Starcraft in learning and research

These are slightly old, but I found these articles again recently:

University of Florida has had a business management class for the last few years that uses Starcraft to teach business management skills.

Starcraft 2 may pass chess as the most analyzed game used to try and understand human cognition.

I don’t play Starcraft myself (I prefer turn-based to real-time strategy for the most part), but I have played enough Starcraft to have a basic idea of the complexity of the game. The fact that it not only can be used to understand very large, complicated systems, but also can help study any and all cognitive processes just shows that video games have nearly unlimited learning potential.

Are games just part of our self-gratification?

I came across this article in this week’s Businessweek:

The article talks about how more and more companies are using “games” on their websites to keep customers coming back.  Though it is not directly related to videogaming, it hits on (though indirectly) a couple of Gee’s princples.  In particular, the Achievement principle.  Just to remind everyone, this key principle is defined as “For learners of all levels of skill there are intrinsic rewards from the beginning, customized to each learner’s level, effort, and growing mastery and signaling the learner’s ongoing achievements.”

So to bring it back to the article, customers (learners) earn badges, titles, and/or recognition on public leaderboards for things ranging from purchses to comments to feedback.  As quoted from the article:

“The business of engendering online loyalty through gaming techniques is fast becoming as significant as the real-world loyalty industry, which builds rewards programs for airlines, hotels, and credit cards. The difference is that real rewards, like free hotel rooms and airfare, cost businesses real money. Badges and leader boards, excluding fees to consultants like Paharia, cost next to nothing.”

Just another thought that is unrelated to Gee’s 36 principles, is that people are very caught-up in the social image they portray to others, i.e. when facebook alerts all of your friends how many points you scored in farmville, etc.  So maybe social status is perhaps the real motivator here. I guess it is sort of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” debate, but nonetheless here is an excellent quote from the article which sums it up really well:

“We have this tendency to care about what image we portray,” says Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University. In real life, there are mansions and handbags. “In the gaming world,” says Ariely, “there are badges.”

So what do you guys think? Is it the “gaming principles” or “social image portrayal” that lure the customers back to the website?

Bungie starting fresh

Recent rumors are that Bungie is starting fresh and getting back into the gaming world sooner than most expected.  What is Bungie you might ask?  Well if you are an avid video game player like myself then you know that Bungie is the mythical creator of one of the most popular series of video games ever made.  The Halo series has become Bungie’s legendary trademark and stomping ground for the past 10 years.  Bungie has featured 5 installments to the franchise and finally called it quits last year when it released its final installment (Halo: Reach).  Many gamer fans might be disappointed to know that Bungie has discontinued their production of Halo, but never fear.  Microsoft has taken over the franchise and has employed 343 Studios to continue to carry out the workings of Halo.  Whether this is good for the series or will cause it to be a flop is yet to be seen.

But enough about Halo.  Lets focus on Bungie.  From humble beginnings Bungie has created one of the largest multi player realms on console systems ever.  While video games existed on the computer before (like WOW and Half Life) Bungie broke through the ceiling with Halo and essentially created Xbox Live.  So what are they up to now that their franchise tag on Halo has expired?  According to inside sources Bungie has been secretly and avidly developing a new game that they hope will even eclipse the Halo tag that will forever be associated with their name.  Activision will most likely be their publisher but it is rumored that the game in question has been being developed for 10 years.  Bungie has called upon hundreds of thousands of gamers to take part in their beta testing of their new product so we will know more once that gets underway.  I for one can’t wait to see what Bungie is capable of in the industry and how they will work to shed their Halo tag.

A few things are for sure about this upcoming game.  It will be a multi platform game, meaning that Xbox, Playstation, PC and possibly even Nintendo will finally all get a crack at what Bungie has to offer.  This is a large step for Bungie as they were always shielded from the Microsoft bubble they were under.  The second thing we know for sure is that the game will have a large multi player online system.  This will come to no surprise as Bungie was one of the pioneers in the multi player console gaming industry.  Finally, rumors are that Bungie has filed multiple filings with the US Copyright Office for names for their upcoming game or even games.  These titles – “New Monarchy,” “Dead Orbit,” “Osiris,” and “Seven Seraphs” were filed last July with the office and unfortunately offer little to no indication for what the game might center around.  I can’t wait to see where Bungie goes next!