Viewing entries tagged
Gamification

       The importance of characters in games    Social learning theory focuses on the importance of observation and modelling as a key part in the learning process alongside classical and operant conditioning.  Social learning was illustrated by one of my favourite experiments by Banduras Bobo Doll experiment in 1961. Modelling is taking on board the behaviours which we observe from people around us. In society, we are surrounded by role models, who illustrate both positive and negative behaviours. For children this modelling is an essential part of their development, helping to mould them into the person they are to become. It is also important for adults as well. We see it all the time in the world of fashion, make-up and celebrity, but also in the world of business. Many people model the behaviour of Richard Branson for example, hoping to emulate his success to one degree or another.  Social learning experienced a big boom several years ago on the back of the success of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – social learning became a buzz word, but it has had a stuttering start due to a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. So many social platforms just never reached the tipping point required to make them worthwhile from a user’s perspective.  However social learning means more than just an online community where people talk about work and learning and can ‘like’ or ‘vote up’ comments. ‘Social’ as an interaction mechanism actually feeds into the reward loop for our behaviours and our brains love it. Our brains are social by nature, society has enabled humans to dominate the planet and by adding a social element to learning, we can magnify the effects of behaviour change.  Matt Lieberman, a prominent psychologist, found that we assess new information on how important it is to others who are important to us (such as our family or our team) and not just ourselves. This process enhances the opportunity for making new neurological connections in our brains – more connections mean a stronger memory. The area of the brain that is activated in social contexts (the medial prefrontal cortex) is not normally associated with forming new memories in relation to technical skills but if you combine a social element you create the opportunity to create stronger connections between concepts and ideas than without the social element.  We can’t always learn in a social setting with real people, but with games we don’t need to. We know that players form strong connection with game characters, especially when those characters are part of the core storyline. We really care about what happens to them. We empathise, we buy into their goals, and we find information to help them and to enrich their lives. They become part of our lives. In many of the serious games I have worked on the characters have been a central component and it has always been important for me that these characters feel real – not a 2D impression of a boss, colleague or customer, but a genuine and emotionally believable persona, modelled on real world experience.  If you can create a believable character, and they come to mean something to you, when you are in a learning experience the same reward loops and circuits in the brain will be triggered, and new information will be assessed in terms of these characters – our social tribe – and we will think through the impact of this information on these virtual colleagues.  This has the potential to create stronger richer connections and make learning more effective. So next time you are working on a serious game or learning programme, think about the social element, and think about how believable and realistic your characters are. It really will make a difference!

2 Comments

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTERS IN GAMES

Social learning theory focuses on the importance of observation and modelling as a key part in the learning process alongside classical and operant conditioning.

Social learning was illustrated by one of my favourite experiments by Banduras Bobo Doll experiment in 1961. Modelling is taking on board the behaviours which we observe from people around us. In society, we are surrounded by role models, who illustrate both positive and negative behaviours. For children this modelling is an essential part of their development, helping to mould them into the person they are to become. It is also important for adults as well. 

2 Comments

       Battle for the best leadership development    Does the thought of an away day building a raft with your colleagues leave you feeling excited or nauseous?  Does a new concept in leadership training; (a 3D multiplayer online puzzle-based game, set on a tropical island -  see video here ), float your boat or sink your sandbags?!  We compare traditional ‘outward bound’ style leadership activities with leadership development serious game “ Unlock: Leadership ”.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        HITS   A change of environment, fresh air  The group bonding effect of being out of one’s comfort zone  The buzz (for those who enjoy that kind of thing!)   MISSES   Large group out of the office for a whole day or more and the opportunity cost associated with that  The dread…falling out of the raft and getting soaked - standing around in the cold  The expense  Pre-existing group dynamics still perpetuate  Lack of effectiveness – it was fun, but what did we learn?! Translating back to the day job  Need to have all participants in same physical location – travel costs  Not inclusive - and possibly divisive as less physically able people cannot participate in the same way in some activities  Efforts involved in setting up the activity including exploring the alternatives, booking in advance, arranging travel and accommodation etc      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Inwardly feeling the Outward Bound fear  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        HITS   A new and unique game experience  Group bonding out of comfort zone (psychologically but not mentally)  An exciting prospect for those who are open minded about using games (increasing majority of today’s workforce)  Only one group of four needs to be away from their work at a time, although there can be multiples of four  Depending on whether the game is facilitated it can take as little as 2 hours or can be stretched to a day with supporting exercises and reflection  The fear is reduced – physical discomfort and embarrassment are no longer an issue. There may be some trepidation about the unknown, but this is positive  Expense is significantly reduced. Unlock: Leadership is priced below training days and with the absence of travel costs, and opportunity costs of time away from the office, the net cost is far more manageable – meaning it can be rolled out to a wider group of workers  The anonymity in the game, combined with the mechanic of using instant messaging to communicate levels the playing field. All voices can be heard – not just the loudest. The game has also been designed to switch roles, allowing each player their moment to step up as leader  Integrated feedback, as well as a summative report on performance, mean that the learners take away information that they can apply to their positions after the game even if it is played without any facilitation. The addition of facilitators can further enhance the learning benefit  There is no need to ship anyone anywhere. Unlock: Leadership is accessed online and can be played anywhere around the world  Consistency - not affected by surroundings, weather, participants moods   MISSES   Its more screen-time, and lacks the invigorating fresh air of an outward bound experience (*unless you take your laptop outdoors!)  Some learners might resist a computer game as a serious training medium – until they play it. The game’s been designed so that even the most extreme technophobe can pick it up intuitively      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          And the winner is....  We think you should decide for yourself!  Contact Totem Learning  today for a free demo.    

Comment

BATTLE FOR THE BEST LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Does the thought of an away day building a raft with your colleagues leave you feeling excited or nauseous?

Does a new concept in leadership training; (a 3D multiplayer online puzzle-based game, set on a tropical island), float your boat or sink your sandbags?!

We compare leadership development serious game “Unlock: Leadership” with traditional ‘outward bound’ style leadership activities.

Comment

       Do Serious games really work?    So do they?  Yes they do and we have metrics to demonstrate ‘ Return On Engagement ’!  Earlier this year Totem Learning designed and developed a game to educate business owners on greener IT practices. The game develops players’ understanding of IT issues within their company and supports them to implement better, greener practices.  A few months on, we can report that ‘Green IT’ has been a great success! The report has shown that learners finished the game with a full understanding of green IT practices. Not only was the level of learning very high, the game was so effective that it provoked a proactive attitude and action in many of the learners!            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


           Here is just a cross section of facts and figures from the report:    92% of learners sought out more information on greener practices upon finishing the game    96% either have or are considering taking a course on energy saving business practices    23% are actively seeking assistance from local sources for implementation of these newly learnt practices, while 70% plan to in the near future    89% said they have, or would, recommend the ‘Green IT’ game to colleagues                  As for the design and enjoyment of the game:     71%  of learners found the scenarios and tasks within the game were directly applicable to their own companies.     59%  agreed the value of insights from the game were good or excellent.    And  79%  found it easy to use.   This is a brief look at the learning benefits achievable through using serious games but it is a brilliant outcome for this project and we are looking forward to sharing more great reports like this in the future! 

Comment

DO SERIOUS GAMES REALLY WORK?

Yes they do and we have metrics to demonstrate ‘Return On Engagement’!

Earlier this year Totem Learning designed and developed a game to educate business owners on greener IT practices. The game develops players’ understanding of IT issues within their company and supports them to implement better, greener practices.

Comment

       New leadership game about to launch!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     A ground-breaking new game for leadership training is being launched at leading L&D exhibition; World of Learning.   The 3D, online, multiplayer game is set on a tropical island, in which players must work together, communicating only by instant messaging to solve puzzles and succeed. Each level challenges players on different leadership skills such as problem solving and negotiation, and switches the lead role between players allowing each a chance to shine.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          
           
              Communicating in Real Time  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Peer and self-review are integrated into the game and whilst four players must play together simultaneously, their physical location is immaterial. There are similarities to ‘Outward Bound’ experiences, but with added benefits such as reduced cost, more targeted results and re-usability.  The game was created by, and can be purchased from Totem Learning; a serious games studio based in Coventry. It has already been taken up by Management Centre Europe, Europe’s leading management training company, for use in their courses. The two companies have signed an agreement that focuses on promoting and delivering serious games and e-learning programmes to MCE’s clients in the EMEA region. Mr Rudi Plettinx (Managing Director of MCE) says “Serious games are now a crucial element in the learning and development journey and with this new partnership, MCE are pleased to be part of these exciting developments.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Attendees at World of Learning can also catch Totem’s Head of Design and Development, Helen Routledge delivering a presentation on using serious games for leadership training, ahead of the release of her forthcoming book, “Why Serious Games are Good For Business”, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in November this year.  For more information about MCE please go to  www.mce-ama.com . To try out the game visit stand C110, World Of Learning, Birmingham, 29th and 30th September. Register free at  www.learnevents.com/   For more information about Totem Learning call Richard Smith on 02476 555 904. To hear Helen Routledge speak at World of Learning, please go to Theatre 2, from 14.45 – 15.15 on 29th September.

Comment

NEW LEADERSHIP GAME ABOUT TO LAUNCH!

A ground-breaking new game for leadership training is being launched at leading L&D exhibition; World of Learning.

The 3D, online, multiplayer game is set on a tropical island, in which players must work together, communicating only by instant messaging to solve puzzles and succeed. Each level challenges players on different leadership skills such as problem solving and negotiation, and switches the lead role between players allowing each a chance to shine. 

Comment

       Totem's top 10 serious games    Who doesn’t love a list?!  The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games (not to be confused with Gamification). It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all!  It was very difficult narrowing down our favourite games to just ten. How can you compare a game like ‘Americas Army’, an army simulation game boasting prestigious awards such as “Guinness World Record for ‘Most Downloaded War Game’ 2009” and the eagerly awaited, ‘Code Spells’ which teaches Coding in an immersive magical landscape? They deal with two very different subjects and have different goals. But after lots of ‘umm’s and ‘aah’s we have collated a list together (with no real order) to share with you accompanied with the promise to explore all the genre has to offer in greater depth in the coming weeks.     Re-Mission     A third person shooter developed by HopeLab with direct input from medical staff and young cancer sufferers. It teaches children in remission about their treatments and the importance of their follow up care in a unique and informative way. It’s been a huge success! Achieving its goal with such success a sequel has even been released boasting even further successes such as winning ‘the Parents’ Choice Gold Award’.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Free Rice     An incredibly worthwhile game that everybody should play as often as they can. This game educates players on various subjects while simultaneously helping those most vulnerable.  It has accomplished so much since its release, late 2007; over 98,117,454,870 grains of rice have been donated to those in need through this simple multiple choice game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       Food Force    A contender for the most downloaded game in the Serious Game genre and a sequel co-developed with Konami; this game teaches the importance of food nutrition.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       
           Nightmare: Malaria     Educating players on malaria while simultaneously working towards the end of the, completely preventable, disease; this game is challenging, both in gameplay and emotionally, with an impressively beautiful art style.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          September 12th      A simple, yet profound game! Straight to the point; Shoot or Don’t. Very few games have achieved the level of impact this game has and none to our knowledge in such a short time frame. If you make the choice to ‘play’ the game you quickly realise how impulsive action only brings you further away from your goal.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        DragonBox     Secretly teaching children Algebra! DragonBox proudly boasts teaching 83% of children the basics of algebra in under an hour of game play. What results! This game had to make the list. If you check out the reviews on the Play Store adults are raving about the game. There’s been some obvious competition between parents and children to play the app too!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Leadership Game     Shameless Promotion! Our leadership game has been used by all sorts of people in managerial professions, including Football Management teams and CEO’s. It is currently undergoing a complete upgrade with some really interesting and innovative mechanics accompanied by beautiful graphics being included in the new release.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


          Typing of the Dead       
        
        
        Fighting off Zombies while learning to type; an inspired combination! Lovers of the zombie genre will find endless hours of entertainment playing this touch-typing game.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Grace’s Diary     Gorgeous graphics, simple gameplay, abusive relationships- this game deals with this sensitive issue effectively, providing players with the necessary skills to recognise abusive relationships (whether their own or a friends') and information on how best approach the situation.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        The Business Game     More Shameless Promotion! But we believe in our products and we know their merit so no apologies from us! This simulation game teaches great business and enterprising skills regardless of age or experience. The aim is to turn a profit and run a successful business, adjusting constantly to the market for three virtual years. Players will have to be adaptable and forward thinking to beat the game, it’s a real challenge! You can always message us for a free trial and try it for yourself; but be warned the Yellow Robin Reliant!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There are so many exceptional games in this innovative and ever-progressing genre; this list is just a taster! Serious Games are used to educate on so many issues it would be folly to think this list is conclusive. It is just a scratch on the surface! In the coming weeks, we will be going into the different applications Serious Games have been used for and feature the top ten of those categories.   In the meantime let us know your favourites! We would love to hear your views too, tweet us @teamtotem or use #TL10

TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES

Who doesn’t love a list!

The team here at Totem Learning have been discussing our all-time favourite Games for Learning, or Serious Games. It’s a really interesting subject we want to share with you all! 

       Totem's top 10 serious games for UK politics    Today’s the day for the 2015 General Election! Have you all been avidly following the news? Keeping informed on the world of Politics? Polling offices close at 22:00 but as long as you are in the queue before then you can still vote – a handy fact I learned from 'Election Game', featured below!  There was no question what the theme for this week’s list would be. Politics, Government, Voting and Party Issues are all covered! Keeping it ‘close to home’ this week to ensure maximum relevance.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     First off and possibly the most relevant for today:  Election Game  -  Developed by Sponge UK, this short game is packed full of the do’s and don’ts of the voting procedure – from polling station opening times to unacceptable behaviour when carrying out your vote. Signing the ballot paper with kisses or making up your own political figure to vote for just won’t be accepted in this game!          

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Verto -  informing your vote.   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Verto  – A very useful app for people who are unsure who to vote for. Take the quiz and order issues in priority of importance, the app will then suggest the party that best matches with the answers given. Previously there was a ‘call to action’ button built in so users could easily register to vote; on their website they boast over 500,000 people have registered after using Verto.           

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        MP for a Week  – This was a pretty challenging game. It goes in depth to an average week of an MP. Play as the opposition or in Government, both roles prove a challenge. Keeping public opinion and the media on your side while balancing personal and party views, will you make it a week in parliament?        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Ballot Bots  - A ‘10’ level puzzle game packed with facts and smatterings of questions to answer on current politics. Developed by the BBC, it can be played online or on your phone, be wary of those campaign pitfalls though!        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Campaign Trail  – Another game brought to you by the same group who created ‘MP for a Week’, ‘catch’ people who will vote in favour of your cause, convince those on the side-lines and avoid those in opposition. This game teaches different practices used to raise awareness while testing your reflexes.  Think you can do better than any of the parties around today? Why not try your hand at running your own country then? See how easy it is, or isn’t! As there aren’t too many non-biased ‘serious’ serious games on the market to finish of this list, delivering the promised ten, the following five games all put you in charge as decision maker.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Democracy 3  – Available on Steam, this was recommended to me by a fellow Totemite. It is a very addictive game with the freedom to rule the country how you see fit. Oppress the people or bend to the population’s every whim, it is up to you! In this game you will have no one to blame but yourself for the state of the country. BONUS: it is currently on offer on Steam!        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Nationstate, Logo, Politics  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      Nation State  – The game that lets the player decide every aspect of their civilisation – the name, money (or ‘the monies’ in the ‘Land of Bored and Unmotivated’), what kind of people live there, when were they discovered, ideologies and religion and so on. I’ve only just started a civilisation but I am looking forward to growing my own personal civilisation and seeing what the Nation State community has to offer!        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Zeus: Master of Olympus  – A favourite of mine as a child, I recently spent hours trailing the internet to find a copy of this game! Sierra need to bring it back! There are various missions set to Greek mythology, the player builds up their city, balancing wages, taxes, imports, exports and so on. There are other cities who can be allies or rivals; using politics and careful espionage it is possible to change their views but if that sounds like too much effort, war is an option. Many hours spent playing this along with others in the series developed by Impressions Games. This is a game for people who want to run the country but not a modern country, with real issues, instead this is for the player who enjoys reacting to Poseidon attacking your little fishing village or a Hydra randomly appearing in your mine.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Civili  z  ation  – Has to be mentioned! A similar but more accurately historical game than ‘Zeus’, it is rich with historical figures. There are multiple ways to win ranging from a unique space program to total domination of the world. This game series produced a generation of dedicated fans; Civilization V was released by 2K in 2010 but the community is still going strong today.        

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Branches of Power  – Developed by Filament Games, the player explores the control different branches of government possess and the limitations attached. There are a lot of aspects to juggle while playing this game, as in real politics, less time taxing than Nation State and Democracy.  Happy voting everyone, exercise your right to vote – or don’t, as is also your right.  Not strictly all serious games in this post but they are relevant for today and hopefully you found them useful and informative. Don't forget to let us know your thoughts using the #TL10 on twitter. 

Comment

TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES FOR UK POLITICS

Today’s the day! Have you all been avidly following the news? Keeping informed? Polling offices close at 22:00 but as long as you are in the queue before then you can still vote – 

Comment

       Totem's top 10 serious games for 'Earth Day'    It was Earth Day Wednesday - Who took the Google Quiz and what did you get? Be honest! I got a ‘Woolly Mammoth’, ‘So unique, you're technically extinct. But on the bright side, scientists hope to be able to clone you some day’.  As promised we are bringing you another list collating together ten serious games out there on the market. Last week we brought you the list  Totem’s Top Ten Games for Learning , this week can you guess the theme?  It’s Environmentally Aware Games!  To kick it off we are going to start with a serious game that has a ‘Call to Action’ built in making it (almost) unavoidable to not get involved in the issue of Fracking.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Frackman  - Drilling under homes and fracking for gas to make a profit- at times action eat into profits but the costs to the community are a much bigger deal. The game play is limited but if you want to take a second shot at it Team Giraffe have built in a ‘Call to Action’ which sends the player to an online petition calling for the ban of fracking under homes- a hot issue at the moment with Mark Ruffalo publicly calling on the Government to ban all kinds of Fracking. Good intentions and useful links for further reading, but  What the Frack  is the game to play if you are serious about learning more on the issue. It’s very wordy but very informative and you are free to choose the outcome, good or bad.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                 Rhino Raid  – I really enjoyed this one! A rhino out for revenge on the poachers who have mercilessly taken his beloved. Really captivating graphics coupled with simple but addictive gameplay.  It has entertainment value without compromising on its aim; there’s plenty of information to absorb in just a short period of play. Flint Sky Interactive have even made it really simple to find out more and donate from the game  .           

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


            Climate Defence  – Not the most captivating or motivational game, it gives the player a brief look at the real struggle of slowing down climate change.  An unbeatable game (unless you cheat), on ‘Real’ mode there is no way to win, driving home the extent of the damage done to our planet. Facts pop up offering further information on climate change and its effective but lacks depth. It is informative but if links to external related sources were incorporated it would make for a better educational experience.                

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Oilgarchy   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              Oiligarchy     – On to oil! At first glance (I thought) this game was an easy play through and hadn’t much to offer. But boy was I wrong! It is a really controversial play; weighted choices like ‘prompting a homeland attack’ or ‘declaring war on Iraq’ are easily made, your focus is on profit not people! Environmental issues: from destroying the local wildlife and villages to issues such as the harmful gases speeding up climate change are touched on too. This is a very pointed game despite its simplistic, colourful art style and the initial impression it might give.             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                Human Footprint Interactive    – Better to think of this as an educational tool. Found on the National Geographic site, it offers up some interesting individual information such as the amount of chickens needed to sustain your lifetime egg intake. – Fun Fact, ‘Ireland’s annual harvest supplies a lifetime of potatoes for 91,000 Americans’.  Planet Food  is very similar, awarding players badges for completing different tasks; growing awareness of the food we eat; more interactive and offering a wider range of avenues to discover, a great way to grow individual awareness.          

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


           Earth Hour    - A really sweet game with a very simple objective; ‘turn off the lights’. It was created for WWF as part of the ‘Earth Hour’ initiative which takes place globally on the last Saturday of March every year. There is a ‘Call to Action’ located below the game which gives the player more information on the effects of climate change and there is also a ‘Donate’ button for WWF.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
               Fraxinus - Played on Facebook   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


            Fraxinus –Play this on Facebook and seek revenge on your friends for all those ‘Candy Crush’ and ‘Farmville’ notifications. This game is just as fun and addictive but a heck of a lot more productive! Working out the sequences and ‘stealing’ them from other players all while helping scientists (actual real-life, white coat wearing scientists) develop a cure for the Chalara fungus; a disease that has the potential to wipe-out 90-95% of Britain and Irelands Ash trees, a colossal figure when you consider Ash is the third most common tree in Britain! – If this is a cause you are passionate about then I really recommend looking into  BIFOR    and the work they are doing. For those of you who enjoy walks in the countryside and want to do your part saving the trees too,  Tree Health Survey  is an App which allows users to report issues of disease in trees to the appropriate Government Officials.            

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              Citizen Science  – The ‘Steward’, foretold to save the local lake from becoming too polluted to swim in, time travels to gain a better understanding of the actions which resulted in the polluted lake. It is aimed at a young audience but there’s an important lesson we can all take to heart; each one of us have a role to play in building a better, more environmentally friendly world. ‘Citizen Science’ the term itself is a worldwide movement where individuals do what they can to progress the research of scientists into various environmental solutions, like the ‘Tree Health Survey’ and ‘Fraxinus’.  Zooniverse  is a huge database of Citizen Science projects with a range that caters for every interest.           

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


             Plan It Green  -        A building sim; the aim is to give an old energy sucking town a newer greener facelift. As Mayor there are a range of factors to consider when building; this game incorporates alternate energy solutions like solar powered houses, wind farms, even hydro plants! It was enjoyable and an easy play. Sim City EDU (only for teachers and students), Electro City (a more challenging play), IBM CityOne (choose to either the environmental route or a corporate route, makes for an interesting selection of players) – are just a few more titles in the building sim category with an environmentally aware aspect.             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                        Flower  – It’s always good to take a little time and appreciate the world around us. If everyone did this, who knows, maybe all these other issues we’ve discussed wouldn’t be issues! This game is really beautiful. It is tranquil, calming and very spiritual. Playing as the wind, flower petals are collected resulting in a whirlwind of beauty where each blade of grass moves independently! This game is gorgeous but it is more than just a simple pleasure for your senses (it has a great sound track too), it encourages a need in the player to actually go out into the real world and appreciate all it has to offer. This game is raved about by avid gamers and non-gamers alike. A nice little positive to round off a content heavy list!          There are so many games out there that focus on real issues, educating people of all age groups and motivating people into action, this is just a drop in the ocean of what’s on offer ( there’s games for that too). It is well worth the exploration and there are some real gems that provide great ways to get involved!     Here at Totem Learning, we have been busy doing our bit too!  Is IT Green , is the Serious Game which will equip players with the knowledge and skills to make their business energy efficient and save money in the process.     Nicky Rhodes our resident 3D and 2D Artist has been working diligently on this project. She has recorded her process and methods for any aspiring artists to learn from and we are delighted to announce they will be released on our blog very soon. Not to be missed by artists at any stage of their career, there’s sure to be something to learn for all – talking of which did you see Chris Chadwick’s post on  the Golden Ratio ?     Remember you can get involved on the discussion of your favourite Serious Games and candidates for future Totem Top Tens by using the hashtag #TL10 on twitter!

Comment

TOTEM'S TOP 10 SERIOUS GAMES FOR 'EARTH DAY'

The second in Totem's Top Ten Serious Games Series. This blog is all about games that address environmental issues. 

Comment

       Ten reasons why you should switch to serious games

Comment

TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO SERIOUS GAMES

Our at a glance top 10 of why you need to switch to serious games for your learning and development. This infographic taken from a previous blog post by Helen Routledge, shows you some of the research into why games based learning has such huge and far reaching benefits for organisational training.

Comment

       Halloween Special: Scary Serious Games!     It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.   Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:  Nevermind     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.nevermindgame.com with thanks   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     This game which is being developed by Flying Molusk uses BioFeedback technology to detect your heart rate, so that the game dynamically responds to your fear or anxiety:  “Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced adventure horror game that takes you into the dark and twisted world of the subconscious.  As you explore surreal labyrinths and solve the puzzles of the mind, a biofeedback sensor will monitor how scared or stressed you become moment-to-moment. If you let your fears get the best of you, the game will become harder. If you’re able to calm yourself in the face of terror, the game will be more forgiving.  Nevermind strives to create a haunting gameplay experience that also teaches you how to be more aware of your internal responses to stressful situations. If you can learn to control your anxiety within the disturbing realm of Nevermind, just imagine what you can do when it comes to those inevitable stressful moments in the real world…” www.nevermindgame.com  See the  website  for a video and more information  Typing of the Dead     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image from www.thisisozone.com  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     In a nutshell, rather than shooting zombies in this game, players must type out words or phrases to kill them. The words or phrases which appear in a box increase in complexity as the game progresses.  Despite being a learning game, this game received huge praise for its humour and originality from mainstream critics. Here’s a  video  of the original, although further versions have been released since.  Zombies, Run!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This falls into the camp of health games. It is a mobile game that works with GPS.  From their website  www.zombiesrungame.com   “Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you're jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills.  And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!”  Here’s the  trailer  for Zombies, Run! 3:      Its known that using emotion of all kinds (even fear) can enhance the learning experience, helping to make the learning more ‘sticky’ and create those memory hooks, not to mention making the game more exciting and engaging. At Totem Learning we’ve taken inspiration from the horror game genre – for example by using certain mechanics to create a sense of claustrophobia in our game about the danger of enclosed spaces on board cargo ships (with GUI inspired by The Walking Dead!), and using paranoia and fear in a concept that we worked up for a multiplayer game that tests strengths in a variety of 21st Century skills: the Phoenix Project (for the trailer video click  here )     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The 'Gateway' hospital in Phoenix Project  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     A final point that I can’t omit on the subject of scary serious games is the Uncanny Valley. Animated avatars abound for role plays and interactions in the world of serious games – but have you ever seen games in which the characters (unintentionally) look terrifying? The uncanny valley hypothesis explains this:- as a simulated human (e.g. robot or 3D computer animation)  becomes more realistic the response is that of revulsion as we notice the differences. The below chart illustrates the point and a great video by Extra Credits on what this means for games can be found  here      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


    

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Repliee Q2 an Actroid developed by Osaka University and unveiled in 2003  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     If you know of other scary serious games, we'd love to hear about them @teamtotem

Comment

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: SCARY SERIOUS GAMES!

It’s Halloween and we’ve been thinking about ghouls and ghosts and the whole horror gaming genre and how that has been leveraged in the Serious Games world.

Here are a few Serious Games that sprung to mind:

Comment

       The benefits of serious games     1.        They are engaging  This is probably the most common argument you might hear if you are looking into Serious Games. Everyone in the industry screams this out of the top of their lungs, but that’s because it’s true. You may think Serious Games will only appeal to the young, to the gamers, but actually cleverly designed solutions should appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds regardless of whether they have played games before or not.  And here’s why! A well-crafted Serious Game will give the user something to care about; an objective that they want to achieve. An objective that is relevant to the business or situation that user currently finds themselves in. A Serious Games designer will tap into the motivations of the user and make them central to the story.  Games also present information as nested problems, they will give the user an objective but the user has to actively get involved with the scenario to work out how to achieve the objective.  Serious Games also utilise interesting characters and reward loops to keep you pushing forward. Users will start to buy in to the scenario and become emotionally invested in seeing it through.   2.        They are a ‘safe environment’  Do most learners have a place they can go and practice their skills in a realistic environment? Unfortunately unless you are a pilot or a nuclear technician the answer will most likely be no.  Most businesses won’t have a simulated business with real people and market data just there for their staff to practice on. Serious Games can be the missing link between knowledge and practical application on the job.  Therefore Serious Games can allow users to practice the skills or methodologies they have read about or go ‘off-piste’ with their own strategy and actually see the consequences of their actions without any impact to the business. In fact this practice in a virtual environment will benefit the business greatly by reducing the number of mistakes your staff will make in the real world.    3.        They work according to the laws of learning  Serious Games are designed to hook us in and appeal to our brain; their designs are mapped to how we intrinsically learn. As the main purpose of a Serious Game is to develop new knowledge, skills and to ultimately produce a behaviour change they have to align with how we learn.  We base our designs around the Laws of Learning which can be seen illustrated in the infographic below. This is quite a complicated subject so let’s examine one of the basic premises of learning. Looking back in time, we hear throughout every culture on earth, the process of telling stories to pass knowledge down to new generations. Stories create emotional connections which increase the likelihood of retention. In today’s society we use stories for leisure, books, movies and games, and they all appeal to us through clever use of narrative, characterisation and the epic challenge, but they are rarely present when it comes to learning.  Now the difference between reading an educational book or watching an educational movie and playing an educational game is that you, the player, the protagonist takes control, all the action revolves around you. You make the choices, the consequences happen to you and because the choices are wrapped up in a story in which you want to succeed you create an even stronger emotional connection to those actions. We even exhibit physiological responses when we fail in games, it feels so real sometimes that our brains can’t tell the difference on the most basic biological level.  Because you are placed at the centre of the action, you learn at your own pace. You don’t have to keep up with 25 others who have other jobs they have to get back to. You evaluate your actions in your own time. You can fail as many times as is necessary to grasp the solution.  This ability to learn at your own rate is down to the use of pacing in the design of these interventions. When designing an e-learning course for example there is a specific amount of content, a set number of screens, a set number of words per screen, some audio, animation  and if you’re lucky multiple choice questions to add some variety. However in a serious game the content is indistinguishable from the actions and choices you have to make, therefore you will only progress and succeed once you have mastered the knowledge. The content is paced in a careful way to ensure you understand, not just remember, but truly understand before continuing. Because you understand, new information stands out to you; you are able to pull on information stored in your long term memory and not just your working memory to solve problems.   4.        They are re-usable   A Serious Game should not be judged on how many learners complete the game but on how learners re-use the application. Serious Games by their very nature are designed to be played several times. They are generally non-linear and allow a learner to explore different paths and different consequences. This results in learners building a well-rounded view of a situation or problem.  From the games we host ourselves we know users play our games on average 4.3 times. This replay is reinforcing learning and through the use of scoring we can see that learners are getting better the more they play.  Serious Games can also be very flexible; you can use them in many ways. You can apply a context to the learning experience and ask your learners to focus on different learning objectives or to play in a certain way with a certain mind-set for example. Or you can apply the same application to different stages of the learning lifecycle, as a precursor to a course and as a refresher 6 months down the line for example.   5.        You can roll specialist knowledge out to a wider audience  Serious games are great for taking complex topics like six sigma for example, that have traditionally been part of an intensive classroom course (which could be expensive to roll out to a whole organisation) and turning it into a case study game so that the learning can be accessed by a wider audience. Yes they train to a lower level but at least they will begin to understand the same lessons that your senior management are learning ensuring your organisation from top to bottom are speaking the same language.   6.        They are cost effective  Cost effectiveness of Serious Games is reached because of some of the reasons I’ve already discussed. Firstly they can be re-used many times per learner and across the organisation in different contexts and they can take complex content and reach a wider audience ensuring your message is heard by everyone in the organisation.  OK so there may be an up front development cost but if a Serious Game is built correctly they can be modified and tweaked for years to ensure they are kept up to date.   7.        You can capture data!  Because you’re making lots (and I mean lots!) of decisions in a game, and those decisions are very telling about your thought process, you can capture the journey to a particular point as well as that final end result.  Imagine if you received all of that data from everyone in your leadership team, your middle managers or your entire organisation. You could map the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation and create and informed strategy for how to address them or go down to the level of the individual learner and begin to create a truly personalised learning plan based on their actual performance (which can be measured through situational judgement games for example).   8.        They are expected  Serious Games and Interactive learning applications are reaching a stage where new hires will expect them. Companies who use these approaches are often seen as progressive in terms of their learning and development and will attract the top talent. These methodologies will also help retain talent by ensuring your in house learning and development is enjoyable and your employees want to keep learning.  9.       They complement other forms of learning  As I mentioned in number 2, games can be the missing link in your learning and development tool kit – you need a knowledge piece, you still need on the job training , reinforces etc., and Serious Games compliment these other forms of learning brilliantly.  A new study by MIT has revealed that your attention levels are lower in a lecture than when you are asleep and the new generation of workers as well as those already in your organisation are looking for new ways to learn. A single method or non-interactive method of learning delivery just doesn’t cut it anymore. More than likely they’ve already started learning outside of work, using MOOC’s or YouTube.  Serious Games are just one aspect you should consider as part of your digital learning strategy.   10.    Because they work!  Recent research by Sitzmann and Ely titled “A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Effectiveness of Computer-Based Simulation Games” By the University of Colorado Denver Business School (Oct 2010), looked at the instructional effectiveness of Computer Based Simulation Games relative to a comparison group, on a comprehensive set of training outcomes, particularly focusing on the post-training outcomes. Data was collected from 6,476 participants ranging from students (undergraduate and graduate), employees through to military personnel. Sitzmann found that self-efficacy; declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge and retention results suggest that training outcomes are superior for trainees taught with simulation games relative to the comparison group.  Overall, declarative knowledge was 11% higher for trainees taught with simulation games than a comparison group; procedural knowledge was 14% higher; retention was 9% higher; retention was 9% higher; and self-efficacy was 20% higher. (Ely and Sitzmann findings, 2010)     If you want to talk more about my top 10 or to suggest others I’ve missed tweet me on @helenroutledge

Comment

THE BENEFITS OF SERIOUS GAMES

This is probably the most common argument you might hear if you are looking into Serious Games. Everyone in the industry screams this out of the top of their lungs, but that’s because it’s true. You may think Serious Games will only appeal to the young, to the gamers, but actually cleverly designed solutions should appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds regardless of whether they have played games before or not.

 

And here’s why! ...

Comment