Gamification | Page 2

Gamification K-12

Apps for kids

Two resources of interest on apps for kids:
– this great article from MindShift: Apps That Rise to the Top: Tested and Approved By Teachers (this is a radio station in California that has an education K-12 blog)
– Also, see the Edululu website, from the great people at TFO, the French-language public broadcaster in Ontario, the most populous province of Canada.


Thumb wrestling for the masses

I love this TED Talk by Jane McGonigal on Massively multi-player thumb-wrestling:
[ted id=1866]
It is a great conference or classroom hack, to break the pace of a lecture while creating an awesome atmosphere. As Jane mentions in her talk, oxytocin, the “bonding hormone” which plays its part in intimacy, is secreted by the brain after holding hands for just six seconds. So this game makes people happy.

The Austrian artist collective monochrom came up with the rules of MMTR, which as available online.
the classic formation
In addition to the classic formation, one could use their other hand to form nodes of a human network of thumb-wrestlers.

Gamification Librarianship

Games of libraries past

Interesting article on the games played in libraries of old:

Playing in the Past: A History of Games, Toys, and Puzzles in North American Libraries
Scott Nicholson
The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy
Vol. 83, No. 4 (October 2013), pp. 341-361

Games and other forms of play are used in today’s libraries to attract underserved patrons, to introduce patrons to other library resources and services, and to facilitate engagement between library patrons. While many perceive gaming as a new library service, gaming services have been part of librarianship since the nineteenth century through chess clubs. During the Great Depression, libraries supported patrons with puzzle contests and developed circulating toy and game collections. Academic libraries built game collections for research and classroom needs, while school libraries collected and facilitated educational games to aid teachers. Video games have been used in libraries to help patrons learn to use technology and to bring groups of patrons together to enjoy shared experiences. The goal of this article is to demonstrate the different ways in which libraries have used games, toys, and puzzles over the last 150 years through both collections and services.

Gamification Information literacy

Gaming in libraries, a special issue of Library Trends

The Spring 2013 issue of Library Trends deals with gaming in libraries (v. 61, n. 4), public, academic or otherwise. The editor of this special issue presents it in light of his recent book:

In my book, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages (2010), I created a model for the library gaming experience that brings together players, the game world, spectators, and library staff and explores how each interacts with the others. On the basis of this model, I developed a set of five Game Experience Archetypes that provides the organizational structure for the book and a basis for librarians to assess the usefulness of games of all types in meeting the goals of their libraries. Librarians looking to create a gaming experience can start by selecting an archetype based on their goals and then choose games that will bring about that game experience. This ensures that the chosen games meet the goals of the gaming program and fit into the mission of the library.
Each of the five archetypes—Social, Narrative, Action, Knowledge, and Strategy (SNAKS)—focuses on a different area of this model. Specific game titles can fit with more than one archetype, so librarians seeking to use games to meet different needs for different audiences should select games that span a variety of archetypes. Social game experiences are those that focus on facilitating social interactions among players; they are useful when a library uses games to forge connections between different groups of patrons. Narrative game experiences are those that immerse players in a story and can be useful for libraries wanting to connect games to literacy. Action game experiences reward physical skill, either with the use of a digital game controller or the manipulation of something in the physical world, and can create a lively game experience that generates excitement in players and spectators. Knowledge game experiences are focused on the knowledge that players bring to the game table and are a good match for libraries meeting educational goals. Strategy game experiences emphasize the decision-making processes that challenge players; these game sessions [End Page 752] tend to be quiet and create opportunities for players to engage with a few others at a deep level.
The goal of this special issue is to take a close look at different library gaming programs. Authors who wrote for the issue were challenged to explore the impact of gaming programs in their libraries. In each of the articles, the author presents a different way of bringing gaming into the library and then explores the impact of these library gaming programs.

Of particular interest for academic libraries is this article:

Brawling in the Library: Gaming Programs for Impactful Outreach and Instruction at an Academic Library
pp. 802-813 | DOI: 10.1353/lib.2013.0016
Angela M. Vanden Elzen, Jacob Roush

Blended Learning Gamification Read Me

Fuller on the future of education – 30 years ago!

On a whim, I purchased access to a bundle of technology articles from the New Yorker, enjoying these long-form essays from the past years and decades. One of them, “In the Outlaw Area” by Calvin Tomkins (The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35), presents iconoclast architect and all-around scientific great Buckminster Fuller, whose work is fully visible from the Montréal skyline since the 1967 World Expo. Image Source: Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike

I was surprised to notice that Fuller had written about the future of education back in the 1960s & 1970s, and sounds like his vision fits with the broader lines of experiential & blended learning:


(Images taken from screen shots on my mobile device of the text as displayed, from The New Yorker, January 8, 1966, p. 35)

Definitely worth a read!

Gamification Inspiration

Musings on Open Data, MineCraft and Libraries

This is a vision I had a few weeks ago, that I shared with colleagues at the Technoculture Art and Games (TAG) research group at Concordia University. It also fits with a conversation I’ve had with Marius Buliga on his blog chorasimilarity about
data visualization, apps and open data (and much more).

It is a bit of a rant, but I wouldn’t want it stuck in some old email folder, not with this blog begging for this kind of weird, pie-in-the-sky, waking dream… essentially, this is a broad sketch of using MineCraft as a data visualization tool…

I love to be handed vague & seemingly impossible challenges. These usually involve plugging random tidbits together so that something can emerge. So, I’ve been trying to figure out something simple yet awesome to do with the […] Library project. Also, someone on this list (who shall remain nameless) said in passing: “it would be great to use minecraft for data visualisation” and that somehow stuck.

Granted, I did not quite know what minecraft was (my bad, Lynn’s lecture fixed that). But since the e.SCAPE conference, I’ve dabbled in gamification of libraries as well as experiential learning (which are related somehow). I’m also reading about the history of books, swarms and how games were used to figure them out, as well as my regular score of copyright stuff (must-write-phd-thesis). Also, something impossible happened in the past 12hrs, both my daughters slept a consecutive 7 hours, and my train was delayed long enough for me to make myself a 2nd cup of coffee. All these sources, sleep and stimulants gave birth to an epiphany (a good friend of mine would call that a brain fart, but let’s not get graphic here).

The […] library system is releasing its datasets in an open format (a friend told me that) – which means that you can download their entire catalogue via an open protocol. So, if librarians construct an intellectual edifice with the books they buy, this analogy can deliver an evolving structure in MineCraft. For example, you could use the Dewey decimal code (which is a proxy to the subject of the book) as well as the location (branch library, a proxy for neighbourhoods) to devise a form of city scape or structure. Collections evolve over time – books are bought or weeded – which makes it into a living thing as this incorporates the concept of time. Also, the library system uses standards to manage its collections (which translate into fields in the catalogue), these rules can be transposed in a virtual representation.

Now, if you think this is cool, imagine if we could get the (anonymous ) data-feed from individual loans made to patrons – we could incorporate a whole new level to the game (swarms of people borrowing swarms of books). In fact, this would allow people in the city to “play the game” by borrowing a book! I don’t know if Minecraft has en engine to run critters in its environment, but we could have a swarm of critters walking all over the place based on the book-loans… or more simply, the structures in the system could somehow change with loans as well.

I feel Borges would have been pissed off if I did not share this fascinating living evolving vivid virtual representation of a library, its use and its impact on a city with such fine folks as yourself. I will let people more adept than me explore the ramifications of such a representation on identity, institutions, swarms, gamification, representations…

The idea is that as a Librarian, we learn how to evaluate a collection – a living organism which evolves over time based on constraints (space, budget, degradation of the material with use). People read books from librarians and librarians read collections. The collection as “edifice” is a strong analogy of how I perceive librarians do their work. MineCraft can be a tool to share this vision of a librarian’s professional work with others.

I call this the Edifice ™ project (which also works nicely in French).


All fun & games

“Playing Outside” is a great essay by Leigh Alexander in The New Inquiey covers much ground on the role of play and fun in games.

An emerging digital ecosystem is emerging outside the contours of classic blockbuster video games. Alexander asserts that:

if genuine legitimacy for games lies in the idea that they can be creative expression, tools of global communication and teaching — that’s the evolutionary purpose of play, after all — fun decreases in relevance. Culture-changing entertainment is rarely described as “fun.”

See also this series of articles from The Economist on the video games industry back in December 2011.

Finally, this interesting article from the New Yorker by Nick Paumgarten called MASTER OF PLAY (profile of Nintendo’s great Shigeru Miyamoto ) and this quote of interest:

The Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga, in his classic 1938 study “Homo Ludens” (“Man the Player”), argued that play was one of the essential components of culture—that it in fact predates culture, because even animals play. His definition of play is instructive. One, play is free—it must be voluntary. Prisoners of war forced to play Russian roulette are not at play. Two, it is separate; it takes place outside the realm of ordinary life and is unserious, in terms of its consequences. A game of chess has no bearing on your survival (unless the opponent is Death). Three, it is unproductive; nothing comes of it—nothing of material value, anyway. Plastic trophies, plush stuffed animals, and bragging rights cannot be monetized. Four, it follows an established set of parameters and rules, and requires some artificial boundary of time and space. Tennis requires lines and a net and the agreement of its participants to abide by the conceit that those boundaries matter. Five, it is uncertain; the outcome is unknown, and uncertainty can create opportunities for discretion and improvisation. In Hyrule, you may or may not get past the Deku Babas, and you can slay them with your own particular panache.

The French intellectual Roger Caillois, in a 1958 response to Huizinga entitled “Man, Play and Games,” called play “an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money.” Therein lies its utility, as a simulation that exists outside regular life. Caillois divides play into four categories: agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (simulation), and ilinx (vertigo). Super Mario has all four. You are competing against the game, trying to predict the seemingly random flurry of impediments it sets in your way, and pretending to be a bouncy Italian plumber in a realm of mushrooms and bricks. As for vertigo, what Caillois has in mind is the surrender of stability and the embrace of panic, such as you might experience while skiing. Mario’s dizzying rate of passage through whatever world he’s in—the onslaught of enemies and options—confers a kind of vertigo on the gaming experience. Like skiing, it requires a certain degree of mastery, a countervailing ability to contend with the panic and reassert a measure of stability. In short, the game requires participation, and so you can call it play.

Caillois also introduces the idea that games range along a continuum between two modes: ludus, “the taste for gratuitous difficulty,” and paidia, “the power of improvisation and joy.” A crossword puzzle is ludus. Kill the Carrier is paidia (unless you’re the carrier). Super Mario and Zelda seem to be perched right between the two.

Notice how it refers to two studies who first addressed games and play. They are about in the middle of the article


Video games at the MoMA

[ted id=1752]
In this TED Talk, Paola Antonelli explains why, as the Museum of Modern Art’s senior curator of architecture and design, she identified 14 games to curate as part of the venerable New York City institution’s permanent collection. The goal is to integrate these games as perfect examples of “interactive design” – a particular section of the design collection.

Of particular interest is the selection criteria used in identifying the games: how we experience time, evolve or use the space, the aesthetics of the game and the design behavior. In addition, I was struck by the goal of preserving the original code of a game – that is seen as an essential element to preserve as part of a museum collection, not just copies of the game and other paraphernalia.

Actually, this is an interesting difference between museums and libraries. Libraries usually collect copies of works whereas museums focus on artefacts. The former are reproductions and the latter are originals (yes, I know sometimes libraries do have originals or artefacts, but they tend to be stuck in “special collections” because they are special). In that sense, the role of the institution is quite different when thinking about the institutional mission of preservation and access.