Podcast 16: Can gamification lead to game addiction?

Welcome to this week’s episode of A Question of Gamification. And this week’s episode is all about game addiction. In fact, I had a question this week, can gamification lead to game addiction?

My name is An Coppens. I am the show host for The Question on Gamification, and also the chief Game Changer at Gamification Nation.

Now, I often receive the question, what about my kids, they are always playing Fortnite or they are always playing X-Game. At the time of Pokemon Go, it was Pokemon Go. Today its Fortnite, tomorrow, it may be a new game. And the thing is, game trends will come and go. The one measurable that you always need to look out for is do your kids do anything else but play video games or computer games or tablet games? If they do, then you’re probably fine.

Can gamification lead to addiction? I guess it could. So the honest answer is that anything where we’re rewarding people and making them feel good, which is releasing positive chemical reactions in both the body and the brain can have the impact of achieving addiction. So I suppose the grassroots ingredients are there.

Now, when we look at gamification, most of the time, we’re speaking about business applications or applications that are not focused purely on entertainment, namely work, fitness, health. Now, I know people who are totally into using their Fitbit, and they would often come out with saying, “Oh, I’m addicted to my Fitbit” and “Oh, I’m addicted to my health statistics, etc.” But not to such an extreme that nothing else matters. And this is where I would draw the line.

The place when something becomes an addiction is when the person has to achieve beyond all else beyond all other reason. The fact that the World Health Organization has recently approved game addiction as a real ailment or real addiction is sort of to make the point that anything in too many doses or too much will be detrimental to someone’s health, be detrimental to someone’s well being, both mentally and physically. And those risks exist.

The risk with gamification is that, yes, you may do something for a certain time, for longer,  more often, you may be more committed. But so far, I have yet to come across a situation where gamification has become an addiction.

Gaming can be an addiction if nothing else exists beyond the game. That means no more social life, no more friends, no more work. In fact, the game always comes first. That’s when it gets to that point where you have to win, and would even go as far as potentially ringing the support line of your favourite game, to say, Hey, I’m about to do serious damage, if I don’t get a life, or I don’t get my points back, etc. That’s when we’re really talking about a serious situation.

In those cases, it’s important to work with the individual to make them aware that something is wrong and to also seek professional help to help them through this. This is not something you should tackle on your own or the individual on their own. Like anything, most of us do things for the greater good for and we design for gamification and for games, we want people to become better. We wanted to have every great and positive intention. We also still want people to have a life outside of what we build. So we don’t want them to play all of the time. We don’t want them to be stuck in a game. And I think if your children go through phases where one game is so all-consuming and all-absorbing if they’re still playing with friends, if they’re still enjoying, play sports if they’re still inviting friends over to come and play the same game, it’s okay.

Now if we look at the benefits of gaming, and that is something I often get asked about by parents is like my kids are always playing, and they’re always looking into this, I want to limit their time. Think about it this way. For a lot of introverted kids, gaming is a way of releasing creativity. In some cases, some of the kids manage teams, manage guilds, run missions, and basically have a whole tribe of people of all ages, from all cultures playing in their game.  I think gaming can be a very uniting factor as well.

If I could tell you, last week, we had our first official team meeting in our little team at Gamification Nation, and what was the most uniting factor was actually gaming. Everyone had a story to do with games that actually united. We have a gentleman working for us, who’s niece lives in a war zone, whose only way of having relief of what’s happening outside her door is by playing games. We have a lady working for us whose son also communicates and does amazing things in a game environment, which, if given a chance in real life, he would shy away from because he’s so introverted. One of our other team members said that, in fact, that was him was so totally him. He felt that the games actually gave him a sense of belonging, a sense of team, a sense of achieving something.

So for all the bad rap that we give games, there’s also much good it can do.

Not all games have killing, shooting with weapons and everything in it. Some are sports based, some in the casual game genre involve crushing candies or throwing pigs. Whatever the case may be, there’s always an age-appropriate game to be found for your child, for your team.

I would say, there’s always something you can still do that is fun, that is engaging, and also enriching.

What are the benefits directly even if you’re thinking of recruiting gamers?

They know about problem solving. Because effectively, games are actively seeking out opportunities to problem solve, whether that’s a puzzle, whether that’s something more complex, whether that’s a team challenge.

Secondly, they are often in team environments, they learn about communication in virtual teams because they’re not all sitting around the table in one room. They work together in a tribe. They learn about team management. They learn about managing resources. A lot of games have limited resources, things you need to nurture in order for them to grow, things for you to collect over time for you to unlock maybe new areas. So there’s a lot of very valuable skills that young people and older people learn through the means of games. In fact, it is one of the most natural things we have as a means of learning.

How do children learn their first skills? Well, actually, it’s through experience, it’s through play. So why deprive them of that, just because you may be at risk of gaming disorder. I would say, create a healthy balance. Show them that there is both life in a game and life outside the game. If they are big time into something, let them. Like all things, these things will pass.

If they’re great at it, and they can make a living out of it. Hey, it’s an option just like lots of young people want to be professional sports people. This day and age eSports is actually a viable career for some kids.  The age of cut off for eSports starts at 12 by the time they are 18 years old they are a veteran by age 21 you’re coaching, all because your dexterity your physical responses begin to slow down over time.

So think twice when you’re stopping your children from playing. Look at it from the other side and say, what are they learning? How are they playing? And what is potentially great for them in this space, because there are lots of hidden good things that also come out of gameplay.

The moment when you start to worry when it is taking over all of their life. That’s when it’s time to maybe call in some professional help to see, can you gently get them out of the habits and set them on to a new path?

So a bit of a deep question and a relatively short answer as well. But at the same time, I wanted to give you both sides of the coin, both the good and the bad. Because, like with every good thing, there’s also a flip side.

So thank you for asking your questions, keep them coming. If you like our show, do give us a positive rating. And I look forward to talking to you next week.

The post Podcast 16: Can gamification lead to game addiction? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Podcast 16: Can gamification lead to game addiction?

Welcome to this week’s episode of A Question of Gamification. And this week’s episode is all about game addiction. In fact, I had a question this week, can gamification lead to game addiction?

My name is An Coppens. I am the show host for The Question on Gamification, and also the chief Game Changer at Gamification Nation.

Now, I often receive the question, what about my kids, they are always playing Fortnite or they are always playing X-Game. At the time of Pokemon Go, it was Pokemon Go. Today its Fortnite, tomorrow, it may be a new game. And the thing is, game trends will come and go. The one measurable that you always need to look out for is do your kids do anything else but play video games or computer games or tablet games? If they do, then you’re probably fine.

Can gamification lead to addiction? I guess it could. So the honest answer is that anything where we’re rewarding people and making them feel good, which is releasing positive chemical reactions in both the body and the brain can have the impact of achieving addiction. So I suppose the grassroots ingredients are there.

Now, when we look at gamification, most of the time, we’re speaking about business applications or applications that are not focused purely on entertainment, namely work, fitness, health. Now, I know people who are totally into using their Fitbit, and they would often come out with saying, “Oh, I’m addicted to my Fitbit” and “Oh, I’m addicted to my health statistics, etc.” But not to such an extreme that nothing else matters. And this is where I would draw the line.

The place when something becomes an addiction is when the person has to achieve beyond all else beyond all other reason. The fact that the World Health Organization has recently approved game addiction as a real ailment or real addiction is sort of to make the point that anything in too many doses or too much will be detrimental to someone’s health, be detrimental to someone’s well being, both mentally and physically. And those risks exist.

The risk with gamification is that, yes, you may do something for a certain time, for longer,  more often, you may be more committed. But so far, I have yet to come across a situation where gamification has become an addiction.

Gaming can be an addiction if nothing else exists beyond the game. That means no more social life, no more friends, no more work. In fact, the game always comes first. That’s when it gets to that point where you have to win, and would even go as far as potentially ringing the support line of your favourite game, to say, Hey, I’m about to do serious damage, if I don’t get a life, or I don’t get my points back, etc. That’s when we’re really talking about a serious situation.

In those cases, it’s important to work with the individual to make them aware that something is wrong and to also seek professional help to help them through this. This is not something you should tackle on your own or the individual on their own. Like anything, most of us do things for the greater good for and we design for gamification and for games, we want people to become better. We wanted to have every great and positive intention. We also still want people to have a life outside of what we build. So we don’t want them to play all of the time. We don’t want them to be stuck in a game. And I think if your children go through phases where one game is so all-consuming and all-absorbing if they’re still playing with friends, if they’re still enjoying, play sports if they’re still inviting friends over to come and play the same game, it’s okay.

Now if we look at the benefits of gaming, and that is something I often get asked about by parents is like my kids are always playing, and they’re always looking into this, I want to limit their time. Think about it this way. For a lot of introverted kids, gaming is a way of releasing creativity. In some cases, some of the kids manage teams, manage guilds, run missions, and basically have a whole tribe of people of all ages, from all cultures playing in their game.  I think gaming can be a very uniting factor as well.

If I could tell you, last week, we had our first official team meeting in our little team at Gamification Nation, and what was the most uniting factor was actually gaming. Everyone had a story to do with games that actually united. We have a gentleman working for us, who’s niece lives in a war zone, whose only way of having relief of what’s happening outside her door is by playing games. We have a lady working for us whose son also communicates and does amazing things in a game environment, which, if given a chance in real life, he would shy away from because he’s so introverted. One of our other team members said that, in fact, that was him was so totally him. He felt that the games actually gave him a sense of belonging, a sense of team, a sense of achieving something.

So for all the bad rap that we give games, there’s also much good it can do.

Not all games have killing, shooting with weapons and everything in it. Some are sports based, some in the casual game genre involve crushing candies or throwing pigs. Whatever the case may be, there’s always an age-appropriate game to be found for your child, for your team.

I would say, there’s always something you can still do that is fun, that is engaging, and also enriching.

What are the benefits directly even if you’re thinking of recruiting gamers?

They know about problem solving. Because effectively, games are actively seeking out opportunities to problem solve, whether that’s a puzzle, whether that’s something more complex, whether that’s a team challenge.

Secondly, they are often in team environments, they learn about communication in virtual teams because they’re not all sitting around the table in one room. They work together in a tribe. They learn about team management. They learn about managing resources. A lot of games have limited resources, things you need to nurture in order for them to grow, things for you to collect over time for you to unlock maybe new areas. So there’s a lot of very valuable skills that young people and older people learn through the means of games. In fact, it is one of the most natural things we have as a means of learning.

How do children learn their first skills? Well, actually, it’s through experience, it’s through play. So why deprive them of that, just because you may be at risk of gaming disorder. I would say, create a healthy balance. Show them that there is both life in a game and life outside the game. If they are big time into something, let them. Like all things, these things will pass.

If they’re great at it, and they can make a living out of it. Hey, it’s an option just like lots of young people want to be professional sports people. This day and age eSports is actually a viable career for some kids.  The age of cut off for eSports starts at 12 by the time they are 18 years old they are a veteran by age 21 you’re coaching, all because your dexterity your physical responses begin to slow down over time.

So think twice when you’re stopping your children from playing. Look at it from the other side and say, what are they learning? How are they playing? And what is potentially great for them in this space, because there are lots of hidden good things that also come out of gameplay.

The moment when you start to worry when it is taking over all of their life. That’s when it’s time to maybe call in some professional help to see, can you gently get them out of the habits and set them on to a new path?

So a bit of a deep question and a relatively short answer as well. But at the same time, I wanted to give you both sides of the coin, both the good and the bad. Because, like with every good thing, there’s also a flip side.

So thank you for asking your questions, keep them coming. If you like our show, do give us a positive rating. And I look forward to talking to you next week.

The post Podcast 16: Can gamification lead to game addiction? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Is learning on a road to 0 budget and free for all?

On my travels, I often listen to podcasts and audiobooks. This week I was listening to an interview with Peter Diamandis on the Foundr Podcast. He mentioned that artificial intelligence would eventually make education and healthcare free over time and available to all. The comment sort of stuck in my mind and I started wondering if this could potentially be true?

In our current systems both corporate and governments in most developed worlds, education and learning is big business. It isn’t always the most lucrative of industries, but it still means lots of money floats from providers to schools and companies to provide tools to their students and employees.

One of my favourite gamified language learning apps Duolingo made the promise years ago to provide language learning free of charge and they set up their model in that way. Massive open online courses are being provided often for free by many leading universities, it is only if you want the certification that you actually pay on some. Gamification for learning is often seen as a nice add-on and most companies want it to be as democratically priced as possible and yet at the same time bespoke for the end-user.

From a business perspective, it is a bit of a worrying trend. Now he did say artificial intelligence (AI) being critical to the success of this approach.

In my view, it will take a while and I see a similar trend appearing as in games, where you have a free to play model and a pay to play model. At the moment AI is still developing and whilst innovation in this space is rapid, it is also not yet fully effective. In any case, someone will always need to train the algorithms for them to improve and come up with responses that are desirable. I do think it is only a matter of time before they will prove to be as good at recommending and adapting learning to us as a teacher or trainer is today.

In a capitalist world with venture capital behind most of the companies working in the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, I don’t think totally free works in that space. But I also believe that education should be accessible to all children globally to give them a chance to make the most of their talents. Our current delivery system does need changing and improving, so part of me welcomes this. I think personalisation and adaptive technology at an individual level will be key to have people learn what they actually want to learn and to the best level of their ability.

In my view, learning will remain a combination model with free to play and pay to play solutions. I think school structures, on the other hand, were built to accommodate the industrial age style working during a specific time frame in a mass production style. I think this is where we will see most of the change, mostly from parents taking their children into homeschooling or online/tablet and real-world schooling more appropriate to the needs of their children. Currently, this is not available to all and often a question of access to money, but that is where I think AI will help in creating democratic solutions accessible to more people.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this?

 

The post Is learning on a road to 0 budget and free for all? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Is learning on a road to 0 budget and free for all?

On my travels, I often listen to podcasts and audiobooks. This week I was listening to an interview with Peter Diamandis on the Foundr Podcast. He mentioned that artificial intelligence would eventually make education and healthcare free over time and available to all. The comment sort of stuck in my mind and I started wondering if this could potentially be true?

In our current systems both corporate and governments in most developed worlds, education and learning is big business. It isn’t always the most lucrative of industries, but it still means lots of money floats from providers to schools and companies to provide tools to their students and employees.

One of my favourite gamified language learning apps Duolingo made the promise years ago to provide language learning free of charge and they set up their model in that way. Massive open online courses are being provided often for free by many leading universities, it is only if you want the certification that you actually pay on some. Gamification for learning is often seen as a nice add-on and most companies want it to be as democratically priced as possible and yet at the same time bespoke for the end-user.

From a business perspective, it is a bit of a worrying trend. Now he did say artificial intelligence (AI) being critical to the success of this approach.

In my view, it will take a while and I see a similar trend appearing as in games, where you have a free to play model and a pay to play model. At the moment AI is still developing and whilst innovation in this space is rapid, it is also not yet fully effective. In any case, someone will always need to train the algorithms for them to improve and come up with responses that are desirable. I do think it is only a matter of time before they will prove to be as good at recommending and adapting learning to us as a teacher or trainer is today.

In a capitalist world with venture capital behind most of the companies working in the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, I don’t think totally free works in that space. But I also believe that education should be accessible to all children globally to give them a chance to make the most of their talents. Our current delivery system does need changing and improving, so part of me welcomes this. I think personalisation and adaptive technology at an individual level will be key to have people learn what they actually want to learn and to the best level of their ability.

In my view, learning will remain a combination model with free to play and pay to play solutions. I think school structures, on the other hand, were built to accommodate the industrial age style working during a specific time frame in a mass production style. I think this is where we will see most of the change, mostly from parents taking their children into homeschooling or online/tablet and real-world schooling more appropriate to the needs of their children. Currently, this is not available to all and often a question of access to money, but that is where I think AI will help in creating democratic solutions accessible to more people.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this?

 

The post Is learning on a road to 0 budget and free for all? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Podcast 15: What it the reality of a gamification project?

Welcome to A Question of Gamification, a podcast where gamification expert An Coppens answers your questions.

Welcome to a question of gamification. My name is An Coppens. I’m the show host and chief Game Changer at Gamification Nation. And this week’s question is a build on last week’s question of what are the processes that we use? What are the deliverables that we have? And this week is what is the reality of a gamification project? Because last week, we went through the five steps in our process phases: business specifics, user research, gamification design, development and support. And this week, I want to delve deeper into what is the reality like in a gamification project.

We just finished a major project which took us nine months to get to where we are today.  I’d love to say it was a smooth and easy process and everything worked according to plan. But hey, that’s not reality! In fact, we had from day one, a delay of a number of months, thanks to lengthy terms and contract negotiations and setup negotiations. That’s something which in a lot of cases, and a lot of projects is forgotten about. Procurement typically has a say about everything. Commercial terms, we may have a say about too. In gamification and game design, what we aim to do and how we work is that we aim to retain the IP which is what makes it a win/win for everyone. That way we’re not limited because of one game design that we used for one client, which would tie us down to never ever be able to use that again. It would be crazy for us to sign away. Let’s say the intellectual property for a crossword or an unlocking of content game mechanic, and then to never be able to use that again with future clients.

When we are looking at game design and intellectual property, obviously, anything like branding, graphics narrative that we take from the client or that the client already has, even content that the client already has,  that is retained by the client. We just put that into different shapes and formats.

Always expect to have negotiations in terms. That is one thing. The reality of a project may mean that you spend a lot longer in the procurement and negotiation of the terms phase.

Originally, we had nine months, and then that got shorted down to five months thanks to the lengthy procurement process. That meant some of our design processes had to really work concurrently and in very rapid succession.

I remember doing the business scoping phase in two weeks, at the same time, we launched the user research phase, which had already been started, but because nothing had been signed off, we didn’t have access to the client’s people. So yeah, there is a lot of factors in there.

Did it compromise the level and depth of research? Absolutely. And, you know, that’s the reality. You know, I’d love to say for every project, we do user research with 10% of the target audience, or idealistically, that’s fantastic. In reality, we may only get a fraction of that because of time, because of the budget, because of the due date.

I come from the broadcast sector and in the broadcast sector, you often have a go-live date where the promotion has already started for a program or a movie or a production to go-live on a certain date, even a channel at times. Everything else has to backwards fit into the timeline. Sometimes that’s not too dissimilar to a lot of our game design processes and project. Often the client has a very definite time.

I recall one of the board games we designed, there was a definite conference date. So we had to work backwards from there and say, okay, which printer can still deliver in what time frame? How far can we push the deadline before it has to go to print? And how quick can we work then to make sure that we deliver, so it’s fine. And it’s a great achievement when we do deliver in those very sharp deadline situations, but sustainably over the long run, we can’t do that for every single project. Plus we’d burnout our people, the client may be compromised in quality as well.

For example for the board game, although it won us awards, the first version of the game still needed to be tweaked. And I think we had, if I recall correctly, we had two more or three more iterations before the the final box that the client is now happy with. And they are still building extensions to the existing pack, which is not unusual for board games, for example. And the same with most of our designs, they go live and then new snags are spotted or new feedback comes back and we may iterate we may add on or we may take away parts. So the reality of all our five processes running smoothly and consecutively… Reality is different.

The other side of reality is that certain things come up.

I’ve had in the middle of user research the survey server go down. I’ve had, in the middle of our graphics experience the graphic designer going missing in action. I have to say, we have the graphics covered with in-house graphics now. So unless something seriously happens to our guys, at least we have coverage there. But it doesn’t always be the case. With developers, we have had developers saying they can do stuff and then finding out that they can’t. The same with platforms. We’ve worked with platforms who sold us “Oh Yeah, we have all these bells and whistles. And then when we wanted to use the bells and whistles. They weren’t actually ready yet, or they weren’t actually there at all. They were just oh no, no, it doesn’t work like that it should work like this, where we had to adapt our designs.

In any given realistic project and in any given real experience, there will be things that don’t run so smoothly. The process whilst we still actually stick to the five key headlines of business specifics, user research, gamification design, development and support, they still happen and the deliverables attached to them typically still happen.

Timeframes could vary. The level of access we get to do user research may vary. The level of time we have available to actually do the whole thing may drive, how quick things are done, and how low our good enough bar has to be set.

I’m a slight perfectionist, and people that work with me will know that, ask anybody on the team. You know, there are certain points that I’m not willing to compromise on. There are others that I would say, yeah, this is good enough, it has to be like this to be accepted. And good enough is a variation of “Will it be accepted by the client? Is it playable? Is it delivering on what we set out to deliver in the business objectives?” And then the iterations would come from, “How can we make it from good enough to better ?” And budget will decide some of that. Tools will decide some of that.

The availability of the client is another component where reality may throw a spanner in the works. One of our corporate clients asked me at one point during the proposal phase, they said, “Okay, so how long will this process take?” And I said, “Well, we can get everything you want to get them done in the space of six months. But that means you need to be ready to make decisions when we present you with the documentation or shortly after. She looked at me, and she said, “add three months.”So realistically, the decision making cycles also play a part.

For the nine month project that ended up being a five month reality, we had to fast track some of the items and also go back to the client and say, Well, sorry, we cannot accept any further input for now, because we have to move forward. We had to set deadlines like if there’s no feedback in that, we move forward with what we’ve got. Because some of the time, the feedback loop between client and design and development is also where a lot of time is lost.

One thing I’m always recommending against is designed by committee or development by committee, because the more people that have to look into something, the more I suppose, variety of inputs you have. What I do recommend in most projects, is to have a core project team that has access to the decision makers who can then decide “Yes, we could work with this or no there, there is a bit more to do”. “Or this is not acceptable based on our influencers or decision makers.”

If you have a decision maker, one of them on the team that can group all the other decision makers ideas together, that’s an ideal situation.

Some of the time what we know is that decision makers don’t want to be part of the project team. In those situations, the person and the people on the team need to have access to them in order to confirm, validate, and make sure that you get decisions out of them. Slippage is something to be mindful of.

From day one, keep an eye out for slippage with that I mean time slippage, but also budget slippage, and scope creep.

Usually when people start to see high level concepts and storyboards, then people get excited. “Oh, could it also do this? or Ah, yeah, maybe we can use it for that too. But then it would need a little.” And that’s where our Moscow scenario comes in: it must have this, it should have that, it could have that, but it won’t have such. Those things are important before you even touch the vision and the storyboard because yes, everything’s possible. But typically, the everything’s possible happens with more budget, more people, more time. And in any given project, delivering on time, on budget and for the project to do what it’s set out to do is more critical than to have a scope that is so vast that you have no idea where it might end up.

From my perspective, I always think about project reality. In the recent project, we had a demonstration in front of the client for it one day.  The night before one of the guys pulled an all nighter, the guys in development, pulled several working weekends, bank holidays were forgotten about. I was testing. I had my family testing. You know, my partner is his core to most of our projects, bless him is he’s fantastic. He does love games, thankfully. And he’s also a very patient man.

The reality of a project, how I best best describe it, it’s like you see the duck gliding over to water and below it, there is a whole bunch of people treading water like crazy to stay afloat. Because that is often reality.

In every given project, there’s always a snag, there is always something that pops up that you said how that could have been better, or this should have been like this. But when you look back over a project, when you look back at it, and you’re satisfied to say, Wow, we pulled it off!

This recent demonstration was one, where we had 10 games in a quest for recruitment to showcase employer branding, recruitment and an experience of what a real role would look like for an organisation. When I look back and see where we started nine months ago, and where we got to, I’m actually mega proud that we got that far. And that it looked that good, given all of the constraints that we were dealing with, under the budget that we were given, because we were still working on a very tight budget to deliver the level of delivery that we made.

From one perspective, that is something to always consider.

When you’re a client, looking at the reality of the project, what you see in the proposal, yes, it is, what the phases are like and what we strive towards. Know your budget may have limitations, if you can find more, you can get more done. If you have time to start as early as frickin well possible and in the corporate world that always easy to say. But give feasible deadlines, three months from start to finish can be done. But it’s tight. Nine months for a big employer branding, recruitment exercise is doable, but take it down to five and it becomes a stretch.

Be realistic in the possibilities. And the keep on dreaming up projects and looking for budgets, we’d love to help you achieve those visions.

I hope this gives you an insight into what reality on a gamified project is like.

I love to talk to you more about our experiences. I hope you’re enjoying the show, if you do do give us a good rating and share it forward with friends and people who you think may benefit from hearing this. I love speaking to you and I hope to meet you soon in either real life or on social media. Thank you for listening!

The post Podcast 15: What it the reality of a gamification project? appeared first on Gamification Nation.