Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Jane McGonigal is a very talented game designer. I met her for lunch in Berkeley when Nipun brought us together with Mike Smolen (dotSUB). She was voted MIT’s top-35 innovators changing the world, for her work in building distributed games. Here is an interesting presentation from her about how gaming would help learning in the future.

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Could games be used to influence behavior? Could guilds, mobs and monsters teach us a thing or two about leadership, decision making, team building and effective communication? The answer is absolutely yes.

I met an interesting Stanford professor Byron Reeves who is focusing all his energies now to create this link between the fun games and the serious business.

Byron says –

If you want to see what business leadership may look like in three to five years, look at what’s happening in online games.

Here is an interesting report by IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook group – virtual worlds real leaders.

Helen Cheng, a level 60 guild leader and a stanford graduate talks about her transformative experience.

Finally, I pushed my button to talk and rallied the troops to revive one another and try again, mostly because I didn’t know what else to do. It was me, this girl, talking to a room of guys. And to my shock and surprise, everyone complied and we got going. That was a defining moment for me, and eventually led to me becoming a guild leader.

Leadership in current times, just like games, could be –

  • A temporary phenomenon
  • Task-oriented
  • Dynamic and constantly changing

Only time will tell where the leadership is headed in the coming decades. I think games are a clear indication of what it might look like in the future.

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Meaningful Games

chrisChris Swain talks about how games would impact our lives in the future. I agree with him. I believe we are just scratching the surface of what games could do with the process of learning and many other social change issues.

He asks the right questions – Can we create games that help people learn even more effectively? Can those games teach us more than the limited things we learn from today’s commercial entertainment games? I think the answer is Yes and Yes.

Chris says –

Games are powerful learning devices that provide instant feedback and sophisticated reward structures. Games let us learn by doing, which is one of the most powerful ways of learning, according to the research. People especially kids are learning machines by nature. We have instincts built into our operating systems to learn about the world through play. Learning is pleasurable to us and games are some of the most engaging learning devices.

His lab just released a game called ReDISTRICTING game.

ReDISTRICTING – The purpose of the game is to educate people about the problems associated with congressional redistricting and empower them to take civic action.

They are taking this concept further and applying to the broader set of issues.

The point here is that we explored an important and hard to explain social issue with a game. People get deeply engaged in it because they experience for themselves. We hope that the game can help drive public discourse about the issue and help affect positive change.

[…] I see the game as a model for how to explore other tricky social issues. Right now I am working on funding a game about campaign finance reform.

[…] People have been skeptical of games in academia for so long that I just assume everyone will doubt me. That is recently changing though. For instance, it was very rewarding when we went to Washington this summer with The Redistricting Game and were welcomed with enthusiasm in the House of Representatives, think tanks, advocacy group offices, and by all kinds of reporters.

[…] Games are interesting because they fit together with all kinds of other research. Imagine: games plus politics, immunology, economics, leadership studies, management, intelligence analysis, art.

His tips for aspiring innovators –

1) Embrace iterative design. Short cycles of prototyping and iteration are more powerful than long cycles.

2) Embrace your user. In the game lab we employ a technique called playcentric design which means the player is at the heart of the process and we continuously test on our target player. Replace the word “player” with “user” and you have a core concept for innovation in fields beyond game design.

3) Understand that the way you present an idea is as important as the idea itself.

4) If you get stuck on a design problem give it a little space and go relax. Your brain will churn on the problem in the background and bring an answer back to you when you least expect it. That’s why you get great ideas in the shower and while driving. If you know this about your brain your life – as someone under pressure to innovate – will be more enjoyable.

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