Category Archives: Gamification

EyeWire

Years back, an odd desire to complete a coloring book developed. I never scratched the itch, but I may have just found a solution: EyeWire.

Gareth Cook, The New York Times:

In 2012, Seung started EyeWire, an online game that challenges the public to trace neuronal wiring — now using computers, not pens — in the retina of a mouse’s eye. Seung’s artificial-­intelligence algorithms process the raw images, then players earn points as they mark, paint-by-numbers style, the branches of a neuron through a three-dimensional cube. The game has attracted 165,000 players in 164 countries. In effect, Seung is employing artificial intelligence as a force multiplier for a global, all-volunteer army that has included Lorinda, a Missouri grandmother who also paints watercolors, and Iliyan (a.k.a. @crazyman4865), a high-school student in Bulgaria who once played for nearly 24 hours straight. Computers do what they can and then leave the rest to what remains the most potent pattern-recognition technology ever discovered: the human brain.

Ultimately, Seung still hopes that artificial intelligence will be able to handle the entire job. But in the meantime, he is working to recruit more help. In August, South Korea’s largest telecom company announced a partnership with EyeWire, running nationwide ads to bring in more players. In the next few years, Seung hopes to go bigger by enticing a company to turn EyeWire into a game with characters and a story line that people play purely for fun. “Think of what we could do,” Seung said, “if we could capture even a small fraction of the mental effort that goes into Angry Birds.”

EyeWire is the most addictive and challenging coloring book I have tried. It’s easy to loose track of time while filling in the neuronal wiring, not to mention the increased level of difficulty that follows the tutorial. Bonus: It’s for science!

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Freakonomics Radio: ‘Think Like a Child’

Economist Steven Levitt, Freakonomics Radio:

Video games are fun. My son, Nick, who’s 11-years-old, could play video games for eight hours straight. Could Nick work at a job, say at McDonald’s, for eight hours? No. So it seems to me, what you take away from that is if you could make a job as fun as a video game, then you’d have all of the 11-year-old boys in the world, and probably the 15-year-old and 20-year-old and maybe even the 30-year-old boys lining up at your door trying to take that job.

This sentiment is very much echoed in game designer Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken. A worthwhile read on the fulfilling benefits of games and updating the today’s workplace / social constructs to be more game-like.

Levitt continues:

I think fun is so much more important than people realize and I’ve seen it in academics. When I interview young professors and try to decide if we should hire them, I’ve evolved over time to one basic rule: If I think they love economics and it’s fun for them, then I’m in favor of hiring them. No matter how talented they seem otherwise, if it seems like a job or effort or work, then I don’t want to hire them.

In March of 2013, I wrote about the idea of circling back to childhood hobbies when I am feeling lost. Many of those hobbies I am still fond of today. They act as fantastic through-lines that keep me on track when I feel I have strayed too far off course or have lost sight of my path. See also Finding Your Calling published on The Art of Manliness on the idea of pursuing vocation rather than a job or career.

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Mariothon

Mariothon

A Mario Kart running app.


Recently, Jane McGonigal’s “Reality Is Broken” has encouraged me to spend a lot of time pondering what it would be like to be a game designer; constantly considering the artful blend of psychology and technology and its impact on the entertainment, fitness and education industries.

“ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: wanted to break 6 mins in a mile time trial on the track; ran 5:45 and had more in the tank. ” – Christian Spicer, @spicer

#GeeksinSneaks

While on a jog with the gamified Nike+ Running app, I contemplated this hashtag. Aside from the Geeks in Sneaks meet up group and loads of gamified fitness apps (Wii Fit; Zombies, Run; Kinect Sports Rivals, etc.), I wondered if something more could be done to encourage those identified with the geek community to promote fitness regimes.

Initially, I had the lofty idea of organizing a crowd-funded #GeeksinSneaks race (5K, 10K, half/full marathon) full of cosplay, video game prizes and exclusive comics and geek apparel/memorabilia. If this idea were to draw a big enough crowd, its scale would limit the event to happening at fixed times in fixed areas. It may not be enough to encourage constant activity.

Then I thought about the Nike+ Running app. I am able to use this app on my own time. Day or night, weekday or weekend. While I appreciate the app’s gamification elements, they have now worn off to some degree; however, they were enough to get a jogging regime to stick. I now use the app simply as a fitness tracker. I wondered, “is there another way make running a gamified experience and broadcast it to a massive audience?”

Then it hit me.

Nintendo has repeatedly stated that they have a renewed focus on the smartphone ecosystem and health. They also plan to release Mario Kart 8, a beloved franchise, on May 30th. While real-life Mario Kart already exists, I was unable to find Mario Kart adapted into a running game. What if Nintendo were to release a gamified smartphone running app with the mechanics of Mario Kart built in. Lets call it “Mariothon.”

Mariothon

In Mariothon, players are able to set up a race with up to say four runners. Each player is required to where headphones with an attached button-mic to hear in game alerts and trigger events. At certain distances, players are awarded items (simulating Mario Kart’s mystery boxes) that they can use at their leisure by clicking the button on their headphones.

For example, at a quarter mile, a runner earns a lightning bolt. Once used, an in-game alert informs all other runners in the game to walk until the effect wears off. Another variation might add time to the paces of the competing runners. A banana peel might be used as a surprise attack when another runner crosses a certain geo-fence. Blue shells would have a direct impact on the leader, forcing them to stop dead in their tracks or pausing their “distance ran” meter. First to a specific distance wins!

Obviously, not every run will users want to incorporate the game element. In the event of solo runs, the app could serve as a simple run tracker with many of the same achievements offered in the Nike+ Running app. Cross-brand incentives could also award solo runs. Besting a 7-minute-mile or completing a 10K could unlock characters or tracks in Mario Kart or other console-based Nintendo games. (similar to Hearthstone’s unlockable WoW mount)

As a non-developer, I have no idea if linking players and dropping geo-fenced items is a possibility. I also understand that the initial development of this app would certainly be a huge undertaking. While this would join the many gamified fitness apps on the market, the Nintendo and Mario Kart branding may be enough for it to stick with a larger audience.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Is this something that would interest you? Does this already exist? Has fitness gamification worked for you? If so, what fitness apps are you utilizing and how are they helping?

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Image source The Augusta Chronicle


Originally published on TheStarrList.com

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Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life | TED

Less about games. More about gamification. All about health.

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.

– TED

Thanks to @limshadey for the tip!

Source [TED]

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