Track

The Use of Games and Play to Achieve Real-World Goals

This is a guest post written by the graduate student Gustavo Tondello of the HCI Games Group. It has appeared on Medium and on the group’s homepage before. We encourage the discussion on Medium.

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the application of game elements to real-life goals and tasks. These efforts are often directed towards self-improvement, encouraging positive lifestyle changes, and increasing motivation to complete work objectives. The idea of using games to modify activities that are not traditionally considered games is not new. Games have been used to support real-life objectives many times in the past, such as sports being used to motivate exercise and healthy habits, or simulation games being used for training or skill development. This idea has now become especially popular. In the past decade, it has drawn a fair amount of interest both from academics and practitioners, because of two trends in modern culture: 1) Digitalization, which results from increased access to digital and mobile technologies that are now pervasive in our everyday lives, and 2) Ludification, which consists of the introduction of elements of playfulness into our lives and culture.

But how can games and play help achieve real-world goals? Play is often viewed as an activity of pure entertainment or leisure, which lacks the commitment to accomplish real-world goals, such as personal, educational, or business objectives. Thus, by introducing elements of play into the execution of similar tasks, will we not risk undermining commitment to the accomplishment of the intended goals? Or is it possible to instead use playful and gameful design to increase motivation to accomplish these tasks? Continue reading

Habit RPG

Gamification: The Pursuit of Progression

This is a guest post written by the undergraduate student Samantha Stahlke of the HCI Games Group. It has appeared on Medium and on the group’s homepage before. We encourage the discussion on Medium.

As a first-year wading (well, cliff-diving, really) into the depths of academic research reports last fall, I was struck with what you might call “jargon fatigue.” Though I was no stranger to general scientific reading, upon broaching the field of game research, I was quickly overwhelmed by a veritable tsunami of seemingly obscure terms related to the research fields surrounding statistics, sociology, and design theory.

Clinging to nothing but a thesaurus and a handful of Wikipedia links, I pulled through, and now proudly report that I understand what a MANOVA is, even if in the most simplistic and inevitably misinformed of ways. One word, despite its status as a seemingly obvious portmanteau, remained somewhat of a cryptic mystery in its meaning: gamification.

Ask any academic what the term “gamification” means and they will no doubt provide you with an informative cascade of phrases related to system design, repurposed game mechanics, “tangible progression,” motivation, and task management. However, like verbose snowflakes, no two answers will be the same. In fact, a number of papers regarding gamification have been written for the sole purpose of defining the term (including one co-authored by our group director). Continue reading

Dressing Activities as a Game is Enough to Shift Motivation

Or at least, that’s what  our study at Aarhus University found. Something had been bothering me for a while about gamification – both as a game scientist and as a psychologist trained in evidence based practice. All this talk of gamification involves a lot of hype and claims about game elements like badges, levels and achievements, but pundits never bother to dissociate the effects of each such mechanic. Would it make a difference if we removed, say, the leaderboards? What if we took all the game rules out? What if visually and verbally presenting something as a game is just as important as the game mechanics? Continue reading