Sad to have missed the workshops on gaming last week. Based on the optional reading posted to Github and presentations found through Slack I am preparing this short reflection to make up for missing the session. After reviewing the resources from the week I believe that the theme of the sessions explored how individuals collaborate in computer supported environments which incorporate elements of gamification.

This course is about computer supported collaborative work and I tend to consider work in formal terms. However, one can also look at the collaborative work done within the context of a game. I am not an avid gamer so I am not too familiar with the latest games and their specific collaborative nature. However, I know that with modern technologies gamers have the ability to communicate richly with one another while in a game environment. Gamers can talk to and see one another while controlling the shared environment. Groups can work against groups or against the computer to complete an objective. Multiplayer environments transform computer games into social experiences providing an interesting landscape for research.

In the paper provided for the seminars this week we are reminded that in collaborative scenarios constant effort is needed to coordinate language and activity in order to reach a shared understanding. To me this is very interesting within the contexts of gaming as players communicate through the game using their character, tools and environment of the game itself.  I would imagine that each game has its own nuances in terms of how people collaborate and communicate. As such, the ways in which participants interact is affected by the characteristics of the gaming environment. I could also imagine that some gamers might use tools outside of the game itself to communicate with one another.

Papers on gaming from the class

In gaming environments, a researcher can make use of audio and video recordings of the environment as a collaborative scenario takes place. These can be used to investigative the way in which players use their voice, text and controls in the game to achieve their objective. The optional reading for the seminars employed a discourse analysis of a multiplayer games closely examining how players used their voice throughout gameplay. Zhuoli’s paper on Collaboration and Related Research in Dota2 also looked closely at the interactions among users throughout a multiplayer game finding that communication must be strategic and appropriately timed for success. Players can use this research to improve their own gameplay.

Bernadette’s presentation showcases the ARIS augmented reality game which appears to be mapped to geographical locations on the University of Victoria campus. It sounds as if our class actually got to go outside and experience the game as well, so I feel like I missed a fun class!  Augmented reality gets players moving in the physical world rather than simply moving their character around. Based on your location the game provides prompts and information as individuals move throughout the campus, all the while learning about French culture and language.

In Kushal’s presentation he asks, since “games are an interactive way of learning, can we use this to make academic learning easier?”  I would have loved to hear the discussion around this question. I think elements of gaming have potential to make education more interesting, immersive, interactive and collaborative but I am not sure they can make learning easier. Kushal offers the example of learning to play guitar through a gaming environment. I believe this can be useful in learning the mechanics of playing existing guitar riffs, but would be less useful to learn music theory or composition.  It has been suggested that gamification in learning is suited more to skills based tasks rather than content or theory based learning (Kelly, 2015).

Roshni and Nitin’s presentation explored how “we can bring the kind of distributed team building activities which happen naturally in online games to distributed teams in business?”  I would have liked to explore how team building naturally happens in online games and if this is always the case?  What elements of online games foster team dynamics?  Their presentation looks at the virtual reality game Second Life as an environment for virtual team building. Participants enter the environment and are tasked with collaborative activities such as building a bridge or structure. The presentation reports that the Second Life platform is limited in providing a space for cooperative games and that the development of these environments is complicated. I wonder about the efficacy of running a team building exercise in this environment when the setup and development is so complicated. I would have liked to explore this paper further, but sadly no reference!  Second Life has also been tested in educational settings where individuals take on avatars in an online synchronous communication environment (Warburton, 2009). Again this takes significant effort to setup and coordinate, so rationale for the use of Second Life as a communication environment must be carefully considered.

Further thoughts

There have been efforts to bring elements of gamification into more formal environments such as education, work and healthcare. Collaborative processes which involve elements of gaming may make it more tempting for participants to work together rather than alone, even making it impossible to solve tasks without collaboration among participants (Bluemink, Hamalainen, Manninen & Jarvela, 2010).

Badging has also been explored in education as an alternative means of credentials, where students collect badges instead of grades and seek to ‘level up’ their learning through badge acquisition, display and sharing. Purdue University has been actively exploring the collection of badges as an alternative to the traditional academic transcript. The Mozilla Backpack is a framework available for building, issuing and displaying badges. While it may take some time for badges to be officially recognized as credentials, I believe they represent a more useful way to display achievement. Badges can be displayed on the web and linked directly to an artifact which shows the work an individual has completed, thereby validating the badge and providing evidence of completion.

Bringing gamification into the design of business software has also been explored with the intent of both motivating employees as well as making the customer experience more engaging (Kumar, 2013). Some examples include customer reward program or the collection of frequent shopper points. These make the customer feel as if they are achieving something as they do business with a company. My partner is actively collecting stamps from Thrifty Foods right now, in the pursuit of Jamie Oliver kitchen knives!

In healthcare, gamification has been tested as a way of encouraging individuals to live healthier lifestyles, remind individuals to take their medication or visit their healthcare provider regularly in the case of chronic illness (King, Greaves, Exeter, & Darzi, 2013). While less about collaboration and more about motivation, this use of gamification may actually improve and save lives.

Overall, we were provided with some thought provoking resources for the gaming workshops.  Thanks to the presenters for pulling them together and apologies again for missing the session!

References

Bluemink, J., Hamalainen, R.,,Manninen, T. & Jarvela, S. (2010). Group-level analysis on multiplayer game collaboration: how do the individuals shape the group interaction? Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 18, No. 4, December 2010, pp. 365–383.

Kelly, R. (2015). Adding Game Elements to Your Online Course. Faculty Focus, November 10, 2015. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/adding-game-elements-to-your-online-course/

King, D., Greaves, F., Exeter, C., & Darzi, A. (2013). ‘Gamification’: Influencing health behaviours with games. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 106 (3), 76-78.

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.

Kumar, J. (2013). Gamification at work: Designing engaging business software (pp. 528-537). In Marcus, A. (Ed.) Design, User Experience, and Usability. Health, Learning, Playing, Cultural, and Cross-Cultural User Experience. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Warburton, S. (2009). Second Life in higher education: Assessing the potential for and the barriers to deploying virtual worlds in learning and teaching. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3), 414-426.

CSCW 586 Blogs: Gaming Workshop: Putting the pieces together

CC BY 4.0 CSCW 586 Blogs: Gaming Workshop: Putting the pieces together by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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