My recent experiences with gamification.
1) Connecting with the Community
I started collaborating and gamifying the experience early on the #alm201 hashtag by introducing myself via video and then continued to contribute and respond to other students’ efforts. I responded to the layered quests Adam (our unit coordinator) set, and by liking, commenting, awarding gifs, follows and comments to the other students in the group I was rewarding and encouraging them.
Together we built a gamified commons.
We were leveraging Twitter’s social and celebrification affordances which reward participation and distribute dopamine. Gamifying the experience made it more intrinsically motivating.
The way content was packaged into levels presented the opportunity to participate in what became a virtuous learning spiral where each success would motivate each of us toward our next goal. We were collaborating and learning by doing.
I participated in this challenge > achievement > satisfaction > dopamine spiral towards greater achievements and ultimate satisfaction by posting articles, blogging, and creating art for the gamified commons. In the selection and procurement of lots of sharable resources, studies and stats, I was also able to inculcate my own learnings and understandings.
2) Understanding Gamification
Gamification uses game elements and thinking in non-game environments to increase user engagement, enjoyment and target behaviour. By using a playful user-centred approach and game mechanics like narratives, points, badges, and avatars to motivate us rather than beating the audience over the head with knowledge, gamification is seen as a viable response to the crisis of engagement and apathy towards participation, witnessed from education to marketing and beyond. By humanising the world gamification, it creates the potential to transform the way we interact, learn, collaborate, and participate to create better futures together. A superb ally in the quest of reclaiming and reengaging with economies, politics, learning, and ourselves.
3) Experiencing Gamification
Due to the fact that I realistically see gamification as a way to solve some of the society’s bigger issues (or epic quests) in which #vanlife is situated, I wanted to bring it to my podcast community in an accessible way.
Gamification and #vanlife are two seemingly disparate ideas and it was a challenge to merge them. I did consider starting a new SoundCloud account but ultimately realised it was important to keep the content rolling out for my growing audience and to contribute something new to the #vanlife discussion—#gamification. I used “the crisis of engagement was the ‘way in’ and tailored the gamification examples I used to that audience.
I learned a lot from the exercise and with each new podcast I make, I learn the value in having a body of established work and experience from which to draw from. With each new podcast, the process becomes a little more streamlined which means I can take on bigger challenges.
Podcast Music: Road Trip (https://soundcloud.com/user-427503922/road-trip)by Lane Petrosenko featuring Racquel Deveau (CC BY-NC 3.0) User-427503922 – Road-trip
Soundcloud Lead Image: Dolomites (https://flic.kr/p/SFY5rC) by Louise Feige (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Podcast Sound Effects:
Regular Game Sound Effects 28 (https://freesound.org/s/219975/
) by B Lamerichs (CCby0)
Regular Game Sound Effects 20 (https://freesound.org/s/219983/
) by B Lamerichs (CCby0)
Sound Effect; Typewriter (http://soundbible.com/827-Typewriter.html
) By tamskp (CC BY 3.0)
Podcast transcript – (Rough Copy)
Recently, I’ve been studying and learning about Gamification and I could not help but relate it back to vanlife.
In this series, we have looked at the deep roots of #vanlife culture from the transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, the beatnik poets like Jack K, the VW hippies through to the more recent Instagram #vanlifers. The common thread that runs through this history is that they all seem to suffer from a crisis of engagement in what mainstream society is offering.
Like all of us, I am not new to gamification or using game elements in non-game contexts.
When I’m on LinkedIn, for example, I’m prompted to complete my profile. When I make an update suddenly my profile strength balloon shows I’m at 80% complete and I know I am made more employable. But whatever I do it is never enough, and the algorithm works to ensure you can never actually reach 100% and this keeps you adding more. The more data LinkedIn has on you, the more targeted they can make their advertising, the more money they make. Personally, if I am going to become target gamification I would prefer if it was for not extraction.
I instead gave the SuperBetter resilience building, gamified app by Jane McGonigal a try. McGonigal sees gamification as a means of building collective intelligence to improve the quality of human through social ills. Because she has been quite adamant that gamification only works if the goals are intrinsically motivating to the individual I thought I could trust Supper Better.
I also liked how they promoted the site.
SuperBetter is promoted as increasing resilience – the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficult obstacles. Playing SuperBetter makes you more capable of getting through any tough situation—and more likely to achieve the goals that matter most to you. And it is developed with universal values.
I signed up and modified my avatar. There were about 16 challenges available from sleeping better, anxiety or losing weight. I choose a general one called Simply Getting Super Better for my Challenge.
I then had to choose an Epic Win. There are lots of tips on the site on how to choose an epic win, but the idea is to use something that is hard right now and will involve some degree of difficulty to achieve. The idea is if epic wins “realistic, challenging, energizing, and forgiving” it doesn’t matter if you keep failing along the way because each time you try, you get closer and this builds resilience. I typed in “Enjoy Life” for my Epic Win.
Supper Better then uses almost all the available game like mechanics and elements to help you achieve your Epic Win.
Smaller quests were practical concrete steps I took to provide a sequenced committed path to my Epic Win. With each success, my confidence and optimism grew.
Future boosts are the incremental rewards I looked forward to, to provide a little extra motivation along the way. Finishing my first round of assignments is a future boost I look forward to.
Power-ups are achieved for anything chugging glasses of water and give provide strength and energy to achieve quests.
Bad Guys the thoughts, habits, and situations I avoid because they prevent my success in achieving my quests.
Allies view your progress and encourage you.
As I interact with these elements, complete, quests, fight bad guys progress bars futurate. These can go up and down measure as a measure of my current physical, mental, emotional and social resilience.
Resilience becomes both a by-product and an explicit aim of Super Better as I faced tougher challenges without giving up.
After a few weeks, I’ve already earned quite a few badges for interacting regularly using all the elements.
And if my own resilience is my measure of success for the Super Better platform then it worked. I do believe I have become stronger, happier, and more connected to others.
I’m focusing less on outcomes and goals and enjoying the moment and each small victory. I celebrate these victories. I’m surrounding myself with positive people. I’m embracing challenges both in the easy and the hard days, knowing these are all part of the game.
I am taking the values imbued in gamification and resilience and applying them to my own life outside of the game context.
I love how SuperBetter makes explicit how gamification and resilience can work together to help individuals and society achieve hard-earned wins.
I can see how gamification can play a huge part in countering the malaise of contemporary society and the crisis of engagement from which the vanlifers have long suffered.
I am more mindful of checking in with my emotions, giving myself small incremental rewards, and connecting with others.
Perhaps online game creators should team up with vanlifers to create a platform for a better world.
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