine has nothing to do with virtualbadges or social life points or onlinebragging rights. The real rewards are allthe positive emotions you are feeling, likediscovery and adventure; the newexperiences you’re having...and the socialconnections you’re strengthening by beingaround people you like more often.Foursquare doesn’t replace these rewards.Instead, it draws your attention to them.~ Jane McGonigal, 2011
    13. 13.
    14. 14.
    15. 15. Side effects of design Deterding, 2010
    16. 16. They are glorified report cards that turngames into work and life into play, andusers into pawns rather than players ...What I’m saying is they’re not necessarilyplayful at the moment.Deterding, 2010
    17. 17. How might we preserve the point in beingpointless?Deterding, 2010
    18. 18. GAMES(add in chat: good examples/ideas you’ve seen)
    19. 19. WHERE TO START?
    20. 20. HINT: Systemize — think in game language
    21. 21. HINT: Harness students — prompt peer interaction Side quests Easter Eggs • First to turn in a project early • First to organize a social event not related to course work • First to publish a project to a larger audience • First to achieve level 10 • First to authentically amaze me with • First to change or modify an awesomeness assignment for something far more difficult to complete. • First to gather & lead a group in class • First to make me laugh • First to be recruited to a group because they had a discrete skill needed • First to make the class laugh during meeting times • First to visit my office • Any/All submissions of course work • First to lead a class meeting online that to a conference or journal accepted wasn’t required for class for presentation • Any/All that knock a class leader off • First to publicly praise another student the leader board after week seven (or student work) as inspiring them to try something new.
    22. 22. HINT: Keep it “open” — let them play their game Acting Killers Achievers harrass, heckle, hack, win, challenge, create, cheat, taunt, tease compare, show offPlayer World give, express, comment, explore, view, rate, share, greet, like, tease curate, vote, review Socializers Explorers Interacting Bartle (1996)
    23. 23. Title: Can Quantum-MechanicalDescription ofPhysical Reality BeConsideredComplete?Journal: Physical ReviewImpact Factor:Times Cited: 5521Article Age: 1935Citations in article: 0ATTACK:DEFENSE:INITIATIVE:
    24. 24. HINT: Dip your broccoli — at least they’re eating
    25. 25. HINT: Dip your broccoli — (at least they’re eating)
    26. 26. HINT: Start small — iterate on successes
    27. 27. HINT: Manage expectations — Set the bar low Consult the command: tome of wisdom! INVENTORY INVENTORY Tome of Wisdom Sword of Grammar
    28. 28. HINT: Manage expectations — Set the bar low
    29. 29. HINT: Have them lead — Set the bar low
    30. 30. DISCUSS?