Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear Apple, You Ruined Comics!

New technology in the past decade had developed quicker then in any other era. Big clunky cellular phones had been replaced with all-in-one smartphones that combine the technology of other electronic devices in a sleek, inconspicuous device. The movement to create smaller, more user-friendly devices was most likely attributed by the release of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. Banking on the innovations of smartphones, tablets hit the scene to revolutionize mobile computing. Now which other device would dominate this market but Apple’s iPad released in 2010. Now for an odd fact, Apple was also the pioneers in the creation of tablets with their Apple Newton.

It’s no surprise that people love their mobile devices. Nobody honestly say that they’d prefer the old clunky devices over the new sleek and shiny devices. Well, nobody but comic artists it would seem. Cartoonist Tom Pappalardo realized that drawing newfangled devices presented new problems for explaining what was happening in comic panels. “As devices get smaller and feature less exterior detail, more overt context and visual cues need to be provided by the artist/writer to explain what the device is,” Pappalardo says.
He grabbed a sketchpad and started to collect his thoughts. What resulted was a series of panels he put in a blog post titled “Cartooning vs. Technology: How Steve Jobs Ruined Comics.” Throughout, he addresses an interesting problem. In a medium built entirely around flat visuals, it is pretty hard to figure out how one square slab (an iPhone) can be differentiated from another (an electric shaver).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Accenture’s Gamification

My conversations at Accenture surround human capital and internal culture and the idea that simulation can help them communicate business process. A good piece from SeekOmega reviews their efforts to cobble a solution.

It covers Accenture’s Chris Crawford's approach to provoking discretionary effort to affect the social alchemy at Accenture.

“SharePoint forms the heart of our social networking capabilities within Accenture,” says Crawford, “We use it as a content management system, a publishing platform and for internal communications.”

Corporate Demographics
Social Demographics
230,000 employees
SharePoint 2010 platform with NewsGator add in for Social
Located in 120 countries
Yammer for microblogging
$25 billion in annual revenues
115,000 employees have filled out profiles
Headquarters in Ireland
5000 profile updates a month
CEO: Pierre Nanterme
1000 blog posts a month
12,000 video items posted to Accenture Media Exchange
4200+ monthly microblog updates

Crawford and his team quickly realized that the key to higher adoption of SharePoint starts with user profiles. They found a direct correlation between the number of customized user profiles, and the amount of internal collaboration. Crawford says, “Those profile pages are a key reason for the success of our collaboration efforts.”

So Crawford began to organize ‘complete your profile’ contests and publishing stats on the percentage of the company that actually did. Soon however, Crawford realized that the profile page can only tell a small fraction of an employee’s story. The rest of the story lies in learning the details of an employee’s expertise and knowledge.

To surface that, Crawford and team again returned to gaming principles. “We started an internal recognition program to encourage our employees to contribute to SharePoint,” Crawford said, “We look and we measure how people are contributing, how they are connecting, and how they are communicating, and score them on their activities.”

Crawford discovered that in order to have a thriving social business solution, the solution must still provide meaningful value in isolation with or without a gaming dynamic.


Admittedly, the cash acquisition goal of a casino is different from Accenture’s content contribution goals. And yet, there are some intriguing similarities. For example, casino employees are encouraged to identify and interact with their patrons to extend the gaming activity while keeping them in the building. And casino loyalty points are strategically used to reward customers for continued game play.

But what’s most striking is the conditions in which their customers tolerate. Smoke filled rooms, drunk patrons, hysterical yelling, so for most of us, we’d never go again. And yet they do. The results as we all know are nothing but astonishing. Have you heard of a casino that has failed?

By the same token, if one asked corporate employees, most do not want to take the time to visit the corporate intranet. Like the casino, there is some initial value in visiting it; but the novelty fades away if the user experience is unpleasant, no one is using it, or the employee can not find the information they are seeking.

Flush in the understanding of this inherent dilemma, Crawford believes the gaming principles they are using give the house an edge. His team deals badges to Accenture’s employees for accomplishing various tasks or to specify how long they’ve worked at Accenture. “That’s proven popular because a lot of people enjoying see it (on their profiles),” explains Crawford.

Mark Twain once observed, “What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it.”

Accenture’s results suggest that instead of extracting dollars, Crawford and his team are extracting content from their employees by leveraging these principles. They’ve created an environment where points and badges are the social currency that rewards and compels employees to contribute to SharePoint.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Games for Health

For decades, games have been associated with negative images of children becoming sloths either in a dark room playing on the computer or on the couch playing on the traditional console. It has only been in recent years that leaders have realized the potential to utilize games in a healthy application.

In realizing this potential, the first ever Games for Health Europe conference was announced for October 24-25 in Amsterdam.

PMLive interviewed the organizer of the event, Jurriaan van Rijswijk, a 15-year veteran of the gaming industry. Here are his thoughts on the shifting movement of games and why they can now effectively be used to promote healthy living.

Changing attitudes
The stereotyped image of feckless, often introverted children - generally male - was actually a product of the Nintendo era, from the mid-1980s, according to Ian Bogost’s book ‘How To Do Things with Videogames.’ Ironically, a pivotal moment in accelerating the games for health movement was the launch of the Nintendo Wii in 2006, heralding the entry of physical interface games into the mainstream.

“The Wii was hardly the first example of this type of game.” This accolade went to Dance Dance Revolution. "However, it attached a very popular brand name to that effort, and it put it on television ads and got it into people's homes. It made games for health impossible to ignore."

Technology developments
Motion sensors may have transformed the gaming category, but new interface systems, such as cameras that allow the body to be the control device - already on the market in the form of Microsoft's Xbox Kinect system - are the next step forward, according to van Rijswijk. Web startup, Green Goose, uses embedded wireless sensors, which can be attached to everyday items and monitor physical actions. The company is developing games that will turn everyday activities into games such as brushing your teeth on time and exercising regularly.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Games in Education, Approved

It is becoming more apparent that youths are becoming less and less engaged with traditional methods of learning. Sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher and reading chapters in thick textbooks just doesn’t seem to be an ideal method for teaching students; especially when most of those students would rather be at home playing videogames. A new wave of teachers had picked up on the notion and began to actively seek methods to marry the two: the classroom and videogames. The idea of incorporating videogames in a classroom curriculum is likely to raise more then just a few eyebrows. Teachers thinking of trying this can rest assured that this method is now both proven and approved.

On September 13, Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), testified before the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He advocated for the growing use of computer and video games in education. Educators are increasingly recognizing entertainment software as an effective teaching device. With the ability to impart knowledge, help develop life skills and reinforce positive habits, computer and video games are in the early stages of changing the educational landscape and developing the leaders of tomorrow.

“With the power to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills, games are next-generation learning tools that have the potential to transform the educational experiences of children across the country” said Gallagher.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gamification Summit Today!

Heading down to the Gamification Summit with my AXA Equitable client today – where she will debut Pass It On!, to the gathered audience.

As coverage by the New York Times indicates... the game was launched by AXA Equitable to introduce consumers to the importance of life insurance.

The game is part of the emerging trend of “gamification" -- which is the process of using game thinking to solve problems and engage audiences.

Please check out the Times and follow this link there to play the game.

You could win the $25,000! Use this link to easily share the game with friends and colleagues.

AXA Equitable is using competitive game play in an avatar-based world to engage consumers and make life insurance relevant and fun.

Game mechanics may join social media as an essential element in how marketers increase engagement and build brand relationships by rewarding consumers with meaningful learning experiences. "Gamification” is being surfaced in marketing circles as the next frontier in web and mobile.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Games, a Powerful Classroom Tool

Imagine sitting in a classroom and learning how to fix a car without having a car physically in the room. Or imagine being taught how to ride a bike without actually being on a bike. It would probably be very difficult to learn. This is actually how students at the Rochester Institute of Technology have been learning Art Preservation and Conversation. However, all that is soon to change.

Elizabeth Goins, assistant professor of fine arts at RIT, won a $25,000 federal grant to develop an interactive video game that will be used in the classroom. The game will be a downloadable mod for the popular fantasy role-playing game (rpg), ‘Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.’

"One of the big problems with training in art conservation is that students can't practice on real objects. Role-playing games allow players to step inside a virtual world where they can handle materials and make mistakes without harming anyone or anything,” says Goins.

Many people in both education and business are realizing the potential of simulation games in training students and the workforce. For example, in Deloitte’s Virtual Team Challenge simulation, high school students learn real world business concepts without the need to leave the classroom and work in a business office. Simulation games can be utilized where it would be otherwise difficult to obtain hands-on experience with what is being taught.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BrandGames in the New York Times!

Coverage by Stuart Elliott in the Media and Advertising section online.

The article covers Pass It On!, our new video game launched by AXA Equitable to introduce consumers to the importance of life insurance.

AXA Equitable is using competitive game play in an avatar-based world to engage consumers and make life insurance relevant and fun.

Please check out the Times and follow the link there to play the game.

The game is part of the emerging trend of “gamification" -- which is the process of using game thinking to solve problems and engage audiences. Game mechanics may join social media as an essential element in how marketers increase engagement and build brand relationships by rewarding consumers with meaningful learning experiences. "Gamification” is being surfaced in marketing circles as the next frontier in web and mobile.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Location, the Next Big Thing for Social Games

Many smartphone apps come with location services to tailor users’ experiences to what’s around them. The Yelp app, for example, shows users all the top user-rated shops and restaurants using augmented-reality through the use of the phone’s camera and location service. Games, it seems, will be the next big thing to utilize the location service features on smartphones.

Currently, popular games such as ‘Words with Friends’ allow users to either play with people in their social networks or a random stranger from anywhere in the world with the game open. The next step according to Shalini Verma, principal analyst at research firm Gartner, is that location and context will "creep" into social game apps on mobile devices. These features will allow players to find and play against people nearby.

In an early form of games integrated with location services we see a partnership between Nokia and Rovio, publishers of the wildly popular Angry Birds games. The partnership saw Rovio creating a special version of Angry Birds that required Nokia C7 device users to find each other and “tap” their devices together in order to unlock hidden levels in the game.

Allison Luong, managing director of Pearl Research, said that content discovery for location-based games can be a big headache for users, as these games can also be time-consuming for gamers as they have to make an effort to check into as many locations as possible to earn rewards. Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer at Rovio, agrees that “it is important to deliver a compelling experience in order to draw users on to such games platforms. This will be new for many people, so we have to both introduce the concept and wow them with the experience.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tea Party Zombies Must Die

I was approached recently about leveraging the power of games for use in the 2012 election, to change behavior and engage young voters. Ours would be a project to educate on issues....
While contemplating what would undoubtedly entail playing with fire, the news broke:

Conservatives are angry about a new video game that allows players to slaughter “tea party zombies” and murder zombie versions of Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin among others.

The online video game, called “Tea Party Zombies Must Die,” was released by the New York-based StarvingEyes Advergaming.

Zombie versions of Palin, Bachmann, Beck and the Koch brothers are involved in the game, which enables users to bludgeon Bill O’Reilly with a crow bar, shoot Glenn Beck with a semi-automatic weapon, or stab former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with a knife.

The game was created by StarvingEyes Advergaming, which apparently creates online video games for promotional purposes, and its site says its clients include Pepsi, NASCAR, History Channel, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and GM.

“The game was just a personal project. I am not worried about it effecting business,” Jason Oda told the Media Research Center (MRC), which on blasted the game, with content editor Stephen Gutowski posting: “While it is disturbing to see that some people believe it would be fun to mow down your political opponents, it's also quite that odd that an advertising company with a diverse portfolio of high profile corporate clients from Meow Mix to Pepsi would create a game to allow those people to do just that.”

Oda in 2004 released a game that allowed characters to fight monsters that represented members of the Bush administration.

“Liars in the world of entertainment will tell you that what happens on screen has no real-world effect. Which is why corporations spend billions every year using visual mediums to get people to change their behavior,” said BigGovernment’s John Nolte.

And yet another blogger suggested that the incident revealed a double standard in the media. “Any propensity towards amusement is immediately stricken from my imagination the instant I picture the indignant media firestorm that would undoubtedly arise if the growling death targets resembled, say, Barack Obama,” notes Townhall’s Guy Benson.

Some researchers contend that first-person shooter games, where the user wields weapons to attack human targets, encourage actual acts of violence by helping a potential gunman to visualize and practice an attack. Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor who has written several books on violence in the media, calls FPS games "murder simulators".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Hottest Startups Got Their Names

I was naming a product today, a new game engine. My antennae always tingle when a naming assignment comes along -- hitting dictionaries and thesauri to cross reference wordplay and find the be-all name.
To highlight the also-ran... today's winner that wasn't selected for the game engine (in which one navigates an avatar step by step across a game board)

car·a·cole (kr-kl)
also car·a·col (-kl)
n. A half turn to right or left performed by a horse and rider.

intr.v. car·a·coled, car·a·col·ing, car·a·coles also car·a·cols
To perform a caracole

Best of all it has provenance: [French, from Spanish caracol, snail.]

Kinda matches my Fibonacci, no?

Even more exciting is what Caracole finds you in google. Try it dear reader...

#1 is "Pretentious Pontification Corner" which suits this post well. They pontificate about the Edmund White’s 1986 novel Caracole and the meaning of the word “caracole”: “caper” in English, “prance” in French, “snail” in Spanish. Caracole reads as a cunning dissection of the New York intellectual scene.

Ever wonder how today’s Hottest Startups got their names?

Some of our favorite startups were sired by picking names out of hats, by throwing out odd proper nouns that might be cheap domain names and by haphazardly removing vowels.

Take a tour -- Great slideshow through a billion dollars in dart-throwing.

Not sure then about the name choosing for Caracole in Ohio -- the first licensed adult care facility in Ohio for people living with HIV/AIDS.

90% of all Corporate Learning is Informal Learning

Because a consulting organization is only as good as its people, Deloitte wants its people to learn every which way. While classroom training still holds an important place, Deloitte emphasizes the importance of informal learning, including learning through social media--public social networks as well as company-controlled enterprise social networks. Meanwhile, about half of Deloitte's formal training has shifted online.

Nick Van Dam is the Chief Learning Officer for Deloitte which employs about 170,000 people worldwide. He says 90% of all corporate learning is informal learning, including information gleaned through social networks

He called me in to write a chapter in his new book Next Learning, Unwrapped.

"Ours is an intellectual capital business," van Dam said. "There is no software, no hardware we're selling--it's all about the people." Deloitte plans to hire about 50,000 people in the coming year, many of them straight from university recruiting programs, so it has to continually bring new people up to speed, he said.. "Almost everyone is coming in with a smartphone, tablets, iPads, and they're on Facebook LinkedIn, you name it. They embrace technology, and it's part of how they learn, how they collaborate. We need to support the needs of our talent, where we provide them working technology they like to use and have been using before they joined Deloitte".

That the company still values classroom training is shown by the fact it is investing about $300 million in Deloitte University, a training facility in Dallas that is due to open later this year, van Dam said. "About 50% of our formal learning is online based, but we're making significant investments in both."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Engaging the World for A Better Place

Global Action Plan, a UK based environmental organization turned to game mechanics for engaging the global community to conserve water. They created the world’s first ‘EcoInteractive’ game event named “The Water Explorer.”

According to a recent poll by Global Action Plan, only 1 in 5 people think they should personally be taking the lead in saving water.

The game made its first appearance in a shopping center in Leicester, UK during World Water Week (August 21-27). It contains three games with varying difficulty levels. A series of questions probe people who have to tap, pump or flush the amount of water that ordinary household tasks require. The quiz based game shows the value of cutting domestic water use by giving practical tips to help people make the link between water, climate change and everyday habits and products.

Players receive a personal water plan to take home, learn about water hidden in the things they buy and also find out how much water people in different countries use.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Apple’s Déjà Vu Moment

In stunning similarity to last year’s piece of high profile Apple news, yet another Apple employee has lost yet another iPhone prototype at yet another San Francisco bar. According to one reporter at DailyTech “Either Apple, Inc. is conducting some highly sneaky guerrilla marketing, or the company needs to start giving out mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous sessions with its iPhone prototypes.” I couldn’t agree more.

According to a source, the phone went missing in a tequila lounge called Cava 22 in San Francisco's Mission district in late July and sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days. Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return.

After last year's embarrassing loss, Apple reportedly has taken extraordinary steps to protect its prototype devices from leaks. Next-gen iPhones are sent to carriers for testing inside locked and sealed boxes. Even last year's prototype, the iPhone 4G was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.

Hey Apple, any chance you can put your next prototype in the hands of a soused employee and send them to New York City?