Gaming What do we mean?While traditional games aim to entertain, serious gaming focuses on learning in its widestsense, whether that’s for simulation, training or marketing. Why are we researching this?The ideas delivered through our current ways of working are less likely to create genuinechange1, the contradictions in people’s demands and the impact of the recession are morelikely to disrupt the way we work than we are used to.Gaming doesn’t provide the unique answer to these tensions. It can however make it easierfor business units to tackle these, especially from a daily frontline perspective. This isbecause the most effective gaming technologies enable you to simulate real life, influencebehaviours, training, improve self help and market key messages virally. Simulating real lifeTraining needs to be far more related to real life scenarios, so that people can anticipate andprepare for working in new ways. However for anticipating crises, you can’t just basescenarios on real life, you need to take a leap into the future.Either way, it’s crucial to involve people who have experienced the scenario to advise you onhow design these into gaming. In terms of preventing everyday crises, combining roleplaying by actors with simulation hardware may also be necessary. Videoing the simulationor game playing can provide crucial content for feeding back, debriefing and caseconferencing. It puts learners on the spot in a safe environment. The mock ward that theuniversity hosts can also be used as a living lab which could be particularly beneficial forchildren and adult social services. Influencing behavioursYou need to develop games in ways that give people a better understanding of what yourteam does and what your customers can do to change the community and their behaviour -helping their friends and enabling them to compete against each other. Given that gamingputs into perspective the wider choices that may not be so visible to us in our daily lives, it isimportant that it gets people to think the game matters to them in real life.1 Known as the “innovator’s dilemma” that an existing system won’t invest in new approaches that threaten to destroy it
Improving self helpBy using gaming to improve support for people in need, you can help them plan, act andreconceptualise self help. In this area, actors are used to either illustrate types of behavioursto gaming developers when designing the technology or to allow attendees to practice theirintervention skills when using the online game in a live environment. The technology in thiscontext would need to be customisable to changing circumstances.Looking at self help for staff, such as when they require updating their knowledge withregards to the new duties they may have, you need the game to bring the perception andemotional connection between the learner and the environment they are confronted with. Market key messages virallyTo improve marketing, you need to develop the game so the scenarios can unfold gradually,run instantly and interactively and enables people to complete a set of actions. How can you develop this? Before even commissioning or developing a game, it is critical to plan out the process; work out who business units want to use gaming and what for, attract people to join the game and train people to make the best use of gaming. As such, testing and developing proof of concepts can provide a trusted environment where these issues can be explored.It’s vital to understand which audience you are targeting when developing gaming, not just interms of whom uses gaming but what they will benefit from using it and how they will be ableto play it. This is why we have engaged business units in areas where gaming can add thegreatest value, to identify with them what the challenges and opportunities are.By focusing on specific issues the game can tackle, people can simulate the impacts of theiractions, so they can more easily identify with them. Involving users in designing the gameIt is important to develop a framework for people to take part – whether that’s providingplayers with incentives and rewards, giving them higher status and the ability to customisetheir involvement or enabling them to collect social points for online transactions. Attract people to join the gameSending a clear message about the work or social benefit of the game is vital given theassumptions about gaming not being “serious – you can do this through drawing lateralparallels with the real world. It can also work better if you mobilise groups who may bestrongly involved in a very niche area within the gaming community. Mixing up real world and virtual gaming
Using the real world as a platform for gaming developed online tackles the challenge ofdigital inclusion and gets people to have to actually change their behaviours to be able tocomplete the tasks. This can help get people to play as if the scenario was really happeningrather than just role playing. This technique, called pervasive gaming reduces the distancebetween seeing what you can do and how can you do something about it. Train people to make the best use of the gameWalking through with people how to use the technology is particularly important if you wantto decide whether to develop single or multiplayer games. This can include making the gametime-limited, changing the visuals and most importantly, starting with simple instructions andmaking it more complex as it develops. What can you develop?It is important to make the technology as universal as possible so that people feelcomfortable, such as using games consoles and GPS enabled mobile phones and mostimportantly working with technology currently used in KCC for developing games. Once business units have planned the process of developing the game, they can actually start developing the technology, working out if this will be produced in-house or commissioned from a gaming developer based on the different resources needed and think up whether they can or need to mix up the virtual game with real world games that they may already be using.What does the analysis show us?Now that many more groups of people use gaming and that the technology can beintegrated with other tools and content, you can involve users in designing them and bringdown the costs of development, not needing to rely on expensive games engines or virtualworlds.Gaming helps teach people without them noticing they’re changing their behaviour. It alsoprovides the flexibility to impact different learning styles – allowing players to temporarily re-organise the tasks they need to complete amongst themselves.Above all, it is important to make the best use of the skills developed through gaming:entrepreneurial games are often more effective than providing guides to set up a business,negotiation games enable people to engage in artificial conflict and confront them withconflicting interests, while cognitive games encourage people around prevention andrehabilitation from poor health.
What does the analysis show us?We want to work out how we can improve ways of working for staff and engaging the public,whether through simulation, scenario planning or other gaming techniques.It’s not sufficient just assuming that the techniques will work. Using analytics to understandhow people behave in the game is also critical to measure success. This can include usingbackground analysis to inform broad scenarios, monitoring people’s journeys through geo-coordinates or SMS texts or simulating real time data to mimic real life conditions.It’s also particularly important to enable the players themselves to use analytics to monitortheir own performance. For more advanced use, focusing on researchers or analysts asusers, you can link up to datasets which can be simulated within the game.Using tools which enable people to write their experiences (or even take photos) andchronicling their own scenarios provides feedback to measure success too. What do we recommend?Research and analysis Explore the benefits and challenges of a longitudinal study to check if gaming influences behaviour in both the short and long term. Research to get better understanding into which particular behaviours may be influenced by gaming Compare well-established methods of changing behaviour and the influence of gaming.Game design principles Script the instructions and steps of the game before commissioning games developer Make time-limited sequences, where visuals can be modified and most importantly, start with simple instructions and make them more complex as the scenario develops Give people tasks that focus on specific issues and ask them to make real changes both within and outside of gaming, especially changes which involve “tough choices” (such as restructures or budget consultation)Techniques that enable players to Choose a crisis at the start of the game and map out what stakeholders they want to simulate Use analytics (such as through SMS, geo-coordinates or real time data) to monitor their performance Write their experiences (or even take photos) chronicling their own scenarios in the game
Gain incentives and rewards, customise their involvement or collect social points for online transactionsChoice of technologies Focus on innovative use of existing gaming technology when deciding which technologies to include in the build, such as games consoles, GPS phones or geocaches Test tools proposed in the Scenario Planning2 review in conjunction with “day in the life” scenario-based games Use video embedded within the game to show people’s emotions Embed analytics that test how people behave during the gameCommunications and engagement processes Focus on organising meetups around gaming to bring together local innovators in this area with people who are newcomers Promote games through viral channels, such as payslips, email signatures, tickets from speed banks, geocaches and forward to a friend tools Develop guides or screencasts to walk through people on how to play the game What resources do you need? A lot of Some Not a lot ofPlease see this visualization to compare the different types of resources required for eachprocess in developing games.2 See Scenario Planning Handover Pack
All contactsThanks to advice and ideas fromClaire Matthews Technology, Research & Kent County Council Transformation, CEDRobert Bromley Technology, Research & Kent County Council Transformation, CEDBill Cordwell Road Safety, Kent Kent County Council Highways ServicesHugh Martyn Leadership, Learning & Kent County Council DevelopmentJames Barrett Primary ICT, Advisory Kent County Council ServiceNicola Parker Training, Children’s Social Kent County Council ServicesSarah Russell Transport Training, Kent County Council Commercial ServicesKirsty Warboys Client Systems Training & Kent County Council Support, Adult Learning & ResourcesDeborah Smith Public Health, CED Kent County CouncilIan Vickery Explore Kent, Environment Kent County Council & WasteIan Whyte Community Safety Kent County Council Training, Regulatory ServicesDonna Henderson Training, Libraries & Kent County Council ArchivesHolly Goring Community & Corporate Tunbridge Wells Borough Planning CouncilAl Smith Communications Newcastle City CouncilMichael Norton Knowledge IDeAAndrew Fletcher Innovation & Imperial College EntrepreneurshipKathryn Summers Health, Wellbeing & Canterbury Christchurch Family UniversitySara de Freitas Serious Games Institute Coventry UniversityRyan Flynn Computing & Mathematics University of GreenwichJason Wilkes Director Innov8 LearningChris Thorpe Director JaggereeDominic Campbell Director FutureGovSteve Jarvis Learning Consultant SELEXDavid Wilcox Director Social ReporterJoelle Butler Student It’s Not A Game