segunda-feira, 20 de março de 2017

Board game mechanics in a poster

I was in Santiago (Chile) last weekend for a presentation about my new mobile game RockFlickz. After the work, I visited one very interesting ludic place: Dos De Seis Board Game Café. You can rent board games, play them and drink excellent coffee. One poster in the wall caught my attention and I want to share it in this post:



Some "artist" grouped the main board game mechanics in the same space. A cool poster to decorate a wall and an excellent exercise to think about game design.

#GoGamers

segunda-feira, 13 de março de 2017

Game design process: one more interesting approach

Some excellent stuff from the YouTube channel Game Design Ed. A concise and interesting view about game design process. Enjoy!



#GoGamers

domingo, 5 de março de 2017

The magic circle idea and the playgrounds scattered throughout everyday life

From countless mobile gadgets with wireless and fast track connection to the Internet, or using more traditional modes of access, people are increasingly blurring the lines between near and far, public and private, work and leisure, online and offline. The impressive rates in social appropriation of communication and information technologies entail changes in the way we live, get together, do business and – of course – have fun.


Stephansplatz, Vienna (June, 2016). Photo by @vincevader

Having fun, in this scenario, is closely linked to the large number of entertainment languages that pervade our daily experience. The languages of entertainment are crisscrossing boundaries in the quotidian landscape and games become media and a relevant tool of marketing for many companies. We can find games and languages of entertainment in our mobile devices, Facebook site, television shows, videogame consoles, mobile applications and lots of other platforms. Everything indicates that, more than never, individuals are searching for ludic/entertainment/gaming experiences to disconnect for some moments from the chaotic quotidian, the pressure of working hours or the accelerated routine of big urban centers; in certain way, people are trying to reach places of catharsis, dreaming and fiction to escape from this. Based on the Huizinga’s (1995) thoughts, they are searching for different “magic circles”.

Johan Huizinga (1872 – 1945) was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history. In his book Homo Ludens, from 1938, he discusses the possibility that playing is the primary formative element in human culture. In this book, the author (HUIZINGA, 1995) presents the idea of the "magic circle". As described by Adams and Rollings (2009), Huizinga did not use the term as a generic name for the concept: his text refers to the actual playground, or a physical space for playing. Inside the magic circle, real-world events have special meanings; in the real world someone kicks a ball into a net, but in the magic circle someone scores a goal leading the crowd to celebrate this act. (ADAMS; ROLLINGS, 2009).

The magic circle is a place of dreams and fantasy. It's an escape from everyday problems and chores. Most importantly: everything inside the magic circle is, in some way, transformative. Each time a person leaves the magic circle, they bring meaning and experience to the real world. The arena, the card-table, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc., are examples of the magic circle idea. It is important to mention that authors like Bogost (2016) discuss that “magic circle” is too dramatic a name for this kind of processes and embraces the term “playgrounds” as an alternative.

Regardless of the categorization – whether “magic circle” or “playgrounds” – it is important to understand that the contemporary stage is full of platforms that we can access entertainment/games and there are lots of individuals attached to these ludic experiences. We can suppose that companies/brands/products/services will try to connect its selves to the audiences immersed in these experiences, platforms and languages. Based on this assumption, we understand more clearly how games also become communication and marketing tools.

#GoGamers



References:

ADAMS, Ernest; ROLLINGS, Andrew. Fundamentals of Game Design. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009

BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955.

quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2017

A diagram to explain connections in a board game design process

An excellent diagram to think about the relationships between theme, rules, players and components in board games. The intersections between the different areas point out very interesting ways to ponder about game design questions.


Source: Big Game Theory site

#GoGamers

terça-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2017

Defining “advergame”, “product placement in games” and “in-game advertising”

According to Cavallini (2006), the notion of advergame – a neologism formed from the juxtaposing of the words “advertise” and “game” – could be described as a strategy for marketing that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from complex games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes to common casual games. The Internet and video game consoles are great environments to use this strategy. Mobile media (smartphones and tablets) are already being tested by companies, which chose this marketing strategy too. For instance, the Brazilian branch of the soft drink brand Fanta launched in 2015 a hot site with ten advergames. Developed by Sioux Studio, the games emphasized Fantas’s branding features like happiness, friendship, radical sports and music. All the features of the brand appeared in campaigns displayed on television, magazines, movie theaters and on the Internet are present in the game; therefore, we can conclude that the game is an advertising piece like any other.



Cavallini (2006) also discusses the idea of product placement in games as a strategy that inserts a company’s product inside the gaming interface and context. The characters in the game Devil May Cry wear pants with the Diesel brand in evidence. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, the character uses a Sony Ericsson p900 smartphone to solve missions, so the player virtually experiences the use of the device. In Worms 3D, by SEGA Studio, the characters drink a can of Red Bull energy drink in order to jump higher. In the last released UFC game, we can see the fighters wearing shorts and gloves from famous sporting brands. It is very important to highlight that this kind of strategy, as everything in marketing, needs its context aligned with the target audience. In all previous examples, the product fits in the gaming universe and dialogues with the players.



Another fundamental keyword in this context is in-game advertising. As Herrewijn and Poels (2011) define, in-game advertising refers to the use of games as a medium for the delivery of advertisements, and the authors point out that there is one player branding experience during the gameplay. In this type of strategy, we can notice the use of banners, posters, radio spots, digital ads and billboards mixed to the game’s landscape. In Virtua Tennis 3, as an example, it is possible to see Bridgestone tires and Citizen watches billboards all around the scenario. Both brands are present, sponsoring the real tennis matches, so it is very pertinent to be in the virtual game, creating a deeper sense of immersion to the player.



In this topic, we are discussing examples developed for consoles, personal computers and mobile media. However, the advergaming strategy is not something created in the Internet age. In the beginning of the 1980s, we already could find some very interesting cases in the Atari platform (as we discussed in this old post here).

Note: this post is part of a complete paper about "games as marketing tools". Soon, I hope to share the complete content in another post.

#GoGamers



References:

CAVALLINI, Ricardo. (2006). O marketing depois de amanhã. São Paulo: Digerati Books.

HERREWIJN, Laura. & POELS, Karolien (2011). Putting Brands into Play: How Player Experiences Influence the Effectiveness of In-Game Advertising. Proceedings of the DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association), 6, 1-19. Available here.

quarta-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2017

About constraints

"The pleasure of limits arises only when the participants within a particular magic circle understand and respect the material constraints it circumscribes" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).

"Constraints are most effective when those who are bound up with them can clearly see, understand, and appreciate the limits they impose. That doesn’t necessarily mean accepting those limitations as a best approach to a pursuit, nor does it mean fixing them for eternity as the only way to do things" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).



Reference:

BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

domingo, 29 de janeiro de 2017

“Why is gamification not working in my company?”

Last week, I was invited to a meeting in a medium-size Brazilian company, which for ethical reasons will not have its name disclosed. The director of the innovation area wanted a special consulting about the gamification process implemented on the last two years. After many attempts, these tactics proved worthless for the company. The employees did not understand the purpose of this process and could not see the utility in what was proposed. Why did it happen? In the director’s mind, gamification is a positive thing for every company, after all, it’s an attempt to put games (a fun element) inside work (a boring subject) to improve their routine.



Well, it is not that simple.

In the article “Hate the games, not the players", Daniel Ruch discusses some points that can make gamification fail in the business ecosystem. First of all, Ruch gives us one good definition about the term:

“Gamification” is the application to other activities of game-playing elements (such as point scoring, competition and rules of play) in an attempt to achieve a measurable goal. In business, that goal could be greater productivity, user engagement or employee satisfaction. In our personal lives, goals might include losing weight, exercising regularly or unplugging from mobile devices.

After this definition, Ruch says that many companies tried to implement the gaming process in their DNA, but, in most part of them, the game objectives were unclear and complicated. According to Ruch, some employees “weren’t sure how to win points and badges”, and, let’s be honest: what’s the real purpose of it? One virtual trophy received in a special e-mail will not motivate behavioral change. One public score with a race between the selling departments could only create frustration and bad competition. A system that only punishes failures and never rewards positive acts is bounded to be a failure. So, what is important to think before introducing processes like gamification into a company? Here are some thoughts to dwell on:

1) Define clear goals. What’s the problem with your company that gamification will try to solve? Are employees unmotivated? Is communication between departments bad?

2) What paths are guaranteed to solve the problem and achieve the goal? And one essential thing: does your company really need to implement gamification processes? Or can the problem be solved in a much simpler way?

3) According to Ruch, “gamification begins with a why question”.

4) Once identified that gamification could be a solution for the problem, comes one important step: to hire a specialist team to implement the process. Discuss with them. Try to put the objectives clearly to the employees. Emphasize the benefits, the rewards and the gains. “We can’t make successful games without understanding the problems we aim to solve”.

5) Gamification is a not a generic solution applied to any kind of company and employee. One cautious observation and previous analysis is fundamental.

Another important thought to highlight this discussion comes from Bogost (2016, p.82) who says that

A job is made of fun not by turning into a game, but by deeply and deliberately pursuing it as a job. Jobs are fun when their work is meaningful, when their activities matter, and when the act of conducting them can be done over and over again with the increased commitment. Fun can’t be added to something, like sugar to coffee or like songs to chores.

Gamification is always a polemic subject. Many experts condemn the term and prefer to talk about "ludification" or "game thinking". Regardless of how it is called, it is important to broaden the discussion on this subject.

Now, on to your opinion!

#GoGamers



Reference

BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

Article “Hate the games, not the players”.