Sunday, April 3, 2011

+50 Gamefulness

In Disney’s children’s classic Mary Poppins, the creative nanny, who is practically perfect in every way, teaches the children how to turn their chores into a game. In A Spoonful of Sugar, she explains:

In ev'ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game
And ev'ry task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake.

Mary Poppins Inspires a Generation of Gamers

Game Developer and Futurist Jane McGonigal has taken Mary Poppin’s philosophy and explored it in detail in her book Reality is Broken. Drawing upon her own research and the work of Mihályi Csíkszentmihályi and others, McGonigal points out that real life is often less engaging than games because it is too easy, doesn’t activate positive emotions, isn’t satisfying enough, offers too few avenues for success and doesn’t strengthen our social connectivity.

It is hard to disagree that the real world is filled with problems that could use the energy and concentration of the typical Halo player. How do we get people to approach these as epic, awe inspiring quests?  How do we get our associates to collaborate on project tasks with the intensity of a World of Warcraft quest? McGonigal suggests the answer is to structure real world activities with game elements designed to drive wholehearted participation and develop what she calls “massively
multiplayer foresight.”


Jane McGonigal Explains how Gaming can Make a Better World at TED 2010

Last Friday, the New York Public Library announced Find the Future: The Game developed by McGonigal with Natron Baxter and Playmatics that combines real-world missions with virtual clues and online collaboration inspired by items in the library collections. The game will kick off on May 20th when 500 prequalified players will explore the library’s 70 miles of stacks with laptops and smartphones to follow clues to treasures such as the library’s copy of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s hand.

Players will use an app on their iPhone or Android phone to take pictures of QR codes that are attached to 100 of the library's notable objects. At each object, the player will find a challenge related to the artifact. After the kick-off, Find the Future: The Game will open up to gamers across the city and around the world who will be able to play using their own smartphones or computers, or on free computers at any of the library’s locations.

Find the Future: The Game Trailer

"The library's collection has all of these rare and just precious, awe-inspiring objects that you really have to come face to face with," McGonigal explains. "It's one thing to look at it online and it can really have some impact, but when you're there it really becomes clear that for every moment in history there was a person who set that moment in action -- and you could be that person."

Find the Future:The Game is an excellent example of using gaming elements to transform an ordinary visit to the library into an epic quest. How can you engineer happiness into your company or use game elements to inspire enthusiasm in your products and projects?

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World