Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Rick Raymer: Applying Game Design Principles to elearning #devlearn

My live blogged notes from Rick Raymer’s (@trickylearning) session at DevLearn November 2, 2011 in Las Vegas. I arrived a bit late…my apologies!

Rewards need to evoke emotion.

wanting + liking = rewarding

Rick heard Medina speak at Learning Solutions – where in our brains do we learn? Got him wondering, do wanting and liking occur in two separate places in the brain?  Turns out they do live in separate places, which could help explain addiction.  Wanting and liking are NOT the same thing.

Gamification = use of game mechanics in non-game applications:

  • points
  • levels
  • challenges
  • virtual goods
  • leaderboards
  • gifting and charity

Set Goals & Objectives

Games often use a Hub System to structure things (wish I’d taken a picture!): in the center of the hub is the module/game.  Branching off the central hub like spokes are the topics/levels of the program.  Coming off each topic/level are specific objectives.

This creates a non-linear program which is “more engaging”.  In his words, “self-determination equals engaging”

In games we get into our FLOW CHANNEL.

In learning we want to set up learner with new skills, let them practice, then assess, then move on to build new skills (level up!)

Goals & Objectives

Give the learners choices (but not too many!)

Create time sensitive objectives

Rick says “Your job as a designer is to make your learners feel clever and smart.”  (Cammy comment: I disagree with this – I think there’s value in stumping our learners and showing them what they don’t know…) 

Measure Progress

On the interface have stars that fill-in as learner completes sections – so they know what they need to do.

(He’s a big fan of codebaby – uses lots of virtual coaches)

As learner goes through content increase the graphics of the interfaces – give a reward for progress.

Reward effort.  Give the learner a cookie. “100 small rewards is better than one big reward.”

Share the rewards so others can see them.

Is the reward appropriate for what you’re asking the learner to do?

Types of rewards:

  • Some rewards may be interval (based on time – fixed or variable) – like the sunflowers? in plants vs. zombies
  • or ratio – based on completing actions

Reward effort:

  • incremental rewards
  • reward schedules
  • probability and danger
  • adaptive systems (negative feedback loops – if the learner already knows something, don’t make them sit through it; if they show they don’t know something, then help them there)

“We learner all over the brain…down the dark alleys”

Provide the element of chance – like a slot machine – he says that’s element of chance makes it more engaging (Cammy: but aren’t slot machines addictive – I’m not sure how that maps to learning…)

Provide surprises and delights (like fireworks)

Peer motivation

Social games and the rule of obligation – if a friend asks you to join then you just might.

If you have a leaderboard, just list the top 5 – don’t show everyone or you’ll make the losers feel like…losers…(and a call to LMS companies to add leaderboards)

Know your audience and what they like.


Cammy’s comments:  I’ve just started reading Dan Pink’s Drive and I’ve been thinking a lot about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.  I feel like all of these rewards that Raymer talked about are inherently carrots and sticks – sometimes verging on the edge of clicky-clicky bling-bling – seductive details that may ultimately distract more from the learning rather than add to.  I know that sometimes these extrinsic motivators can perhaps help increase intrinsic motivation.  Karl Kapp has written a few meaty posts on gamification and learning (be sure to read the comment threads).

Something to reflect on more for sure!


Perhaps if these are applied within the context of more experiential learning programs…there was a lot here that I need to think about and sift through as I’m not sure I agree with some of this.  If you use gamification elements – use them wisely!


Mike K said...

Great editorial comments! Also not sure about the feeling clever part - think much of the fun of games is the failing and eventually overcoming. Can learn a lot from messing up. Not sure how much learning comes from racking up tokens. Fireworks???

Thanks for the notes for the day. Keep up the comments Cammie. Wishing I could have been there - next year.

usablelearning said...

Hey Cammy - thanks for posting these! I agree with what you are saying about stumping learners, but I actually don't think it's incompatible with what Rick's saying -- basically, you feel smartest when you figure out something that you were initially stumped by, or when you master something that was initially difficult.

Judy Unrein said...

I've been wondering about the "feeling clever" part myself... Could be that he's getting at what Julie is talking about, but I've also heard this kind of advice related to usability and interface design. Was that the context of that advice?

Also would love to see how he's using CodeBaby... That was the tool I used in my research where I was unable to see any difference in results for a fully animated agent vs. just an image, but I'll be the first to say that this could be highly contextual. Did he show examples?