My passion for play and belief that the principles of game mechanics & playfulness are not only a Very Good Thing, but a brilliant means of encouraging behaviour change, is something I bang on about a lot here. No great exposition here, just a few examples of gaming-related awesomeness I recently came across:
From film maker & social innovator Ivo Gormley (of Us Now and Think Public fame), I only recently discovered Playmakers, a film exploring the world of pervasive gaming, and specifically following the fantastic Hide and Seek crew & their development of a new game & how it explores the use of public space. Not sure quite how or why I managed to miss this one, but v. glad I saw it – well worth a watch.
The Good Gym
Again, it’s not a new one, this one’s been around for quite a while, but I’ve only just stumbled across it, and it’s a good ‘un so thought worth sharing just in case. The Good Gym is another project from Think Public, also backed by the fantastic guys at Social Innovation Camp, Headshift and UnLtd. Loneliness is a big problem amongst older people in the UK. 13% of people over 65 in the UK say that they always or often feel lonely, and 17% of those living alone see family and friends less than once a week. At the same time, lots of us younger (and not so young) folk know we should be getting fit but going to the gym is very isolating – and in many ways a wasted resource:
In gyms all over the country people all over Britain work away furiously; peddling, pushing, lifting, running and achieving no external benefits. The Good Gym aims to harness this energy by making it easier for people to channel this energy towards social good.
It’s a pilot project in Tower Hamlets that aims to link up people who want to get some exercise with older people who may be in need of some company. I heard about it on a recent episode of Shift Run Stop, where Ivo Gormley talked about how it was tapping into our existing behaviours and trying to use them for good by making them much more fun. So instead of going to the gym, you go for a run, and go and visit someone you’ve been matched with. Maybe you bring them a paper. Maybe you have a nice cup of tea and a chat. You get fit, and you bring people together. Happy days – awesome stuff.
I love love love the idea behind this one. I talked about Chore Wars in my Playful talk about changing behaviour through play, and this is like Chore Wars on steroids. EpicWin is an iPhone productivity app with a difference – instead of just ticking off items on your to-do list, it turns them into a game:
Rather than just mentally ticking off your chores, completing each one improves and develops your character in an ongoing quest to level-up, gain riches, and develop skills. Doing the laundry is an epic feat of stamina so why not get stamina points for it?!
The more you do, the further you will journey and the further you go, the more loot you will uncover and the more your character will level-up in skills and stature. And unlike traditional videogames you’ll then benefit from a tidier home, a more organised working day or succeeding in whatever other life goals you wish to achieve.
The app is a join venture between the awesomely talented Rex ‘Rexbox’ Crowle (of LittleBigPlanet fame) and Tak Fung (of Fox vs Duck fame). If you’re a hardcore GTD-er then this probably isn’t for you. But if you’d like to inject a sense of playfulness into your to-do list, it kicks ass.
I’m Jane McGonigal, and I gave that TED Talk in February 2010 [about how games can make a better world]. And now, as a result, I get about 50-100 emails every week from really interesting people who are: passionate about positive impact games and looking for potential collaborators; launching a start-up, and looking for employees or co-founders; seeking advice or mentors; looking for co-authors for papers, or co-panelists for conferences; need someone they can interview for a book, or a news, magazine, TV or radio story; and most importantly, looking for a world-changing game they can play TODAY.
I want to put all these people in touch with each other, so we can all make and play more good games together. That’s why I’m starting Gameful….Gameful is an online “Secret HQ” where you can connect with other people who believe in the power of games to make us better and change the world.
Jane defines good games as any game that’s dedicated to making some kind of real positive impact on the players’ lives and the world around them: games that make us happier, smarter
stronger, healthier, more collaborative, more creative, better connected to our friends and family – better at whatever we love to do when we’re not playing games. (The aforementioned EpicWin app is given as one such example.)
There are lots of brilliant projects being supported and crowd-funded via Kickstarter, and this is one of my faves – I’ll definitely be pledging my support, and I can’t wait to see what’s developed & nurtured by Gameful. Good times.
Last, but by no means least, is the fantastic IPA Diploma dissertation from my old uni-mate and super smart planner at BBH, Tim Jones – Gaming Brands. Tim doesn’t just look at gaming as a means of delivering great communication, he looks at game mechanics as a way of approaching brand planning itself:
Gaming Brands is an approach to brand planning that applies the principles of gaming to brand building. This approach represents a fundamental shift from building brands as message transmission devices, to building brands as behaviour change systems. This approach is firmly rooted in established human psychology, leveraging our predisposition to ‘game’ life to further the commercial aims of brands operating in the modern world. Gaming Brands has implications for those who understand consumers as active participants and wish to build truly interactive brands to suit their needs.
You can read the full dissertation at the site above (and I’d def recommend doing so, it’s a very thought provoking read) and in true gamer-style, Tim’s hidden a number of easter eggs within the essay itself. Playful academia FTW!