Do you remember the classic game system Atari? The simple joystick that spawned a multi-billion dollar industry. Fast forward 30 years because things are completely different. We now live in a world influenced by video games as they are weaved through simple tasks, increasing productivity while making menial responsibilities more fun. Did you ever think that video games could make kids better at solving problems and multitasking?
As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video and computer games and there are 126 Millennials that belong to the video game generation that have all grown up with a foundation to gaming conventions related to almost every movement of everyday life.
Games are teaching extraordinary multitasking skills to kids. The trend underlies in an idea coined “Gamification.” A simple definition of gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. Take World of Warcraft for example, kids are expected to multitask while performing simple hand eye coordination tasks:
- Chat Voice
- Chat Text
- Operate Character
- Manage: Short Term Objectives
- Manage: Long Term Objectives
- Manage Interrupts (Parents)
Playing video games can actually make you smarter. The basic video game pattern is connected to constant and exponential increase in learning, accompanied by small goals. Games are wired to produce pleasure and gamers are constantly evolving and moving forward. First, presented with a challenge, you complete the challenge which causes the release of dopamine in your brain and the feeling of satisfaction as you move onto defeat the next challenge, and so on…
A study conducted by the Max Planck Institute, asked 23 adults around the age of 25 to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over a period of two months. A separate control group did not play video games at all. After examining the two groups using an MRI machine they found that the gaming group had a rise in gray matter. In fact, the areas of the brain responsible for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine motor skills had all increased in matter.
Replace the standard curriculum with gamified learning and what happens?
Take Ananth Pai, a teacher who is transforming the way children learn. He changed the system and began teaching English and Math with a Nintendo DS bringing technology and fun to the classroom. In 18 weeks, Mr. Pai’s class went from below a 3rd grade level to above a 4th grade level in Math and English. Learning is multi-player and collaborative. Gamification is so successful with kids because it makes learning fun.
With Generation G, videos games are the primary form of entertainment and its reshaping industries by creating new opportunities for companies like Foursquare and Zynga. Generation G has had a large impact on culture and society, opening up doors for gamified ideas. For instance, the emergence of In-Dash games in new cars that displays the growth of a plant when you drive more eco-friendly and a withering plant when you drive less economically.
Speed Camera Lottery is another great example of gamification. Designed by Kevin Richardson of MTV, the idea is to have citizens abide the speed limit using a lottery system. Traffic cameras take pictures of speeders and law abiders, however, the fines of the speeders are pooled into a lottery and citizens that abide the speed limit are entered into that lottery for a chance to win some extra cash. Gamification at its finest. Taking a negative reinforcement loop and turning it into positive loops. This game actually ended up dropping speed by over 20%!
Corporations, have also become aware of this trend. Gartner Group says by 2015, 70% of Global 2000’s apps will be gamified and 50% of process of innovation will be gamified. This all points to a future that looks pretty different than the world we live today. It’s a different world where things will be moving at a faster pace than they do now. A world in which there are rewards everywhere for actions people take. Meaningful status rewards and collaborative play is what Generation G does so differently making room for a much more global world.