Reblog: Why you shouldn’t always aim for perfection in game design

As an evangelist of a more hybrid approach to behaving in a digital age and learning, I naturally gravitate towards games such as ZombiesRun, Ingress and of course PokemonGo.

I am reblogging Jan’s post on Ingress versus PokemonGo as I agree that perfection in any experience design does not translate to better engagement and most importantly sustained engagement.

I’ve personally played both PokemonGo and Ingress. Ingress is a bit too complicated and the flow design is not as good as PokemonGo. The rough and ready PokemonGo with its simple mechanics is a winner.

And I can see how we can remix the same approach for learning games. Individual adventures with team elements naturally embedded within the narrative.


piclab.pngReading Time: 3minutes (ish)

Ever since Pokémon GO was released,on July 6th this year, all sorts of knowers have been ranting about the game’sinferiority to Ingress (the predecessor of the game from the same developer: Niantic) or it’s bad design in general. They claim that PoGO is lacking from so much of what makes Ingress a great game. They seemannoyed that the gamegets so much attention, while being so crappy in comparison. Quora user and Ingress playerMadhuja Chaudhari, expresses it like this:

“My vote goes for Ingress-
  • Majorly because you can work as a team- this game was made with community gaming in mind. Both the teams gather many times a year in live events- essentially large scale portal battles- organized by Niantic.
  • Not only it has a better look and feel, but also a great storyline.
  • Pokémon Go has too many bugs, server issues. It is also…

View original post 1,213 more words

Playful and gameful learning in a hybrid space

Screenshot 2016-08-10 10.10.44Keynoted at the SGames conference in Porto in June and it was directly after the H2020 Beaconing project workshop. A full week exploring the impact and implication of gamification in pervasive learning and how we could break barriers between formal/informal contexts as well as digital/physical spaces.

The mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of gameplay have the potential to enhance the way a learning process/programme to be designed. We understand that there is a progression from play into gameplay and gamification as discussed in my previous post.

As a reflection piece based on my keynote (to be published as a sole book chapter for the conference proceedings- Springer), a short extract below iterates the progression from playfulness to gamefulness.

Play is key to intrinsically expanding and broadening our embodied experience with our surroundings, fostering autonomy and freedom. It is an exploratory and experiential means for incrementally, iteratively and continuously updating our understanding and interpretation of the various concepts, objects, people, emotions and the mapping between these variables [4] [5]. It is a complex process that is difficult to decode and measure. We are however in the world where almost everything is measured and within the context of education, measures and assessments are key to ensuring that the learning process leads to the desired learning outcomes and some forms of certification.

With these perspectives, for play to be included in learning to increase motivation intrinsically, it will have to be more structured and “formal”, adhering to the play-learn rules and associated measures. How do we design this playful and gameful experience without making it too restricting and to allow the feedback cycle to be as natural as possible so that it may add to the “play” experience? “This shouldn’t be construed as a claim that “everything is a game.” Games are a particular manifestation of play, not its totality. They happen to be a good starting point for an investigation of play because the formality of their rules makes the machinery of play easier to observe and analyse” [6]. Hence, games are a means by which play can be observed in a more objective way, which will lead to purposeful and meaningful engagement.

[4] Pramling Samuelsson, I., & Johansson, E. (2006). Play and learning—inseparable dimensions in preschool practice. Early Child Development and Care176(1), 47-65.

[5] Broadhead, P., Howard, J., & Wood, E. (Eds.). (2010). Play and learning in the early years: From research to practice. Sage.

[6] Upton, B. (2015). The Aesthetic of Play. MIT Press.


The playful learning experience should also support a more hybrid approach- such as the one being explored and investigated by the Beaconing project.

By further investigating how learners use the different spaces for learning, how to exploit learners’ preferences for enhancing the use of digital platforms and the potential of gamification, pervasive gaming and context-aware technologies in enhancing a blended learning process, the expected benefits of blended spaces and contexts can be optimised.

The Beaconing project ( funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme investigates playful approaches for digitally enabling play-learn in everyday spaces fostering cross-subject learning. Figure 1 illustrates the pervasive learning concept that will be supported by the play-lesson plan.


Figure 1. Beaconing conceptual ecosystem

Learning within a classroom setting is expanded into the outdoor including personal spaces at home, providing support for the seamless transition from formal to informal contexts and vice versa. The key challenge for this approach is the feasibility of tracking meaningful measures and indicators for performance of informal learning activities.

The SGames keynote slides are as shown below:

Brief reflection on #ErasmusPlus #PlayingForReal #gamification framework design

End B-This reflection on the design process is in reference to my previous post on the PlayingForReal gamification framework. You can also see a series of comic-based media to illustrate the project concept as well as videos of the testimonies from the practice partners, who adopted the approach in their communities.

The reflection below is an extract from the report I prepared for the project based around the design approach.

The Gamification template has been a vessel within which personalised activities were embedded, leading to the inclusion of stakeholders and beneficiaries in the design, development and pilot process. Key values identified include co-designing, co-curation, co-ownership, personalisation and autonomy.

Participatory approach in programme design

The development process of the gamified programme was participatory and trans-disciplinary, where the trainers (including psychologists in some instances) from the pilot countries and their local participant groups (the unemployed) were involved in the curation and design of the activities embedded within the gamification programme template. Throughout the process, the trainers/practice partners have been up-skilled in the understanding of the gamification structure, the discretization of how to address issues related to the unemployed and capacity building into missions and the relationship of the unemployed journey with the levelling up approach of gamification.

Co-ownership and personalisation

The relatedness and autonomy, which are key to gamification has been demonstrated in the development process, which has led to co-ownership of the gamified capacity building process – trainers and their focus groups, guided by the gamification knowledge partners. These perspectives are reflected by the partners’ feedback and evaluation of the pilot in Barcelona.

Further reflections and future development

The template employed in the pilot can now be further personalised by the local partners to ensure that they will meet the needs and interests of their local groups, also addressing the key issues highlighted by the practice partners and their teams – time, language, relevance, complexity, clarity and the scoring systems. The design and pilot experience should enhance the understanding of the process and would enable them to innovate their existing practice with the unemployed.

These views will be merged with the detail feedback on the design and implementation from the gamification SME partner Oscar Garcia Panella from CookieBox. The full report will also include qualitative synthesis of the feedback from the practice partners and their trainers.

The pilot of the gamification framework in this project has indicated great potential in supporting an embodied experience for addressing sensitive and serious issues of long-term unemployment. The framework aims to not provide a solution but to facilitate the process of renewed and challenged mindsets that will translate into tangible action points (practice) to be taken within one’s situation and/or local community. Existing issues related to the transnational pilot such as time constraints, language barriers, complementarity and clarity of the levels and the relevance/attractiveness of the activities to the participants can be addressed in the actual deployment of the programme in the local community. For further work into applications in other domains, these issues can be ironed out and the programme can be made more specific and localised. There is also a need to evaluate the process long-term in terms of following up on the participants on the impact of the experience to their personal tangible changes and benefits.

#PlayingForReal #gamification in practice

The Playing For Real project has been a challenging yet special, an initiative that is experimenting gamification for social good (non-digitally) to engage unemployed adults. Please refer to previous posts on the project: Reflection 1Reflection 2 and Reflection 3.

Reflection 3 briefly describes the Gamification levels and missions, which were piloted in Barcelona and is now adopted and adapted by the practice partners.

Disclaimer: The Playing For Real website is still being updated to host the findings, case studies, visual medias, testimonies, etc. So keep it bookmarked.

A few videos of the Playing for Real Gamification programme implemented in the community are shown below. There will be more visual medias to be included on the final version of the Playing For Real online hub (to also include case studies, testimonies, etc.).




I will share some of the reflections on the Gamification framework from the Gamification knowledge partners (us from Coventry and CookieBox from Barcelona) in my next post. The project has really provided some insights on how to be holistic and participatory in the gamification approach- not to be technology-driven but to be more human-driven. I have also written about a holistic approach and a transdisciplinary methodology that we are using in most of our projects at Coventry.

Learn more about the project by looking at Sarah’s story (the social worker/trainer) below (click on the image):

0 - Intro