May 2006 be a year of new beginnings, of hope and of peace for all the world. Think globally, act locally? Here’s my small contribution.
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Archive for December, 2005
In multiplayer online games, there are no saved games or “do-overs”. Players need to learn quickly to use the tools of the game in a way that encourages and empowers them. Learning must be quick, because the player is anxious to get into the real game. Here’s how some games have implemented their training support for new players.
A very nice paper by Irish authors called “Theory Building in Knowledge Management” discusses the implicit and explicit assumptions that guide theory and practice, and analyze the major schools of thought within KM. They define KM as being in a “pre-science” state…which certainly explains the differences of beliefs, values and fundamentals expressed by practitioners.
Speaking from a user’s standpoint, creative approaches to moving characters from Point A to Point B in multiplayer games are important for the overall gameplay experience. Solving the challenge of how to move characters around the game as they interact with the environment and other players is a critical success factor. Here are some of the many options available and how they’ve played out in MMOGs I know.
I recently started to tire of The Apprentice. The same thing that made me enjoy it and learn from it originally is the same thing that now makes it a little uninteresting — the formulaic structure of the show. The characters change, but the show’s format is predictable. Yet that very predictability enhances its value for teaching.
GoogleMaps use satellite imagery to enable users to travel the world vicariously and zoom in (in many areas) to the level of their own neighborhood. Landmarks and buildings are shown, creating a fascinating opportunity for game designers to create games that would use GoogleMaps as the basis for the game world. Here are some of the kinds of games that might be created and what might be interesting about them.
In the “some people have too much time on their hands” category…I think we are witnessing the birth of a new art form. Has filmmaking using gaming content and in-game tools ever been done before? Take a look at this brilliant little sepia tint film called Racing the Grimtotem. It recalls silent movies, is scored with haunting music from the film City of the Lost Children, and edited masterfully.
Heads up, game designers and developers. New research says that 47% of players in MMOGs are now women…and it’s increasing. You want women to play your game and stay with it? You need to change a few things for that to happen, including a better range of avatar choices. It will pay off in the long run. You are in this for the long run, aren’t you?
The Game Runner is an exercise treadmill that looks similar to the one you may have gathering dust at home; however, it has been modified to serve as a game controller for first-person shooter games. What a great solution to the lack of exercise and foggy brains many gamers grouse about. Run fast here, go fast there!
New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast about 40 miles from Seoul.. Touted as the first “ubiquitous city”, the entired city will be wired, interconnected and on the Internet. Inventors believe the city will be a hot bed of innovative technology ideas — a showcase for what might be. But will a planned city — especially one where everything is recorded and accessible face insurmountable privacy issues.
Everyone thinks they can communicate. Perhaps this is why in hard times communications budgets are among the first to be cut. Communication programs are perceived to be “nice to haves” not mission-critical. Why aren’t they in the executive suite as members instead of as visitors? I boggle at this shortsighted view, and am going to rant about it.
MMOG game designers are intrigued by the special dynamics and interactions of players in groups, and have experimented with optimum group sizes, tending toward larger and larger-scale formations for high end game scenarios. Here’s a 20-year review of groups and grouping dynamics in a variety of MMORPGs from my own experience.
Mark Wirt’s excellent presentation at USENIX’05 is a well-rounded behind the screen technical look at what makes MMOGs so challenging to design and operate. Recommended reading. I don’t say that lightly.
Can games teach leadership? The U.S. Army has embraced multiplayer games as a training and leadership assessment tool. Their challenge is to develop leaders who can deal with complex problems. Research supports that multiplayer games are an excellent quantitative assessment method to identify emergent leaders.
I think that alternate reality games (ARGs) could revitalize the Democratic party! A week ago, Democrats came out strongly for a technology strategy supporting new scientific research programs, space, stem cells, innovation, healthcare, etc. Rep. George Miller of California said, “The federal government must make innovation in science and technology its top priority for economic growth.” So far ARGs have been commercial and primarily geared toward young, tech-savvy people…but aren’t those a demographic that both parties are trying to woo and get to the polls? Just imagine if politics were considered “fun” or “cool” and the Democrats were to get the halo effect from that! Here’s why I think it would work.
While some of these are not exactly new ideas, they are still uncommon and represent some of the most interesting new developments and concepts that I’ve seen related to the future of multiplayer gaming. They include virtual trading cards, rentals of streamed games, ARGs, adaptive AI, and P2P MMOGs. Five years from now, MMO gaming will be completely different! Are there other interesting developments I’ve missed?
Why make a “multiplayer” game if you aren’t going to lavish great care and attention on the social dynamics that will make it easy for players to communicate with one another in a meaningful and expressive way? The range of social gestures the game designers give to players actually inspires them to use their imaginations to stretch the limits of the tool and participate with others more creatively. Games are a shell within which player interactions occur, and games that don’t get the social interaction components right fail. Social dynamics trump game concept.
Since the late 1990s, even though games and simulations have been proven to add value to the learning experience, there have not been a lot of breakthroughs in corporate education. But that is changing as game developers start to focus resources on building “serious games” that organizations can use to study play and optimize the real-life processes they model. It’s a natural win-win. Games facilitate improved decision making and are the most insidious type of learning there can be — and game developers have an opportunity to extend their business models.
Research shows that (most) women and men are attracted to different gameplay components. Today as I re-read my previous post, I was interested to see how clearly my dilemma represented the female point of view about games.
A willing suspension of disbelief propelled me head long into a love of roleplaying games (RPGs) more than 25 years ago, and made me an anomaly among my family and friends. Until recently I kept my gaming life and interests meticulously separate from my real world life. Now I want to integrate my gaming hobby and my business sensibilities. What if I become cynical about the business of gaming? Will understanding the mechanics behind the scenes, or getting to know the industry leaders, spoil my innocent enjoyment or be exhilarating? I’m looking for advice!
The closing keynote presentation by Dave Snowden of the Cynefin Centre was thought provoking. Whether you agree with his point of view or methodologies or not, he is always an interesting presenter who challenges the status quo. This presentation echoes others who say KM is about sensemaking that can be used to improve decisionmaking in organizations.
Human Systems Dynamics (HSD) applies complexity science and chaos theory from math and physics to the interpersonal challenges that plague individuals, institutions, and communities today in an attempt to make them more coherent and facilitate organizational change. Like HSD, KM is a relatively new field, with a growing number of tools, models and techniques that can be confusing. A matrixed taxonomy of KM tools could be helpful to practitioners.
The fundamental motivation for all game-playing is to learn. Parents throughout history have used games to teach children — the earliest tribal knowledge was passed down through simulations and stories. There are other motivations to play games that have little to do with learning, of course. Some of them are discussed in Part I of this article. Research shows that in multiplayer games, players emote more frequently and with more intensity than those playing on their own. They are more engaged. Still skeptical? Get some of your friends and family members who play multiplayer games to show you the environments they spend time in and explain to you why they like to play. It may change what you think.
Why people play games is one of the most important questions for the gaming industry, and it’s important for any organization that wants to increase collaboration, knowledge sharing, and learning. Games are structured activities that create enjoyable experiences, allow the gamer to be in control of their experience, and receive immediate reward and satisfaction for their accomplishments. But it’s more complex than that.
KM World 2005 reinforced two important points for me: we are a profession crying out for a new name, and we need to be looking for our next generation leaders. Surely there are some new thinkers out there, some risk takers, some people who are trying new things, and cobbling new thoughts together for the next evolution of KM. Who are they? Where are they? We need to continue to evolve the field or be permanently brushed aside as irrelevant to the real issues of complex organizations.
What makes some games easier for people to play than others? What constitutes the â€œstickyâ€ factor that makes people continue to play even flawed games? Here are some suggestions. Developers: ignore at your peril!