#playingforreal #gamification levels

Referring back to my post on the ErasmusPlus project, I’m currently writing a report on what we have learnt from the experience of using non-digital gamification for engaging unemployed adults from the different EU countries. Based on the levels briefly mentioned in my last post, please see below the descriptions of each of them (ErasmusPlus Gamification for the Hard-to-Reach project, 2015). The full taxonomy and template will be released and shared on the project’s online hub. Special acknowledgement to the project team, especially Jan Gejel, Oscar Garcia Panella and Alex Ando.

Level 1 Icebreaker gameplay: Getting to know each other and start playing together in teams
This level aims to create a relaxed and convivial atmosphere among participants who probably are nervous and who don’t know each other. However, we also want to convey some key messages: we need to realise that we are becoming part of an exciting and challenging journey, where we need to question previous mind patterns and face some of our ingrained prejudices and views of how things are done “traditionally” in order to break with the past and move to new way of approaching issues. The game demonstrates that taboos can be faced and challenged and it manages to trace a fine line between surprise and shock (positive) and upset and disgust (negative), showing that there are many ways of reacting and that critical thinking is a key element. But – most of all – the gaming indicates that it is also important to have FUN!

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel comfortable with the team and I have decided to continue to participate”

Level 2 Listening to anger gameplay: Identifying, listening to and channeling one’s anger to achieve his or her goals
Having (hopefully) communicated the need to let go of taboos and past constraints, we need to continue helping this process of release by allowing the participants to vent their anger and frustration as well allowing a space to voice hopes and dreams of a possible new life. The participants should be able to share their stories and tell how their experiences of joblessness have caused damage and suffering. The facilitator should encourage them to let if all out. The fun must come with a stimulating game, as the outcome could be more cathartic than amusing.

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel my frustration is accepted and even appreciated and that I do not have to hide it when we work together in the team”

Level 3 Curiosity gameplay: Promoting the positive role of curiosity, element that encourages human beings towards discovery and innovation
At this point the participants have expressed and hopefully released to some extent the frustrations and anger with their current situation… It is now necessary to develop in our participants the curiosity about possible new solutions and some insight on the possible effectiveness brought on by a change of attitudes regarding their current situation. The game should be able to allow the participants to experience a shift in perspective: for instance, a role-playing game played from the point of view of an employer could give the participants a different insight and make them experience what it means to be in control.

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel I can start opening up to the ideas presented in the team and also start presenting some of my own ideas and visions”

Level 4 Motivation gameplay: Building up and boosting motivation
Once the participants feel – thanks to the previous game – that they want to try new opportunities because it feels good to be in control, we need to build up and boost their motivation. So what is more motivating that trying to identify if weird things other people have done can work or not and be again surprised by what a bit of “different” thinking, ingenuity and a positive attitude can achieve? The sky is the limit (nearly) if one is resourceful and creative. This game is the first step – in a process that hopefully sees the participants moving from the position of observers to that one of protagonists – in imagining and understanding what happens to others and how something similar could happen to oneself.

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel more encouraged to bring out ideas and visions that I never through I would take seriously – or that other people would take seriously. I start to enjoy this freer thinking…”

Level 5 Community gameplay: Working the community
In reality one has to take into account the fact that we are not all creative and inventive and full of initiative. “Those people we learned about in the previous game were special in some way, but I’m not like that! Where shall I get inspiration from? Where did many of the people who have succeeded in creating something new and wondrous get their inspirational flash?” Often new initiatives come to life thanks to the observation of gaps in the market: where better – therefore – to see that than in one’s local community? One needs then to look at the community through different eyes, through critical and creative lenses that are able to investigate “why are things like this?”, “is this how I really want them?”, “what could I do to improve them?” “what is missing that I could provide?” The game should help the participants observe their community and the lack or presence of resources.

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel increasingly able to link my ideas, visions or possible perspectives to what is needed in the community, what other people need – or what could be a success in real life”

Level 6 Key witnesses gameplay: Real people in real action
Having acquired new tools to look at the strengths and weaknesses of one’s community and perhaps having already identified possible opportunities, what better than to play a game which lets the participant actually meet people in the local community who have taken the plunge, risked doing something on their own and now have a business which they are proud to own? The game allows one to meet such entrepreneurs, see that they actually exist and that they are normal people, ask them questions about their business and perhaps even discuss any new ideas that might have come up.

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel encouraged by working with and meeting people who have taken action in the community and tried out new directions”

Level 7 Creative projects gameplay: Building missions and projects
Having seen that real people can produce real results, we will take a step further the challenge of observing, discussing and creating. The participants, divided into groups, will engage in creating a business with the random resources the game will assigned them. The participants will play and make decisions with a set of random resources (places, people, money, objects) and will be able to change them only a little. They will have to think and create, as a team, using the “cards” the game has dealt them: after all, the next game is…real life!

LEVEL MISSION: “I feel ready to start plan and carry out real-life initiatives I wish to pursue, and I feel comfortable about the support I get from the team”

Level 8 Playing for real: What are you going to do about it?
This level is about reflecting on the experience and outcomes from the activities. The missions and projects developed in Level 7 should be taken forward into the real world. How are they going to be implemented and how realistic would this be? How can the community follow the proposed initiatives?

I will also share some videos from the practice partners working with their local groups.

Learn more about the project by looking at Stephanie’s story (Click on the image below):

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#PlayingForReal in Helsinki

logoThe ErasmusPlus Playing For Real project is coming to an end (31 August 2016) and the meeting that is currently live in Helsinki is very reflective of what we have achieved and learned within the past 2 years. Gamification has been the main staple for the practice partners as the frontliners engaging with the unemployed adults. See also previous post.

NOTE: the website/online hub is still a work in progress and will be re-designed to include outcomes (downloadable resources, video testimonies, toolkits, etc.) from the project.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.49.49

Playing For Real levels CC BY-NC 4.0

Our first meeting was pretty amusing, with the word ‘gamification’ being rather foreign to most of the partners. Together with Oscar Garcia Panella from CookieBox, we had a great time talking about gamification, the science behind it and the practical potential of such an approach in capacity building.From the reflections at the meeting this week, the terms – ‘games’, ‘gamification’ and ‘play’ have been used interchangably, but essentially the Playing For Real project has produced a gamification (leveling up) programme with gameful and playful elements/activities within the stages. The seven step programme piloted in Barcelona (and deployed in the field by the practice partners) is as illusrated. The rationale for the levels was loosely based on the pre-pilot approach tested by the Italian practice partners. The toolbox (design tool, repositories of gameful/playful activities, gamification framework, etc.) to allow our approach to be adapted and adopted will be provided on the final version of the online hub –  by the end of August 2016.

We have also provided a quick and informal introduction to the project concept from the perspectives of three stakeholder types (the unemployed, social worker, local business) in the form of non-linear comics. The arts were developed by a Coventry University’s alumni. Click on the images below:

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I will write another post on the main steps in the leveling up approach, highlighting key lessons learnt from the project but overall, the experience has been positive with practice partners and target stakeholders feeling empowered and equipped to look at difficult situations and explore options and oppotunities in a different way- in a more gradual playful leveling up approach afforded by the Playing For Real gamification framework. Gamification has the benefits of structuring playful interventions in capacity building and this project is (as far as we know) leading the one in non-digital gamification for engaging unemployed adults.

Erasmus+ Playing for Real

logoThe third project meeting in Rome is on fire- amazing work by the practice partners engaging the unemployed in their towns/cities. Those who have been out of work long-term are facing real life challenges and the project recognises the need to inspire and motivate them to better the situations and the environments they are in.
infraThe basic levelling up approach based on gamification is being adapted to support existing practices in engagement and capacity building.  CookieBox is developing the gamification framework and template for the partners to adapt.

End BThe project is highly experimental- we are not playing with “games”, we are “playing” with real lives! What is interesting in this case is how game mechanics are becoming more pervasive in a non-technological way as well. Apart from the gamified capacEnd Aity building resources, the project will also provide simple non-linear game/story books (see snapshots) on the official website to illustrate the project idea and how the local community can get involved.

Our own alumni (our graduate@Coventry University) developed the artworks. #walkthetalk

Watch this space – for the official website. Three non-linear (simplistic) game books will be included. Note the website is still under development!