Category Archives: Uncategorized

Re-gamified Gamification: Hyperbole for Real in Fortnite

This is one of those times when I just want to put something in front of you and say something like, “Are you seeing this?  Am I seeing this?”

The trick educators are forever trying to pull off is how to use gamification effectively to enhance learning.  No one I have met doubts the “axiom” that gamification is a critical element that should be integrated into teaching to motivate and inspire students.  But, if you ever do run across a skeptic of the motivational power of gamification, offer them this article and then stand by to pick them off the floor.

The article appears in the New York Magazine and explains the blockbuster video game sensation Fortnite. I know what you are thinking.  So, did I.  I have been hearing a great deal about this game lately.  Being old and “un-hip” to what is “up with the kids these days,” I initially interpreted this as another newly released video game craze that exploded on the scene and will soon die down to continue life with a core group of die-hard fan players.  I had thus taken no time to investigate, until the news of this phenomenon finally hit critical mass on most of my news feeds. So, I came out of my cave.

Despite its title,  The Most Important Videogam on the Planet,  the article is not hyperbole. I will not attempt to explain the details of the game here. I still don’t really fully understand the game play (remember I am “old” and “unhip”).  Still, the article does a great job of giving the details, and two paragraphs near the end author Brian Feldman gives the primary insight into the why and how of this game and its critical interface with human nature:

“Give people goals, reward them with flashes of color, and you could entrance them into something resembling addiction. This was called, tellingly and unsurprisingly, “gamification”: Treat every app and every activity as a video game, with scores, prizes, and leaderboards. Snapchat rewarded users who talked every day with “streaks”; the exercise app Strava allowed you to compete with other joggers and earn badges; Foursquare turned the entire world into a game of king of the hill.

The process has come full circle. Fortnite is a gamified video game. You’re competing against other people in each game, obviously. But you’re also competing with them across the course of a season. And, most importantly, you’re competing against yourself. Just like running two miles instead of three on a fitness app means you won’t get your badge, getting two weapons kills instead of three leaves a progress bar only partially filled, sitting on the main screen, taunting you. You’re not simply supposed to win games, you’re supposed to earn rewards, titles, badges, and skins. You’re playing because it’s fun — but also because there’s something at stake.”

The developers of this game are raking in about $300 million a month.  But, not on selling the game. It is a FREE download. One need not pay to play.  As Feldman tells us, “The money comes from optional transactions that let players purchase new costumes, items, and dance moves for their avatars — merely cosmetic improvements that have become very lucrative.”

If ever you were skeptical of the power of “gamification” to motivate a human to virtual addiction, you need look no further than Fortnite.  Kids (most of the players seem to be from 10 to 16 years old) and sometimes older celebrities, are motivated / addicted to the extent of spending money on digital bling.

Those familiar with World of Warcraft and other MMORPG’s are not surprised I’m sure.  So, nothing new here. But, gee wiz. Can we tap a little bit of that?


Why Immersive Learning is the Future of Education

I just came across this post from the Medium site.  This article is specifically about corporate training, but everything in it screams K12 and higher and can be directly applied to our educational pedagogy.

First it introduces the “forgetting curve” hypothesized in the 1880’s by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.  He basically “showed that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within a month, 90 percent of it.”

Sound familiar with any class you have ever taught or attended?  The article goes on to present a list of what the most impactful learning programs have in common:

  • Their content inevitably grab learner’s attention
  • They enable experimentation and “Learning by Doing”
  • They exploit the most natural way of learning 0f many living species: Playing
  • They remain easily available to learners when they need to be repeated

Do these sound familiar?  These are basically  describing megagames, escape rooms, and any “hands on” problem solving game we talk about here.  See the original article with a great infographic here:

Why Immersive Learning is the next Big Thing in Corporate Training

What makes an Immersive Educational Game more than just a game?

Andre Thomas in EmergingEdTech writes an article that asks the question of the title.  He answers by pointing out the research in on how games (video games in this instance) “make people better learners.”  But, he notes that “not all games are created equal,” and it takes a highly developed design sense to bring an effective immersive game to fruition.  He states that “research, collaboration, and thorough testing are essential to designing the highest quality gamified learning experiences.”  Along the way Andre delves into how each of these three concepts should be effectively applied in this endeavor.

Andrea is from Triseum, a company that designs and distributes game based leaning online games.  Their most famous creation is an interactive world called Variant: Limits,  a rich 3D gaming experience that seeks to allow students to master abstract concepts in calculus.   In this article he highlights the most recent Triseum creation, an online art history game called Arte:Mercenas in which “students assume the role of a Medici and balance relationships with powerful city-states, merchant factions and the Catholic Church or risk excommunication, exile and bankruptcy.”   He writes about how concept art, game design, and multiple rounds of prototype and play testing try to ensure a true immersive and engaging experience for students.

It is clear that Andre is flouting the stellar reviews of the games produced by Triseum.  But, he also rightly points out the up and coming potential of game-based learning and the industry that is growing up to produce and promote it.  Andre notes that the “game-based learning market is estimated to reach $8.1 billion by 2022.”  To be sure this represents only the online market share.   Analog immersive games are generally overlooked by this industry.  But, I suspect that these lower tech, lower cost versions will be, by their very nature,  the silent majority that floods the education and training spheres behind the tidal wave of their digital cousins.

Link to the article reviewed:
What makes an immersive education game more than just a game
October 18, 2017

This post is cross-posted to Gaming for Learning in Education and Libraries

Why Game Based Learning Works for This Math Teacher

By Dian Shaffhauser
Re-Posted from THE Journal 3-19-2018

Dian Shaffhauser reports how high school teacher Giulia Bini saw a 100 percent pass rate and grade improvement of 10 percent after she introduced a game to her calculus class.  – JS

When Giulia Bini started using a video game in her high school calculus class, she saw a 100 percent pass rate on testing about limits compared to 80 percent in the previous year; plus, grades rose by 10 percent.

The game she used, Variant: Limits by Triseum, places players on an imaginary planet. To rescue the planet from “imminent doom,” they help “Equa,” the main character, solve a series of increasingly tough calculus problems.

Continue reading by linking to the entire article at THE Journal 3/19/18. 

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media’s education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

Variant: Limits the game

When Variant: Limits is used in conjunction with traditional class-based teaching, students are able to better visualize and grasp the abstract concepts underlying calculus.

Instead of having to learn calculus from a book, players will see the subject come to life in 3D animation as they find themselves on an imaginary planet facing imminent doom – unless the players can work to avoid it (from game site web page).

The GBL Shift to Analog

When I started this blog in March 2015 I stated that my raison d’être was the “investigation of the intersection of learning and human engagement.”  A high falutin goal indeed.  To be sure I noted that  “using the concept and techniques of games and gaming in this intersection”  was my real goal, and I did indicate that “other than learning and teaching, games and gaming” were my “personal passions.”   My recent discovery at the time of analog mega games as a potential revolutionary classroom pedagogy notwithstanding, digital games were clearly the dominant game based learning (GBL) instrument.  It was for digital GBL that the apps and ipads and pods and everything digital in the classroom were focusing.

It has now been exactly 3 years, and whereas digital GBL is still the biggest game-based learning thing, I sense a shift toward the analog.  My excitement is being rekindled. I certainly welcome a shift toward the analog, since this area has been my passion from the beginning.  But, I feel this is just not hopeful thinking.  I think I can point to anecdotal evidence that the shift toward analog gaming in education is happening.  I think the analog aspect has become more inclusive in the game based learning arena.  How do I know this?

Two words: Escape Rooms.  This new phenomenon, which is both an exploding social activity and business venture, is sweeping education (K-everything) and the library world. Just google “escape rooms,” and you will be overwhelmed with the pervasive existence of these things across the social and educational spectrum. I suspect the whole “high tech, high touch” phenomenon (See John Naisbitt’s Megatrends – 1982),  further evidenced by the board game renaissance, is a major factor.

This, I think, is merely the opening salvo in the increasing involvement  into more “hands-on” (“high touch”) analog engagement, immersive, participatory games use in education. Just as escape rooms have been adapted by educators and librarians from the social interactive world, it is clear that the adaption of megagames and LARP activities – already being used in educational settings (Edu-LARP anyone?) –  will only be increasingly make inroads as well.  Stay tuned as the revolution begins.


Want to Find a Good Department Chair? Try Role-Playing

REPOSTED FROM: The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Audrey Williams June

Here’s what a search committee looking for a department chair can’t tell from a curriculum vitae or answers to interview questions: How well can the candidate mediate the sticky situations that crop up when managing colleagues?

One way to get a more accurate read of that ability is to role-play, according to a new article in the journal Academic Medicine. To better understand how a potential manager actually manages, the authors of the article simulated a typical interaction between a department chair and a faculty member.

Candidates in four department-chair searches in Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine were asked to respond to this scenario: A faculty member was frustrated by how his increasing clinical load had left too little time to pursue academic interests. The candidates, who were aware it was a simulation, were told that the faculty member had good teacher ratings and was liked and respected by residents and medical students, but his clinical productivity was lower than that of his peers. The frustrated faculty member also hadn’t published since joining the faculty 18 months earlier.


LINK HER For ENTIRE ARTICLE at The Chronicle of Higher Education

This Standing-Room-Only Class Features Music Videos, a Gaming App and … Breathalyzers

Written by Bruce Anderson on January 16, 2018
Re-Posted from Edsurge

If organic chemistry were easy, an old joke goes, it would be called biology.

For some, O-chem is where med school dreams go to die. Many see it as an impossible maze of ceaseless memorization. But Professor Neil Garg looks at organic chemistry and sees a delightful puzzle, an engaging problem to be solved. He finds it endlessly relevant to everyday life, intellectually stimulating, and ultimately fun.

Neil Garg of UCLA

His students at UCLA seem to agree. Getting a seat in Garg’s Chemistry 14D class—even one on the floor in the aisle—is for many undergraduates a cause for a victory dance, no doubt accompanied by the UCLA Eight Clap. Among a slew of teaching awards, Garg has received UCLA’s Eby Award for the Art of Teaching and was named the 2015 California Professor of the Year. He has been named a Master Educator by Course Hero, an education technology company that produced a short film on Garg, who is now one of three finalists for the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching bestowed by Baylor University.

Garg is an innovative educator, famous at UCLA for the organic chemistry music video extra-credit assignment he initiated. He also created BACON (Biology and Chemistry Online Notes), a series of online tutorials that interweave organic chemistry, human health, and popular culture. He and his daughters, Elaina, 10, and Kaylie, 5, authored The Organic Coloring Book to introduce younger students to organic chemistry.

Last week, Garg and six of his students launched an app called Backside Attack; it teaches basic concepts of organic chemistry and is available, free, at the App Store. EdSurge talks to Garg about his new game, his favorite music videos, and how to make chemistry fun.


The World According to Edu-Larps: The Analog of Learning Games

By Sande Chen excerpted and Re-Posted from Games & Learning

January 2018

Larping It Up

Any adult who has been through a mock interview can tell you about the benefits of role-play and simulation. Universities have been using role-play and simulators for years in the fields of healthcare, business, science, and social policy. Former teacher Peter Shea, now director of Professional Development at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, recalls one incident in which a student doctor was weeping after she had killed off her virtual patient.

Adults, in general, understand the value of role-play for professional development, but may not see how the imaginative play of LARPs helps education. Call it a historical re-enactment and it sounds educational, but that wouldn’t fully describe larping since players affect the story of the game. They are not just hearing about or re-enacting a story, but are a part of the story.

Like improvisational theatre combined with the game mechanics of tabletop RPGs, LARPs have systems for character progression through the narrated story. In Archer’s edu-larp on the Industrial Revolution, there are experience points (XP) given for various activities and yet, winning may not be about gaining the most XP. Winning might be in co-authoring an extremely satisfying story regardless of whether or not the player’s character dies or amasses the most wealth in the game.

Archer’s company, Iocari Games, recently branched into developing curriculum-compatible edu-larps for schools in addition to its after-school programs and summer camps. The after-school program relies heavily on tabletop RPGs with familiar gaming systems like Dungeons & Dragons but with original content. The summer camp combines engineering, physical activity, tabletop RPGs, and larping by allowing the kids to play out their created characters. For example, in one summer session, he did a Star Wars themed week where the kids got to manufacture foam light sabers using parts from Home Depot.

For entire article link to article at Games & Learning

Excerpted and Re-Posted from Games & Learning


A LARP inspired Megagame OR How these two genres got so tangled up

Editor’s Note: I often preach my mantra that Mega-games are grand examples of how gaming interaction could be effectively integrated into higher education curricula.  Elsewhere in this blog there are many examples of how a mega-game can involve players (students) in the mechanics of an historical event or a political system.  One activity that is becoming increasingly integrated into mega-game designs is that of the LARP – live action role play.  This allows a player to not only don the guise of a role  within the game (such as scientist, president or general in a game like “Watch the Skys”), but to flesh our her character with backstory, and motivation and personality and ….well character characteristics.

In her blog BeckyBecky deftly describes a new game called Alchemy set in Renaissance Europe that has elements of both a mega-game and a LARP.  More intriguing than this description is her explanation of the entangled relationship between mega-games and LARPs.   As BeckyBecky explains, mega-games are basically a cross between board games and LARP or LARPing (live action role play).  Some people even describe  “mega-games and LARPs as convergent design.”  She goes on to explain that people struggle to define them exactly.  This is in no small part because Megagames are being created as interactive events by people who have never done them before, and they basically reinvent the wheel every time.  However, this very fact is adding to the growing variety and number of such events.  As BeckyBecky says, “People from different gaming backgrounds can add in or emphasize the elements of their favorite type of gaming. Mega-gaming is still very much an emerging game genre.”

But, enough of my musings.  Read BeckyBecky’s article.  If you are not inspired to run out and apply mega-game/LARPs to an educational setting after reading this engaging article (as I certainly am), I can only guess that you are brooding over your un-cool looking LARP costume.  

-Jared Seay Jan 12, 2018

Game of Alchemy and Megagames vs LARPS

5th August 2017

Re-posted from BBBBeckyBeckyBlogs

IMO, one of the most awesome things about megagames is that people really struggle to define them.

Okay, I bet you’re confused. Why would that be awesome? Well, it means people will interpret it in a thousand different ways. Additionally, since megagames are live events, many people around the world are putting them on without ever having attended one before.

In many ways this is frustrating, and leads to people continually reinventing the wheel. It means that people will independently develop the same or similar mechanics. It means that people will stumble into common pitfalls they could have avoided.

But it means that no two megagames are alike. People are free to put their own spin on things, without worrying that they’re screwing everything up. Without the confines of THIS IS A MEGAGAME IF YOU DON’T HAVE ALL OF THIS YOU CAN’T CALL IT ONE, the variety of games available is growing and growing. People from different gaming backgrounds can add in or emphasise the elements of their favourite type of gaming. Megagaming is still very much an emerging game genre.

Take my own game, Everybody Dies, for example. My own gaming background is largely roleplay and board games. And my first megagame was Renaissance and Reformation, which I took a lot of influence from. There’s a massive focus on characters, on drama and decisive moments. Arguably the weakest part of the game, the combat, is because I don’t come from a wargaming background, unlike a lot of UK megagame designers.

And so I was super excited to chat to Ed Procktor of Game of Alchemy, the newest Megagame idea to come out of Southampton. He comes from a strong LARP background, and so our conversation let me examine how a LARP-inspired megagame looks.

To continue reading link to original post at Game of Alchemy and Megagames vs LARPS

FEATURED BLOG: Megagames in a BGamers World & Singapore

BGamers: This is not a very deep or intensive blog.  In fact it is little more than a calling card for facilitating megagames in Singapore.  This  blog is maintained by a team of gamers in Singapore who focus on board games and how they can be utilized both as entertainment and education and training.  This section on Megagames contains some basic explanatory information on what Megagames are including links to common megagame sites.

The site is relatively simple but is interesting and fresh.  It is produced by a team of young people in Singapore.  It  showcases scores of images of mega games (and other board games) in progress in a variety of settings in Singapore.  At the very least it showcases the international appeal and use of megagames.