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Gamification Podcast

The Procrastination Equation with Dr. Piers Steel. The Raccoopod #9

The Procrastination Equation with Dr. Piers Steel Raccoopod #9

The Raccoopod Podcast

Today we are interviewing Dr. Piers Steel, about his book the Procrastination equation.  We’ll look at the equation, what it is and how it effects your motivation for any task at any time.  We’ll also break down 3 methods outlined in the book to get around your habit of procrastination that are applicable to gamification.

LINKS

https://www.amazon.ca/Procrastination-Equation-Putting-Things-Getting/dp/0307357171

https://procrastinus.com/

 

Transcript

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Gamification Podcast

Upgrading Personalized Normative Feedback using Gamification with Dr. Sarah Boyle. The Raccoopod #8

Upgrading Personalized Normative Feedback using Gamification with Dr. Sarah Boyle. The Raccoopod #8

The Raccoopod Podcast

Today we are interviewing Dr. Sarah Boyle today where we talk about her study looking at how gamification made a Personalized Normative Feedback approach more engaging. Her study focused on reducing drinking habits in sexual minority women.

LINKS

Coming Soon

 

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Dr. Aguilar-Cruiz: Using Gamification to teach English to Kids in Colombia The Raccoopod Episode #7

Dr. Aguilar-Cruiz: Using Gamification to teach English to Kids in Colombia The Raccoopod Episode #7

The Raccoopod Podcast

LINKS

If you’d like to follow Dr. Aguilar-Cruiz’s work check out the following links ORCiD (Follow her published studies and other works) https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8386-9104 Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/paola-julie-aguilar-cruz-7b5a681b4/

Transcript

We have an interview with Dr. Aguilar-Cruiz today where we talk about her study looking at using the Bethe1 Challenge app to teach kids English in Colombia.

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Escape Room Design with Craig Bednar – The Raccoopod Episode 6

Escape Room Design with Craig Bednar - The Raccoopod Episode 6

The Raccoopod Podcast

Transcript

On this episode of the Raccoopod we break down escape room design.  What are some unique design considerations and how the design process works for designing an escape room

Zach Bearinger:

Welcome to the Raccoopod. On today’s episode, we’re talking with Craig Bednar about escape room design. Escape Rooms have a bunch of really interesting constraints. And we’ll be talking with Craig, as he goes through how to design an entire escape room, as well as what those specific constraints are. Let’s hop right into the episode. Hello, Craig, thanks for joining us. Why don’t you give yourself a little introduction to our audience?

Craig Bednar:

Sure. So my name is Craig Bednar. I’ve been involved in game design and other kinds of design for a few years now. I think I’ve been trying to design board games since I started playing them. But yeah, when I moved to Vancouver, five years ago, I ended up getting a job working in Escape Room, partly because I was already into board game design, part of a paranormal podcast called wrestling with the paranormal. I think it’s a little bit about myself.

ZB:

Cool. So you’re here to talk about, you know, designing escape rooms, and kind of everything that goes into that. And, yeah, so first, let’s start if people don’t know what an escape room is, what are they? And why do people do them?

CB:

So escape room, I mean, there’s a few different kinds, I think the most general kind is, there’s a little bit of a story. So some kind of theme to hold it together, like a zombie apocalypse, or there’s a virus in a lab or something like that. And then it’ll usually be a series of rooms, and you will be progressing through a series of puzzles. And then a puzzle could be like a word puzzle or math puzzle or something you have to find puzzles usually end up giving you a code to open a box. And then inside the box, there would be new items and new puzzles and things that you need to collect. And they need to like, you know, gain more information and move forward, eventually, you’re going to get through a door into another room. Finally, you’ll either achieve victory, which would be escaping the room itself, maybe there’s a final door, you have to get through and escape. And then when or you just solve some kind of final puzzle, maybe you had to defuse a bomb, or you had to, you know, make create a cure to a virus, something like that, which would then achieve your victory. Usually, their time to actually I think every escape room I ever seen has been timed, players would pay for one game session. And if the time runs out, they would lose. I think every game I also played included hints or clues. So you could call the employees either on a walkie talkie to the escape room. Where I worked we would actually have an intercom on the wall, and we would come into the room and give you the clue. And then that would help you move the game forward. But those clues will be limited. So there’s a bit of a game there thinking like, you know, when do I use my clues? Is this puzzle really stumping us? Should we save them for the end for when the puzzles are going to get harder? lots to think about when you’re doing an escape room, and also like something to do in the group, usually like two to six, three to 10 people in a group.

ZB:

If I remember correctly, a lot of them, they’ll have a leaderboard of the best times and you can’t get on the leaderboard if you use clues. Right?

CB:

That’s yeah, that’s true. So there’s a couple ways of doing it, there were points. And if you use the clue, it would lose you a certain amount of points. So to get a leaderboard, you need to have a really good time. And if you didn’t lose any clues, it would be even better because you’d get even more points. Or yeah, like you said, if you use clues at all, you just pull it up from the leaderboard, the leaderboard has gone through the game with no clues. And that kind of gives like, you know, people are competitive and it kind of gives you something to shoot for. And you kind of make you feel like you’re part of a community as well. Like, you know, your community’s playing this game in your city and it’s like, Oh, give me these guys.

ZB:

You’ve kind of cool someone set up a cross like leaderboard across all the different board games, not board game escape room places.

CB:

Yeah, we were actually going with an idea. It would be independent of where we were working. But we’re thinking of an internet kind of database, almost like there’s one for bicyclists, and it’s routes that you can bicycle, and it would show you how long the average person took. But then people would also post like, Oh, I did this row in this amount of time. And it was like a database online. And we were looking at that book that’d be interesting to implement, either nationally, or even internationally. It was like, Oh, this escape room database, right? We never really got it off the ground. Yeah.

ZB:

All right. We got a little talk about escape rooms and reminiscing about being in person with our friends and exploring these. So a lot of people use Escape Rooms as a team building exercise. What do you think makes them effective at that?

CB:

Yeah, so I worked for years, and I got to see a lot of companies come in. I think it’s really effective because when you’re in a high pressure situation, and it’s a game so it’s not like you know, it’s not very dire, but you know, there’s an applied pressure with the timer. I think it really shows people how to make decisions on the fly. Often what we would see in a room is people all of a sudden chunking the tasks like hey, you should search around the room while I look at this puzzle. For, you know, we even saw teams and this was pretty high level quickly deciding at the beginning of like, okay, who’s gonna be the leader? Okay, you’re the leader. That way if there is any dispute that person just has say in like which way to go? Because sometimes people would argue about something that’s almost arbitrary and waste time doing that, right? Like, we all know, democracy takes a lot of time. So like, what different voting systems work, if you just pick a leader to start doing it, if anything comes down to meeting decision making, then it’s just you, and now faster then. And those kind of dynamics, those kind of group dynamics really helped build people’s like team skills, right? Like it really can get people into the mode of understanding what it is to be a leader like to take on a leadership role and other people’s tasks or also to like, just be someone who’s gonna follow somebody else’s decisions right, then, which is really important at the workspace. So I think that’s part of why they get touted as team building exercises.

ZB:

I also feel like there’s an element of trust building as well. Because while you might want to micromanage everything in the escape room, one person probably can’t finish an escape room by themselves within an hour, they need to rely on their teammates and whoever’s participating with them to be able to finish through all the puzzles, right?

CB:

Absolutely. And like I mentioned before, like chunking time is a really high level, like we saw teams who would just they’re like, famous in the city of just destroying games, that they would just oh, we beat all the games at this establishment, we beat all the games here, reviewed all the games here and like, you know, and then they come over here, and when you watch them on the camera, and if you listen at the door, that you can really hear them, like making decisions like okay, we’re only gonna spend five minutes on this puzzle. And if you don’t get it, we’re gonna call for him, like, you know, they make those predetermined decisions to like, really move them forward, because they know like, we can only spend so much time doing so many things. Yeah. And it’s, it’s interesting that people would spend time getting good at something like escape rooms, right? Like, they’re like to gain skills and like, figure it out. But I also saw certain types of institutions being really good at games. And sometimes it was surprising. Like, we had a team that were basketball players, and they’re all on the same basketball team. They were amazing. They were so good. And I think it’s because their team dynamics were already established on the court. Right? So they already practiced together, they already kind of flew.

ZB:

Yeah, they had a pre-existing, like constant cooperation, because it’s different than going with your coworkers where yeah, you work with them, but you’re not necessarily interacting second, a second.

CB:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

ZB:

Like, it’s like, Oh, we have a meeting once a week. And that’s how we’re coworkers. We’ll work through things then. So let’s start getting into the design aspect. You know, how do you design a room? Do you start with a theme or story? Do you start with some puzzles? What constraints? Do you always have to keep in mind when designing these? That’s a lot of questions. Let’s just go with how you go about designing one? Right? So start?

CB:

Yeah, I think the first thing I say is, you’re never designing, you know, vacuum. And what I mean by that is you’re constrained by your physical space, that’s probably the first constraint that you really need to take into account, I was given the lead design on a room, I already knew, like, these are the three rooms that this escape room can take place in, these are the dimensions of the room, you know, these are where the plugins are like plugs like all those things, like the physical reality of where you’re gonna situate this game, you know, these are the doors that I have to work with, because we can’t afford to, like completely change the doors, right? That’s probably number one. 

Number two is probably player count is actually super important for the business of the escape room, because you’re fitting the game with other games. I mean, unless you’re running a saber that only has a single game, but I was working in place, we had six different themes going at once. First of all, you want to pick a game that maybe is catering to player counts that the other games aren’t catering to. So I was making it like I wanted two players to still be able to do the game, because we do have a lot of two player teams coming in. But we wanted a room that also satisfied at least six players. So then you’re working on a two to six range. And actually player count makes a big difference in design, because you’re thinking about if there’s too many puzzles, it might be just impossible for two people to do it on their own. And you don’t want to sell something to two people and kind of lying to them like oh, yeah, this is possible for you to do and like, you know, it would just actually be impossible. That being said, if you have six players, you want to have enough puzzles, so that each person feels like it’s something so then you’re working in that range, and it’s like, okay, I got to make enough puzzles to do this, but not too many to do that. 

And then yeah, the theme was a big one. Like we would think about a theme. It couldn’t be too close to a theme we already had running at the establishment because we don’t want games that are too similar. You want a theme that is going to attract people that is kind of like in the zeitgeist a little bit. Like you know, like people go oh, yeah, that’s a funny adventure. I can get into the theme. Right? Like that makes sense to me. I did an alien abduction game, you know, an alien spaceship like that’s something that people can like and see in popular fiction. Yeah, movies, they can imagine that it’s a theme that people can roll with right and buy into.

ZB:

Yeah, it was a different theme because I had had the pleasure of doing it before COVID. It was super cool. Theming and different from many of the other ones that I’ve done. I found that especially when I started you know, doing some escape rooms and stuff. A lot of them were like Oh, it’s the torture chamber like they were very violence or like bloody themes, you know, I mean, it was like escape the murderers basement and that kind of stuff. And then I’ve really enjoyed ones that don’t go that route. We did one where we were doing a great Train Heist, so we had to move cabin to cabin along the train, solving puzzles and getting different pieces of loot. It was really cool because it also had a bunch of optional puzzles that were just for more loot.

CB:

Yeah, I like that’s a that’s a neat twist on like the general concept but yeah as to like addressing like why or someone you see they’re just kind of bloody or like and where I worked to, like they have they have like an asylum and they have like a catch a murderer and one right. I think that it’s it’s that the murder and blood and that kind of thing is sensational. And like sensationalism does sell and it does attract people. So I think that these establishments, maybe they just end up moving towards a common denominator, which is well, this is what people are interested in. I mean, it’s the same thing of like, why is most TV procedural dramas about catching murderers? Right? It’s like, well, because of that sensation.

ZB:

So let’s get us back on track. How do you design a puzzle? Cuz I’ve designed some games and some gamification system? Right? I haven’t designed a lot of puzzles. So how is that different? You know, how do you start? How do you tweak the difficulty?

CB:

Right? So we often work backwards, I designed kind of knowing like, Okay, I have this box here. And I needed to open the box. There’s only so many different types of locks that can get in the box. It’s either a letter lock, or a number lock. Or like, there’s lots where you can like a push pattern.

ZB:

Yeah, the directional one. Yeah, or directional? Yeah, exactly.

CB:

So when, if you’re working on a lot of our puzzles, we’re just unlocking a lock. So a lot of times, you’re like, Okay, what kind of information goes into the block? Say it’s a directional lock? Now, I have to think about a puzzle that is somehow based on directions, and how can I do that? That’s kind of the starting point is like, what is the goal? What is the end goal of the puzzle? And you work backwards from that, where you’re kind of like back reverse engineering? Like, okay, the answer, like, let’s just say the answer is like, up, up, down, right? You know, how can I convey information to people where it’s not too easy, but it’s still possible to find that information, and often be inspired by other puzzles? I’ve already, I’d already seen, but I thought, Oh, would you do a new twist on this, right? You know, like, just an example, like a common directional puzzle was like putting things on the four different walls, like often you’re in a room that has four walls, you get some players away to figure out which was North, and then you do information on the different walls. And that’s the different directions they have to pull. But I went to another establishment and saw that they had kind of used that, but they put it on the ceiling instead. So that had like, also made people have to look up and look for different edges of the ceiling. Right? So that’s like a twist on that, like, Oh, you did the four wall thing, but you brought it up to the ceiling. So you added this, like a twist to it. And then I mean, you also want to stay in theme, if you can. I’ve definitely ran through escape rooms that had a theme, but every puzzle just felt like it could have been in any game. Like, oh, yeah, you have this math puzzle that could have gone into any game. It doesn’t have anything to do with your theme. But then I’ve also played games where it’s like, oh, the puzzle actually had a theme, like made sense in the world of the room.

ZB:

But remember correctly from yours. It was completely language agnostic. So there was no English on the inside. And I think you had your own alien symbols. For numbers.

CB:

Yes. Right. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. And that was, that was like, that was kind of the conceit. Like the challenge we had given ourselves right at the start of like, okay, I want to do an alien spaceship. And to create an aspect of realism. Let’s have no English on the ship, right. And we toyed around with different lengths, well, maybe the aliens do those anyway, because they’ve been visiting us so long, or whatever, which is like stuff you see in science fiction. But we were really like, attracted to like, what if it just didn’t have enough English? And also, the other thing, too, is like, we have a lot of tourists. And we have a lot of players whose English isn’t their first language anyway, or they’re not even that strong in English. So this is like a room that’s like, even better to like, advertise or cater to them? Because it’s like, oh, yeah, everybody’s on the same footing here. Like, nobody knows the same language, right? So it kind of flattened the playing field. And that was really attractive to us, but also a huge design challenge, like a massive design challenge.

ZB:

Oh, yeah, I can imagine it was also really fun in it, because you had that added level of design. Alright, so these are symbols I’m used to seeing at all, they’re not letters. There’s not like, oh, 1, 2, 3 it’s just different tick marks on each one. And so you had to decipher it. And it was useful to have a team because we knew from previous puzzles, what certain numbers were for sure. And so we could be like, is it this shape? Yeah, it’s that shape. Okay, and then we will work through things. 

CB:

yeah, there’s, there’s like, there was a deep world building in there that players wouldn’t even see. But the species we had, like, if we’re talking about their numbering system, the species we hadn’t imagined. I mean, they look greys like the Grey Alien, right? If you looked at the model we build like we built this big grey alien in there. We bought these alien clothes. go online. And they had three fingers like they were just two big fingers and opposable thumbs. So something that I thought in my head, I was like, okay, humans have like a base 10. And we tend, and we have 10 fingers. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, or if that’s part of our numbering system, I don’t actually know. But what we were thinking is like, what if their numbering system is like a base three, spaced on threes, because they have three in six fingers. So it’s like a base three and six, basically. So there was like a symbol for one. And then the two checks were basically two. But then they had a new symbol for three, which I think was just a triangle, and then another symbol for six, which was like an empty triangle or something like that. And it was just like, Yeah, let’s go with that like space, just like three, six languages. And then a lot of things in the room. We went with, we bought a lot of things that were hexagons because there’s six, a hexagon is six, right? Yeah,

But a lot of hexes we made hexes, like part of the ship design, because we figured like, okay, they’re basics. And they’re, like, just obsessed with hexagon shapes. Right? Yeah. And yeah, we just had a lot of that, like, carry through to the game. And I think like, even if you don’t notice this, it’s one of those things that like, you just feel like the universe makes sense, even if you don’t know why. But there was a lot of attention to detail put into those worldling things.

ZB:

Yeah, it was super cool. So for some of the puzzles that aren’t necessarily get this clue, like I had one, we had to physically move something around, and we had to find different sticks to go in the different holes to be able to maneuver. I think it was a wine bottle through this whole contraption. So when you design a physical component like that, how do you develop that? Do you start with like a cardboard mock up? Or have you done something like that?

CB:

Yeah. So I mean, we call those dexterity puzzles, or like, just physical puzzles, like we have just have to use your body. It’s not just your brain, which I think is good, because it gives like a like a variety to this game is not just for intelligent people, or people who are good at problem solving or logic. It’s also like, oh, people who are really dexterous or like good with their hands can also feel like they’ve done something.

ZB:

Yeah, it plays to everyone’s strengths and gives them all a moment to shine.

CB:

Yeah. As for building like real objects, like in the room I designed mostly, we use pre-existing toys, and we’d like to reshape them and everything. We make anything from scratch, we make anything from scratch, I have made things so so what we developed was, well actually, for that group, the spaceship, we did use a lot of paper mache in the escape room. And we developed ways of shaping it and hardening it cardboard was used a lot, for sure. Sometimes, Styrofoam packing from things we would use and then just make it harder for paper mache. But I like, I mean, we were constantly searching for weird looking objects, like at garage sales, or the flea market or online Craigslist toy stores. I went to the teacher’s store a few times to just see things they have for nursery and kindergarten nipples, things like that. 

This is just like you’re basically starting to look at the world in a different way where it’s like what’s an interesting object people might be able to use for a puzzle. And like, you know what your example with the stakes in the wine bottle is like somebody just seeing one bowl and thinking like, oh, this could be difficult to get through this passage, right? Like, this is a fun thing to make people do. And yeah, I think that the inspiration can just come from seeing a real world object and thinking like, hey, this could be any puzzle. But just having that mindset of like, how could I use this amount. I mean, often, we were like, when we were working and just kind of into design mode.

 Like my boss would just come he used to come with, he’d have a little cart full of things from the flea market and be like, check out the stuff I’ve got, like, Can you do anything with this, and he just gave me some weird mechanism or something like with this weird clock, or this box was weird. You want to try to do a puzzle with this. And they just like to give us stuff to look at. And like sometimes I would just put something on the work desk in the back. And it would just be there. Like, I just put it there. And I’d look at it like, well, I’m eating lunch and stuff and like, how can I use this? You know, and and just be like thinking about objects and like how human beings could be utilizing them.

ZB:

Nice. Yeah, that’s super cool to hear. Because the physical ones always interest me because I’m like, okay, I can kind of understand, you know, you have letters, directions, or words. And you can start backwards from there. But like, how do you tweak the difficulty of those, and you just get inspired by real world things. And then you let basically the objects speak to you for what kind of puzzle they want to be.

CB:

Yeah, there is a challenge, though, in dexterity puzzles, and we didn’t really do a lot of them. Partly because we’re so busy. The problem is that you also have to think that every single thing you put in the escape room, it might potentially be something that you need all of your employees to be able to help people do. And kind of fast like when people try to do something for a long time and they haven’t been able to do it they call you for and they don’t want you to come in and take like 10 minutes to you know, do the wind blow for a thing or whatever. So your employees have to be well practiced in being able to do that. Like I’ve seen games like that. And I’ve even called for hints at other escape rooms. And what you want ideally is you want the Game Master to come in like swagger and be like, Oh, you guys are having trouble doing this. Let me do it for you and they just do it in two seconds. Like you want them to make it look like it’s easier than it actually is. So they got to be trained and like practiced in doing that. And that can be difficult because I mean, you’re, you’re hiring new people, you’re throwing them in rooms to get hints, like those things just like the bigger picture. Those puzzles can prove to be challenging for skaters for various reasons.

ZB:

So that’s an interesting aspect that people might not consider being tricky to design for and planned for. Are there any other ones in designing an escape room that people might not consider that like, oh, that’s super important, but it is super important to pay attention to and consider throughout the design process?

CB:

Yeah. So I think here, like we get into issues of accessibility and design, right? Puzzles need to be accessible to the broader public, like one of the major ones, I think, and also we tried to strike straight away from this as well . You don’t want to rely on cultural references. Cultural references are very dangerous. Like, we might think that, Oh, if I create some kind of riddle about Alice in Wonderland, like everybody will know that answer, you know, like, who was Alice in Wonderland chasing it, it turns out to be the White Rabbit. But you gotta figure like people who are coming into your escape room may never read Alice Wonderland, they don’t actually know anything about it. And that kind of cultural reference is just going to completely be lost on them. 

So that’s just that’s like an accessibility issue, right. Like other people from other cultures come and play or skate for new tourists and people coming from all over, they seriously, they just might not know certain things. And then there’s like, physical accessibility to like, you know, I’ve done I’ve also done some physical things like where you have to move something heavy, or you have to, like, manipulate something through something. And the thing is, is like, there’s lots of people going through your room, what and what we would hope, like, when we do design is like, Okay, hopefully somebody in their group is able to do this, this physically challenging thing to do. But the thing is, is that you can’t plan for every group, what if you get a group of, you know, older, like older players like that just aren’t able to do this thing. Right. And that can sometimes frustrate them and even make them feel like they’re being excluded from an activity that other people can do. Right? So we would try to be very careful about that. And just like, we want our games to be welcoming to everybody, like all audiences, right?

ZB:

Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Accessibility is always something that can so easily be overlooked, but is super important to consider and maintain throughout your design. So how much testing do you do for escape rooms? And how do you figure out how to tweak something like probably have several groups go through getting average time? And let’s say it’s 15 minutes short? What do you do, then? How do you increase it or decrease it?

CB:

Yeah. So I mean, yeah, I’ll talk about the testing in designing that before games writing first. Because we do like, we kind of did, what video games do where it’s like, new design. And for a while your games are kind of in beta, because the first few groups that go through, like, there’s things that you didn’t see when you were designing that get revealed to you, so then you have to do changes after the game was even released, which is fine. I think even people who are used to playing escape rooms, they kind of knew what to like, we even had groups who wouldn’t come into play the room right away, they wouldn’t wait like six months, because they knew if you wait six months, this game is going to be at its best. If you go the date opens, you kind of get a hit on all the glitches. But yeah, that aside, like just doing the original design, like me, in my place I worked I really liked and I don’t know, other receivers really work this way. 

But all of us were invited to just create puzzles if we wanted to. And you know, someone would come up with a puzzle to get a call, I want to test this on you, they test it on one employee, and then you know, we test the boss would come in and be tested on him. And then you know, like, all the employees, we would just test the puzzle with and see if they could figure out we tie in each other so you could get it done faster. See the end? You know, the boss had a lot of experience, he kind of give us a lot of guidance lines and be like, Oh, wow, like, this is a good puzzle. But it’s really hard to give the hint for this puzzle. You know, maybe you make it so that it’s easier to give a hint for this or for this just this puzzles way too hard, like nobody’s gonna get this. And yeah, there’s the extreme things are easy to see like the extreme like, oh, this was way too hard. Nobody will ever get this, or this is super easy. 

Like, you know, I had puzzles that I tested all the employees and like everybody could get it in like 30 seconds. And then you just know, like, it’s barely worth printing and implementing this puzzle. If it only takes 30 seconds to do. It’s so easy. It might make players just feel like all of the points, you know, if you can’t have positive values, so yeah, and then once a game is running, like we have cameras in our room. So we watch people do puzzles, which is a really interesting thing, like watching people interact with something that you built and just seeing like, Oh, what are they doing that’s unexpected, like, oh, they actually aren’t flipping this thing upside down. 

You know, like, I had a puzzle where it’s like, all you had to do was you had an object and all you had to do was put it upside down and put it into this hole. And it was amazing how so many people just never thought of doing it that they wouldn’t dry. You know, where some people would get an object and they immediately try to stick it in every single workplace they can, right. But some people just get more because it was a pyramid, two pyramids, we, in our minds, we just put them up, right, we think of them as being upright. But it’s like, yeah, all you had to do was put it upside down in this thing. And like, that’s it. So to change that, I think we ran that room and, and then it wasn’t any interesting what to do here. And so many people were not getting it and calling wasting a hint on that, you know, so easy. What we did eventually was, we painted a design on these pillars where you were putting this pyramid and one of them you put upright, which was really easy, and everybody got that. So we put a little upright arrow on that one kind of design with a little arrow kind of weird, even just it was more of a triangle up. And then on the other one, we put a triangle down. And even that simple, just graphic, you know, design, which some people didn’t even see. But for the people who would see it and be like, oh, wait a minute, this arrow going down. So maybe we put it upside down. And that’s the kind of simple tweaking you can do with just like, just paint something somewhere something.

ZB:

Yeah, I do remember going to some escape rooms. And they would have little notes on a bunch of things that this is not a puzzle. Yeah, just have an interesting decoration that’s there. It’s just not part of the puzzle. And apparently a lot of people probably previously had spent a lot of time trying to figure out what are these letters on this empty cup? We don’t know what they are. That’s just supposed to be something pretty to look at.

CB:

I spent a lot of my time working, removing stickers from things painting over or blacking out, like just the manufacturing label on any item because we don’t want the player to think like, oh, this says serial number 1000235. Like maybe that’s part of the puzzle. So our answer was like, we would just try to remove those things like either removing stickers or painting over them even had a Dremel, and I would like to ramble off, like embossed serial numbers, I would just Dremel them off and like make the aim smooth. And like that. Like we would go to that level of just like yeah, we don’t want people to be confused on red herrings. So we’re just gonna get rid of all these numbers. But yeah, I’ve seen other escape rooms, I think, yeah, one of the more popular establishments in Vancouver would put hazard tape on things that were part of the game. Like it was kind of, they would show you in your room. They’d be like, oh, yeah, and anything with this tape is off limits. And that was an interesting thing to do. Right? Because it was consistent. And people were going to older rooms and all that. Yeah. Anytime you see that tape that that item is just not playing a game, that part of the wall just isn’t interesting, kind of imagined that?

ZB:

Yeah. So you’ve talked a little bit about all the other games that you’ve played? Because I assumed I would design a bunch of them and design good ones. You did a lot of play testing? Is there anything about those that you’d like to share any cool design insights that you got from some of them?

CB:

Like other rooms that I played at other places?

ZB:

Yeah, or players playing your own games? And until that moment of inspiration, or?

CB:

Yeah, so I kept a journal while I was working, like an escape room Journal of every escape room I played, I would always write down like, you know, what inspired me how I, if I felt they use the theme, or they didn’t use the theme that Well, I really liked, like, I was really impressed by Some games where everything would come together at the end. And just kind of have a good final moment. But another thing about escape rooms, which is, you know, similar to other game design is like, you want to design these moments where like people can have a moment somewhere in the game. So like one game was a vampire hunting game, and you’re hunting Dracula, and you’re collecting these like weapons and items that you need to fight Dracula at the end. And you’re carrying this thing around with you being like, oh, we need this and I need to put it in the Vampire hunting kit, and you’re carrying this kit around with you. And at the end, in the last room. Every item you had collected, like holy water and garlic and all these things. They were each used in a puzzle. And it was like all came together at the end to defeat this villain. And I was like, Oh, that’s really cool. Like, I like that brought the whole game live. 

It also had an interesting theme, you know that it made sense to carry these objects like you feel like you’re a vampire hunter in training like finding these things and figuring out how to use them to kill the vampire. I remember being really impressed with that other one. I mean, I played one recently. I don’t want to spoil games that are still running right now. But I played a time travel one that the way they did the time travel was genius. Like I was a wow. And like they they made it because they it was only a two room escape room. But they really made you feel like you were jumping into different time zones with only those two rooms and it was just Yeah, it was really well dining like, like, even somewhat subtle, I would say or like low budget kind of but like oh man, I actually felt like we were time travelers and this didn’t cost them a lot of money. So I thought that was cool. Cool.

ZB:

Is there anything else about designing Escape Rooms you’d like to talk about?

CB:

It was like, Team design, if that makes sense that we would design on a team. And almost necessary like I don’t know, I guess one person could just design escape rooms on their own. But I feel like the way that you want an escape room to cater to different players as they’re coming in, you almost want different elements to come in from different designers, right? Like, you know, some people on our team were really good at designing like dexterity puzzles or things where you move things around. And some people were really good with that, like we had somebody on our, that was in our staff for a while, who’s really good with math books is really good with math and like, which also helped too, by the way, with like, measurements and dimensions and like figuring out, how build, like certain props in certain like, big room pieces. We also have a lot of things to do like, I don’t know, if people realize how expensive building rooms can be. Because if you need to hire carpenters do things or if you need to hire electricians to do things like that’s super expensive .It’s not actually that lucrative a business because you can only charge so much only so many people come in, it’s more busy on the weekends and evenings, obviously, you only have a limited time to actually sell your product. It’s a tough business. 

A lot of the design work we did was like, just our own sales, like we did a lot of our own carpentry, I did a lot of my own, like, you know, amateur wiring and everything and soldering and stuff like that. And it’s really like, it’s a lot of work. And a lot of it has done more of the love of design and just wanting people to enjoy these games than it is really to make money because it’s all a reminds me of the board game industry in that sense where it’s like it’s more being done by people who love the industry and just love the games themselves. And it’s not necessarily some of that lucrative business where people are just trying to cash it in, because there’s other ways to make money.

ZB:

For any viewers who would be interested in checking out your escape room if it’s still running, because I think you had mentioned it had shutting down for the pandemic

CB:

Yeah so I was working for Locked Canada, Unfortunately because of the pandemic our management had decided to shut down. This was also due to the lease being up so they shut down the games. There is a chance that Locked Canada will open in the future somewhere in the future, probably the pandemic. I know that some escape rooms are still open and powered through. Obviously there was a large period of time where you couldn’t do an escape room at all. Now it’s a little more acceptable. I was still working at the start of the pandemic and we had decided that this isn’t safe anymore. At first we were wiping everything down and spacing out our games. Wiping down every single surface wasn’t manageable. 

For the escape rooms that powered that must have been a lot of work. We were going through so much Disinfectant, and the amount of material to clean all of the rooms. If people are looking to reconnect with friends after this pandemic. If you feel safe I would recommend that you go try one.

ZB:

Yeah, follow the regulations.

CB: 

Yeah depending on regulations and whatever’s happening in your city. If you can go and escape rooms are open, I’d encourage you to check one out. It’s an awesome hobby.

ZB:

Absolutely, talking about them has got me jonesing to do one.

At the start of the episode you had mentioned that you were on a different podcast. Would you like to tell our viewers a little about it and where they can find it?

CB:

Yeah so, it’s not design related. I’m on a podcast called wrestling with the paranormal. Each week tackle a paranormal topic, talk about it, give our opinions on it. Talk about it, what we think is really happening. Some of our theories are really out there. We aren’t always scientific as it’s more for fun. The Channel is actually F’N Wrestling on youtube. Aaron also does a weekly wrestling podcast, so if you are into wrestling check it out. He also sells sheets on prowrestlingtees.com. He’s starting a little podcast empire and I’m glad to be a part of that. It’s been interesting researching the different topics and seeing what people are claiming has happened. Yeah, have always been interested in the paranormal.

ZB:

Thanks for joining us today

CB:

It’s been a pleasure

ZB:

Thanks for listening! If you’re interested in learning more about our app development services or how gamification can help your organisation, feel free to book an exploratory call today and meet the pack at Raccoopack.Media! Also share this podcast with your friends and follow us on social media @Raccoopack Media

 

Wrestling with the Paranormal Podcast: https://youtu.be/SSooDzRRAxE




 

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Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation- The Raccoopod Episode 5​

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation - The Raccoopod Episode 5

The Raccoopod Podcast

On this episode of the Raccoopod we break down Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation.  What it is, why it’s important and how we use this understanding when designing a gamification system.

Transcript

Welcome to the Raccoopod! Where the goal of our podcast is to give you the insights into gamification, what it is, and why you should consider it for your applications. I’m your host Zach Bearinger, and Today we are going to be exploring the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  What are they and how do we use them in gamification to better our users?  Let’s jump in 

So lets first off look at defining Motivation as it’s important to understand motivation itself before we break it down into it’s intrinsic and extrinsic components.  Ok so from very well mind  Quote “Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.”  So motivation is why a person does something and is the driving force behind human behaviour.  Easy to understand, so how do intrinsic and extrinsic motivation fall into that definition?  

Both of these terms are looking at where the motivation is coming from, whether it is coming from outside or inside.  Extrinsic motivation is when your motivators come from forces outside yourself commonly in gamification this can be points, levels and rewards.  Intrinsic motivation is where you feel that you are motivated to do something because you want to, either because you find it enjoyable, or see it as an opportunity to learn or grow.

Ok, so simple enough extrinsic is things that are motivating you that are outside of you and intrinsic motivation is you doing something because it’s a thing you want to do for a personal reason.  So how do we use these concepts when designing gamification?  For us we take cues from self determination theory, which we will do an episode on in the future.  But it looks into how to get someone from being extrinsically motivated to intrinsically motivated.

For gamification applications that are designed to help users develop a skill or habit knowing and utilising the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  Surface level gamification is choc full of extrinsic motivation, points, levels and in-app rewards.  By only adding such mechanics you can add extrinsic motivation but without the feeling of accomplishment that intrinsic motivation provides you’ll have a hollow experience.  By the nature of gamification, developing extrinsic motivation is easy but you have to set a plan for shifting users to intrinsic motivation.  How you should approach this depends on what you are gamifying, as the end goal will differ if you are gamifying a course or a treatment plan.  Some will provide a natural draw into internal gamification, such as with a fitness app.  

Let’s run with the fitness example to go through how a user will move from external motivation to internal.  So a user is looking to get more fit and has chosen your gamified application, you have them set goals, join some groups/challenges with other users in the same boat.  Your gamification mechanics keep encouraging the user to start exercising.  At this point they are extrinsically motivated.  Now they start getting fitter and start to enjoy exercising and start noticing their abilities improve.  They start trying new exercises and sports, they start to enjoy feeling fit and now workout not just to progress in the app but also because they feel better after working out.  At this point they are starting to shift into mostly intrinsic motivation.  The user starts setting goals outside of the app, joining a group to go on hikes and races.  They are doing different exercises because they see the intrinsic value now.

That’ll wrap up this podcast about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we hope that you are clearer on what they are, how to use them and why it’s important in gamification.

Thanks for listening! You can find the podcast on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google podcast.  We’d really appreciate subscribers, feedback and shares to help grow the podcast.  If you’re interested in learning more about our app development services or how gamification can help your organization, feel free to book an exploratory call today and meet the pack at Raccoopack Media!  If you have any suggestions for future episodes message us on social media @Raccoopack.media  two c’s two o’s have a great day.

 

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Jay Cormeir: Applying Gamification to Employee Training Conventions – The Raccoopod Episode 4​

Jay Cormeir: Applying Gamification to Employee Training Conventions - The Raccoopod Episode 4

The Raccoopod Podcast

What does a gamfication project look like on a large scale?  On this episode of the Raccoopod we talk with Jay Cormier about how he designed a gamified system for training of hundreds of employees in one convention.

Transcript

Zach Bearinger:

Hello, and welcome to The Raccoopod. Today we have an interview with Jay Cormier. And he’s going to go through a Best Buy training gamification, where he took the traditional Best Buy training, and added gamification for increased engagement. Let’s hop into the interview. Alright, so our guest today is Jay Cormier. 

Hello, Jay. 

Jay Cormier:

Hi, there.

ZB: 

So, for our audience, who are you and what experience do you have with game design slash gamification? 

Jay Cormier:

Yeah. So I’ve designed, I don’t even know now actually, over 15 Different games that are published out in the world. I’ve also become a board game publisher, and have published my first game called Mind Management, which is out on the shelves right now. And I teach board game design at Vancouver Film school, as well as Langara college. And I’ve done a bunch of escape room creation for corporate events. And then my day job, which is probably what we’re mostly talking about here, and the gamification, as at Best Buy Canada. And for 10 or 15 years or so I worked in the training department. I’ve been there for 25 years. So I’m trying to put together all the time I’ve been in the train department. And for the last three years of that time, I’ve been in video production for the last five years. But the last three years that I was in the learning department, I was in charge of running all of the Canadian training events where we’d bring in hundreds of people from all different parts of Canada to a large training event. And I had to organize all that. 

ZB:  

Okay, so this training event, that’s the big gamification project that you came on to talk about, right? 

JC: 

right. Yeah. Yeah. 

ZB:  

So what’s kind of a high level view of this project?

JC: 

Oh, sure. So maybe even for a little bit of background is that I always added not gamification, really, but games, to training events. And so like one training event was themed after the Olympics. And so we would have the Olympic events, and there’d be some, just more activity based, hardly gamification, just having more fun with it. And so that led up to a point where I really wanted to take it to the next level, and really gamify an entire live training event, if you can imagine with, you know, I don’t know how many people there six or seven hundred people they’re learning from all across Canada.

The concept, the high level concept is that we kind of themed it after a Zelda type world where everybody’s playing an adventurer. And they have to accomplish quests go out and talk to vendors that were located in what we call the dungeon, which was the trade show floor, they had to do these quests and they had to go to a town hall, which is located in the middle of the dungeon, they had to get their quest verified. And they would earn experience points and they trade them in to level up. And they would literally wear their name badge and it would slide in and out their current level. So throughout the day, and the multi day event that this was. You could look around and see what level everyone else was at. And it acted like a nice little kind of passive peer pressure of like, wow, that person’s level six already Holy crap. How do you do that? There also were boss battles. And I don’t know how much like whatever details you want me to get into, but it was massive.

ZB:  

It sounds really cool. Yeah. So will it look like before the gamification you know, how would a typical training event like this go?

JC: 

Yeah, that’s a good question. So usually, the live training events would have, you know, a day or two of classroom to classroom training for attendees, and they would all rotate through various classrooms to keep the classroom size small. In the class they’d learned something hands-on with the vendor, or with sales or something like that, from this by themselves. And then on one day, or one afternoon, or something like that, we’d have a big trade show. And they would go in groups, and there sometimes would be a bell every 7 to 10 minutes and they’d rotate. From the time spent at each booth they’d learn from all sorts of other vendors that didn’t have enough information to warrant a whole, you know, half hour training session, but they had enough to warrant a 10 minutes of like, Hey, look at my stuff. And here’s, here’s how it works, the whole concept being that they would then go back to their stores, train the rest of their employees about all the stuff that they saw, and hopefully, therefore, the sales would increase. Okay.

So the end goals of the training were to, you know, get people more fluid with sales in the Best Buy ecosystem and stuff, right,

and the product knowledge of the products so like, how does this fridge work? How does this work, what’s the difference between this TV and that TV? That kind of stuff? Okay.

ZB:  

I see. So that was the end goal. Were there any other constraints that you have to keep in mind for making your gamified approach?

JC: 

Oh, for the gamified approach. So, these always cost a lot of money. So you know, over a million dollars events, these words kind of thing, this was what they cost. And that would be shared by the vendors who would often pay money to be part of these events. Because, you know, they knew that that was going to help them in the long run, if they got in front of salespeople that were selling their product directly, that would help them immensely. So they would often share the load of the costs. And so there’s definitely a lot of approval processes. And so for the normal pre-gamification, he was pretty straightforward. It was kind of the same old, same old every year, and we were into a rhythm and like, you know, there wasn’t much to do to kind of get approved, because everyone kind of understood the concept. Unless I was trying to pitch like, hey, this year, we’re doing these wacky Olympic things. And here’s how this works. And then you have to kind of pitch that or whatever. 

But this year, the year that I started the gamification, it was a big thing to try to get people to understand. And it was really challenging, not just internally from getting my boss and boss and the execs and other VPs and everybody involved to really understand what’s going on. But even then it trickled down to the vendors. Because in the past, the vendors would pay for, you know, how much time am I getting with each employee at a booth, and you’re like, Oh, you’re getting seven minute, you’re getting 10 minutes, they would pay according to how much time they would get. But my proposal specifically for the tradeshow portion of the event, there was absolutely no schedule. And that was frightening for everybody. Because vendors were like, I’m paying money, how much time am I getting? And I couldn’t, I couldn’t tell them. I’m like, listen, they’re going to have these side quests that have them come around to the booths. 

We have the side quests worked in, such that we had, I think 10 different side quests. And they were basically a piece of paper that had multiple choice questions from booths in one certain area, like just this one, you know, for these four booths, for example. And you’d have to go there, and you’d have to learn enough to answer these questions. And so I worked with the vendors in advance to ensure that the questions were things they couldn’t just Google that they really had to find out from the booth. And they’re like, oh, that’s how you open that, or I tell you to demo that aspect. And like, oh, so things that they really, really learned. And so that started to help them understand the value of this. But up until launching it, there were a lot of question marks from a lot of people. And I think I benefited from a shift in my old boss to a different role, like right when this was kind of getting pitched and a new boss came in. And he was a bit hands off. And by the time he kind of started understanding what I was doing, it was way too far along in the process. So I’m like this is what’s happening.

ZB:  

Okay, nice. So with the side quest, it sounds like, you know, the targeted goal with those was learn new information that you can’t google that the different vendors want you to have.

JC: 

Yes, so it was that was the purpose of those on top of that, and they would everyone carry a binder around with them. So they can kind of keep these side quests and their information, so they could take it back to the stores afterwards. But on top of that, there were on the map, the dungeon map, which was the tradeshow floor map, there were specific booths highlighted a certain color. And so there’d be three booths all over the place highlighted red, and three, highlighted orange, and whatever. And there were a bunch of these. And if you went to each of those red ones, for example, they would stamp your map saying that you visited them. And then you could take that back to the town hall in the center of the dungeons trade show, and there’ll be NPCs there literally wearing a vest. And on the back of that NPC for those that aren’t gamers, that means non player character. 

ZB:

That’s great. 

JC:

That’s so great. And then and they would show that, like, Hey, I didn’t know what was gonna happen. But they were told this in the rules, that you go to the town hall and show them that you’ve been to all three of those special ones. And like, Oh, you’ve been to all three of those, okay, then an NPC would go down and grab a card and give it to that person playing with just a player, that player employee. And the card would have a room number in the hotel that we were in and a specific time at 230 Go to this room, like what? And so they had this mission now that 230 was a key to a room at 230. And anybody else that got finished that question around this, they would get the same card. So it was really neat, because you wouldn’t necessarily go with your friends, you would go with just random people that finish the class at that time. So it was really, really neat. And so what would happen is they go to this room on a different floor or something like that in the hotel, and they go into this room like what’s going on here. And those same three vendors where they got this key from are again in this room. 

And this part was really interesting, and really, I think quite different than any other event. And I’ll give some context before I tell the story is that at a lot of training events, we you want to often test or validate that the information that you’re training has been retained. And so sometimes that’s been done with a quiz. Like at the end of the event, we’ve literally sat people down and done a big quiz and then based on the quiz gets maybe some prizes or something like that. Sometimes we’ve done it back in the store and they get a quiz. So We’re trying to validate. Is this worth it? Are you learning something? And so this is the first time that the validation has been done like right there during the training event. So they come into this room, and those three vendors are there and a big monster is there. 

This is a boss monster battle. And, and it was all pixelated, like a kind of old Zelda type looking thing. Okay, monster and on a big metal board. And the concept here was, they would be asked a question that they should have learned at their booth, like, Okay, so from our booth, you might remember we talked about this, how does that work? Or whatever the question was, and then somebody would answer correctly, they were given basically a sword magnet. So the concept was a little fridge magnet, and it was a sword. And they had to, they had a chance to throw this magnet onto the boss monster image, but they had to stand on a line. And depending on what level they were at, they had to could stand closer and closer, if they were a little level they to stand really far away, ah, and the higher the level they got, the more they could do it. 

They had literally exactly 10 minutes, a 10 minute timer from when they started to what it ended, is how much time they had to do to kill this boss. And so they had to throw it and then the magnet would have to make sure it hit a port part of the boss. And then there were these heart magnets on top, they would have to take a heart magnet off for every time they got to hit. There were some other areas on the board that was a counter hit counter strike, counter attack. And if they hit that accidentally, then they would lose a heart, every player had three hearts that they had. And if you lost, if you lost enough heart, you had to go back to the town hall, and you had to get a potion to bring it back to life. 

So there was all these intricate things, there was hidden, hidden stuff, we gave vendors and we hid around like bow and arrows. And if you ever had a bow and arrow, it was a free shot, like you didn’t have to throw it, you just literally place it wherever you want. So it’s a free hit, but you have to find them. And they were tricky. There were random monster encounters, where every so often randomly, maybe one every half hour, there was that monster, you know, kind of like you’ve encountered a monster, and any vendor that maybe didn’t have anybody at their booth at that time. If they wanted to participate, they could hold up this sign that showed that they had a monster. And if you weren’t doing anything yourself, you could run over to that booth and interact with that vendor, possibly again. And they would ask you a question of like, hey, how does this work in this thing? So it’s another validation tool in the middle of the event, and it kept some vendors that maybe thought they had nobody at their booth, this might get people back at a booth as well. So it was pretty exciting.

ZB:  

Okay, nice. It seems like you’re using a lot of unpredictability and hidden content to get people to engage with it more.

JC: 

Yeah, that really lights up the brain when you find things you’re not expecting, that really gets people excited.

ZB:  

And I do like how for your validation that people learn things that you get it right, you have a chance that it’s going to work. It’s not Oh, I got the question, right? Of course, it hurt the boss, it’s, oh, now I have to do a skill testing thing.

JC: 

Yeah, and it really reinforced the idea that I got to level up, because this is hard. Because if you kill the boss, you get I think 10 or 20 experience points, usually getting like one every booth or something. So 10 experience points is a lot, and I’m just gonna help you level up a lot. And if you don’t kill it in 10 minutes, everybody is in the room, they don’t get that 10 experience when they walk away empty handed. And so that really motivated them like okay, hold on, I got to level up before I go to my next boss. So yeah, that was pretty interesting. It’s pretty cool. 

ZB: 

So what made gamification a good fit?

JC: 

Well, I think it accomplished all the goals of making sure the vendors and to clarify, so day one of the event, it was still the same kind of classroom tread training, but they were giving out experience points, even on day one. So if you were on time for class, the first 10 people that came into class got a free one, if you interact and maybe ask questions, and during the class, they were motivated, the vendors were motivated to give out experience points. So you’re still getting experience points. But it’s pretty normal of a day, it was day two, the entire day two, which was kind of the tradeshow day, was so no schedule, no agenda, and that’s where it was a bit scary. And so that’s where it was more different. But the objectives were still mostly about making sure the employees left with more product knowledge and sales techniques then they came in with and making sure all the vendors felt like they got enough value out of the event that they felt like yes, I got my message out to the salespeople. And I feel like sales will increase because of it, which is the ultimate goal. And I think the gamification really excited people and the way we gamified it motivated them to do the things we wanted them to do. 

I have to kind of point out I had one person come up to me right near the end of the event and I can see he had level 10 which is the highest level on his name badge. And he’s like, Jay you know when you were explaining the game rules on the first day one, I was kind of rolling my eyes saying this is silly. And then I started getting some experience points from the classes and I was getting into it. And then today, I just went all-in man, it was just so exciting. Like I couldn’t help it. I just, I just tried to get as many experience points as I can. And to do that, he had to do all the things we wanted him to do. He had to go to booths to do the side quests to answer questions and go to the town hall to get experience points and do all of the upgraded kind of the boss battles and everything. He had to do all that. And he wanted to do it, he was excited to do it, as opposed to “BONG” everyone rotate to the next booth. And you shuffle along. And it’s like no energy. And it’s just the energy, but the VP of HR came up to me during the event, she goes, Jay, I have never seen our employees so engaged, ever. This is amazing. So it was really, the gamification really got people excited. And they felt like they had autonomy, even though everything we had them do was motivated towards our end goals. Yeah, but they felt they had autonomy and control over their own path.

ZB:  

You still have all the same training that you’re doing. But you choose. I guess they got to choose the order a little bit, right.

JC: 

100%? Yeah, I mean, they had side quests, and you were probably motivated to do those side quests, because that’s how you get experience points. Because if you just but you can just go to any booth and just talk to them. There’s no nobody stopping you from doing that. And you can, but people mostly once you do a side quest, you go you get a mark, because it was a little remember a little multiple choice trivia question. And then you get experience points, and you get a new side quest. So you’re constantly going back out. But it’s possible that you didn’t see all the vendors, which is super weird. Yeah, that usually you would see 100% See all the vendors, but the motivator here was that every time you leveled up, you would take out your previous level, and you would write your name on the back of it. Then you put it in a big fishbowl. And at the end of the event, we had huge prize draws. And so then there would be a lot of you can imagine from Best Buy a lot of prizes that are people want. And so that was very apparent that that was another motivator to participate and making sure you leveled up was because every time you leveled up, and just like in video games, the first few levels are very easy to get. And it gets harder and harder to level up.

ZB:  

Yeah. And sounds like you have a lot of you have a great core loop of you know, you get your small quest, you go to the booth, you come back, you get the answer, right. And you’re in a win state. Oh, here’s another one you can do. And then it’s like, well, I could go for lunch. Or I could just do this at the booths right there. You know? Yep.

JC: 

It was great. And what really surprised me was that, so we told the vendors all about it. And we kind of had to make them you know, understand and some of its goofy like I got a hold up the sign of a monster, what. And you can imagine some of these people are just like executive type salespeople. They’re not creatives, you know, people that are gonna play games, possibly, you know, some, but that said, some of the vendors really took it to heart. And I remember Sony specifically, in decorated their entire booth, as if it was in a dungeon. Oh, like they put stones around it. He dressed up like a wizard. It was awesome and fantastic. I was so happy and blown away. And others, like that was the pinnacle, the Sony booth. And others did too, though others took part in dressed up or just kind of made it more feel like a dungeon. It was great.

ZB:  

So this has been going on for several years now. Right?

JC: 

So we did. So we did that the first year. And I will also say that we did a really cool kickoff video, where we actually did a mock Zelda opening where Link wakes up but he’s got a blue shirt instead of a green shirt. Yeah, anyway, you know, and he has to watch a video for like, he talks to the mayor. And there’s anyways, it’s a really cool little animated video, which was really fun. So that was the first year and then the second year, you know, always wanting to outdo myself, we then started to involve technology. And we partnered with a company that had brought their own iPads to the event, so we didn’t have to carry a notebook around. And so the second year was all about superheroes. And so you could be your own superhero, and you could become the kind of superhero that you want to. And how that worked was during the trade show. 

Now I’m trying to remember this one, as this one is a bit different. There were different boss battles, but they’re right in the trade show this time. But one of them was the same as before the magnet guy. But another one was cans that were stacked up. And so the magnet magnets weren’t really effective against that. And then there was another one like a cornhole thing where you throw into a object into a hole. And so they weren’t effective. The magnets weren’t super great for that either. But you could get superpowers to get a ball. And that I can I can recall that like a snowball type superpower or something like that. And you or you can get a dart gun which was great for the can bosses who were weak for the cans. They’re stacked up but great for the whole trying to get into the whole game and so you had to tailor your how you spent on this app, you had to spend your experience points. To unlock certain superpowers, so when you went to a boss battle, you would show them what superpowers you have. Oh, you get two balls and one dark. Okay, go. And you had to then try to defeat this boss with whatever superpowers you had.

ZB:  

That’s pretty cool. Yeah. Did vendors buy in more throughout like your one? You know, you mentioned Sony and some other ones kind of decked out their stuff to be a little dungeon like you’re too. Did some of the vendors start to step up and get really into the theme?

JC: 

I don’t think so the theme for the superheroes is as approachable, as it’s a bit harder to get into for a theme does mean it’s like unless you got dressed up, and some did some did. But about the same but the same. But I think making your booth look like a dungeon is fun and obvious. But this was just city blocks each each we each have like this whole thing I camera would call there was a certain slight metropolis like the whole tradeshow was a certain city name. And there were different districts you could go to. Yeah, it wasn’t as freeform as the previous one, just based on the theme, you would spend time in a district. And then at the end of that time that you were allotted for that entire district, you would then go to fight the boss battle with everybody in that district. It was little, but the app had all sorts of other functionality, like you can chat to other people on the app, presenters in classrooms could have their presentations on the app. So you didn’t have to, you can interact more with them like they could have games and activities throughout the events as well. 

ZB:

Nice. 

JC:

Yeah, it was pretty neat. So we did that for two years. And then after that, all training, all live training events died, we did some studies on live trading events and track sales, and year over year increases and compared it and tried all sorts of different things. And just found with a large national company, international, really, but we are just dealing with the Canadian employees, where we get two people per store coming to an event, you know, maybe three, maybe four, if we’re lucky. And they have to go back and train the rest of their teams. And we just found that it wasn’t effective learning and training in the sales weren’t really didn’t really having an impact. Overall, maybe this brand did sell a bit more than this brand, because they run the training event. And these weren’t, they weren’t. But we ended up moving things to more online after that, too, which is maybe less fun, obviously. But now at least we can impact off all the employees instead of just a handful. 

ZB:  

Yeah, that makes sense. Because it’d be you know, what, two people out of the store that probably be like 10% of the workforce, there’s something like that.

JC: 

Oh, way less like some stores have over100 people in the store?

ZB:  

Oh, Andrew. Yeah, so then you’re only hitting 2% of people. And that training might be super effective for that. 2%. But it’s still only 2% of the store.

JC: 

Yeah. And we didn’t have tons of control to ensure they rolled out that training to the rest of the departments. So we would do videos and all sorts of things to you know, roll out, but we still didn’t have a lot of control once it got back to the store of how they use it or if they used it.

ZB:  

Because if it’s too awesome, they just keep talking about how awesome it is not. Not everything that they learned.

JC: 

Yeah. And then I had to fight. Yeah, throwing magnets at the thing was wild. Yeah.

ZB:  

Um, so on the effectiveness of the individuals who did attend? How effective would you say it was? Like, do you know what the average level of people was after the Zelda one?

JC: 

That’s a good question. No, because we didn’t really track it. Like, it’s just, we just kept upgrading people and they walk around. So no, I don’t even have any stats or anything like that. But I think I think three people managed to get to level 10, which was the hardest, the highest level?

ZB:  

That’s a pretty big accomplishment, either way.

JC: 

Yeah. And it’s weird. It was really hard pre-event to try to give everything a number to try to figure out like, how, how many? How many experience points can somebody get? And therefore, you know, you don’t want to make it too easy. So that by 12, o’clock on day two, everyone’s at level 10. Yeah. So it was really, but you don’t want to make it so unattainable that nobody could do it. So it was almost literally perfectly set. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know what kind of math I did try to figure out like, how can we get it so that people can level up that much, but yeah, it worked.

ZB:  

What things would you change about them, if you could go back to pasture and be like, Hey, we should do these things or not these things, we should implement this.

JC: 

I mean, I mean, back then, not too much. But now that we tried the second year, technology, like we literally were handing out cards, like playing cards that had a we made them up and they had one experience point printed on it. And so people had to collect these literal physical playing cards, which has a nice tangibility to it, which is kind of nice. But imagine just tapping your phone to something and getting experience points. And keeping track of it that way, would probably be a lot more accessible. But also having to carry around a literal three ring binder and flipping pages and trying to find the page you’re going to and writing notes and it’s a bit cumbersome. So again, that’s why we went to the iPad in the second year, but it’s still so many issues with getting iPads on a WiFi signal in a big kind of convention center type thing. It’s lots of issues. With that, so many signals are lost, and it’s just very frustrating. 

Otherwise, what else would I have? I mean, it’s like, during all my time, 25 years of Best Buy is the number one thing, the favorite thing I’ve ever done was that Zelda event, it was just so. So bonkers, amazing. No, I would, I would change. I mean, mostly because as we learned, the training events weren’t that great in the sense that the sales wouldn’t necessarily increase as a store afterwards. So I guess there’s definitely some more, figuring out how to do that part better. But at the event specifically, there’s only so much control I had over what each vendor taught and showed at their booth. And as much as we’ve always asked them to, we want you to do hands-on things they are here in front of you, in person, get their product in your hands, and tell them how to use it and demo it. And too many vendors still have this thought that if I can just talk really fast for 5 to 10 minutes and tell you every feature in all my different products, that that’s somehow going to be beneficial. And too many vendors still believe that. And I wish more vendors really understood the value and power of getting products in hands and demoing and showing you how to demo in your store. This is what you have to show: this is the difference between this product and this product, and why these two are different. That’s what they need to know. And so that’s I can only do so much I can’t enforce what they do at their own booth.

ZB:  

Yeah, and now my mind spinning of how would I gamify the people who went to the event how to do it to your store, you know how, how to track that how to Yeah, because that that is an important part of any gamification thing is, you know, you had great onboarding, because you know, you have day one still in classrooms. Oh, you get experience points. Oh, that’s kind of neat. I don’t know if I’ll do it. But you gave them just enough that they start going into it. That’s the scaffolding, you know, oh, I know what I’m supposed to do. I know how to get more experience. I know these things that I’m learning. Awesome. And then you know,

JC: 

you know, what, in hindsight would have been good is to gamify for the vendors to give them experience points for doing things that motivated the behaviors we wanted them to have, such that the only way to motivate them would be some sort of discount on a future training show. Yeah. So if you get this many experience points or level up or whatever, it yourself, then yeah, you’re gonna get X amount of $1,000 off next time, which will be wild. They’re like, That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah, if you decorate your booth that’s like, boom, 10 experience points. If you dress up, that’s another five experience points. But if you get to go by your booth, and you’re doing actual demos, people actually getting to learn how to demo it. That’s another three experience winds. That’d be pretty cool. Actually.

ZB:  

Yeah, that Oh, and that would be really cool to see it. Like, after like, three years when it’s like, alright, you know, I’m Sony. I’m showing up. Alright, we’re gonna have you know, the whole thing. You know, the superhero themes are going to have this massive supervillain where, yeah, we have this giant animatronic boss. Yeah. Oh, really cool. And then, you know, as someone who’s attending it, it’s just like, this is amazing. Oh, yeah. It’s awesome. Cool things like this is a convention I want to be at. Yeah. And it’s trading. And I’m like, I wish I could go.

JC: 

Up. I agree. Yeah. So yeah, so there are so I think that’d be a nice focus on how to get the vendors more on board with the theme. And not that they weren’t. But you could, they could always be more.

ZB:  

Yeah, always be more on, you know, having physical products for demos that would encourage people to be like, Oh, this is how you demo it, you know, get more to doing the actual practical demonstrations.

JC: 

Yeah, yeah. And some of their booths would be immense. There would be huge structures with TVs built in and seeing and like, they’d be massive undertaking sometimes in some of these events. So not that they didn’t put effort in. That’s not my definitely, if any of them are listening. That’s not my intention. It’s just being more on theme would be cool again, and motivating. Those of you that would be cool,

ZB:  

have a greater level of immersion, because yeah, everything around you is reinforcing that you are an adventurer or superhero or whatever the next thing would have been. Yeah. And, you know, motivating them to be like, Yo, you know what, I don’t have a quest to go over there. But I want to look at that. Oops, you know? Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Oh, is there anything else about the project that you’d like to talk about?

JC: 

I don’t think so. From the gamification perspective, no. I think we covered it. I’m just trying to think of any other little things that I missed, I think that’s I think that covers all the aspects. Yeah. Okay.

ZB:  

Awesome. Are there any upcoming projects you’d like our audience to know about? Or things that they can learn ways they can follow you?

JC: 

Yeah, I mean, off the page games is my brand From a publishing perspective where I’ve just released the my management game if you into board games that just came out, which is pretty exciting. So you can find me on the Facebook’s and Twitter’s at Off The Page games. Other than that, yeah, I think that’s probably for this audience. Probably pretty good. I don’t know how much like board games necessarily, but board games are cool.

ZB:  

Didn’t you also have the design blog at one point in time?

JC: 

I did. Yes. I’m converting that into an actual video training series right now, but it’s not ready yet. Yeah,

ZB:  

I didn’t know that. I’m excited for that. Yeah, yes, that was definitely useful when I was looking for game advice. But thank you so much for joining us. This was a real pleasure hearing more of the details about this project and how you apply the gamification and hearing your excitement about it makes me want to do something similar, something big, but you know, got started small.

Jay Cormier: 

Awesome. Hey, thanks for having me, Zach, appreciate it.

Zach Bearinger  

No problem. Thanks for listening to the record pod. Follow us on social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To learn more about us and gamification. Have a lovely day.

Follow Jay Cormier at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/offthepagegames?lang=en 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/offthepagegames/ 

Youtube:    https://www.youtube.com/c/OffThePageGames 

Follow Raccoopack Media at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raccoopack.media/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/raccoopackmedia 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RaccoopackMedia/ 

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZzqUbKA8NsBrCohuYkT7HA 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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Raccoopod Episode 3: The Flow State

The Raccoopod: The Flow State Episode 3

The Raccoopod Podcast

Today’s Episode we look at the concept of Flow.  Where did it come from, what is it and how do we use it in Gamification?

Transcript

So you may have heard of flow before as it has been around since 1988 and promoted with a book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990). It’s a theory that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed in his work into the scientific study of happiness. If it is new to you or not, flow is defined as “A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” So it’s a state of super engagement where everything else fades away. 

 

Where did Mihaly come up with the idea of flow? 

The first inkling he had about this work was during world war 2 while in an italian prison he discovered chess was a miraculous way of entering into a different world where all those things didn’t matter. For hours he’d focus within a reality that had clear rules and goals. After starting his education into psychology he ran a study where he had teenagers write down their thoughts when prompted by a random beeper. From this random sampling through the day he found that when they were focused on a challenging task they tended to be happier in their reports. 

 

What constitutes flow? There were 9 identifiable elements that are involved in flow. But only 4 of these can be used by gamification. These elements are 

  1. Clear defined goals for each step of the process

  2. Immediate feedback on your actions

  3. There is a balance between challenge and users skill level

  4. Failure doesn’t have major consequence



If you listened to our first Why games matter episode, or have been checking out our blog at Raccoopack dot media. You’ll have noticed that some of those elements we have touched on before. Anyway let’s break down these elements and how they can be used in gamification.

 

So, how can we use gamification to help people to have clear defined goals for each step of the process they want. One thing we can do with adding a gamified system is provide users with a high level of signposting. This helps with users who may be trying something new for the first time.  Adding a simple progression system, wherein each step is outlined in how to accomplish it and stands as a mark for where they are at in their journey will help them in achieving flow. It also is helpful if this process is done by someone who can be looked up to as having experience in the field. This is why here at Raccoopack we focus on implementing the gamification and have our clients provide the expertise. 

 

2. Immediate feedback on your actions

Next let’s move onto how gamification can improve feedback and help users get into flow. When you are working on a skill it can be really hard to determine if you are improving. The feedback provided from gamification can be implemented either in helping users know when they have reached a goal or providing feedback on their current efforts. Getting constructive feedback that will help you progress is hugely important when you are trying to improve or learn something new. By spending the important time needed gamification can ensure that users get the feedback required to help them get into flow.

 

3. There is a balance between challenge and users skill level

Next up is a balance between challenge and skill. This is the most common interpretation in game design as it can be really tricky to get right and having an unbalanced game is likely to have players leave to go do something else. Perfect flow occurs when you are presented with a challenge that requires your abilities at their maximum. If the challenges are too easy then it becomes boring for the user, if the challenge is insurmountable then the user becomes frustrated. The other issue with making a well balanced game is every user has a different starting skill level and improves at a different rate. 

 

But how do we determine a difficulty curve for a gamified action? This depends on what project you are applying gamification to. If it is a project that is closer to game-based learning, we tend to work to make a more traditional difficulty curve. In past projects we have added some optional challenges so that if a user was finding it too easy they could modify their goals for a greater challenge. For a situation-based learning or an application that only uses a few game mechanics the difficulty curve would likely depend on the difficulty that arises from the knowledge testing. Some gamified applications don’t have an internal difficulty curve as their focus relies on scaffolding and providing direction on something external from the application. The challenge comes from users following the steps as they get more difficult. As you can see from these examples, making a great gamified application with a good challenge curve relies on knowledge in the field. 

 

4.Failure doesn’t have major consequence

Finally we get to the last component of flow we can directly impact with gamification. Having failure be acceptable, is something virtual spaces excel at. In a virtual environment there aren’t the same stakes as the real world, if you commit a faux pa in the real world it has consequences that can impact those around you. In a virtual space it can show what the consequences are without the lasting effects. Having a place where failure is minor gives users the opportunity to experiment and make an attempt at trying something new. 

 

So I hope you found the breakdown of flow informative and useful. In brief Flow is where you are completely engaged with something, there are several components of flow which are 

 

 

  1. Clear defined goals for each step of the process

  2. Immediate feedback on your actions

  3. There is a balance between challenge and users skill level

  4. Failure doesn’t have major consequence



And of those we can manipulate 4 with gamification, and to do so it takes consideration and care to use effectively. I hope that you enjoyed this podcast, so it’s the usual calls to action. Subscribe, follow us on social media and check out our website at raccoopack.media. Have a great day everyone.

 

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Game Mechanics in Gamification: Part 3

Mechanics in Gamification: Part 3

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Game Mechanics in Gamification: Part 3

We’re back! In this post we are going to cover 4 more game mechanics in gamified applications. We will break down Story, Feedback, HP/Stamina, and Challenges. Once again, we’ll give examples of how these mechanics work, what makes them effective, and either an example of how we have used them to help clients achieve their project goals, or a brainstorm of a potential use case.

Self Determination Theory Overview

As the gamification mechanics that we are talking about today will be analysed with the SDT (Self Determination Theory) framework, we’ll cover some key concepts in this quick review.

SDT has a focus on three psychological needs and explains how the fulfillment of those needs can impact personal motivation. An increase in the fulfillment of these needs will help move an activity from being externally motivated to internally motivated. External motivation is where a person performs an activity due to pressures from outside themselves, and internal motivation is when a person performs an activity because they enjoy it or find value in doing that action. 

Competence:

Competence is a person’s need to feel like they have the ability to do well at the activity they are engaged in.

Autonomy:

Autonomy is a person’s need to feel like they have a choice in what they do and that the choice matters.

Relatedness: 

Relatedness is a person’s need to feel like they are a part of a community and that they contribute to the group.

With a quick review of Self Determination Theory under our belt, let’s break down some common gamification mechanics. 

Story

How is the story a gamification mechanic?

Stories as a gamification mechanic is when a designer will add a storyline that progresses along with the user. This could be classified as a progression system, but has the added benefit of tapping into the innate draw stories have over us. 

A story system doesn’t have to be directly told to the user. You can also have a significantly deep story that is initially hidden from the player. An example of this kind of storytelling would be in the Myst or the Dark Souls Series. Within Dark Souls, the majority of the story of the world is told through item descriptions and optional character dialog. There isn’t any narration to the player, except through the opening cutscene which sets the world and the player’s goal. The purpose of the story in Dark Souls is to provide a deep mystery that is an optional bonus for any player who chose to explore it. 

A more classic example of a story based system would be a point and click adventure such as Space Quest or King’s Quest. These games use story to give direction to players as well as being a draw for players to enjoy. 

There is a third kind of story as mechanic as well — it’s collaborative storytelling, which can be found in tabletop RPGs and Improv. With a tabletop RPGs, players usually bring their own characters and choose how to interact with different situations. Players may help particular characters, who then in turn returns the favor later in the story. Alternatively, they may have fought and defeated that character leading to an entirely different story playing out.

 

Effectiveness of stories in gamification

Depending on the implementation of your story system, it can provide additional value. As a baseline, humans are natural storytellers, and we are drawn to stories. A well written and enthralling story has proven to be some of the most engaging media ever. As a caveat, any story in a game also carry the same risks as stories used in any setting, but let’s dive into what the mechanical benefits there are. A good story often engages people by being unpredictable, covers relationships between characters, have clear goals with failures and successes. There is a reason people still read and write stories in the digital era. By being a naturally compelling part of our history, people find stories to be enjoyable to follow along with.

If you go towards the hidden story approach, the user can explore and find bits of story they string together over time. From there, you get to piggyback on the existing benefits of the rewards as a mechanic, where the addition of rewards that build on top of each other reinforce the value of other pieces. By having your rewards provide worldbuilding and an engaging story, it makes them more attractive for users to follow. With this kind of mechanic, your world building and story doesn’t have to be real time. For example, a player could be collecting journals of an explorer as they follow them along, or discover snippets of lore about why the world has the names and buildings it does.

A collaborative story can be incredibly engaging, which will create a story that people will share in the future. The benefits from this method are an increased sense of competence, relatedness and autonomy by the user. Users who are engaged in an ongoing story where choices matter and impact future events and characters in the story hits a home run for each component of SDT theory. Relatedness comes from the shared storytelling and being able to help their fellow players. When players are able to make choices that leave an impact on the world they feel a real sense of Autonomy. Competency can depend on the Game Master or central storyteller and how an action is resolved. For example, if a player wants to jump over a river how do you determine the result? Some games use dice, but you could also use any number of skills or knowledge checks. 

Lastly, a storyline to follow can provide users with a sense of relatedness. If players are engaged in your story, then you get the motivational benefits of rewards as continuing the story becomes reward for users every time they do an action that allows them to experience more of the world. 

How stories are used in an educational game

Dialect is a card game designed by Kathryn Hymes and Hakkan Seyalioglu. The goal of the game is to explore creating a language in isolation and what it means for that language to then be lost. It is an excellent example of using storytelling as a gamification mechanic to teach the players about what it really means to lose a language. The game starts with setting a reason for the players to be isolated from the rest of the world. Players then create new words depending on a prompt card and some aspect of their isolation. Throughout the course of the game players will develop their own dialect, which will essentially die at the end of the session. It shows what can be lost when a language goes extinct.

Dialect
Dialect game, designed to show how a language dies

Feedback

What is feedback?

The feedback system is how you present to the user what impact their actions have within your application. The implementation of a feedback systems work has a huge impact on how any other game mechanics affect your users. This is because the way in which you set your feedback will determine how the user understands their actions. As we are pulling mechanics from games we are looking at how games will display feedback. 

For feedback systems, the scale of importance of the feedback is important. Has the user accomplished a goal that would take some time and dedication, or did they make a common action that would increase their points? On the other hand, too frequent feedback can turn an intended reward into an annoyance in some cases.

How does feedback motivate users?

Feedback is one of the most important considerations when you are working at gamifying an application. Why? Because without users having any point of reference, on their actions, they will be robbed of the chance of engaging with your mechanics. 

Imagine you are playing a Mario-like game and you jump on what looks to be a new enemy. They flash green, so what does that mean? Did you hit the enemy? Are they invulnerable? Did they heal? Is there a weak point you need to hit that isn’t indicated? From this example do you want to play this game? Would it matter that later on it has some amazing set pieces you get to experience if the gameplay keeps prompting confusion like that? I know I wouldn’t play that game because I can’t tell what’s happening. My actions don’t seem to matter, and I can’t tell if I am doing better or worse.

How feedback promotes engagement

Let’s take a look at how the use of an effective feedback system helped researchers to develop a game that led to multiple scientific breakthroughs in biochemistry. Foldit was designed as a puzzle game where players try to fold protein structures as small as possible. Their score is updated in real time, so when they move parts of the protein their score will either go up or down. The choice to have a real time feedback system like that gives players the tool to understand what how they are progressing towards a solution. Afterwards, players would have their solutions evaluated in the game and the highest scoring solutions would be tested by researchers to determine if the proposed protieve fold was a native state. They also have two different leaderboards which organize people into two different groups. Soloists and Evolvers, who either develop their own solutions or improve upon others. Giving users feedback in this distinction between play modes gives users a categorization to follow, and promotes both methods of play. As such, the Foldit project has been running since 2008, and has formed 21 scientific papers.

A beginner problem in Fold.it

HP/Stamina systems

What is a HP/Stamina system?

An HP/Stamina system is one where you are looking to restrict user actions that will return over time. The most common example would be an energy system where users take actions that have a cost of energy. The goal of this mechanism is to have users use your app on a daily basis without using it for a long period of time each day. This kind of mechanic requires specific intent to use effectively. When designed poorly, these systems can reduce user enjoyment if they want to use the app for a long time. To mitigate this risk and promote more daily user activity, you can look at introducing daily rewards.

Effectiveness of HP/Stamina

So HP/Stamina mechanics are designed to limit the amount users can play your game. Why can it be an effective mechanic for gamification? Let’s break down the different benefits for limiting user actions. 

  • Scarce resources: It develops a sense of scarcity. In moderation, every choice the user makes has a cost. The user has limited interactions to progress with their goals, which leads to users carefully planning out how they want to achieve their in-app goals. 
  • Retention: It creates a daily drive for users to return. If your gamified application has a progression system that users find compelling, then having a limited resource such as health or stamina will prevent people from binging to achieve their targeted goals, but encourage smaller, incremental progress. By doing a daily interaction, the user is more likely to develop a habit which naturally becomes internalized over time.

Use of a HP/Stamina system in Habit Trackers 

There are lots of different habit trackers out there, but they all tend to use a hidden stamina system. When forming habits, an important principle is that each day at max you can complete your daily goal once. A famous example of daily habit tracking effective comes from Benjamin Franklin. He sought to improve himself in 13 different virtues. Everyday, he would mark on a grid if he met his goal for each virtue. Over time, while he would fail in some virtues, he had fewer instances of failure and improved overall. The restriction of only completing or failing a habit once per day is what makes tracking impactful. If you had multiple chances at failing to meet your goal each day, it wouldn’t help you build a habit. Scientific research shows that you need at least 18 days of working at a habit to truly develop it. Hence, if these tracking principles are used in the design of a stamina or HP system, a gamified app can help users develop a daily habit gradually.

This is how Benjamin Franklin would track his successes in trying to complete his 13 virtues. Each dot is a day where he felt he accomplished his goal

Challenges

What are challenges?

Challenges can be similar to achievements, but can provide a greater degree of signposting. Quests in games such as World of Warcraft are an excellent example of a challenge. Giving the player several different tasks gives the player separate goals and the ability to choose how they go about completing the tasks. You can also lean challenges into being a more difficult option for players to strive for. These can be having users use less resources, or restrict some of their actions to provide a more interesting experience.

How challenges adds value in gamification

In gamification, challenges are a great way to provide scaffolding for your users to make progress towards an overarching goal. By making a challenge multi-part, you not only provide an end-goal like an achievement, but you also direct the player on how to achieve the goal. An example of what this looks like is a quest in a roleplaying game, where the player has to go to meet with a hunter, then talk with a herbalist, then defeat a griffin. If this resulted in just a single achievement, this could lead to players attempting to fight a powerful griffin while being underprepared. By making it a quest (series of challenges), players get directed to characters and shops that will help them prepare for the big fight. While you could have made each step separate achievements, you would end up with a massive list of achievements. Setting challenges as a multi-step quest provides an excellent form of signposting and can be combined with rewards and achievements to provide users with great guidance and goals for them to follow. 

Challenges can also be used to show players how they can increase the difficulty level so that they can remain in a flow state. An example in the same roleplaying game setting would be to pass a level without harming an enemy or to beat a level entirely in stealth. The best designed versions of this are where users have a large variety of tools to use to accomplish this challenge, and the level is designed in a way where all the tools are not required.

You can also have specific challenge levels or areas that more experienced players can engage with if they want a more difficult challenge. Depending on the number of these more difficult options you have, it may be more effective to have achievements for beating one, half, and all challenge areas then an achievement for each. 

Challenges in a gamified engagement 

For this example, we are going to look at how Gleam.io uses challenges to improve social media engagements. When you enter a Gleam.io sweepstake, you are presented with a list of challenges you can do for additional tickets into the sweepstakes. As the user’s goal is to maximize their chances in a given sweepstakes, the list of challenges gives users a direct strategy to increase their odds. While none of these tasks are difficult, they follow into more of a quest style of challenges as described earlier.

When each challenge be clearly identified as to what needs to be done, users get a direct sense of what their task is and how to finish it. The Gleam.io feedback system provides users a clear indication when they have completed each task. With this quest-like structure, it’s no wonder that with over a million contests they’ve had over 3.5 billion entries. For scale that means for every contest, they had roughly 3,000 interactions which bolstered the hosts social media coverage across all platforms.

This list of challenges encourages users to promote a sweepstakes

Closing thoughts

I hope that you have found this series informative on using different mechanics in gamification. It’s been a fun exercise writing out why each different mechanic can be useful in gamification. There are many other mechanics that don’t have as much research behind them, but would be fun to speculate on their effectiveness. If you’d like to read such blog posts let us know by leaving a comment!

References:

Review of several studies about gamification in the wellbeing space.

Johnson, Daniel & Deterding, Sebastian & Kuhn, Kerri-Ann & Staneva, Aleksandra & Stoyanov, Stoyan & Hides, Leanne. (2016). Gamification for Health and Wellbeing:A Systematic Review of the Literature. Internet Interventions. 6. 89-106. 10.1016/j.invent.2016.10.002. 

Self Determination Resource

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2021). Self Determination Theory. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/theory/

Examples Referenced

Gleam.io

https://gleam.io/

Benjamin  Franklin virtuous

http://www.thirteenvirtues.com/ 

Foldit

https://fold.it/ 

Dialect

https://thornygames.com/pages/dialect

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Why Games Matter Episode 1

The Raccoopod: Why Games Matter 1

The Raccoopod Podcast

Join us in our new series where we talk about why games matter.  In this first episode I share how Dark Souls helped me through a really rough period in my life. Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Transcript

Why Games Matter: Zach’s Story

Welcome to the Raccoopod! This is going to be the start of a smaller series in our podcast.  We wanted to have an open and honest dialogue about the power that games can have and what they have done for us. I’m your host Zach Bearinger, and Today we are going to talk about one of the most impactful games I have ever experienced.  

 

In order to set the stage for how much games have helped me we have to go into my state of mind.  I was entering into my second year of university and my first year as a resident assistant.  After my first semester my grades had dropped a bit and I was feeling stressed about being a good RA for my residents.  I suffer from pschlothemia which has long periods of depression or mania.  During this time I was struck hard with a deep depressive swing.  I found myself waking up every morning, opening my eyes and questioning if it was worth continuing on.  I found myself struggling with thoughts of suicide every couple of days.  It was a dark time for me.  

 

It was during this time when the first dark souls game released, I had a resident who was really excited and had got me excited for it as well.  So on release day we headed over to pick up our copies and headed home excited to play.  

 

By playing the original Dark Souls I found myself up against a game that seemed too difficult and was going to be something that I couldn’t ever beat.  However every attempt I made I found myself making improvements becoming better at the game until I could conquer the challenge in front of me.  Then the game would throw something harder and harder and harder and I eventually hit the point where one of the last bosses I fought I was able to beat on my first try.  I had gone from someone who struggled with some of the easiest enemies to someone who beat a late stage boss on my first try.  The sense of accomplishment I felt at that moment was something I don’t know if I’ll ever forget, and it seems weird to have that be a moment I won’t forget but during that period I was feeling less and less like I was worthwhile and everything I touched was a failure.  But through Dark Souls I realized that those perceptions I had about my life just weren’t true, that I did have value, and that I could always do more than I imagined if I would continue to push myself beyond my current limits.  That’s just one example of the power a game has in my life where I have been uplifted by many different games for different reasons.  

 

Ok so games have some value outside of just entertainment but how can we apply something like this for gamification.  After all Dark Souls required years of development and cost millions of dollar to make.  If we want to have gamification in more things we need to distill lessons from larger projects so that we can apply them on a smaller scale.  What can we learn from my story with Dark Souls?  There are a couple lessons we can learn but we’ll stick to 3. First is that being in a game world you are able to fail with far more freedom than the real world.  There is a well known mechanic from Dark Souls where when you die you lose all your currency and have to return to where you died to recover your currency.  This meant that failing would give you an immediate goal on your next attempt, get at least as far as you were and recover your gains.  And it’s a great segway into the second lesson we can learn setting effective goals.  At the start of the game you have a long term goal, a medium goal and a short term goal.  Each of your goals leads to the next, short term can either be recovery or exploration, medium is to meet the next boss and overcome them and long term are to ring the two bells of awakening, defeat the 4 Lord Souls and to best the final boss.  Lastly feedback in providing you a sense of direction is huge.  In dark souls the world is expertly crafted and through subtle shifts in light, colour, and having differing looks makes it hard to get lost.  At times you can clearly see where you are trying to get to and you can understand how things are interconnected.  I’m gonna stop myself here as it’s too easy to completely dive into praising many of the design decisions that were made in crafting the dark souls experience.

 

If you would like to learn more about the power of games I would recommend checking out the Because Games Matter series on the Extra Credits youtube channel.  Also subscribe to our youtube channel to see new episodes when they come out.  You can also learn more about gamification and the raccoopack at raccoopack.media or by following us on social media.  Have a great day.

 

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Raccoopod Episode 2: What is Gamification?

The Raccoopod Episode 2: What is Gamification

The Raccoopod Podcast

Join us in our second podcast where we set out a definition of gamification.  We want people to understand how we see gamification and how we intend to use it.  Is our definition different from yours?  Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Transcript

What is Gamification?

 

Welcome to the Raccoopod! Where the goal of our podcast is to give you the insights into gamification, what it is, and why you should consider it for your applications. I’m your host Zach Bearinger, and Today we are breaking down Gamification.  This will be a broad overview covering what gamification is, what parts of games we are using to make it and looking at two cases of gamification to understand the benefits that can be gained from it.  Let’s jump into it.

So… What is gamification?  Let’s start with the Oxford Dictionary definition.  

 Gamification

  • The application of typical elements of game playing (Example point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service. 

 

There is also a quote from Richard Stokes “Gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun” 

 

Ok so from the quote and definition it is telling us something about gamification.  The goal of gamification is to increase engagement or as Richard Stokes puts it.  “Make the hard stuff fun.”  I like this quote because it covers a surface level as to what gamification is.  Like what would the point of making the hard things in life fun?  What does that really mean?  I see it as looking at the things people struggle with in their life and making them something they want to do.  So in a single word gamification is seeking to improve Engagement.  This can be done in two different methods, enjoyment and motivation.  The implementation will change depending on what subject we are looking to add gamification to.  Either method has us look at typical game elements to use as a base for gamification.

 So you may be wondering, what are typical elements of games?  Mostly this is game mechanics (such as set collection) but can also include multiple visual and audio techniques to improve engagements.  To get a real sense what game mechanics are and how they work individually and as a group let’s break down Monopoly to get a sense of why each mechanic matters and how they work together to make a compelling game.

 So when you play Monopoly what is the end goal?  The established goal in the rules is to “Become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.”  So we already have some hints as to some of the mechanics.  There is a strong resource management mechanic throughout Monopoly.  What does that mean?  Well in Monopoly’s case, it’s how you manage your money and your properties.  This mechanic leads to lots of interesting questions for players to consider.  Should I buy this property?  Should I Mortgage this property?  Which property should I put my first house on?  Ok thats a resource management mechanic but we haven’t even started a turn. 

 Your turn starts with a roll of the dice afterwards you move your piece equal to the number you rolled.  This is a straightforward mechanic but what does it add to the game of Monopoly.  First off it provides a degree of randomness to the game.  You can’t plan several turns ahead or choose where you land.  This is an important factor as without a roll to move mechanic nobody would ever pay rent or land on a space that didn’t benefit them.  There are several other mechanics that could take the place of roll to move but they lead to different outcomes, But with the roll to move people have a simple turn structure roll then resolve the space they land on.  It provides a simplicity that anyone can understand and get going immediately.   The randomness provides a sense of surprise and suspense.  “If he rolls a 6 or 7 he’ll need to pay me 250$?” “I need a 2 so that I can buy Park Place”

 Ok, so there is a roll to move and resource management mechanics. Are there any other mechanics in Monopoly? Yes, but I’ll breeze through these. There is an Auction mechanic, where if a player doesn’t buy a property they land on it starts an auction between all players for that property.  The auction starts at the next player but could allow someone to buy it at a discount, and also motivates players to purchase properties when they can so that you can reach the mid-late game sooner.  What does that entail for monopoly?  It’s being able to trade with other players and start developing properties.  There is the player elimination mechanic where if a player runs out of money and properties to mortgage they go bankrupt and are knocked out of the game.  This provides survivors with a sense of real progression and adds a weight to all your actions.  Are you progressing towards victory or are you sliding towards bankruptcy? 

  That’s more than you probably would have guessed.  There are lots of mechanics and massive differences in play from different combinations and implementations of them.  These are what drive the unique interactive nature of games, what happens after a user puts in an input or makes a decision. Each mechanic provides a question that requires an answer from the player.  When we do a gamification project we pick and choose different mechanics depending on the project as to what will work with the topic and goal as well as maximizing its effectiveness.   

 Alright so we now know what gamification is and how we implement it.  Now the big question is “Is Gamification effective?”.  Well let’s look at some real world examples.  

 First up,could gamification help scientific research?  Well we’ve got an excellent example to look at. It’s a puzzle game called Foldit.  What is Foldit?  From their website “Foldit is a revolutionary crowdsourcing computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research.”  So Foldit is a puzzle game that focuses on players manipulating a protein to have the highest score.  Foldit uses a combination of Score, Leaderboards, and Teams for increased engagement across it’s players.  Ok, so they have an engaging puzzle game but what value does that have?  

 Researchers look at the top solutions and apply the knowledge they gain from those solutions to scientific research.  But we have the ability to create AI and programs to generate such solutions. Why are they using people’s solutions?  Well people’s solutions have proven to be as effective or better than computer generated solutions.  It does follow logic as abstract problem solving has long been one of mankind’s best survival tactics and something that AI’s struggle with.  The design of Foldit promotes this creative thinking and allows anyone who wants to help with scientific research to be able to do so.

 For an example that’s more indicative of the work we do at Raccoopack Media.  So let’s look at the Training web game we made for VCH and how successful it’s been. They were looking to create a training application that would include gamification techniques to be more effective than regular training.  Our solution used several different mechanics to convey the information in a more engaging way.  We used Avatars and visualizations to make the training more personal. We broke down the training goals into several scenarios that would feature the user’s avatar and a situation they needed to solve.    We also included leaderboards to encourage friendly competition as well as replaying to get a higher score.

 But let’s talk about the benefits from creating a gamified training module.  It has been introduced across 10 hospitals and used in staff orientation at Vancouver General Hospital. Over 1000 staff have been trained with practical knowledge and skills. From these metrics we can see that the training has been seen as a useful tool to use in more training opportunities.  VCH also conducted a survey on the staff who played the game.  Within the evaluation they found 93% of participants found that the games helped them learn and understand person-centered care.  90% of those surveyed agreed that they learned practical knowledge of dementia care and that they would recommend the games to others.

 

Thanks for listening! If you’re interested in learning more about our app development services or how gamification can help your organization, feel free to book an exploratory call today and meet the pack at Raccoopack Media!  Also share this podcast with your friends and follow us on social media @Raccoopack Media, Have a great day.

 

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