Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Day 213 - Temple Run

Moments of downtime or dead time are an inevitable part of daily life but they don’t necessarily have to be dreadfully boring, especially with all of today’s awesome game apps.

You probably know how surprisingly fun these can be; according to a recent article in Forbes, games apps constitute the highest source of revenue on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

There are many great apps available and even more being developed to help pass the time. Here are 10 popular favorites in no particular order:

Angry Birds

Angry birds logo

Angry birds is practically a household name and yet if I explained the game on paper (catapulting birds like weapons + destroying forts = fun), it may not sound ingenious nor very exciting. But many of you know that the game experience is very different; it is super easy to get addicted. Here are a few reasons:

  • It is simple and because it is simple, players feel accomplished and empowered early on- Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment).
  • The game develops in a way that allows the players to feel a clear sense of progress which further ingrains their sense of achievement.
  • Players can compete with their friends. There is a strong drive to beat the other person and score higher (even if they are your girlfriend or boyfriend)- Core Drive #5 (Social Influence & Relatedness).

Temple Run

Temple Run Logo

Temple run is an adventure game. Players interact as an explorer character who steals an ancient mask and must must escape the wrath of demon monkeys. The touch screen controls allow the explorer to run as fast as possible, trying to avoid dangerous traps and obstacles such as trees and roots- Core Drive #8 (Loss & Avoidance). Players can move left or right. They can also duck, turn or jump as well.

There is now a Temple Run 2 which is based off the movie, Brave. The objective is to use archery to hit a target and collect coins. By the fourth day of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times!

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope Logo

Cut the rope is a puzzle game that utilizes mechanical physics. This is another example where the story and concept are lackluster compared to actual gameplay experience. Players are required to cut pieces of rope which are affixed to candy. The goal is to get the edibles into the mouth of a little round creature by solving puzzle challenges.

Sometimes the rope has to be cut at the right time. The candy might be attached to several pieces of rope which need to be cut in a certain order. Players are driven to keep overcoming past failures until they succeed. This is a great example of Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment) and Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) which together instill a sense of empowerment and awesomeness.

The Room

The Room Logo

The immediate appeal of the Room is the graphics which convey a sense of mystery and a supernatural air. Players are presented with a series of ornate looking objects that turn out to be individual puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. As the player solves puzzles, they learn more about a stranger named A.S.- Talk about Core Drive #7 (Unpredictability & Curiosity)!

As puzzle levels are solved, players occasionally glimpse into a different dimensions beyond their physical reality. Many people feel that the story line is not as compelling as the actual puzzle-solving which fosters a strong sense of Core Drive #2 (Development and Accomplishment) as well as Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

Continue reading Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

5 Great Serious Game Platforms For Corporations

Morf Media Serious Game Platform DesignCourtesy of Morf Media

Many of you probably love to play games for recreation and entertainment. But as I have mentioned in my other posts, they can also be used to enhance and enrich educational experiences. These are called serious games.

The combination of learning and fun is a potent force in today’s corporate world. To generate innovation and maintain competitive edge, organizations need to align themselves with market changes, both domestically and globally. As far as processes are concerned, this means that employees must adapt by continuously learning new skills and sharpening their abilities to solve problems- just doing the job in the same routine fashion doesn’t lead to the same growth.

Traditional ways of teaching often mirror conventional classrooms. These include lectures with whiteboards, hand outs in the form of quizzes and surveys and instructional videos. Most people passively react to such formats. Participants may remember terms and information and they may be able to pass certain tests but this can offer a false sense of comfort as their ability to apply their new knowledge to actual, real-life problems remains untested.

Besides training team members, there is also the challenge of educating and training clients. Clients often need to have a deep level understanding of how a particular product works. If there are enormous technical complexities, the information can be particularly daunting and frustrating- not very good for maintaining a happy customer base.

And in addition to employees and clients, corporate decision-makers also need to maintain regular learning initiatives to understand the perspectives and preferences of their clients. And with these insights, they must continuously make decisions to develop their products so that they are relevant to the needs of their customers.

All these objectives require effective learning where information is quickly assimilated in order to be applied for the best possible results.  Very little time can be afforded to make transitions from conceptual knowledge to astute action. This is where the power of games can make a huge difference.

Here are five companies (in no ranking order) who are dedicated to developing software and platforms that optimize learning experiences through game mechanics.

Continue reading 5 Great Serious Game Platforms For Corporations

Can Playing Video Games Increase Your Intelligence?

From the perspective of a conventional grown up, video games may be fun but they are a waste of time. They cause young men and women to sit on the couch for hours on end staring at a screen, completely immersed in another world devoid of all useful (i.e. productive) benefit. Players become addicted to these games while slovenly sliding into obesity, overall laziness, and unproductive lifestyles. They might even become aggressive and antisocial. Gasp!

However, if you have been following this blog, you are probably well aware by now that there are many examples where games are being used for good and healthy purposes. Other game designers have noticed this as well: brain games for the elderly may indeed have many benefits. In general, for every negative in life, there is usually a positive, a silver lining so to speak. It may not be immediately obvious but if you dig around a bit and look at it from a different perspective, the benefits can usually be found.

Although video games are a form of self indulgence, they often provide unique and engaging environments that train players to think fast and resourcefully. With the right design and mechanics, they can facilitate learning and tap into diverse levels of cognitive thinking and problem-solving in ways that are not as easy to achieve with books and other forms of media. Research has recently come out investigating the positive potential of video games to better harness our cognitive capabilities to shape the brain in new and powerful ways.

Exploring New Ways to Harness Video Games

Last year, Nature published an article by two researchers, Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester and Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who were exploring new possibilities within game development to improve mental functioning, learning and to even strengthen emotional intelligence.

Their work was welcomed with open arms- Bavelier and Davidson even led a meeting at the White House attended by entertainment media experts and neuroscientists to discuss applications in interactive technology to better understand brain functioning and to enhance the overall well being of individuals, young and old alike.

Within the Nature article, they implored game designers and neuroscientists to develop new types of games that would improve overall psychological health. They specifically were keen to focus on these areas:

  • Behavior
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Heightened attention
  • Empathy

While game enthusiasts and proponents of gamification believe in the power of well designed applications to do extraordinary things (e.g. enhance enterprise efficiency and creative learning for kids; garner tangible support for charity causes; and even help rescue teams with natural disaster rescue efforts), it is exciting to see that the scientific research community is also embracing the idea of redefining society’s negative perceptions of games by advancing innovative design. In doing so, they are coming up with some interesting results on the ability of games to increase intelligence (within specific areas). Here are a few examples:

Continue reading Can Playing Video Games Increase Your Intelligence?

How Nightmare: Malaria Saves Lives through Social Gamification


Most people are aware that malaria is a deadly disease caused by mosquitoes. But what is not common knowledge is that nearly half the world’s population is at risk for contracting the disease. Every year, over a million individuals die from it and seventy percent of these fatalities are children. What may also surprise you is that malaria vaccines don’t yet exist. However, the tragic deaths associated with this disease can be simply prevented by sleeping under a $3 mosquito net!

Malaria is prevalent in areas that are warm and damp. These conditions are ideal for mosquitoes to thrive and are found in places around the world- specifically Sub Saharan Africa, India and southern Asia. Malaria is considered to be a minimal threat in North America (case in point: mosquito nets are sold by chains like Cost Plus World Market as bedroom decorations rather than for protection).

Simply lecturing about the facts and statistics of malaria may not be enough to garner effective action but vivid and immersive experiences may change how we understand and take action on this epidemic.

As an example of social gamification at work, the Emmy Award winning animation studio, PsyOp partnered with Against Malaria Foundation to develop a free mobile app called Nightmare: Malaria to spread awareness on this issue and raise funds for life saving mosquito nets.

Released this past December, Psyop is banking on their game to generate enough enthusiasm to secure millions of nets for at-risk individuals across the globe. And with enough participation, it may succeed at lowering the death toll significantly by the end of 2014 and beyond. Here’s how they’ve designed the game to be both engaging and informative:

Continue reading How Nightmare: Malaria Saves Lives through Social Gamification

Musings On The Flappy Bird Craze: An Octalysis Perspective

Who amongst you has not heard of Nyan (Pop Tart) Cat, Grumpy Cat, or Angry Birds? It seems almost inconceivable to think that anyone would raise their hand. Names such as these are ubiquitous in our culture. Despite their wide-reaching influence, they are not the product of some creative genius but are rather characterized by ridiculous simplicity. And because of that, they have people hooked.

Arguably, Flappy Bird is the latest sensation to attain massive viral phenomena. According to its creator, Dong Nguyen, “I didn’t use any promotion methods. All accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram about Flappy Bird are not mine. The popularity could be my luck.”

Earlier this month, the game surpassed 50 million downloads and generated over 47,000 reviews within the App Store. Although it is free, the app generates over $50,000 a day from ad revenue.

But ironically, the overwhelming popularity of Flappy Bird resulted in its demise.

Continue reading Musings On The Flappy Bird Craze: An Octalysis Perspective