Competition, Gamification and the “Danger” of Being on Top

In attempting to gamify certain aspects of education, there’s inherently an aspect of competition involved, whether it is “against yourself” or against others. This can be both an excellent motivator, whilst also being a slippery slope that, in extreme cases, could encourage learned helplessness or create divisions within a group of individuals that were previously united. In terms of gamifying aspects of education, GOOD gamification should not result in learned helplessness– because then it has truly failed to provide any benefit right?
However, it could be argued that in a competition where groups are pitted against each other the idea that “your team can never win” can develop like a cancer, simultaneously forming in groups and out groups– “the us and them” of the winning and losing teams. This is usually the time when some writer will quote the tale of David and Goliath, or an entrepreneur will talk about how they made millions out of nothing– basically, people start telling stories about when the underdog actually wins against the odds.
I started thinking about this– about WHY the underdog wins in certain times and not in others (for it the underdog always won, they wouldn’t be an underdog)– and group morale seems to be a significant component in the success of the underdog. I’m not saying that it’s ONLY group morale, sometimes people just get lucky. Often times it’s due to an innovative unconventional strategy– doing something so unexpected or unpredictable that the opposition doesn’t REALLY know what to do or how to respond.
In the article below, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the underdogs and the outsider– and uses the David and Goliath Metaphor to boot.

BUT, you can have the best specialists in a field and the most innovative strategies that still don’t succeed to that high level of achievement– wining the house, topping the leader board, hitting the jackpot.  If Ender’s Game is anything to go by, you can see that group morale and the support and encouragements of one’s team or “jeesh” can play a huge factor. Ender was certainly a great leader, not without faults, yet he knew how to build this aspect of group morale. To build a team.
Soldiers in the Army whose commanders are identified as the most effective leaders not only produce the most efficient results, but the soldiers under their command are also the happiest, the most likely to feel a true “sense of brotherhood” as well as a higher degree of perseverance when attempting to achieve goals.

So what does this have to do with competition, games and education? Well it seems almost too simple:

Good team/group morale + competition = perseverance +  achievement + positive psychological outcomes.

Fostering “good group morale” within a classroom could be a key driver in academic success– promoting students to work together, teach each other and learn from each other– while potentially mitigating the danger of some of the negative psychological pitfalls of adolescence via the creation of a group of people you can rely on. Definitely a more difficult objective to achieve with a group of adolescents rather than a group of military personnel.

On a side note, what happens to group morale when there is no challenge perceived? When you’re on top and there’s no enemy in sight?
Research indicates that group morale is at its highest/best/most effective when challenge is perceived, because a group will rally together to thwart the dangerous outcome.

Then the underdog comes in with a unbalancing strategy and claims the lead in the last 10 seconds of the game. Perhaps that is why the idea of being the underdog is not always a bad thing– technically you’re always being challenged, so your group morale is always high and your group is always (theoretically) on point.
Therein lies the danger of the top dog.

Social Media Background Checks- is everyone already screwed?

Many people in this class are graduating soon, either this year or next, so if you’re like me and today’s mention of social media background checks scared the life out of you, never fear– you aren’t already dead in the water.

After class today I started googling  social media background checks, and let me tell you, it’s pretty alarming to think about all the things we have put out into the world via the internet over just the past five years. They don’t just look at FaceBook and Twitter, they look at Tumblrs, YouTube and other things/sites you’ve joined affiliated with the email account you provide on your resume. (Trick number one– make a brand new gmail account for jobs/applications ONLY. No matter how “careful” you’ve been with the account you’ve had for the past 2-15 years, just make a new one. You can forward the emails from that shiny new account to your current one!)

So besides all the creepy sites offering to “remove” you from google searches or “erase your internet persona”, there is actually some interesting advice on how to “clean up your internet identity”. I’ve posted some links below, including the article mentioned in class that talks about Facebook predicting job performance.

Facebook and job performance

The basic message of it all is update your privacy settings. Seems simple right? The annoying thing is that sites like FaceBook alter things when they make a new platform for their site– I know that for a little while when they switched to timeline, ALL of my profile went public. Not so fun.

I love social media, so don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging everyone to be sneaky. Just internet activity conscious– it creeped me out to realize all the information I had inadvertently shared.

Oh and P.S. If you only read ONE of these articles, read the Gizmodo one about how the guy flunked his background check. It’s pretty funny and fills you in on the “need to know” stuff ( That I had no idea I actually needed to know!)


Background checking Startup looks at social media activity

Recommendation Engines and the Death of Adventure

We spoke about this today in lecture for a little while– how tailoring our interests automatically is potentially limiting us. So here’s a quick link to a blog post I read some time ago that talks about this topic. I know the author, so perhaps I’m biased, but I think he hits the proverbial nail on the head.

Welcome to the EDUC 222 blog!

Welcome to the blog for EDUC 222! Your professor and the teaching team will use this blog to share news and information related to videogames and learning, and we invite you to submit your own thoughts, ideas, and comments on same.