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2012masielogoWe began the second day of our gamification learning lab once again discussing the use of the term “gamification.” We were challenged to find our own phrase and keep our eyes on what it will be named in the longer term, with the focus on bringing game elements into the design.

The exciting aspect of today’s session was our ability to analyze robots, URLs, and apps based on applying aspects of gamification elements including promoting learning, engagement, and solving problems, as well as their usability and value.

We were fortunate enough to be joined from Mexico by Richard Culatta, the Director of the Office of Education Technology from the US Dept. of Education who spoke about “playful learning,” which translates into not just fooling around and having fun but having a chance to try things out and play through scenarios. He advised us not to get swept away in the large mechanics but to give much more consideration to the minimally viable game mechanics, which is what we did when we analyzed, a game to help students look at decision making. Another of Richard’s points was to never go forward with production on a game unless it can first be fun on paper and to ensure we subject our games to usability testing.

The 3:35 mark in the video below has Richard speaking about games at a previous conference:

Usability testing will help you determine whether your game is valuable, but to determine whether something is valuable, you first need to explore other elements, according to Peter Morville, including whether or not the content is:

  • useful and fulfills a need
  • usable and easy to use
  • desirable and evokes emotion and appreciation
  • findable and navigable and locatable
  • accessible for learners with disabilities
  • credible so that users trust and believe what you tell them

Peter Morville discussing UX at a previous conference:

Then, depending on your corporate culture, determine which of these elements is the most important.

Next, we segued to Leaderboards, which tend to be the number one element of gamification and are considered the entry-level concept to gamification, where leaderboards are defined as an ability of an organization to place themselves in a sequence on a board based on game mechanics. What this translates into is asking yourself how you want to represent learners on a leaderboard. For example, in an Executive Development program, do you want to publish the names of the top 10 executives? Moreover, how will publishing those names help to promote learning and motivate action…all concepts we evaluated during the course of the afternoon and important concepts for you to think through as you consider implementing leaderboards.

Leader Board ExampleWe also played with some existing familiar games and brainstormed ways to apply the same concepts to corporate gamification. And as a post-lunch pick-me-up, we introduced an emotional reaction when one of the lab’s members—me—participated in a hula hoop demonstration. The image of me managing to keep the hula hoop moving gave a whole new meaning to 2 more gamification elements–aesthetics and mechanics–neither of which I’d like to see replayed on video!!