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PLAYING IN THE
FLOW ZONE
Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA
Fielding Graduate University
Symposium: Only a Game?
The Promise of Gam...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
The promise of games
Problem Intervention Outcome
GAME
GAME
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Is it ?
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
All games are fun
If It’s a Game, It Be Fun. Right?
Positive Games – Preaching to Choir
Wrong
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Put Games Where Your Audience
Can Find Them
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Design for Flow
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Flow is the
theory of
optimal
engagement
Mihaly
Csikszentmiha...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
In the Flow Zone
•  Challenging activity requiring skill
•  C...
Challenge
Skill
HIGH
AROUSAL
LOW
AROUSAL
Flow Zone
Boredom
Anxiety
USER
PATH
Flow: User Path
Challenge
Skill
HIGH
AROUSAL
LOW
AROUSAL
Flow Zone
Boredom
Anxiety
Decreasing
Challenge
Less
Demanding
Skills
Increasing
C...
Challenge
Skill
HIGH
AROUSAL
LOW
AROUSAL
Flow Channel
Boredom
Anxiety
FLOW EXIT POINTS
Flow Exit Points
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Flow is Motivating
•  Competence
•  Autonomy
•  Relatedness
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Social Capital: Gamers Have Kids
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Case Study: Legends of Orkney
Transmedia Literacy Project
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Literacy Bridge
•  Collaboration
–  Author Alane Adams &
Arti...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Location-Based Game Using
Beacons Technology
•  Bluetooth-ena...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Game Play
•  Each quest is at a new
location in Orkney
storyw...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
•  Game board size and large
number of players created too
lo...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
•  Target core psychological needs
•  (Self-Determination The...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Integrating User Feedback
•  Highlight audience-character res...
2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
Goal Achieved: Young Players Can’t
Wait to Read the Rest of the Story
Thank You
Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA
Fielding Graduate University
prutledge@fielding.edu
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Playing in the Flow Zone: Designing Games for Flow

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Games are played by people of all ages and across all cultures because they are fun. However, we have long separated ‘play’ and ‘fun’ from learning and behavioral change. When games are fun, they are powerful tools because games have strengths strengths that reinforce positive development in human behavior. Two things are critical to successful games: flow and fun. Fun provides the motivation to play. Flow provides the intrinsic motivation to keep playing and facilitate the learning of new skills, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Games can do reinforce all kinds of behaviors, from teaching content and improving health management to staving off cognitive decline. Like any other psychological intervention, the problem is compliance.

Video games and game design support learning, behavior change and problem-solving when they are designed to engage. Creating “Flow zones”: 1) challenges balanced with skill that lead to exploration and problem-solving, 2) immediate and accurate feedback that reward the player’s accomplishments; 3) a sense of engagement and presence; and 4) no “flow break points” where we fall out of fun. Gaming experiences that achieve flow have multiple benefits far beyond any content. They increase self-efficacy, mastery and control, improve resilience in the face of setbacks and encourage problem solving, creativity, and learning. Game-based experiences that are fun lower stress, strengthen social relationships and improve overall psychological wellbeing.

Case study: The mobile game BattleKasters was created to as part of a literacy project. It is a transmedia extension of the world created by author Alane Adams in the young adult series “The Legends of Orkney.” Kids today, especially young adults, don’t read enough. BattleKasters is a way to intersect with young readers and provide an entry point to the exciting characters and adventures in Orkney, igniting their curiosity and motivating them to explore the rest of the world and characters through reading. BattleKasters game was designed to be fun whether or not you read the book. This presentation describes the theory of flow, gives an overview of the game BattleKasters, designed to promote literacy and the adjustments in development that enhanced flow and immersive experience.

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Playing in the Flow Zone: Designing Games for Flow

  1. 1. PLAYING IN THE FLOW ZONE Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA Fielding Graduate University Symposium: Only a Game? The Promise of Games to Advance Health, Education, and Longevity August 6, 2015 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
  2. 2. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO The promise of games
  3. 3. Problem Intervention Outcome GAME GAME
  4. 4. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Is it ?
  5. 5. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO All games are fun If It’s a Game, It Be Fun. Right?
  6. 6. Positive Games – Preaching to Choir Wrong
  7. 7. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Put Games Where Your Audience Can Find Them
  8. 8. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Design for Flow
  9. 9. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Flow is the theory of optimal engagement Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  10. 10. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO In the Flow Zone •  Challenging activity requiring skill •  Clear goals with feedback •  High concentration on activity •  Merging of action and awareness •  Sense of control •  Effortlessness •  Loss of self-consciousness and time •  Doubly rewarding
  11. 11. Challenge Skill HIGH AROUSAL LOW AROUSAL Flow Zone Boredom Anxiety USER PATH Flow: User Path
  12. 12. Challenge Skill HIGH AROUSAL LOW AROUSAL Flow Zone Boredom Anxiety Decreasing Challenge Less Demanding Skills Increasing Challenge Increasing Skills Flow: Game Design
  13. 13. Challenge Skill HIGH AROUSAL LOW AROUSAL Flow Channel Boredom Anxiety FLOW EXIT POINTS Flow Exit Points
  14. 14. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Flow is Motivating •  Competence •  Autonomy •  Relatedness
  15. 15. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Social Capital: Gamers Have Kids
  16. 16. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Case Study: Legends of Orkney Transmedia Literacy Project
  17. 17. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
  18. 18. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Literacy Bridge •  Collaboration –  Author Alane Adams & Artifact Technologies •  Target –  Young adult non-readers who love games •  Goal –  Create entry point to reading –  Link storyworld to mobile game –  Allow players to join book’s characters in story- consistent quests that motivate exploration
  19. 19. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Location-Based Game Using Beacons Technology •  Bluetooth-enabled sensors deliver content as players pass by •  Encourage a range of social interactions in specific locations •  Recognizes players via mobile devices •  Players collect virtual cards, solve quests and cast spells •  Activities link with action in books •  MixbyTM Technology allows live enhancement
  20. 20. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Game Play •  Each quest is at a new location in Orkney storyworld •  Quests teach about native people and creatures •  Goal: collect all wisdom cards and learn secrets to cast Stonefire spell
  21. 21. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO •  Game board size and large number of players created too long between quests •  Lack of cognitive continuity •  Non-interactive upper navigation bar buttons created confusion •  Violation of mental models •  Quest banner information not fully conducive to strategy •  Narrative inconsistency •  Font size and readability •  Perceptual constraints •  Developmental match Development: Testing for Exit Points
  22. 22. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO •  Target core psychological needs •  (Self-Determination Theory) •  Autonomy: Increase Player Control •  New Collection screen to offer card sorting animation •  New Journal offers click-to-zoom full screen •  Swipe to view journal content in gallery •  Easier navigation •  Mastery: Enhanced feedback •  New Spellbook offers snapshot of progress •  Spell unlocks and casting options visualizations •  Connectedness: Improved game play •  Less time between quests increases player interaction Solutions
  23. 23. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO Integrating User Feedback •  Highlight audience-character resonance for better identification and narrative immersion •  Who doesn’t love a bear with a sword?
  24. 24. 2015 APA Annual Convention AUGUST 6-9, 2015 TORONTO, ONTARIO
  25. 25. Goal Achieved: Young Players Can’t Wait to Read the Rest of the Story
  26. 26. Thank You Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA Fielding Graduate University prutledge@fielding.edu

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