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”

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!

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.

What has Gamification got to do with Politics?

Gamification – the concept of incorporating game-design elements into distribution channels or activities to drive engagement – has been adopted in recruitment, marketing, learning and development, and even HR practices. Politics is also no stranger to the concept, as gamification has been predominant for driving advocacy and engagement…but let us first begin with the basics.

What are game-design elements again?
gamification-1Trying to top a leaderboard or accumulating sufficient points to redeem a reward? If you identify with either of these symptoms, then you’re already familiar with game-design elements! Achievements, rewards or a sense of belonging and camaraderie are a prevalent aspect in the traditional sense of gaming. Unlocking a new level in Angry Birds, redeeming a shopping voucher or joining a guild in World of Warcraft; participating in activities that offer intrinsic or extrinsic rewards and accomplishments may very well be the reason users stay engaged.

Characteristics of competition, rewards and redemption, or even a sense of belonging can increase engagement of your audience, depending on their motivations. Game-design elements resonate with our fundamental instincts to participate in activities with such characteristics.

Ok, back to the title of this article…
Now that we recognize game-design elements, let us examine it in politics. There is inherent competition in campaigning and rallying. There is belonging in throngs of like-minded supporters. Despite the change in context, the fundamentals remain the same. Politicians compete, they mobilize supporters, and they offer perks ranging from free tortillas to free wristbands.

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Image source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/26/julia-gillard-game-of-thrones

From 2001 to 2012, Joe Simitian’s annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest engaged citizens by encouraging them to propose new ideas that may be passed into law. Since then, there have been 18 proposed bills that were successfully passed into law. Gamifying the process by introducing the notion of competition into a contest, driving growth and involvement by putting up attractive rewards allowed for this concept to run well past a decade.

Growth of Gamification in Politics and its possibilities
So how has gamification evolved in politics, and how can it continue growing from here? The 2012 presidential elections in the U.S. saw the conventional form of online games: “iCivics” and “Election Special”. According to Hamari et al., 2014 in their research paper: “Does Gamification Work? – A Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Gamification”, the effects of gamification are subject to caveats that may impact desired outcomes, but the general observation is that gamification can bring about positive results. Coupled with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand what motivates an audience, many processes in politics could be gamified to achieve larger objectives:

  • Awareness and education of political issues: Imagine a repository of resources and information that voters can access to learn about a politician’s proposed policies and understand his vision. Now imagine that vast amount of information being developed into an interactive game in the form of bite-sized quests or trivia. Encouraging well-informed decisions through gamification of information dissemination could possibly become a motivation.
  • Engagement of users and advocacy: For the audience that is motivated by extrinsic incentives, gamification could appear in the form of perks and rewards for completing challenges related to political understanding or support. Alternatively, free snacks at campaigns may quite possibly translate into higher attendances and in turn, better odds in a numbers game.

Perhaps even ideas that are slightly more out there such as looking to recruit and groom your “top players” into potential politicians could be accomplished through gamification. The possibilities are endless and the continued growth of gamification can only bring us more surprises for the future of politics.

We have witnessed a gamut of strategies in the Singapore General Elections (GE) 2015, and we think that gamification could have taken it further. The Gametize team decided to design a quick gamified demo to simulate how politicians can use gamification for their campaigns. Check it out at http://www.gametize.com/game/ge or search for “ge” on the Gametize appOr, you can just see the screenshots below:

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Several challenges available!

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Selfie your support!

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How about attending a rally?

1.4 Mobile version!

Also, in the name of fun, give our GE2015 Prediction Game a spin! Find it at http://www.gametize.com/game/gepredictions or on the Gametize app by searching “gepredictions”. May the luck be with you!

//Edited by Keith Ng.

This post was contributed by Wena Goh, Project Management @Gametize
Wena Goh has just joined Gametize; she seeks to entertain us with her dark (and sometimes ironic) humour. She’s got canine companions she loves dearly and when she’s off duty, you’ll find her either buried in books or enthusiastically farming her BKB (she’s not very good though).

How Wii Games can improve your child

Video games and child development may not go hand-in-hand to the untrained eye but it’s been suggested that video games, in this case the Wii device, may be beneficial in certain instances. Wii games are great interactive games that will not only entertain children but also enable them to boost learning and improve hand- and eye-coordination among other things amid a range of other benefits:

Physically Active
The Wii combines physical activity with video games, meaning that children won’t be sitting down all day whilst playing. From physical movements, using one’s mind and learning a different set of skills, children can maintain exceptional physical health alongside their mind and this introduces them to real-life sports as well. Expending energy is a useful alternative to spending hours inside talking via social media and using the internet as opposed to getting out and about.

Problem-Solving
Wii games promote a sense of interaction that doesn’t usually come with other video games. Controlling a player with a more physical aspect brings in a new element of creativity and problem-solving, crossing movement with something similar to self-expression. Games like Wii Tennis and Golf require anticipation and technique, requiring children to gauge the appropriate response, whether it be how hard to hit a ball, how far and with a degree of accuracy.

Social Skills
A common argument that today’s younger generation face is that they don’t get out and meet with friends in the outside world as much anymore. Playing games online or using the Wii with friends keeps a social element at the core of a youngster’s life. Not only is it something that most kids have in common, it’s something fun and something that frequents conversation amongst young children, providing a stimulus and a source of entertainment.

Computer games are at the core of a number of studies, many of which pinpoint numerous advantages of children playing video games within reason. From embracing competition and allowing time to play with parents, it’s not just physical benefits, but also promoting interaction with others from an early age.

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This is a guest post by one of our contributors, and is not written nor endorsed by Gametize.

Gamification is everywhere

Ever wondered, “Where can I apply gamification?” Let us show you in this infograph. We believe that gamification can be applied to a wide range of industries and that play is an essential part of life!

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This post was contributed by Max Ang, Business Development Mentee @ Gametize
Max is the summer Business Ninja at Gametize in 2014. He loves reading, especially on themes that deal with the modern society. A sporty person who enjoys runs in the morning and rock climbing on the weekends.

Gamification with Gametize

Gamification can bring about positive changes to your business. Scroll down to find out more.

Gamification infographic

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This post was contributed by Jonathan Goh, Business Development Intern @ Gametize
Jonathan Goh is a final year Psychology undergraduate at University College London in United Kingdom, London. His research interests lie in mindfulness, decision-making, and applied psychology.

Why are video games so addictive?

Whether you’re flinging angry birds on your phone or chasing aliens on your Xbox, video gaming has become a common part of society. The masterminds responsible, the game developers, have gotten really good at motivating people. It’s their job after all to create games that will engage players for as long as possible. The question I’ve begun to explore is this: how do they make “fun” happen using game mechanics? And more importantly, how can we take the addiction from games and use it to make people work?

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As it turns out, people who play games do so for at least one of these six reasons: competition, challenge, diversion, fantasy, social interaction, and emotional satisfaction. So let me describe each one and how they are used in Gamification.

Competition: Just turn to your local sports channel during the World Cup or the Olympics and you’ll see. An entire nation of people will rally behind a sports team and cheer because they feel like they are competing against another nation. A sense of competition can engage an entire nation to a sporting event even if many of them did not have much interest in the game before. This motivation is utilized in gamification through the proper use of a leader board and a meaningful points system.

Challenge: People don’t want an easy life, they want a challenging one. This is a tricky balance for game designers as it requires tasks both obtainable and sufficiently difficult. There should be a good understanding of what the players are capable of and how much difficulty they can therefore withstand.

Diversion: The point is to draw the player away from stress. Be it the friends, challenges, story, or a beautiful design, game mechanics can help a player forget about the negative or stressful aspects of life. Diversion both draws a player into a game this way and also opens up the person to engage at an even higher level.

Fantasy: Fantasy is about escaping reality for a more pleasant experience. People have been doing this since there have been story tellers. This game mechanic is used a bit differently in gamification mostly because we are concerned with injecting fun into the real world instead of stepping outside of it. Using narratives and stories, a proper gamification case will make the real world seem like a fantasy world. For example, a player could be defeating an evil scientist by learning about the different domains within his company.

Social Interaction: Some like to focus on socializing more than on a good narrative or on completing challenges. For them, games are more about the people they play with than the game itself. In social games, rewards are given for completing tasks together or for sharing game content with other players or potential players. This is a common example of gamification and allows for both social interaction and help with marketing.

Emotional Satisfaction: This is the feeling you get when you’ve worked hard for something and have earned a great reward for it. It is a sense of accomplishment that naturally comes from success and as emotional creatures we can’t help but want more of it. As much as quick and immediate feedback is important, people also need to receive an appropriate kind and degree of feedback for significant accomplishments.

These six factors are what makes games so addictive. Using the above described game mechanics, Gamification reverse engineers this process and drives desired action. We should all be as addicted to work as we are to games!

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This post was contributed by Michael Chang, Business Development Mentee @ Gametize
Michael was raised in Seattle, WA and is a third year economics student at Hillsdale College (as of 2014). He worked at Gametize in Summer 2014 to learn how he can use my economics knowledge for business development.

Can Gamification save the world?

Through learning and analytical thinking, Gamification can save the world.

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Learning is one of the key benefits that Gamification propagates. You can learn to play or play to learn. Gamification awards points and badges for task completion, acting as an extrinsic motivator for action carried out. However, it is dependent on the initial motivation to do and learn. There has to be an issue to tackle beforehand, a critical problem area that will generate the desire. Only then, would adopting game mechanics and psychology be useful in improving attitude and subsequent behaviour. As much as intrinsic motivation is needed to play or embark on an activity/game, it does rely on support from others. Self-growth is only enabled by our need to project the best possible self to others, to form an impression we desire and to get the feedback we need to progress.

social-networking-businessThe act of gaming involves people. Do you enjoy playing a game on your mobile phone? Interest would definitely be lowered when you are the only one in your social circle to be playing it. When we play a game, good or bad, we would surely tell our peers about it. Being a lone ranger just isn’t fun. We are social creatures. The presence of our social network promotes engagement, sharing and perhaps learning. Research has shown that close embedded ties promote innovation and sharing. Due to the fear of being ostracised, it reduces opportunistic behaviour as well, delivering harmony among social network. Therefore, we would trust our social circle more and are willing to share our worldly encounters with them.

That said, social network are good for information cascade but it lacks the ability to enable analytical thinking and learning. Iyad Rahwan, Associate Professor in Computing & Information Science at Masdar Institute, put forward this argument in his blog post, “Limits of social learning”. Iyad goes on to mention that, in order to tackle complex issues like climate change or pollution, we would need better institutions to solve and promote critical thinking and learning.

So yes, we rely on our social circle to learn and share but remove the support, we are unable to find a solution on our own. We are merely copying. Playing games enable us to learn on our own, before comparison with our peers. We compete, in good fun, on who has the highest score or the best weapon. In games, we may be play in teams but it is still up to us as individuals to navigate the course. Our case study on GameLead demonstrates this; students complete challenges on their own and vote for their peers’ answers later. Games can also be used to tackle complex issues. Yukai Chou, a Gamification pioneer and keynote speaker, provides examples on this.

challengeacceptedGames promote analytical thinking. It probes for answer to challenges. A moment of laziness would only restrict you to a certain level, not being able to progress forward. You got to think and analyse the right answer or move, for the best possible points or rewards. In essence, games can help us to analyse and learn in a positive manner. It can do wonders for the world’s problems.

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This post was contributed by Max Ang, Business Development Mentee @ Gametize
Max is the summer Business Ninja at Gametize in 2014. He loves reading, especially on themes that deal with the modern society. A sporty person who enjoys runs in the morning and rock climbing on the weekends.

Productivity and Play: a paradox?

MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson wrote about the productivity paradox in a 1993 paper, which can be summarized as the contradiction between technology investments and its benefits (lack of) to organizations. The main takeaway is that technology should not be measured in terms of economics benefits. It should, instead, be seen as an enabler and part of a wider process change in the organization.

playworkDue to vague understanding and wrong measurements, potential solutions do not have the chance to be implemented. Play and productivity are caught in a similar paradox. Play has a bad reputation with productivity. When play comes to mind, we naturally assume that it is disruption to work. But, have you ever thought that play might be the antidote to higher levels of productivity?  Play, coupled with the dynamics of our social network, brings about a cool synergy that makes everyone focus and happy. We grumble in the face of dull work but throw in play, happiness blossom and productivity stays positive.

kittlyplayPlay boosts morale and enthusiasm; it makes you want to do. It does not rely on extrinsic cues to rein in participation.  No one likes working in a stiff environment or under a stern boss. Adding an element of fun relaxes the atmosphere and contrary to popular beliefs, it does not prolong work completion. When we engage in play, stress gets reduce, which improves creative thinking and social relations. Social relations are vital for ideas generation, sharing and learning. A harmonious social network is a product of being relax and comfortable, and being open to one to another. Transparency brings about lower incidents of miscommunication, improving productivity.

childplayProductivity is the ability to do work well. Therefore, play does not clash with productivity, they are partners in crime. Play should not be limited to a child’s priority. Play results in uninhibited children, leading them to be fearless risk takers with low censorship. This gives room for learning and sharing, without the excess baggage. Adults should be actively involved in play, especially in the work context. It is probably the serious act that leads to adults being frustrated and stress at work. Negative emotions produce bad work, hampering productivity instead. Play promotes exploration and sharing, which improves productivity. There should never be a paradox between play and productivity. The productivity paradox is about wrong measurements and wanting more for less. In terms of human capital, we are productive only when we are happy and well. We need to consider play as a measurement tool.

The challenge is to build a bridge of play and productivity. Gamification would be the gel to involve play in work context. Through applying game context and mechanics into non-game situations, play is introduced. Gamification holds the fundamentals of play, share, learn and explore. These fundamentals are all about encouraging the creation of a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Hence, we should leverage on technology to embrace the possibility of bringing fun to whatever endeavour we pursue.

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This post was contributed by Max Ang, Business Development Mentee @ Gametize
Max is the summer Business Ninja at Gametize in 2014. He loves reading, especially on themes that deal with the modern society. A sporty person who enjoys runs in the morning and rock climbing on the weekends.