The Hunger Games and Gamification

In 2012, one of the must-see films of the year was The Hunger Games, which was also one of the first few films in the “dystopia” genre, which is still immensely popular even now (The Maze Runner, Divergent, Elysium, Ender’s Game, Snowpiercer… There is quite an extensive list.).

In The Hunger Games, the Games were created to punish the twelve districts, who’d previously rebelled against the powerful and rich Capitol. In simpler terms, it’s a control mechanism that balances fear and hope.

While The Hunger Games is a dark and often depressing story, there are many good lessons to learn from it. It’s not just about the game, or the killing, or who Katniss will end up with. It is a story that explores deeper issues such as corruption, society and class, the power of the media…

And, as its name implies, it also teaches us a lot about games.

Or, rather, gamification.

Gamification is the act of putting game elements into non-game contexts to increase engagement.

For example, game elements are placed into the murdering of innocent people in The Hunger Games! Let’s take a deeper look at the gamification within the Games.

Rewards

Rewards, in the form of gifts, are heavily relied upon in the Games, and they motivate the tributes to do their best, before they even step foot into the arena.

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While making public appearances prior to the Games (.gif above), the tributes show themselves off to television audiences to obtain ‘sponsors’, who will send gifts such as food, medicine, and tools to their favourite tributes during the Games

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These gifts can be critical to survival and, thus, are highly sought after.

In gamification, achievements and rewards can come in the form of virtual badges to earn, or physical assets one can redeem with accumulated points. These achievements and rewards are meant to motivate players to play their best, the same way sponsors’ gifts motivate the tributes to leave a lasting impression in The Hunger Games.

Continue reading “The Hunger Games and Gamification”

Youngest Ninjas Ever

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Two weeks ago, Gametize opened its door to its youngest ninjas ever – two secondary three students (15-year-olds) from Regent Secondary School. Zhen Yuan and Wei Jian joined us on a job attachment program at school, and were all set to be part of the team for a good two weeks. The objectives of the program were to expose them to the working world and to hone their interests (which included “information technology”, for both the boys).

So we pulled out all the stops and held nothing back. If these guys wanted a real working-life experience, they were gonna get it. The past two weeks, Zhen Yuan and Jia Le have been uploading content, creating their own original games, and attending brainstorming sessions with other Gametize Ninjas.

Despite their youth, they are mature and level-headed, and are pulling their own weight amongst the other older, more experienced Gametize Ninjas. They just prove that it isn’t always about how much experience you have, but how much you want the experience!

Tattoo or Taboo? 4 Reasons Why Employers Shouldn’t Care

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Where my inked people at? Holler at me!

I said, holler at me!

Oh. Sorry. I can’t hear you guys hollering at me over all my aunts and uncles going, “You’re going to regret that” and “You’re never gonna get a job with that” and “You know it’s permanent, right?”.

Surely, at some point in time, we’ve all entertained the thought of getting a tattoo. Maybe a super-meaningful quote on our ribcage, maybe a skull on our arm, or maybe even a full-back oriental piece!

Tattoos are—let’s face it—cool!

Continue reading “Tattoo or Taboo? 4 Reasons Why Employers Shouldn’t Care”

MVP OF THE WEEK 2015: ARE YOU SEEING TWO? IT’S JUST OUR… DOPPLEGANGER NINJA!

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Christopher was part of our tech team, acting as a software developer in his time here, working on Gametize’s platform and rule engines. However, Christopher did not limit himself to just that, and he did offer insight on creative design work as well.

 

Curious as to what a working environment and life in a tech startup company is like, Christopher applied for an internship with Gametize, whose work environment, he felt, made it easier for him to be more proactive. Gametize loosened the reigns and allowed him to freely learn more about software development.

Besides software development, which he’d signed up for, Christopher also learned many more things in his run with Gametize: things about the working environment, technicalities, himself…

Another role Christopher held was as our teammate Damon’s doppleganger, confusing both clients and fellow teammates alike with their scary likeness! Just another Gametize party trick.

At this current time, Christopher is finishing up his last year in NUS. Thank you for all the contributions you’ve made to Gametize, Christopher, and we wish you all the best!

MVP of the Week: Try keeping up with… Our Samba Ninja!

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Bendexter first came to know Gametize as a user and a backend admin of our platform. And, he first met our Keith as a client. Gametize and Keith both charmed him, and half-a-year later, Bendexter was working with Gametize again, this time not as a user, but as a developer.

During his time with Gametize, Bendexter worked on the analytics platform, managed projects, and assisted with business operations whenever required.

As a younger intern, Bendexter also often had fresher, newer ideas which he brought to the table. In this way, Bendexter not only contributed to Gametize technically, but also creatively.

Bendexter shows the same level of enthusiasm and skill in his other interests as well, such as: samba percussion, and sports.

He is currently working on an android application as part of his final year project in SMU, and then he’ll be heading off to Korea for an exchange program! Bon voyage Bendexter! Thank you for the contributions you’ve made to Gametize, and we wish you all the best!

Celebrate Halloween old-school style!

Halloween is right around the corner; this Saturday, in fact!

So, as a gamification business, do you know what we did?

That’s right; we made our very own Halloween game! This year, we’re going to celebrate Halloween old-school style! Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Chucky… They’re all fine and scary, but they weren’t our first monsters.

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Now, Count Dracula! That’s a monster to talk about! Along with The Mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster! These are the monsters that set the horror scene ablaze in the early 1900s.

Modern technology has spoiled us so much so that we find it difficult to enjoy black-and-white films now. I mean, some of them don’t even have any background music, and the acting may be more dramatised than what we’re used to now.

But classics are classics for a reason, even if they’re hard to swallow. Books like The Great Gatsby or Lord of the Rings are almost impossible to get through, but they are classics nonetheless!

And, since one of the main points of gamification is to insert fun into things that would normally be considered not fun, that’s exactly what we’ve done: We’ve gamified our classic horror icons so you can learn about them, through games!

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Images taken from the mobile app.

Simply download our app ‘Gametize’, from the Apple app store or Google play store. Create an account, and search for ‘classicmonsters’.

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It’s available on web as well: http://gametize.com/game/classicmonsters

You can have dinner with Count Dracula, go for a swim with The Creature from Black Lagoon, or visit Wolfman’s Manor! Learn more about these monsters as you spend time with them. You’ll find out Frankenstein’s Monster’s true name, what The Mummy used to do before he was a mummy, and how to kill Count Dracula!

Of course, we’re not saying we can’t enjoy modern vampire stories or modern werewolf tales. Van Helsing (2004), The Wolfman (2010), The Mummy (1999)… These are great movie re-makes/adaptations as well!

It’s just nice to also give credit where it’s due, and to explore the origins of our favourite tales, isn’t it?

Have fun with these oldies, and let us know what you think!

MVP OF THE WEEK: SUPER-AWESOME AND SUPER-BLUR… SOTONG NINJA!

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Guangwen was with Gametize on a 14-week-long internship, and was part of the business operations team. He proved to be a highly-capable individual and, just on his second day, he was already tasked with creating mock-ups for business pitches.

In his time with Gametize, Guangwen accomplished a myriad of things: keeping the office clean and beautiful, looking out for the Gametize ninjas’ welfare, taking charge of logistics, taking charge of some projects as well!

However, Guangwen is not some super-robot with no flaws; we’re all humans after all. Guangwen admits that there are times when he can be “super-blur” — who buys just one slice of cake when asked to buy a birthday cake? Guangwen, apparently!

Guangwen is currently in his third year at SMU School of Information Systems, and we wish him all the best! Thank you, Guangwen, for all your contributions during your time with us!

Employee Happiness VS Employee Engagement

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“Employee happiness”.

It’s a term commonly thrown around now by supervisors and bosses and CEOs, but never by employees themselves. Ironic, isn’t it?

These days, to sell their companies, higher-ups claim that their employees are happy – no, no, it’s not like they’re lying or anything. They just genuinely believe their own employees are happy.

comic_1Why wouldn’t they be? They work in an air-conditioned office. They have a one hour lunch break. They must have great camaraderie with the people they work with everyday. And, come on, the pay isn’t all that bad! What’s there to complain about? Of course our employees are happy!

Yet, surveys conducted this year shows that a staggering 61% of employees surveyed said they’d thought of looking for employment elsewhere.

There you have it, folks – that’s your “employee happiness”.

Those companies technically aren’t wrong when they say their employees are happy. Their employees could be happy. They could be smiling and laughing and having the time of their life while working. But is it enough?

There’s discussion these days that, no, it isn’t. It isn’t enough to keep your employees happy. After all, they could be equally as happy going out with friends or staying at home to play video games. Happiness is so easily attainable these days that the workplace needs to offer more than just that.

“But the workplace does offer more! They pay you!” you say.

But is that what it’s come down to? Money? Is money enough, then?

Studies have shown that, no, it isn’t.

That old saying that everyone loves quoting: “money can’t buy happiness”? Apparently, it’s true. While everyone loves money and the things it can provide for us, it simply isn’t enough. Even pay raises have proven to be futile attempts in the quest to make employees want to keep working. Money is probably more effective than “employee happiness” but it still isn’t working as effectively as we want.

So, what is the problem here? They’re happy, they’re getting paid, but employees still think about leaving their jobs all the time.

Happiness and money is all fine and dandy, but the real selling point of a good company is engagement.

Employee happiness and employee engagement often get mixed up, and, even when the distinction is clear, it is unclear which should take priority.

So how about this radical notion of combining both, where employees live and breathe their work, and derive enjoyment from it? Here’s how we think we can achieve this.

We believe that employee happiness consists of:

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We’re woking with these people day-in and day-out. Much better to have somene to talk to when you’re tackling that pesky assignment, you know?


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No one wants to work while they’re sweaty or sleepy. A good working environment provides employees with just the right amount of comfort to keep them motivated.


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It’s the really small things that matter. Small things like having a monthly gathering with colleagues to play games, or someone getting coffee for everybody when there’s a super-early meeting. Little surprises go a long way in keeping employees happy.


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Enough sleep, regular meals. Do your employees have the energy to do their work? Are they struggling to meet deadlines with half-opened eyes? Are they starting to get cranky and irritated because all they want to do is to sleep, but they have work to do? Always encourage your employees to take ample rest. Give them time to have ample rest; how about starting work later?

That’s what employee happiness, to me, a working adult, is all about.


But what of employee engagement? Do you feel that pride and sense of achievement when you work? Do you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile? Here’re some of the things we think are necessary to achieve all that.

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Simply put, we’ve gotta love what we do. We’ve gotta want to do what we’re doing. No one wants to force themselves to do something they don’t truly believe in. Thankfully, passion can be cultivated. It requires some educating and some interaction and some time, but passion for work can be cultivated.


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Say “thank you”! Say “you’ll do better next time”! Say “you’re getting there”! We employees need and want to know how we’re getting along. We need to know what we can improve on, and what accomplishments we’re actually achieving, if we’re achieving any. This keeps us engaged and interested, both in our own progress and the company’s.


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Does my work help me as an individual? Or am I simply giving my time and life away to the company, but getting nothing besides monetary gains in return? We’ve already established that while money is a good pull, it’s not a good foundation for employees to base their happiness or engagement on. The workplace needs to be able to shape their employees, and help their employees learn and grow in their personal lives.

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At the end of a long day at work, everyone wants to feel like they’ve done something with their day. We don’t want to think, “Oh, I just went to work today”. We want to think, “Hey, I designed an app today!” or “I saved a couple from falling into bankruptcy!” or “I helped energize people by serving them coffee!”

Employee happiness and engagement boils down to this: Do I want to tell other people what I did at work today? Am I excited about what I did at work today?

Yes, it’s true that work is just one aspect in our lives, and, who knows, maybe we are putting too much thought into it. Maybe we’re meant to grumble and hate work, but then go back to a loving home where everything is alright. Maybe we’re not meant to love our work. Maybe that’s okay. After all, work isn’t everything, is it?

But why should we suffer, if we don’t have to? Why should we hate our work if we can love it?

Yes, there is much more to life than work. But work can also be so much more if we put some life into it.

In bed after 11pm, outta bed after 8am, makes your life awesome, fun, and grand!

“Oh my god, you’re so lucky!” is the usual response I receive when I’m asked what my working hours are like. If you’re wondering what they are, the official office hours for us here at Gametize is 10:30am to 7:30pm.

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To be honest, I had my doubts about such strange working hours when I first came to Gametize: Will I be as productive if I start work so late? Will my social life suffer? What if I get accustomed to waking up late and I become a lazy slob?

Six weeks into working with Gametize, and I realise how stupid those worries are, and how many benefits I actually have from my work schedule, benefits I hadnt even thought of.


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One of the first benefits I noticed, I noticed straight away on my first day of work. I get on a train at around 9:30am every day, and, by then, all the 9 – 5ers are already in their office cubicles, clacking away at their keyboards!

It is such a glorious thing, being able to take the train without having an impromptu club-grind-experience. I can stretch my arms and legs, I can bend over to tie my shoelaces, I can breathe.

Would all of this be possible with a regular 9 – 5 work schedule job? Hell to the no!


pixelbox3Having grown up with a Singaporean education system, I’m accustomed to waking up super-early, and starting lessons super-early as well. In Singapore, we start cramming information into our heads as early as 8:00am!

I’m used to doing that. I’m used to having to force myself to study and memorise equations and such, even when my brain is yelling at me that it can’t.

Yes, my brain yells at me that it can’t do work! And, apparently, it’s not just my brain that’s protesting, but my heart, and liver, and who knows what else.

According to Dr Paul Kelley of Oxford University and a research team at the Sleep and Circadian Institute, our body runs on this 24-hour rhythm that we cannot force through acclimatisation. By asking students and working adults to report to work before 9am, we’re actually forcing parts of our body to work two or three hours off of its 24-hour-rhythm.

That can’t be good, can it?

But I’m used to it. I’m used to this unhealthiness, after going through eleven years of it. I’m used to it and I’ve made it work for me, somehow.

So you can understand my concerns when I was first told my new, unconventional work schedule at Gametize. I thought I’d already gotten used to starting work early, and that starting work late from now on was sure to mess up my productivity!

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, my productivity’s actually improved!

Now that I’m working alongside my body’s “24-hour-rhythm”, I find myself more alert and falling sick less often. My brain no longer yells at me to take a break; instead it says, “Yeah, okay, I’m ready to work, let’s go.”

This way, I’m more focused, and I get through my tasks quicker, instead of yawning every thirty seconds, wishing I were dead. Which leads me to my third point…


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Sleep deprivation is an international problem.

We’ve all been there: it’s 7am, and we’ve got to be at school/work in two hours, and we’ve only had four hours of sleep. We crawl to our coffee pots—we don’t even bother pouring ourselves a cup, we just drink straight from the pot—and then we get dressed somehow, and we drag our feet to school/work.

At school/work, things don’t improve. We slouch over our desks, and we yawn so often our jaws are beginning to hurt, and we think to ourselves, “Someone, just kill me, please.”

I’m happy to report that in my past six weeks with a 10:30am – 7:30pm schedule, this has not happened, ever! (And, no, it’s not just because the office’s pantry is always fully-stocked with coffee!)

Get off work at 7:30pm, and if you’ve got a social life, great for you, maybe you’ll get home around midnight, you’ll head to bed at 1:00am. The latest I have to wake up, in order to get to work on time, is 9:00am.

That still gives me eight hours of sleep.

“Oh, stop whining,” some might say. “You can still get eight hours of sleep with regular 9 – 5 work hours! You just have to go to sleep earlier!”

Oh, come on, let’s face it: nobody wants to go to sleep before 11:00pm, so if we can’t change our nightly schedules, let’s change our morning schedules and start work later.

This is when someone jumps in and says that age-old saying: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.

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And it’s a saying from Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States! It has to be true!

Sorry, Ben, but modern research has proven you wrong.

A pair of epidemiologists at Southampton University conducted a research and found that night owls (in bed only after 11:00pm, up only after 8:00am) were financially and professionally more successful than morning larks (in bed before 11:00pm, up before 8:00am).

Another research by psychologist Richard D. Roberts of the University of Sydney and Patrick C. Kyllonen of the Air Force Research Lab, found that night owls also outperformed morning larks on intelligence tests.

As of yet, there is no scientific research that says “early to bed, early to rise” really does make us healthier, wealthier, or wiser, but there are tangible results that state the opposite.

Right now, being a night owl seems like the obvious choice that people should make! But nothing’s perfect, and night owls have their flaws too: we’re more prone to substance abuse, and more prone to clinical depression. But that’s a discussion for another time (or if you’d like, you can check out this article regarding night owls and morning larks, backed up with scientific research!).

So after all’s been said and done, what’s to be done about our school/work schedules? What is the right time to start school/work?

I’m no omniscient being, and I don’t have all the answers, but as a person who’s experienced both starting work before and after 9:00am, all I can share is that I much, much prefer the latter.

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MVP of the week 2015: The incredibly lovely and adorable… Rainbow Ninja!

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In a society where certificates are most important, and time is a monster breathing down your neck, Shi Teng has done the unthinkable: she’s taken a gap year.

Shi Teng hopped aboard the Gametize train a few months after graduating from polytechnic, a whole skill set tucked under her arm.

While some consider a gap year to be a pause, or a break, in your progress, Shi Teng sees it as part of her journey. Her gap year with Gametize is another story she will be able to tell people, another stepping stone to finding out what she really wants.

Here at Gametize, Shi Teng handles several projects, following up with clients and creating demo samples. Whatever you ask her to do, she’ll do it, and she’ll do it well. Hence her moniker, “Rainbow Ninja”. Just like how a rainbow has many different colours, Shi Teng has many different skills that range from content management to illustration to web design. Also like a rainbow, she brightens up the place wherever she goes, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces.

Her time here with Gametize is shaping her and giving her a new-found confidence that will enable her to make the right call for herself when her gap year is over.