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Game Thinking - Free Chapter from Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play

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A chapter all about Game Thinking and how gamification fits into the overall scheme of all things games.

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Game Thinking - Free Chapter from Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play

  1. 1. Gamification, Game Thinking and Motivational Design
  2. 2. A chapter from the full book
  3. 3. Like many, my Master used to use gamification as an umbrella term for all game-based solutions. Then, thinking he was clever, he came up with Game Thinking as an alter- native catch all.
  4. 4. Game Thinking Gamification is often used as a catch-all for games based solutions. In theory, this is not a problem, but it can confuse people as to what gamification actually is. That is why Game Thinking is such an important concept in how I personally view gamification and other game-based solutions. I define Game Thinking in the following way; “The use of games and game-like approaches to solve problems and create better experiences.” Those problems could be “how do we engage a new audience” or “how do we help people get to the next stage of this learning”. Game Thinking contains four main categories: Gamification, Game Inspired/Playful Design, Serious Games and Games. Figure 1 Game Thinking by Intent
  5. 5. Game Thinking The categorisations consider the original design intent of the products, whether it was designed to be just for entertainment or for a purpose. Also, the inclusion of gameplay is taken into account. For instance, in Figure 1, Serious Games contain gameplay, the “thing” that really makes a game, where pure gamification does not. However, both are created for a primary purpose other than fun or entertainment. Each of these four segments can then be further broken down. Figure 2 Game Thinking Game Inspired/Playful Design This is where no actual elements from games are used, just ideas. For example, user interfaces that mimic those from games, design or artwork that is inspired by games or the way language is used. It can also be the inclusion of “playful” elements. These do not affect the workings of the system but are there just for some fun. You can see a nice example of this on the Toca Boca website.
  6. 6. Game Thinking On their website, they have a novel way to scroll from the bottom of the page back to the top. Rather than the more common arrow to click, there is a balloon. When you click this, it floats from the bottom of the page back to the top, dragging the screen with it. All of these concepts have links to games but lack anything that you would consider part of the inner workings of a game (mechanics, dynamics, tokens, etc.) I will look a little more deeply at play and playfulness later in the book. Figure 3 Serious Games This group includes full games that have been created for reasons other than pure entertainment. Here I split them into four basic types. Teaching Games This is a type of game designed to teach the player something, for example, arithmetic, coding, or zoology, by playing a real game.
  7. 7. Game Thinking Unlike a simulation, it does not have to be representative of the real world. For example, Phantomation is a game that teaches the player how to use the animation software Play Sketch. Rather than just showing you the tools or simulating them in a dry way, it has you solving various puzzles that need deeper and deeper understanding of the tool as the game progresses. It plays well as a game in its own right. Figure 4 Phantomation Meaningful Game/Games for Good This is a group of games that attempts to get across a meaningful message and promote change with that message. An example of this would be Darfur is Dying. This was the result of a competition run by the Reebok Human Rights Foundation and the International Crisis Group 8. The winning game came from five students from the University of Southern California that placed you in the shoes of a
  8. 8. Game Thinking displaced Darfurian refugee. It aimed to show the hardships faced by the millions of people displaced by the crisis in Sudan. Rather than trying to teach you a tool or a method of doing something, this type of game is trying to inform you about ideas that may never have crossed your mind in a way that is engaging and meaningful. Figure 5 Darfur is Dying Purposeful Game The idea of a purposeful game is that playing it has some sort of real world outcome. Three examples of this come to mind: FoldIt, Tilt World and Genes in Space from Cancer Research UK. FoldIt is a popular game often cited by gamification advocates. Developed by the University of Washington, FoldIt is a puzzle game that sets the player the task of predicting the structure of proteins by folding them.
  9. 9. Game Thinking Understanding how proteins fold can help lead to the development of cures for all sorts of diseases, including HIV and cancer. Humans are good at solving puzzles; so good that in just ten days, gamers had solved one enzymatic structure, potentially a key to curing AIDS, that scientists had been trying to unravel for more than a decade via more traditional methods 9. Figure 6 FoldIt Tilt World, by Nicole Lazzaro, is a mobile game that puts you in the body of the last tadpole – Flip. You must eat carbon from the air in an attempt to restore the sunshine to Flip’s home. Although this may seem like a meaningful game, in that it is trying to promote a message about ecology, the unique thing about Tilt World is that playing it leads to the planting of actual trees in Madagascar 10. As a final example, Genes in Space is a space shooter game that uses gameplay to map genomes to help the fight against cancer in the real world! 11
  10. 10. Game Thinking Gamification As explained earlier, gamification is about taking ideas and elements from games and using them in non-game contexts. I split this into two basic types. Intrinsic deep and Extrinsic trivial. This is very similar to Karl Kapp’s two types of gamification 12, where he talks about structural and content gamification. Trivial gamification is what most people are used to, where game elements are bolted on to a system. You will often see points, badges, progress bars, and the like. Figure 7 Gamified UK with Trivial Layer Gamification Figure 7 shows my own website, with a simple Trivial Layer imple- mentation of gamification. It has points, badges, leaderboards and more. Intrinsic deep gamification is more about using motivation and behavioural design to engage users.
  11. 11. Game Thinking A good example of this can be seen in question and answer sites such as Quora or Stack Exchange, where points and the like are used to reinforce particular behaviours, but do not form the basis for people contributing. A Quick Summary  Teaching Game: Teaches using real games and gameplay.  Meaningful Game: Uses gameplay to promote a meaningful message to the player.  Purposeful Game: Uses games to create direct real world outcomes. Simulation A simulation is a virtual representation of something from the real world, such as a flight simulator. Often this can be hard to distinguish from a game or a serious game, as they look very game like. The difference is that a simulation does not usually need gameplay elements in order to function and fulfil its designed intent. It exists to allow users to practice an activity in a safe environment. Simulations are not a new phenomenon either, with military simulations in one form or another used since the start of organised warfare. The birth of modern wargames and simulations has been credited to Herr von Reisswitz, Prussian War Counsellor and his war game Kriegsspiel in 1812 13. This was a military game / simulation that each regiment was encouraged to play on a regular basis to test out strategies and tactics without having to risk troops.
  12. 12. Game Thinking Simulations can take many forms; physical such as board games or role-playing, digital like computer based flight simulations or business simulations, or blended where you have a bit of both as in augmented reality. Games/Play/Toys Games, play and toys are explained in more detail in the next chapter, however, it is useful to see a short summary of them here.  Play is free form and has no extrinsically imposed goals. It is undertaken for fun or joy.  Games add defined goals and rules to play, like challenges.  Toys are objects that can be used in play or games. Concentrating on games, I categorise them into three basic types. Entertainment Entertainment is what most people would associate with games. Call of Duty, Civilization or World of Warcraft for example. They are designed with the intention of entertaining people in some way, with no deliberate higher purpose. Art Art is subjective. I would consider a game such as Proteus more art than game where some would not. Proteus is a game with little to no gameplay but creates a beautiful and thoughtful experience. It is
  13. 13. Game Thinking entertainment but done in a way that evokes different kinds of emotions to those of standard games. Adver-Games These are proper games created to advertise something. The game is a real game, but at some stage, it is being used to try to sell you something. An example I enjoyed playing, was Elfridges, an old school platformer in the style of Super Mario, designed to raise awareness of Selfridges and its various locations 14. Figure 8 Elfridges, by Selfridges Whilst I am a huge advocate of using “real” games where possible, this book is going to focus more on the pure gamification aspects of Game Thinking. That said, it is important to remember that you should never ignore a solution just because it is not gamification. You build what the client needs, not what you feel capable of doing or fits your personal definitions of gamification.
  14. 14. The End If you enjoyed this chapter, find out more about the full book at play/ Copyright © 2016 Andrzej Marczewski Gamified UK @daverage All rights reserved.

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A chapter all about Game Thinking and how gamification fits into the overall scheme of all things games. Get the full book on Amazon!


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