Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 13 – Collaboration Superpowers

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr When we work together, we win.

Summary

McGonigal describes three aspects of concerted effort:

  • cooperating – acting purposefully toward a common goal
  • coordinating – synchronizing efforts and sharing resources
  • cocreating – producing a novel outcome together

These elements help lead to shared concentration, synchronized engagement, mutual regard, collective commitment, and reciprocal rewards.

Analysis

McGonigal opens the chapter with statistics about how much kids game vs how much they read, and develops this argument to encourage us as a society to use our collective ability to play games well for good.

(Off topic: I think we’d do well also to increase literacy and reading, since reading often leads to better critical thinking and the ability to reason and create arguments, a valuable tool in conflict resolution and problem solving…maybe games can teach us how to read and debate!)

Game designers and developers today are working within contexts where massive real-time coordination tools, collaborative creation systems, and lightweight, asynchronous collaboration are possible.

I like McGonigal’s collaboration superpowers:

  • high ping quotient: extraordinary collaborators have no qualms about pinging or reaching out via electronic means to others for participation
  • collaboration radar: extraordinary collaborators develop a kind of sixth sense about who would make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission
  • emergensight: the ability to thrive in a chaotic collaborative environment

What do you think?

What collaboratories are you a part of? (Besides Octalysis Prime of course!)

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 12 – Missions Impossible

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr We need to create more moments and chances for epic wins.

Summary

Experimental games like The Extraordinaries, Groundcrew, and Lost Joules give players the chance to experience epic wins in their daily lives. Compared with games, reality is unambitious. Games help us define awe-inspiring goals and tackle seemingly impossible social missions together.

Analysis

The Extraordinaries was a great example of a micro-task on-demand app for non-profits. It hasn’t taken off since its launch in 2009, though the company did raise a seed round of funding in 2011. My guess is that Kickstarter and Patreon are filling this void.

Groundcrew was an early version of Fiver or TaskRabbit for the real world. Players can ask for help in the real world, even for something as basic as a latté, and another player can bring it to her.

I agree with McGonigal’s focus on designing social participation tasks as well as human intelligence tasks.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk seems to have grown into the lasting and scalable version for human intelligence tasks.

Lost Joules doesn’t seem to have a successor, except that many smart environmental devices come equipped with their own usage data interfaces (think Nest).

Overall, McGonigal was right about the scalability of seemingly impossible missions, but some areas, like climate change, global economic crises, food insecurity, geopolitical instability, and rising rates of depression are still open to gameful design at a large scale social level.

One quip I have with this chapter is its focus on the large scale. I doubt McGonigal intends to suggest that small wins in our daily social lives don’t matter, but by focusing only on the large scale she does suggest that many things need to be bigger and better to draw our motivational attention. In my personal life, there are many small things I do to contribute to progress on a social level in my community (like small talk, volunteerism).

What do you think?

What social movements could benefit from a more focused behavioral design?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

Time Well Spent, Classcraft, and Blizzard: Gamification Examples

Based on the framework by Yu-kai Chou. Written by Erik van Mechelen. Feedback from Octalysis Prime community members. 

Every day in Octalysis Prime, I share a game or gamification example that has captured my attention or persuaded me to do something, whether to simply spend a few seconds longer of attention or to click something or to later mention what I saw or experienced to a friend.

This list is the just a few from last week, with a touch more in detail explanations from the Octalysis design perspective.

Continue reading Time Well Spent, Classcraft, and Blizzard: Gamification Examples

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 11 – The Engagement Economy

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr More people than ever are online; how can we get some of their participation bandwidth into large-scale projects for good?

Summary

McGonigal makes the case that if we divert attention to large-scale projects like Wikipedia, Investigate your MP’s Expenses, FoldIt, and Free Rice, essentially projects for large-scale or global good for an extended period of time (through long-term design), we can collectively make the world a better place.

Analysis

McGonigal correctly finds potential in success stories like Wikipedia, Investigate your MP’s Expenses, FoldIt, and Free Rice for political activism, scientific problem solving, and fundraising.

She draws attention to the problem of attention. How can we convince people to play a little less World of Warcraft or a little less time on Facebook (both autotelic activities) and a bit more of their participation bandwidth on these crowd-sourced efforts?

Two comments. The first is about Facebook. In 2011, when this book was published, Facebook wasn’t as powerful as it is today. Its algorithms are stronger and more convincing, perhaps more addictive. I’d argue that Facebook is still autotelic. In my personal case, my Facebook feed doesn’t offer that much world-changing interest. Facebook’s advertising system is a lot stronger now, so my feed includes ads I didn’t ask for 🙂

If spending time on Facebook is an increasing waste of time, this actually may work to the benefit of projects competing for “brain cycles and heartshare” and “better or more competitive engagement.”

Even so, there are better distractions online than ever before. In my view, movements toward a more altruistic and productive and well-being approach (like timewellspent.io) represent the future I want to live in.

What do you think?

What crowd-sourced online initiatives have you participated in this year?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 10 – Happiness Hacking

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr Use games in physical places to form habits. 

Summary

This chapter is about how alternate realities can help us adopt the daily habits of the world’s happiest people. McGonigal provides explanations of 3 games she helped design.

She also relays the trouble of thinking about positive psychology as ‘self-help’, and poses strategies to overcoming this cynical psychological barrier and actually implementing gameful design in our lives.

Analysis

In describing Cruel 2 Be Kind (a game about using random acts of kindness to eliminate opponents and inspire ‘victims’ in crowds), and Tombstone Hold’em (a real-life spatial poker game played in cemeteries requiring creative movement, and Top Secret Dance Off (a formal creative dance competition on a YouTube-esque online site), McGonigal stresses the concept of sneaking up on happiness. She draws this from John Stuart Mill’s observation that when approaching happiness directly, it is often elusive.

In succession, the games mentioned above provide a “dopamine hit” (when others smile first), a grateful physiological state known as “posttraumatic bliss” in appreciating the present moment, and euphoria through dance and movement.

Creating habits is easy, but breaking habits isn’t. The trick, then, to creating new habits, is in part about reducing the number of bad habits so as to create space for new ones.

Ultimately, these games are ways to actually practice good advice (being kind to others, reflecting on death/mortality, and moving to music.

More interestingly, none of these require an app.

What do you think?

What games have you played in real life without technology?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).