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Bryan Alexander

Bringing new life to a 'dead' language | News Center | Wake Forest University - 0 views

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    Published: April 19, 2013 Role-playing game energizes Latin class Choose your character, write spells, map the dungeon and move up levels. It sounds like Dungeons and Dragons, but it's not. It's Latin class. Each student plays a hero from Graeco-Roman myth with a backstory, personality and actions determined largely by the student.
Ed Webb

BBC - Future - Technology - Gamification: Is it game over? - 4 views

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    Lots of dark stuff in there, from Skinner to addiction.
    Did the hype bubble burst?
Ed Webb

All the World's a Game, and Business Is a Player - NYTimes.com - 5 views

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    Interesting. No mention of Jane McGonigal.
    The badges were cute.
Ed Webb

Most Gamification is Just Pointsification | The Ludus Project - 5 views

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    Just the title sounds true on this one--many of the gamification discussions I've heard have focused on points as incentive.
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    That's really good.
    What can you do with those points?
Bryan Alexander

Before the Storm: game teaching community responses to extreme weather - 1 views

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    Very low cost.
Ed Webb

Video games are the answer to the New Boring | Technology | guardian.co.uk - 0 views

  • And then there's Saint's Row 3, an open-world crime shooter, that seems to have been concocted entirely by hyperactive 14-year-olds force fed on a diet of sherbet, Red Bull and Korean gangster movies. This is a game in which the player can, entirely at random, bludgeon passers-by with a giant dildo. To the best of my knowledge, Downton Abbey features nothing even remotely comparable – although, to be fair, I skipped most of season two, and may have missed a key scene in which Hugh Bonneville attacks his butler with some nightmarish Edwardian device intended for the cure of female hysteria.
  • Please, if you are a parent and you want something to do with your kids on a wet Sunday afternoon, don't rent the latest heavily marketed CGI bore-fest from a Hollywood studio more interested in selling you merchandise and the moral agenda of its self-serving financers, buy Zelda. Buy Zelda and share a genuinely thrilling, heart-warming escapist fantasy with your children. Certainly, it's not as 'good' as taking them to a museum or getting them to play footie in the park, but if the only alternative is Horrid Henry, it is spectacular – and they will never forget it.
  • Interactivity is a blunt but effective tool to ensure attention and alertness. And as such, video games have never sought to stultify or repress. Video games are not interested in teaching us to make the most out of our tired soft furnishings.
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  • Forget mainstream TV, forget it. It's over – at least in terms of water cooler discussion. Apprentice and X-Factor may reliably trend on Twitter, but it's all ironic chatter mixed with barely-disguised collective embarrassment and culpability. There's nothing enriching there.
  • games demand immersion and investment. Traditionally, this has formed a stereotype of dead-eyed zombies slumped in front of monitors, but of course, through XBox Live and PSN, gamers now constantly communicate with each other, as well as share creative tasks in titles like Little Big Planet and Minecraft. New research from Michigan State University suggests that gamers are more imaginative story-tellers – the findings are far from conclusive, but they don't surprise me. The game worlds in Zelda, Uncharted and Dark Souls are rich and deep. They are cluttered with possibilities.
  • Games get to us on some primal level, they speak to the machine code of the human id – and that can be a good thing.
  • You have your doubts and so do I. But the very least mainstream games do is give us a platform to discuss amazing things. When you talk about Zelda or Uncharted 3, you can talk about beauty, art, mythology and adventure; when you talk about the forthcoming Bioshock: Infinite, you can cover architecture, paranoia and politics and it all makes perfect sense. These elements aren't hidden away, to be teased out by cultural studies students desperate to apply their knowledge of Derrida and Saussure. They're there in the very form, the very function of the games. Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 are idiotic and politically suspect, but give them five minutes and they'll show you more about the computerised lunacy of contemporary conflict than most of those MOD-arranged shaky cam war reports beamed into your living rooms by over-stretched 24-hour news channels
Ed Webb

How All Knowledge Work Will Be Gamified - Technology Review - 2 views

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    Anything that can be tracked can be gamified.

    Shoot me now
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    Do I get extra points for a headshot?
Rebecca Davis

Geneology of Badges - Google Docs - 5 views

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    Who's the author on this?
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    Alexander Halavais--He was in the Google Hangout with us yesterday and shared the link then.
Ed Webb

Tom Bissell on Dead Island - Grantland - 2 views

  • You leveled up and rolled the dice in Dungeons & Dragons because it was impossible to run such systems under the game's hood. You know why? Because there wasn't a hood. Video games not only have hoods but also engines, and all manner of delightfully invisible computation can be dealt with and handled there. So I ask: Why isn't it invisible more often? Why this useless Gamification of what are already games? Why do we tolerate it? What do we actually get out of it, other than some mouse-brain satisfaction of knowing exactly where we are in the maze?4
  • I recently asked a game-designer friend if one of the reasons these skill-tree and leveling-up systems actually show up in games is due to the fact that some poor bastard actually had to work for months and sometimes years refining them and planning them and gaming them out, so that everything made sense and demonstrably kept players from getting too powerful too quickly. He said, with a sigh, "Pretty much." Which means that one problem with game design today is the game designer's emotional inability to hide his or her hard work. Oh, the humanity.
  • Techland consulted some real geniuses of nomenclature in coming up with Dead Island's weapons' subclass names: We have the Flimsy Cleaver, the Tiring Knife, the Frightening Mace, the Spiteful Pistol. It all sounds like the work of two Poles with a big bag of weed and a thesaurus. What's next? I wrote in my notes. The Recalcitrant Hoe? Two minutes later, no joke, I found the Languid Pistol.
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  • In a game about running from things that want to eat you, what is more important: the emotional experience of running from things that want to eat you, or knowing that the thing that wants to eat you is a Level 23 thing that wants to eat you? Knowing that the machete in your hand can take its head off, or knowing that the machete in your hand is capable of doing 320+ hit points of damage? On second thought, don't bother answering. That this game exists is answer enough.
Ed Webb

digital digs: Welcome to badge world - 3 views

  • That's what this is about: making things count, commodifying life and passion in the context of a marketplace of education and expertise. However, it is painfully obvious how quickly that gets reversed, how quickly we shift from pursuing something because we are interested in it (and then retrospectively looking for a reward) to pursuing something strictly for the reward.
  • I'm trying to imagine my kids' lives (ages 10 and 12) in badge-world. We already live in what I consider a college-crazy community where parents of 12-year olds wonder whether keeping their kid in travel soccer is the best way to get a college scholarship or if they should switch to golf or oboe or fill-in-the-blank. Imagine a world where every potential after-school activity is commodified as a badge. The first thing parents ask is "which badge is most valuable for getting my kid into college or a good job?" Then it's all about the badges. My kids can just give up on ever having a single moment of joy in their lives. Even if they were going to enjoy something, how can they when they've already committed to this transactional experience instead?
  • When we look at all the free, DIY learning that is out there now, it's free precisely because it hasn't been commodified. You can download stuff from MIT's Open Courseware because that kind of learning has no commerical value. If you want to get a badge though, that's going to cost. All the big textbook publishers and educational technology companies will just jump right on badges. All those Sylvan learning type companies will be selling badges. Edutainment video games and such will come with badges and thus be more expensive. 

    Badges won't make learning cheaper. We'll be spending more money on education than ever, and we won't get any better results because the motives for learning will still be all wrong.

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  • Extrinsic rewards like badges might be good incentives for certain kinds of rote behaviors or to get someone to try something new. But, as I understand it, they have a negative impact on creative, problem-solving activites (i.e. the kinds of things we really need our students to learn to do). These are the things you have to want to do for some intrinsic reason, not to get some badge.
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    I'm still gathering my thoughts. A few stabs:
    1) MIT's OCW is seeking corporate endorsements in order to survive. Is that commodified?
    2) "We already live in what I consider a college-crazy community" - doesn't seem to be the main people these badges are after.
Ed Webb

Soviet Gamification - 2 views

  • the claim that we've never explored using game-like mechanics for non-entertainment purposes keeps us from using knowledge we actually have: gamification's rhetoric claims that this is a new, unexplored space in which we're just learning things for the first time. But in fact we already know a lot of things about how gamification works and doesn't work, and have done a lot of thinking about the relationships between things like extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, and gameplay, and pretending that we don't know any of that isn't a good way to make progress.

    I mostly ignored gamification for a while, considering it a brief marketing trend. But if it's here to stay, perhaps we ought to retroactively broaden it, and include things like "socialist competition" as an experiment in gamification worth learning lessons from

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    via Bryan Alexander
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    The humorous punch is good, like Ed Tufte's "Cognitive Style"'s cover.
    I wonder if we'll see an old left-right political spin to criticism.
Ed Webb

Ian Bogost - Gamification is Bullshit - 4 views

  • gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway
  • The title of this symposium shorthands these points for me: the slogan "For the Win," accompanied by a turgid budgetary arrow and a tumescent rocket, suggesting the inevitable priapism this powerful pill will bring about—a Viagra for engagement dysfunction, engorgement guaranteed for up to one fiscal quarter.
  • I realize that using games earnestly would mean changing the very operation of most businesses. For those whose goal is to clock out at 5pm having matched the strategy and performance of your competitors, I understand that mediocrity's lips are seductive because they are willing.
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    via Kirk Battle on Buzz
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    Bogost seems to be getting more and more irritated by the gamification pseudo-movement. His response to McGonigal's book was contrary but professional. The exploitationware piece was critical and pointed, but I thought still civil. This is...angry. And that really comes through in his comment to the gamify.com guy's post.

    I'm mostly in agreement on the substance of his objections to much of gamification. But I wonder why this movement toward such vehemence? Do you suppose he's now fielding more annoying offers to help design game-like systems? Is Cow Clicker kindof backfiring, leading people to him as a designer instead of away from him?

    I don't know. But he sure is pissed, that's clear.
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    I have no inside knowledge. But I suspect his irritation increases in proportion to the hype. The tone here is caustic, but the content is on the money. If you agree with him, and if you love games and their potential, you can understand the rage, I think.
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    I don't know -- rage, really? Isn't the "games vs. gamification" tack ultimately more of a both/and thing than a conflict? I'm not sure why having gamification exist necessarily entails an undermining of what games are. I suppose there's the question of educating non-gamers on the great potential of actual games, and perhaps policing a boundary between the two concepts.

    But just as I don't really want the local police to become enraged when I cross a line, I find this kind of response (and again, I've seen Bogost do it far better and with greater restraint elsewhere) off-putting to say the least. One comment on his post referred to Bogost's "war" against gamification; I'm just not sure that's the most productive approach to addressing its rise.
Ed Webb

Gamification has issues, but they aren't the ones everyone focuses on - O'Reilly Radar - 1 views

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    Via James Schirmer on Buzz. As I commented there:  This is quite sensible.
    Since I do want to dismantle capitalism, I don't agree with that bit.
    More subtly, I am concerned about the entrenchment of simplistic binary thinking in western, particularly US, culture, so "Game designers often like to see an epic battle between good and evil - even where there isn't one - but that's part of the charm" - for me that's a significant drawback. To the extent that a game includes an argument about how the world is or how the world should be, then reinforcing oversimplification (rather than the simplification necessary in any model of the/a world, be it a book, movie, academic article or game) is problematic. I like my myths/theories/stories multifaceted.
Ed Webb

Lessons Learned in Playful Game Design - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 3 views

  • The site reflected my commitment to designing the class assignments around collaborative mission-based tasks that would increase in difficulty level each week and reward multiple paths of completion. Each week I tried to think beyond discussion topics and create playful mechanics–the real challenge of harnessing gameplay, which no site can provide on its own–and some weeks it was hard to escape giving assignments that would never feel playful.
  • many of the students appreciated the greater sense of collaboration
  • Ian Bogost escalated his anti-gamification campaign with a Gamasutra article that explicitly mentioned how the rhetoric of gamification is drawing attention from educators to a trend that threatens “to replace real incentives with fictional ones,” among many other sins. The piece even inspired Darius Kazemi to build a Chrome extension that replaces “gamification” with “exploitationware.”
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  • From edutainment titles that amounted to repackaging of classroom drills to simulations that favor particular structures of reality, games as they stand are learning experiences we’ve started to understand but are still trying to harness in the classroom.
  • a class-based Alternate Reality Game
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    Neat! I like the way she worked in anti-gamification.
Rebecca Davis

Lessons Learned in Playful Game Design - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 2 views

  • As the semester got rolling, I realized that I’d made a new course preparation into a potentially life-consuming task.
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    report on gamifying a class
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