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UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI MODENA E REGGIO EMILIA Facoltà di Scienze della Comunicazione e dell’Economia

Corso di Laurea Specialistica in Comunicazione Pubblicitaria ed Istituzionale Anno Accademico: 2009/10

GAME, GAMING, GAMIFICATION THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF GAMING AND LUDIC ACTIVITIES (L’IMPATTO SOCIALE DEL GAMING E DELLE ATTIVITÀ LUDICHE)

Relatore: Prof. Giancarlo Corsi

Tesi di Laurea di: Davide Ragusa


Table of Contents 1 

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................. 7  1.1 

ABSTRACT (IN ITALIAN) ................................................................................. 7 

1.2 

ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................... 17 

1.3 

BACKGROUND ............................................................................................... 18 

1.4 

SCOPE .............................................................................................................. 19 

2  GAMES .................................................................................................. 20  2.1 

ORIGIN OF GAMES ........................................................................................ 20 

2.2 

EVOLUTION OF GAMES ................................................................................ 21 

2.2.1 

Board games .................................................................................................. 21 

2.2.2 

Card games ................................................................................................... 24 

2.2.3 

20th century popular games ............................................................................. 25 

2.2.4 

Videogames ................................................................................................... 26 

2.2.5 

Role-playing games......................................................................................... 28 

2.2.6 

Business games .............................................................................................. 29 

2.2.7 

Sports ............................................................................................................ 30 

2.3 

METHODS ....................................................................................................... 30 

2.3.1 

Group games ................................................................................................. 30 

2.3.2 

Individual games ............................................................................................ 31 

2.3.3 

Social games .................................................................................................. 32 

2.4 

RECENT TRENDS ........................................................................................... 34 

2.5 

NEED FOR GAMES ......................................................................................... 36 

2.5.1 

Psychological .................................................................................................. 36 

2.5.2 

Sociological .................................................................................................... 38 

2.5.3 

Philosophical ................................................................................................. 41 

2.6  2.6.1  2.7 

GAME THEORY .............................................................................................. 44  Ashby’s theory ............................................................................................... 46  GAME MECHANICS ....................................................................................... 48 

3  VIDEOGAMES...................................................................................... 53  3.1 

TECHNOLOGY................................................................................................ 53 

3.1.1 

Consoles (hardware)....................................................................................... 53 

3.1.2 

Videogames (software) ................................................................................... 67 

3.2 

SOCIOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS ............................................................ 78 


3.2.1 

Behavioral observations .................................................................................. 78 

3.2.2 

Clichés........................................................................................................... 81 

4  GAMIFICATION .................................................................................. 86  4.1 

WHAT DOES “GAMIFICATION” STAND FOR? ........................................... 86 

4.2 

CRITICISM AND SKEPTICISM ABOUT GAMIFICATION ............................. 94 

4.3 

GAMIFICATION OF THE WORKPLACE........................................................ 96 

4.3.1 

Rewards ........................................................................................................ 97 

4.3.2 

Recognition .................................................................................................... 99 

4.4  4.4.1 

LUDOFFICE ................................................................................................... 105  Interview...................................................................................................... 106 

5  CONCLUSIONS .................................................................................. 114  6  REFERENCES..................................................................................... 116  6.1 

BOOKS ........................................................................................................... 116 

6.2 

ARTICLES ...................................................................................................... 116 

6.3 

VIDEOS .......................................................................................................... 117 

6.4 

WEBSITES ...................................................................................................... 117 

3


dedicated to my parents, the true architects of my university miracle dedicato ai miei genitori, autentici artefici del mio miracolo universitario

4


Prima di inoltrarmi nella redazione di questa tesi magistrale, mi venga concesso il lusso di sconfessare quanto asserito dall’autorevole intellettuale Umberto Eco, secondo cui “ringraziare il proprio relatore è un gesto di cattivo gusto poiché egli fa semplicemente il suo lavoro” ; desidererei pertanto dedicare i miei principali ringraziamenti al prof. Giancarlo Corsi per la disponibile collaborazione e la proverbiale professionalità con cui mi ha accompagnato durante l’elaborazione di quest’idea. Ulteriori sentiti ringraziamenti vanno senz’altro ai miei genitori, a mia sorella e ai miei fratelli, i quali, nonostante i chilometri di distanza, non hanno mai smesso di fornirmi un supporto essenziale oltre che determinante attraverso cui mi è stato possibile raggiungere questo ambizioso traguardo. Così come si è rivelato altrettanto fondamentale l’apporto della mia fidanzata Alfina, che con pazienza e dedizione è riuscita a sopportarmi in tutti questi anni di gioie e delusioni che includono la sfera universitaria e non solo. Infine vorrei ringraziare coloro i quali hanno direttamente partecipato alla mia esperienza universitaria a Reggio Emilia, iniziando dai coinquilini della


leggendaria Via Berta: su tutti, Antonio e ‘Cusso per il forte legame fraterno che si è venuto a consolidare giorno dopo giorno, lotta dopo lotta, partita dopo partita. Successivamente ci terrei a rendere grazie ai colleghi della Triennale e della Magistrale divenuti di gran lunga più amici che semplici compagni di corso: Guido per avermi regalato l’onore di un’amicizia che va al di là di ogni aggettivo (“forte” sarebbe troppo banale, sebbene anche il più adeguato); Mattia per gli anni vissuti tra convivenza, aperitivi e una consolidata amicizia extra-universitaria; Vale per la sua simpatia e per la dedizione con cui riesce sempre ad organizzare cene rimpatrianti degne di nota. E ancora Andrea, Edita, Emanuele, Lionel, Marco, Rossella, Silvia S., Silvia C. per aver reso speciali esperienze comuni con cui si sono superati esami, noiose lezioni e problemi vari di studenti dediti quali siamo. Infine, un ultimo ringraziamento a chi, pur non citato sopra per questioni esclusivamente di spazio, sa di aver contribuito nel rendere la mia avventura lontano da casa un’esperienza di crescita personale significativa e basilare per il proseguo della mia vita.

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1 1.1

Introduction

Introduction Abstract (in Italian)

Con il presente lavoro di tesi, ho cercato di illustrare lo sviluppo dell’interpretazione dell’attività ludica, sin dai tempi preistorici fino ai giorni nostri. Per fare ciò, ho innanzitutto suddiviso il lavoro in tre capitoli principali. All’inizio del primo, mi sono impegnato a descrivere la storia delle origini del gioco (quest’ultimo inteso come attività ricreativa sociale, costituita da regole che determinano azioni e strategie volte al successo finale), analizzando i vari board and card games che hanno segnato l’evoluzione delle attività ludiche. Chiaramente non è stato possibile, e probabilmente mai lo sarà, definire con certezza la data esatta del primo esemplare di gioco che l’uomo abbia inventato, per il semplice motivo che non sempre si deve intendere il gioco come un’attività ricreativa basata su accessori quali possono essere ad esempio tavole, pedine o dadi. Tutto ciò che concerne il ludus (traducibile dal latino con il termine gioco appunto) infatti può essere stato rappresentato anche tramite regolamenti tramandati oralmente e mai riportati per iscritto, a discapito dei libri di storia.

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Quello che gli archeologi sono stati in grado di definire come il “gioco più antico della storia” prende il nome di Gioco Reale di Ur, conosciuto anche come Gioco delle venti piazze; considerando i rinvenimenti di alcune tavole da gioco scovate nelle tombe reali di Ur, antica città della bassa Mesopotamia, ed di altre successivamente trovate nelle terre della parte sud-orientale dell’Iran, è stato possibile stimare intorno al 3000 a.C. il periodo del loro effettivo utilizzo. Da lì in avanti è stato tutto un susseguirsi di varianti e revisioni che hanno portato alla nascita di nuovi giochi da tavolo, tuttora adottati da appassionati e non. L’evoluzione del Gioco Reale di Ur ha quindi permesso l’invenzione di ulteriori supporti ludici come carte, dadi e altri elementi indispensabili che hanno dato vita a una nuove forme di attività ricreative. Volendo citare solo alcuni tra i più celebri, degni di nota sono senz’altro giochi come Dama, Scacchi, Otello e Backgammon; decisamente più numerose sono invece le combinazioni di giochi di carte che continuano, ancora oggi, ad attrarre giocatori di qualsiasi età. Nella seconda parte del primo capitolo, quello riguardante il gioco, dopo aver redatto una breve riflessione e distinzione sulle diverse tipologie di giochi, che variano da quelli individuali a quelli in cui sono coinvolti più partecipanti, ho preferito soffermarmi sugli aspetti sociologici e psicologici che concernono il ludus.

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Introduction

Furono diversi i filosofi che già in tempi assai remoti si impegnarono a studiare le emozioni che inducono l’essere umano a ritrovare nell’attività ludica la fonte di momenti ricreativi sia dal punto di vista fisico che psicosociologico. Da Aristotele a Platone, fino a Kant, Nietzsche e Wittgeinstein, la filosofia si è dimostrata da sempre interessata alla ricerca di risposte valide, che illustrassero il movente di cotanto entusiasmo nell’individuo umano in relazione al gioco. Tra le tante che ho trovato, la definizione che più ho trovato interessante è quella attribuita al contemporaneo Gregory Bateson, che circoscrive il gioco come quell’attività in grado di essere astratta dalla vita reale, in cui trasgredire le regole può rivelarsi un’esperienza per niente divertente a differenza di quando invece ciò viene fatto all’interno di un contesto ludico; ecco perché Bateson ci tiene a precisare che la prerogativa principale ed indispensabile per creare un gioco è quella appunto di concedere la possibilità al giocatore di poter affermare “questo è un gioco!”, riconoscendo da sè la diversità dell’ambiente in cui sta agendo. Per quanto riguarda invece l’aspetto psicologico, Freud è senza dubbio l’autore che più di chiunque altro ha spiegato cosa effettivamente scatta nella mente del giocatore, partendo da un’età neonatale fino a quando diviene adulto; i suoi studi e le sue opere rimangono la più importante fonte enciclopedica del campo psicologico, dalla quale si apprende che il primo vero stimolo ludico di un bambino maschio viene prodotto dal desiderio di imitare l’autorità della figura paterna, allo stesso modo di quanto avviene in una bambina con la figura materna. Freud sostiene anche che questa

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propensione all’imitazione aiuta l’infante a superare le paure e a rafforzare le proprie sicurezze, entrambi elementi fondamentali per garantire una crescita psicologica regolare. Il primo capitolo si conclude infine con una panoramica sulla “Teoria dei Giochi” (Game Theory) e sulla descrizione dei meccanismi fondamentali all’interno del gioco stesso (Game Mechanics). Per quanto concerne la Game Theory, essa è da considerare a tutti gli effetti come una scienza matematica che stabilisce decisioni e strategie in concomitanza con le varie regole dei giochi, con l’obiettivo finale di raggiungere la vittoria (o soluzione, in caso si tratti di un indovinello ad esempio). A proposito di ciò, in totale sincronia con il mio relatore Prof. Giancarlo Corsi, si è ritenuto rilevante citare l’accreditata “Law of Requisite Variety”, ossia la teoria dell’autorevole psichiatra inglese William Ross Ashby sulla “Legge della varietà necessaria”; con essa si ritiene che “la varietà nel sistema del controllo deve essere uguale o più grande rispetto alla varietà dei disturbi e delle perturbazioni in modo tale da raggiungere il totale controllo delle decisioni”. Questa teoria è tra le più utilizzate tra quelle relative al potere decisionale in ogni sistema di organizzazione, ed è possibile applicarla a diversi settori quali quello economico, politico, matematico e del gioco appunto. Per quanto riguarda invece i meccanismi del gioco, ho cercato di analizzare alcuni dei principali elementi indispensabili per la creazione e l’utilizzo di un gioco. Dalle regole ai supporti fisici, dalla complessità dei livelli ai risultati da raggiungere, sono diversi i processi che stanno alla base di qualsiasi attività 10


GAME, GAMING, GAMIFICATION

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ricreativa. Quella che però ultimamente sta prendendo sempre più piede è l’idea di adattare l’intero sistema del gioco alla vita reale, cosicché da tentare di risolvere i problemi della quotidianità attraverso l’uso dei “game mechanics” appunto. Ne potrebbe essere un classico esempio SCVNGR, un gioco ideato da Seth Priebatsch che si propone l’obiettivo di “rendere il mondo un posto migliore dove vivere”, e avanzando addirittura l’ipotesi di conseguire un risultato non poco impegnativo: risolvere l’avversa questione del surriscaldamento globale, semplicemente giocando! Il secondo capitolo del mio lavoro è invece interamente incentrato sui videogiochi. Nella prima parte (3.1) ho analizzato la storia e l’evoluzione tecnologica dei supporti elettronici, comunemente noti come “console”. Dal primo esemplare realizzato quasi per caso nel piccolo laboratorio di Brookhaven (NY) datato 1958, seguito dalla prima e vera console venduta sul mercato, ossia la Magnavox Odyssea del 1972, fino ai nuovi dispositivi in commercio ai giorni nostri. Una collezione che man mano ha dato vita ad una serie infinita di novità che si pensavano impossibili da raggiungere, e che invece hanno segnato e cambiato l���interpretazione stessa del termine “videogioco”. Si provi ad immaginare l’intero processo evolutivo di chiunque abbia potuto testarelo personalmente partendo dal gioco “Pong” negli anni ’70 e arrivando a “Wii Fit” nell’odierno 2011: quarant’anni circa di revisioni e innovazioni che passano dalla basilare grafica in bianco e nero, all’impressionante body motion con cui è possibile interagire con la console 11


GAME, GAMING, GAMIFICATION

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tramite i soli movimenti del corpo e senza l’ausilio di supporti esterni come joystick, tastiere o altro. Per completare la parte relativa all’evoluzione tecnologica, ho stilato una lista di videogiochi seguendo 2 criteri fondamentali: l’anno di uscita sul mercato e il numero complessivo di copie vendute sinora. Il risultato è presto detto: milioni di copie vendute in tutto il mondo e una lista di titoli che andava necessariamente ridotta perché troppo lunga. Solo per anticipare qualche cifra, la serie di videogiochi più venduta della storia rimane quella di “Super Mario” grazie ai 240 milioni di titoli venduti dal 1981 ad oggi; solo il videogioco dedicato alla serie del cartone animato “Pokemon” riesce ancora a tenergli testa con 209 milioni di copie vendute. Nel secondo sottocapitolo invece (3.2) mi sono soffermato principalmente su alcune teorie generate dalla società in questi decenni, riguardanti i comportamenti dei giocatori e i luoghi comuni che si scatenano su di essi, focalizzandomi in particolar modo sulle reazioni che i videogiochi scaturiscono su coloro che giocano. Alcuni ricercatori Giapponesi dell’università di Tokio, ad esempio, hanno provato che le onde “beta” del cervello di chi gioca può subire delle variazioni importanti in base alla tipologia del videogioco in questione. Pertanto, a fronte di questi risultati, la paura è che il comportamento dell’essere umano possa in qualche modo essere influenzato da una piattaforma virtuale e subire ripercussioni nella vita reale.

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A questo proposito mi è sembrato coerente citare David Perry, che durante una conferenza tenuta per un noto portale online (TED.com), riporta degli esempi significativi di utenti che agiscono in maniera del tutto inconsueta di fronte ad un contesto video-ludico. Basti pensare ad un giocatore di World of Warcraft che è riuscito a spendere 25600 dollari (reali) per comprare un’isola virtuale all’interno del gioco. E mi trovo del tutto d’accordo con un altro esperto di videogiochi, Michael Highland, nel sostenere che col passare del tempo l’evoluzione tecnologica della grafica ormai fin troppo realistica dei videogiochi possa influenzare il comportamento e le emozioni dei giocatori. Capita infatti spesso a tutti gli appassionati di un gioco in particolare ritrovarsi in una situazione simile a quella del deja vù, in cui la vita reale assomigli a quella virtuale, e non il contrario; c’è chi ad esempio ha imparato prima a guidare una macchina con un volante installato sulla propria console di casa piuttosto che con un’automobile reale. O ancora chi, guardando un tramonto, pensi a quanto sia incredibilmente simile a quello osservato qualche ora prima sul monitor del proprio computer. Sono quindi le emozioni che rendono un videogioco il più realistico possibile. Piangere, ridere, emozionarsi o spaventarsi sono tutte espressioni sensoriali che ormai la maggior parte dei giochi riescono a trasmettere al giocatore; ed è proprio questa l’arma in più che sta nelle mani delle aziende che producono videogiochi. Partendo dalle sensazioni comuni dell’essere umano, si tenta sempre di produrre un contesto che vada a stimolare esperienze percettive legate alla sfera personale. 13


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Se poi si pensa alle emozioni scaturite da giochi quali “Second Life” o “The Sims” in cui lo scopo ultimo è riprodurre fedelmente la vita reale utilizzando un interfaccia virtuale (chiamata Avatar) in sostituzione della propria personalità, allora è facile immaginare l’impatto enorme che queste emozioni possano avere sulla società. Ho intenzionalmente incluso in questo capitolo alcune teorie riguardanti classici luoghi comuni, quali ad esempio quelli relativi alla convinzione che giochi violenti provochino comportamenti altrettanto violenti tra i giocatori. Lorenza Colzato, dell’Università di Leiden (Germania) ci tiene a precisare l’esatto contrario, sostenendo che un giocatore che dedica diverse ore a videogiochi classificati come “violenti” può invece subire l’effetto opposto, mosso dal desiderio di rendere la vita reale migliore di quella virtuale. Con un metodo di ricerca improntato all’intervista di giovani volontari presso strutture di beneficenza, è risultato che molti di questi erano soliti trascorrere tanto del loro tempo libero giocando con videogiochi di simulazione di guerra.

Terminata la parte relativa ai videogiochi, ho continuato il mio lavoro con un ultimo capitolo, il cui argomento centrale è un vocabolo ancora poco noto in Italia: “Gamification”. Con questo termine si intende quel processo con cui si utilizzano meccanismi tipici del gioco, applicati a un contesto di vita reale e quindi di “non-gioco”. L’obiettivo è di incoraggiare l’utente ad usare applicazioni ricreando una situazione simile a quella di quando si gioca, utilizzando 14


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Introduction

anche supporti elettronici in grado di facilitare operazioni che nella vita reale risulterebbero essere più lenti e noiosi. Diverse sono ormai le aziende di ogni settore che si affidano a questa nuova tecnica di marketing. Basti immaginare a tutti i supermercati che utilizzano la raccolta punti per un programma di fidelizzazione della clientela; e lo fanno utilizzando badge, punti, livelli e meccanismi di gioco per “vincere” quanti più premi possibili, cercando ovviamente di ottenere il massimo dei punti per l’obiettivo più prestigioso, che in genere è rappresentato da un elettrodomestico o da un pacchetto viaggi. Un altro esempio di gamification è senz’altro quello che avviene per i cosiddetti frequent flyer, ossia quei clienti che preferiscono prenotare e viaggiare sempre con la stessa compagnia aerea in modo tale da accumulare “miglia” da poter poi riutilizzare per sconti, promozioni o addirittura biglietti aerei gratuiti. Insomma, il meccanismo è semplice: l’azienda offre dei vantaggi, e il consumatore si “diverte” nel raggiungerli. In questo modo l’azienda guadagna in termini di fidelizzazione, e il cliente si sente psicologicamente parte di un progetto e quindi più incoraggiato a spendere. Di questi esempi ormai se ne potrebbero fare a migliaia. Quel che ho cercato di analizzare in questo lavoro è l’approccio che il processo di gamification ha avuto sul mercato in generale, e soprattutto sul mondo del lavoro. Soprattutto negli Stati Uniti, ma ultimamente anche in alcuni paesi industrializzati del resto del mondo, sono tantissime le aziende che hanno offerto ai propri dipendenti la possibilità di usufruire di un progetto di 15


GAME, GAMING, GAMIFICATION

Introduction

gamification al fine di incrementare l’engagement nel rapporto tra impresa e lavoratore. E questo è stato possibile anche grazie all’introduzione di esperienze ludiche extra-lavorative (team building) che hanno come unico scopo quello di far sentire il dipendente più a suo agio con i colleghi e con l’intera azienda. Serate a tema all’interno degli uffici di lavoro o attività sportive di gruppo durante il week-end sono alcune delle tante alternative valide per creare tra i colleghi un rapporto che va al di là del contesto lavorativo; e chi ne giova non è soltanto il dipendente che si diverte, ma anche e soprattutto l’azienda stessa, che aumenta la produttività e la fedeltà del personale nei confronti dei vertici aziendali. Ho inoltre citato diversi pareri a riguardo, alcuni dei quali si dimostrano abbastanza scettici sull’idea che tale innovazione nel mondo del lavoro e nella vita reale possa rivelarsi un punto di forza positivo e compatibile con la situazione tradizionale a cui finora si era abituati. C’è chi si concentra sulla definizione di gamification, chi sulle problematiche che verrebbero a crearsi in contesti molto conservatori; sta di fatto che il processo di gamification sta prendendo sempre più piede nonostante le critiche. A dimostrazione di ciò, ho personalmente contattato ed intervistato Joe De Martini, titolare dell’impresa statunitense Ludoffice, il quale ci spiega a 360 gradi come nasce l’idea di lavorare “giocando”.

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1.2

Introduction

Abstract

The main goal of this paper is to to illustrate the development of ludic interpretation from prehistoric ages till today. I will not just summarize all the games played during the millennia, but I will focus my attention on the interpretation of gaming and how it changed over the years. Starting from analyzing the history of games, I will go through their evolution from a sociological, psychological and philosophical point of view. After that, I will focus on videogames in particular, and on their effects; furthermore I will continue analyzing behavioral observations and contradicting several stereotypes, which appeared in recent decades. Lastly, I will dedicate the last chapter to a new interpretation of gaming, which is going to develop in the near future: the Gamification. Starting from defining it, I will explain how this new concept of gaming has been accepted by society, and how it is becoming more and more important. Moreover I will focus on the “gamification of the workplace�, analyzing what drives enterprises to adopt game-mechanics to increase engagement, in terms of how to make employees and customers feel better.

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Finally, I will report an interview with the founder of a new company named Ludoffice, which proved a very valuable way of better understanding how gamification is going to turn into reality.

1.3

Background

The idea of writing about this topic came while, reflecting on my favorite hobbies (playing sports and videogames), I asked myself: “why not writing my thesis about gaming?”. After conducting several researches, I discussed it with my friends and my oldest brother, who were excited about my idea and helped me to turn it into reality. When I finally asked to my faculty department supervisor about his interest on elaborating a master thesis on games, I found in him all the availability which every last-year student should have, and so that’s why I decided to go on with my project, which I hope can be considered valuable by readers and future graduating students. My interest in games does not end with this project. It is my intention to start my professional career in the gaming industry, and to bring the results of my research, my interest and motivation into a very enjoyable segment of the workforce.

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1.4

Introduction

Scope

In this thesis, we study “gaming”, as a concept that is continuing to develop very quickly. I try to inform that “games” are no more a mere activity to play when people have some spare-time, but on the contrary it is becoming an essential element of our life and lifestyle. I intentionally exclude a deep analysis of all games and their history. I preferred to just mention some of them (the most influent and relevant ones) to make a few examples. I concentrated my attention on the last trends about gaming, in particular on the new concept known as Gamification, which is probably the most relevant part of this work.

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2 2.1

Games

Games Origin of games

Throughout the entire human history, games have always had an enormous importance. Since prehistoric times indeed, there were various forms of games; the Romans introduced the word “ludus” for the semantic field of play, game, sport, etc. In more ancient times, one of most notable philosopher as Aristotle put the concept of game near those of happiness and virtue, marking a clear distinction from activities practiced for necessity. It is very difficult to determine the origin of the game in general, and also the origin of any specific game; one reason is that games have been around a very long time, therefore people didn’t maintain records about something considered irrelevant or not necessary. Although there are numerous ancient tomb paintings depicting playing games, or sketches of game equipment, no one specifically maintained information about when or where a game was “invented” or from which culture it was “borrowed”. Because of these and other reasons, for the most part, theories about the origins and early geographical distribution of games are just theories which

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Games

may never be verified.1 Games have a variety of forms, from competitive sports to board games and videogames. In a physical sense, there are two types of games: those that require special equipment and/or settings and those that don't. Examples of the former would be roulette or tennis; while examples of the latter would be 20 questions or charades.

2.2

2.2.1

Evolution of games

Board games

Board games are the first kind of games ever found by researchers. The Royal Game of Ur2, also known as the Game of Twenty Squares, refers to two boardgames found during years of excavation in the Royal Tombs of Ur in Iraq by Leonard Woolley3 in the 1920s. The two boards date from the First Dynasty of Ur, around 3000 BC, thus making the Royal Game of Ur probably the oldest set of board gaming equipment ever found.

1

http://www.gamesmuseum.uwaterloo.ca/About%20Games/origins.htm

2

J. Radoff, Game on: Energize your business with social media games, 2011, Wiley Pub-

lishing Inc. pag. ? 3

Charles Leonard Woolley was a british archeologist and excavator of Ur (1880-1960).

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Games

As a matter of fact the game is still played in Iraq. The British Museum houses one of the two boards in its collections.4 Nonetheless, as mentioned above, we cannot assert that it is the oldest game ever. Another game that we can date approximately 2000 BC is the Chinese “Weiqi”, also called “Go” by Japanese people; it is a board game for two players who alternately place black and white stones on the vacant intersections of a grid of 19×19 rows. The goal of the game is to secure a larger portion of the board than the opponent. The game is very popular in East Asia. A conservative estimate places the number of Wei-qi players worldwide at approximately 27 million. Go reached the West through Japan, which is why it is commonly known internationally by its Japanese name. As of 2008, the International Go Federation has a total of 71 member countries. It has been claimed that across the world 1 person in every 222 plays Go.5 As it is easy to imagine, I could draft a very long list of millenary games which we have found exploring several histories of ancient population that

4

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Game_of_Ur

5

Fairbairn, John (2000), History of Go in Korea, 2007

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lived on Earth. But in this chapter I will limit myself mentioning just the most popular ones, and the most meaningful as to the evolution and the different interpretation of the concept of game. One of these is surely the famous game called “Backgammon”. The history of this game goes back approximately 5000 years. Backgammon is the most ancient board game found in the West (before that, anthropologists have found evidence of games only in Asian countries). At the beginning, the original name was “Tabula” (from Latin). In fact, the first people who used to play this board game were the ancient Romans. That is confirmed by records of the emperor Claudius found by researchers. Another very significant game is “Chess”, which was probably invented around 700 AD. Persian records indicate that this game came from India; there is also evidence of some predecessor of Chess, but the final version has been played since the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–644), when it was called “shatranj”. The rules are quite simple and final goal is well-known: eating opponent’s checkers and “checking” the king (the game is complete when the checked king can’t be moved in any available box). Many rules were modified when the game reached Europe, around 1475, especially in Italy and Spain. Nowadays, several International tournaments are held everywhere in the world, assigning trophies and notable jackpots.

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This is probably the most popular board game played on the World. Moreover, there is a similar game whose first clear references make us think that it was played some centuries later (16th): its name is “Checkers” and it has become very popular over the years.

2.2.2

Card games

A significant discovery was the one about “Cards games”, dated 1371 in Spain. Playing cards was invented for a reason. Technically, card games may be thought to go back even further, to the dominoes or tiles that Chinese gamblers and game players used as the medium for their contests before technology allowed for the creation of cards.

Cards themselves were invented by the Chinese shortly after they invented the concept of paper sheets, around the ninth century. In the 14th and 15th centuries, playing cards made their way to Europe, where the Europeans refined the decks, creating the four suits and the court cards that we know today. Many of our most popular card games have roots in this period of playing card history.6

6

http://www.pokerjunkie.com/history-of-card-games

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Today we have many different kind of card decks, each one different from other ones. In Italy, as example, there are 11 several decks from 11 parts of the country, and people find it quite hard to play with a different deck than the one they are used to. The most popular deck of cards is the French one, which is used to play several famous games, like Solitary/Cartomancy (1765), Poker (first mentioned in print: 1836), Blackjack (17th century), and so on.

2.2.3

20th century popular games

Two other very popular games are “Scrabble” and “Othello”. The former was invented around 1900 AD and it was an enormous revolution because it was the first game which used letters and words pawns. At the beginning it was called Lexico (1931) but after few years it becomes Scrubble (1947). The latter is very famous game and it is a kind of remake of an already existing game, called Reversi. It was invented in the 19th century by the two Englishmen L. Waterman and W. Mollet, but it has been modified since to be called Othello by Japanese fans in 1968. It is a board game involving abstract strategy and played by two players on a board with 8 rows and 8 columns and a set of distinct pieces for each side. The player's goal is to have a majority of their colored pieces showing at the end of the game, turning over as many of their opponent's pieces as possible.

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2.2.4

Games

Videogames

After going through the fundamental steps of the evolution of gaming since 3000 BC to ca. 1950 AD, we can say that we are now witnessing an epic change caused by the introduction of electronic machines which has replaced the physical pawn with a computerized one. This is probably the greatest change ever, and it has been possible thanks to computer expanding started by around 1960.

In the computerization of games a very big role was played by the introduction of game consoles, like Atari, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii and so on. The revolutionary way to play with a console was - and still is - the ease of use: they are simply connected to a TV (or any display device). And that’s why the console game market has always done quite well. People did not need the specific skills required to use a sophisticated machine like a personal computer. All they need to do was turning on the TV and the console, then pick up the joystick and start playing. The history of videogames is full of epic games which marked the evolution of themselves. One of most popular is surely “Pac-man”, an arcade game first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Pac-Man is considered one of the classics, and an

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icon of 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game and, subsequently, Pac-Man derivatives became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit music single.7 In the same period (more precisely in 1984) another very successful game was born: “Tetris” by the Russian computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov. The game had quickly an enormous success, especially in the United States where many players were instantly hooked and defined the game "deceptively simple and insidiously addictive".8 And another third epic videogame is definitely “Super Mario”, a fictional character in his video game series, created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platform games, starting with Donkey Kong, Mario currently appears in varied video game genres such as racing, puzzle, role-playing, fighting, and sports. Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian-American plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom. He repeatedly stops the turtle-like villain Bowser's numerous plans to kidnap Princess Peach and subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom.

7

M. J. P. Wolf, The video game explosion, 2008, Greenwood Publishing Group, pag. 73

8

Wagner, Roy (May 1988). "Puzzling Encounters". Computer Gaming World: pp. 42–43

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Mario games, as a whole, have sold more than 240 million units, making the Mario series the best-selling video game series of all time!9 The next last big step in gaming involves mobile phones and smartphones, which can undoubtedly be considered a new type of console. Before them, console manufacturers tried with great success the path of the handheldconsoles; these were very well-accepted by players, who finally were able to take advantage of their videogames outside their houses, away from their TVs and all the wires. Sales of several versions of the Nintendo GameBoy and PSP (PlayStation Portable) are the best evidence of what has just been said. We can safely state that smartphones are, or will soon become, the console of 21th century.

2.2.5

Role-playing games

Role-playing games, for example, are a type of game in which the participants usually assume the roles of characters acting in a fictional setting. The original role-playing games, or at least those explicitly marketed as such, are played with a handful of participants, usually face-to-face, who keep track of the developing fiction with pen and paper. Together, the

9

ELAN Awards (2009-04-06). "ELAN Awards Announce the Winners of Their Honou-

rary Awards". Press release. Retrieved 2009-11-07

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players may collaborate on a story involving those characters. The term “role-playing game� has also been appropriated by the video game industry to describe a genre of video games. These may be single-player games where one player experiences a programmed environment and story, or they may allow players to interact through the internet (multi-player). As of 2009, the most successful MMORPG (which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) has been World of Warcraft, which controls the vast majority of the market with more than 10 million players around the world.10

2.2.6

Business games

More recently, we have witnessed the increasing success of a new kind of games, called Business games. They can take a variety of forms, from interactive board games to interactive games involving different props and different kinds of activities. The purpose of these games is to link to some aspect of organizational performance and to generate discussions about business improvement. Many business games focus on organizational behaviors. Some of these are computer simulations while others are simple

10

http://www.mmogchart.com/analysis-and-conclusions/

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designs for play and debriefing. Team building is a common focus of such activities.11 Anyway, about this last topic we will talk well in following chapters.

2.2.7

Sports

Within the realm of “games”, we find activities of a very different type, with respect to the ones covered in the previous paragraphs: Sport games, or more simply, Sports. Certain competitive sports, such as racing and gymnastics, are not games by definition, because competitors do not interact with their opponents; they simply challenge each other in indirect ways. In this paper, the description, history and rules of sports is intentionally omitted.

2.3

2.3.1

Methods

Group games

Group games are as old as mankind. They survived wars and natural catastrophes.

11

J. A. LePine, Team adaptation and postchange performance: Effects of team composition in terms of

member’s cognitive abilities, Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 67-84

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But if we stop a moment to think the evolution of society we might reach some methods which determined the development of gaming during the centuries and millennia. First of all, looking back since prehistoric ages it’s possible to notice that the unique way to survive was hunting, and of course eating what it was gained; so hunting was maybe the first activity ever made by humans. Today hunting is a sport, a kind of game. Who likes to shoot rabbits or birds does it just to have fun with some hunting fun friend too. So this is a first example of how is possible to transform a necessity into a ludic activity.

2.3.2

Individual games

Individual games are the true essence of the interpretation of the word “Game” as commonly understood, as the main reason people play individual games is to have fun. As example, “Pac-man” is the prototype of individual game; when someone plays this game he is completely isolated from the society and the unique goal in that moment is to run away from monsters that are chasing him! There is no interaction with other players and no responsibilities about any group targets. Unlike group games, which have often an antithetical character, that is a competitive asset (who will win?), individual modes (as solitary, constructions,

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crosswords and so on) manifest an element of tension and uncertainty: will you reach the goal?. You can play to articulate your self-reference, starting from games that involve the body as using a ball or practicing some sports, to getting kinds of self-observation as a puzzle. When people play virtual games, it is as if the viewer entered into a mirror, which bends and changes depending on its action. When the partner is a computer, the opponent reflects with some changes our own game behavior. The computer, known to be completely deterministic machine, “feeds” the player with contingencies to make his behavior unpredictable and varied. In the computer gaming, the player observes himself but from a divergent point of view; it is looked as if it were another switching from kind of second-order observation to a sort of third-order observation helped by cybernetic support.

2.3.3

Social games

The same third-order observation is also involved in collective games, following the much discussed form of “Second Life”, “FarmVille” or similar offerings as “World Of Warcraft”. Here people typically play using Avatars, fake-virtual characters that interact with other players’ Avatars in a virtual reality where we do not just observe

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other players’ behaviors, but there is a detachment to intervene on the world that we observe. This gaming method is very recent and came out with the advent of social networks on the internet. As said above, “FarmVille” by Zynga is a perfect example of social games. The game allows members of Facebook to own and manage a virtual farm by plowing land, planting, growing and harvesting virtual crops and carrying out similar activities. The significant particularity is the interaction with your virtual neighbors around the world, who help you to grow your farm, and therefore make you progress in the various levels of the game and acquire a reputation for a “skilled social farmer”. The social component is crucial: you are regarded in a positive way if your friends will increase quickly or in a negative way if you exploit them just to reach the highest level possible in the game, without helping them achieving their objectives. The game designer Jonathan Blow recently criticized FarmVille pointing out a strange atmosphere of negativity around the game and its players.12

12

Parkin, Simon (2010-12-06). "Catching up with Jonathan Blow". Gamasutra. p. 3. Re-

trieved 9 December 2010. 33


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2.4

Games

Recent trends

Especially in the United States, but lastly in the rest of world too, games are going to develop in several different several ways. Society is subject to radical changes, and one of them is certainly the gamification of everything, that is not understood as game yet. Games are sneaking into every part of our lives: at home, at school, in the workplace and anywhere else. But what does the term “Gamification” really means? Well, it is the integration of game-mechanics into non-game environments to increase user engagement, loyalty and fun as much as possible. I agree with what was written on gamification.org when it is stated that: “gamification is one of the largest movements and trends of our time and fundamentally changes the way we live and interact with everything around us. The possible applications of game dynamics are nearly infinite with many believing that gamification will impact everything from the web to education, health, social good and even work.”13 Having looked at some videos on TED.com, I was very impressed by Seth Priebatsch’s presentation. He shows how our life is already full of situations in which people use game dynamics without realizing it. And the real

13

http://gamification.org/wiki/Encyclopedia

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important point is that gamification is so powerful that it is able to change people behaviors. And he explains his theory talking about 3-4 examples. The first one concerns the invention of “happy hour time”, that consists in a determinate period of late afternoon, in which you can enjoy half-price drinks. This is an “appointment” that doesn’t just influence our behavior, but it influenced an entire culture of drinking. And this is the same way that FarmVille induces his users to play: real time-clock, responsibilities on own farm growing up including animals, trees, plants, etc. Addicted players are “forced” to play at certain times if they don’t want to lose all the “work” made until then; and that changes the life-cycle of 70 million people during their day! But while someone could think that is scaring and ill, Seth reports the example of a company called Vitality, and they’ve created a “game-product” to help people take their medicines on time. And that’s an appointment like the “Happy hour” or the FarmVille one! Another example of gamification is the one about the influence and statuslife remarked by credit card “levels”. If we see someone pulling out a Gold Credit Card instead a regular one, we quickly realize what kind of person he/she is, but we probably are envious because we haven’t reached that “level” yet. And that’s exactly what happens by playing videogames as Modern Warfare, in which each level has a logo, and obviously the highest level has the coolest one.

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So the status is really a good motivator because it pushes you to do better. Another very good point that Seth makes is to innovate school homework pretending to play a videogame. He thinks that school “is a game, it’s just not a terribly well-designed game: there are levels, there are statuses. And if we called the best student class “white knight paladin level 20”, I think people would probably work a lot harder!”14 and I totally agree with him; it could be a nice way to stimulate and incentivize students to study better and have fun at the same time. Everybody knows that playing games is more fun than studying, but why don’t we try to mix both activities? I could report endless examples of gamification, but because of the prominence of this topic, I dedicated an entire chapter of this paper to the gamification of the workplace, including an interview to the founder of Ludoffice.com, a company which shows quite well the idea of gamification.

2.5

Need for games

2.5.1

Psychological

Why do people play games?

14

http://blog.ted.com/2010/08/20/building-the-game-layer-on-top-of-the-world-seth-

priebatsch-on-ted-com/

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To find an exact reason we need to research it resorting to some psychological theory. One of first psychologist who studied the “game” was Sigmund Freud, who tracked down in male’s games the attempt to imitate his father playing that role, while female try to implement that authority that is denied to them; Freud also signaled the activation of the identification process during children’s games. So the game is able to help children overcome their fears, because it allows them to transfer the fear’s object to another object more familiar and therefore not dangerous. There are several theories from a long list of psychologists about gaming during adolescence, and all of them affirm that people feels the “need to play” since their very early age; and this turns out to be indispensable for growth. For example, Jean Piaget recognizes a central role to games in the development of a personal cognitive area and personality. A further refinement of the interpretation of ludic activities comes from the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who considers the game as an active force in the evolution of the emotional and human side of a person, and not only in the cognitive area as Piaget says. Vygotsky also criticized points of view of the game as non-purposeful and non-productive because it is a unique growth’s element and the definition of the structure of personality in all its aspects. 37


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2.5.2

Games

Sociological

Regarding the sociological perspective, one of most important sociologist is Roger Caillois, who defines the activity of gaming as: 

Free: player cannot be forced to participate;

Separated: within space and time limits

Uncertain: the execution and the result cannot be decided a priori;

Unproductive: does not create good, nor wealth, nor any other new elements;

Settings: with rules that suspend ordinary laws;

Fictive: aware of its unreality.15

He also proposes a classification of games according to four big categories: 

Competitive games (agon): all competitions, sports and mental;

Gambling (alea): all those games where the primary factor is luck; the pleasure of dealing with the case, challenging the destiny.

Simulacrum games (mimicry): the so-called “role-play” where you become “something else”. The pleasure of disguise, the possibility to be “someone else”, to escape leaving one own

15

R. Caillois, I giochi e gli uomini, Bompiani, 1981

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character in order to experience hidden forms of our daily identity. 

Vertigo games (ilinx): all those games where we play to provoke ourselves. The theory that you cannot stand still with hands and feet glued to the ground; the game stimulates the pleasure not being always perfectly balanced but there is the pleasure of the risk which is expressed in very different ways.

Some others have even spoken about “flirting” with death.

Based on this classification, Caillois built a sociological theory which starts with games as signs deeply characteristics, or rather as a summary of characteristics of different world views of companies which they are in use.16 Quite similar is the point of view of Johan Huizinga, predecessor of Caillois. Huizinga wrote “Homo ludens” (or Man the Player) in 1938, discussing on the importance of the play element for culture and society. Huizinga uses the term "Play Theory" within the book to define the conceptual space in which play occurs. He also suggests that play is primary to and a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the generation of culture.

16

http://www.cemea.asso.fr/ficemea/IMG/Il_gioco_al_tempo_della

_globalizzazione.doc

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He claims that has to be seen outside the sphere of rationality, profits and needs. “The game is older than culture” says Huizinga, and it is rather the source of any kind of culture that has in its very early stages the nature of the game that retains many of its manifestations (art, literature, theater, music, religion, politics, and so on).17 The writer Dakota Dog asks himself “what is it that makes us enjoy playing games?” and he states that some people love the mental stimulation that word games or puzzles provide. Other people love to play mindless little addictive games that pass the time between periods of activity and yet still others play in order to have a friendly (or sometimes not so friendly) competition among friends. But no matter why it is that you play the games that you play they can be so addictive that you find yourself taking up most of your day playing them. He founded his own theory, which affirms that everybody can fit one of these three categories: 1. The Time Waster - This person plays games just to pass the time, either at work or at home when they have nothing better to do. The problem with being a time waster is that the game playing often spills over into the periods of time that should be productive. 2. Busy Minds - The person who plays games for the stimulation needs to have something that is constantly occupying their

17

J. Huizinga, Homo ludens; a study of the play-element in culture. Boston: Beacon Press; 1955

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minds at all times. These people generally like puzzles, word games and sudoku and they play them addictively. 3. The “Competer” - This person plays games to compete against other players. They often find themselves frustrated if things aren’t going their way with the game. They don’t care if they play against someone online or if they play with them in their living rooms, they just love competing.18

2.5.3

Philosophical

Games have also attracted the attention of many philosophers, from early ones to contemporary ones. Already Plato wrote that man is made to be a toy, an instrument of God, and this is really the best thing into him; that he must enjoy life according to nature and playing beautiful games. And again Aristotle, as I said above, approached the game with joy and virtue. Some centuries later, Immanuel Kant defined the game as an activity that produces pleasure with game of chance, game of art and music, game thoughts. Also nature is a demonstration of games, such as redundancies and superfluity; Friedrich Schiller recognized in this phenomenon the

18

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/reasons-people-play-games.html

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manifestation of the aesthetic game. Also he gave to the game the function to be intermediary to achieve freedom and expression of imagination. Ludwig Wittgenstein was probably the first academic philosopher to address the definition of the word game. In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what games are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term game to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances.19 An interesting point of view belongs to Gregory Bateson, who identifies the essence of the game into its meta-language being. Rather, it means that any player has to be able to say “this is a game”: there must be the awareness that the action you are doing is fake and it “meta-communicates” that it is fiction. For Bateson, therefore, the “meta-communication” is used to reveal the nature of “as if” of the game and its creation of a fantasy world in which fiction actions simulate real actions.20

19

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game#Ludwig_Wittgenstein

20

http://www.media.unisi.it/ingioco/archivio/ben1.htm

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For one of the most preeminent philosopher as Friedrich Nietzsche, lifetime is a game, compared to the cosmic child Zeus. “Lifetime is a child who is playing dice; it is the supreme child’s reign”. The entire philosophy encyclopedia of Nietzsche is based on metaphors, which are definitely a “literature” way to play, to make game with his theories. For the German philosopher, the world is simply a game.21 But the reality loses the privilege of ultimate reference. Like romance fiction, for example, also videogames creates a world of objects and characters that do not exist and never existed, and everyone knows it. Nevertheless fiction’s world is not arbitrary but it has references and coherence, so it would not be correct to state that told stories are trickeries and falsehoods. Rather they are just autonomous creations with their own reality located on fiction area in which characters have their identity, their history and their adventures. Just because of his superior “logic of power”, the game is able to move away from “real-life” and build a framework in which it “lives” based on rules and their purpose, being protected by the essential clause to which people act just “pretending” and the suspension is temporary.

21

http://www.uniurb.it/Filosofia/isonomia/Zavatta.pdf

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The game begins and ends (we know it since the beginning), and it pays its freedom with its temporary nature: rules can be accepted without reservations just because players know that this do not leave real “serious” world, to which they will return at the end of game. In its exception condition the game builds its strength, which it enables itself to generate such a binding and incontrovertible order that is almost impossible to find in real life. The philosopher Paul Valery says: “among rules of games, skepticism is not possible, because these rules represent the reality, so if we contravene them, the game world falls down and it burst again on the daily reality, the one where people are not allowed to cheat in any way.” 22

2.6

Game Theory

An interesting last topic for this chapter is the “Game theory”, which is a branch of applied mathematics that is used in the social sciences, particularly in economics, as well as in biology, engineering, political science, international relations, computer science, social psychology, philosophy and management. Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, or games, in which an individual's success in making choices depends on the choices of others (Myerson).

22

2007, “Aesthetik und Spiel” by Elena Esposito

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The games studied in game theory are well-defined mathematical objects. A game consists of a set of players, a set of moves (or strategies) available to those players, and a specification of payoffs for each combination of strategies. Most cooperative games are presented in the characteristic function form, while the extensive and the normal forms are used to define non-cooperative games. As a method of applied mathematics, game theory has been used to study a wide variety of human and animal behaviors. It was initially developed in economics to understand a large collection of economic behaviors, including behaviors of firms, markets, and consumers. The use of game theory in the social sciences has expanded, and game theory has been applied to political, sociological, and psychological behaviors as well. In addition to being used to predict and explain behavior, game theory has also been used to attempt to develop theories of ethical or normative behavior. In economics and philosophy, scholars have applied game theory to help in the understanding of good or proper behavior. Game-theoretic arguments of this type can be found as far back as Plato.23,24

23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDwNl1WTflI

24

R.J. Aumann, Game theory, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, 2, 1987, p. 460

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2.6.1

Games

Ashby’s theory

A very interesting concept related to the Game Theory is the Law of Requisite Variety, formulated by W. Ross Ashby in 1956 in a seminal theoretical work called “Introduction to Cybernetics”, which set out the cybernetic principles which would need to be embodied in any artificial intelligence project, despite there being little technological infrastructure at the time for its implementation. There are many different formulations, one of the simplest non-technical ones is: the variety in the control system must be equal to or larger than the variety of the perturbations in order to achieve control 25 For example, in order to make a choice between two alternatives, the controller must be able to represent at least two possibilities, and thus one distinction. From an alternative perspective, the quantity of variety that the model system or controller possesses provides an upper bound for the quantity of variety that can be controlled or modeled.26 He imagines a simple card game and he thinks how a player could cope possibilities of match development. For example, player R has to make

25

http://www.wyrdology.com/mind/creativity/variety.html

26

http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/reqvar.html

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choices from a row of symbols presented by player D. It takes little mathematical knowledge, but a certain amount of patience with symbolic notation, to realize that D has the upper hand if the line of symbols presented do not contain the one R is trying to select. Starting from this hypothetical situation, Ashby’s theory can also be applied to others several different fields. For example, the symbol W in game theory stands for “the probability of this situation occurring again. Why should a trader not swindle his customers? Obviously, because he wants them to come back and spend their money again. If they are tourist, they may be fair game. But locals are different matter. In other words, if you have an investment in the system, you are more likely to play by its rules. That is given by fact that the system is more likely to win in the end, because beyond the micro-situation of the rule-bound teacher and the recalcitrant student, the system has other sanctions.27 Finally, the application of the Law of Requisite Variety in business is quite obvious. Companies need to be sufficiently adaptable to cope with a changing environment. A company that is too rigid faces potential danger if its market changes or even disappears. Consider the rise of digital

27

http://www.doceo.co.uk/background/requisite_variety.htm

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photography. Companies specialized in the production and processing of film must adapt their business in order to survive. Another example is the music industry which has had great trouble adapting its business models to the internet. Those old models were excellent for the age of physical goods such as CDs but could not cope with the system perturbations introduced by downloaded digital music. These examples show why in the long term innovation and creativity are essential for a successful business. Encouraging a creative environment means taking some risks, of course. However a rigid environment that stifles innovation might well just be storing up greater risks for the future.

2.7

Game Mechanics

At the heart of every game there are mysterious mechanisms that deliver pleasure and thrills to the player. Ralph Koster, author of “Theory of Fun for Game Design�, gives us a useful definition of what game mechanics are: Game mechanics are rule-based systems/simulations that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.28

28

Ralph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Paraglyph Press, 2004

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This definition explains quite well how games work and how to make them more and more appealing. All games use mechanics to produce an enjoyable gameplay. However, theories and styles differ as to their ultimate importance to the game. In general, the process and study of game design are efforts to come up with game mechanics that allow for people playing a game to have a fun and engaging experience. The interaction of various game mechanics in a game determine the complexity and level of player interaction in the game, and in conjunction with the game’s environment and resources it determines game balance. Some forms of game mechanics have been used in games for centuries, while others are relatively new, having been invented within the past decade. Complexity in game mechanics should not be confused with depth or even realism. For example, “Go� is perhaps one of the simplest of all games, yet exhibits extraordinary depth of play. Most computer or videogames feature mechanics that are technically complex (when expressed in terms of making a human do all the calculations involved) even in relatively simple designs. Now, there is some confusion as to the difference between game mechanics and gameplay. For some, gameplay is nothing more than a set of game mechanics. For others, gameplay refers to certain core game mechanics which determine the overall characteristics of the game itself.

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For example, the basic gameplay of a shooting or fighting game is to hit while not being hit. In a graphic adventure game, the basic gameplay is to solve puzzles related to the context. The basic gameplay of poker is to produce certain numerical or categorical combinations. Golf's basic gameplay is to hit a ball and reach a designated spot. The goal of these games is slightly different from the gameplay itself. For example, while reaching the end of a stage (platform), killing the boss or completing the story (RPG) or sinking the ball into a hole (golf) may be the purpose of playing a game, the fun of playing a game is derived primarily by the means and the process in which such goal is achieved. Basic gameplay defines what a game is, while game mechanics determine what the entire game consists of. Furthermore, some games are “abstract”, that is, the game action is not intended to represent anything. “Go” is a famous example of an abstract game. Other games do have a theme, some element of representation. “Monopoly” is a famous example of a game with a theme: the events of the game are intended to represent another activity, that of buying and selling properties.

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We could think of the game as a set of interlinked of puzzles where solutions to one puzzle lead to clues that help on additional puzzles.29 A perfect example to understand what game mechanics are able to create is SCVNGR. What is that? SCVNGR is a game platform, and playing is very easy. Players just go to places and do challenges to earn points. This is as much a game as it is a massive experiment in building a mobile game together. It will survive just if people will continue to share their experience with friends. The brilliant idea came to Seth Priebatsch, an 22-year old American student. Today, more than 650 institutions and thousands of individuals are using SCVNGR adding fun and creative challenges to their favorite locations. Anyone can participate: individual player, a local store, a museum, a historic monument, a restaurant or anything.30,31 The app is available for iPhone and Android smartphones. All people have to do is download and install it and just have fun finding places where these challenges already exist, or places where everybody could implement them by building them on the app.

29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics

30

http://www.scvngr.com/about

31

http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/25/scvngr-game-mechanics/

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Seth Priebatsch says that SCVNGR could help world to be a better place to live, for example starting from solving global warming problem! Is he right? We shall see. But not everyone agrees with the use of game mechanics. Gaurav Mishra states on his blog (www.gauravonomics.com) that game thinking is a bigger idea than game mechanics. In his opinion, while game mechanics involves using badges, levels, points, leaderboards and challenges to design games like applications that persuade users to perform desired actions, game thinking involves using a mindset of pleasure and playfulness to design games like environments that enable users to solve real-world business and social problems even as they play and have fun. So, game mechanics is persuasion-oriented while game thinking is pleasure-oriented.32

32

http://www.gauravonomics.com/blog/game-thinking-is-a-bigger-idea-than-game-

mechanics/

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3

Videogames

Videogames

In this chapter, we will discuss the history and the technological evolution of videogames, and we will make some sociological considerations.

3.1

3.1.1

Technology

Consoles (hardware)

The story begins in a little laboratory in Brookhaven, state of New York. A man called William Higinbotham was head of the instrumentation division at Brookhaven National Laboratory. During the fall many visitors would come to visit the laboratory, and Higinbotham was friends with them all. But he soon realized that many of his visitors seemed rather bored during their time at BNL. He wondered if there was something he could do to make their trip a little more interesting. He decided to create a simple game: video tennis. Using a small oscilloscope, visitors would be able to compete against each other with the little dot on the screen in the game Higinbotham dubbed “Tennis for Two�.33 Here is how videogames came to us. It was 1958.

33

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/9136/the_origins_and_history_of_

video_games.html

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Following this period, video games diverged into different platforms: arcade, mainframe, console, personal computer and later handheld games. The first videogame console for home usage was the Magnavox Odyssey (Picture 1), released on 24 May in 1972. The Odyssey was designed by Ralph Baer, who had a working prototype finished by 1968. This prototype is affectionately known as the "Brown Box" to classic video game hobbyists. While it did not perform badly, it did not take long before it succumbed to poor marketing by Magnavox retail chains. One of their mistakes was misleading consumers into believing that the Odyssey would work only on Magnavox televisions. It did, however, prove that consoles for the home could be designed.

(Picture 1 - Source: http://www.thegameconsole.com/magnavoxodyssey.jpg)

Into the first generation of videogames consoles takes undoubtedly part also the largest competitor of Magnavox: Atari. In 1973, after the success of the original PONG coin-op, an Atari engineer by the name of Harold Lee came up with the idea of a home PONG unit. 54


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In 1975 it was decided Sears would sell PONG (Picture 2) under its own specially created Tele-Games label, and production was initially projected at 50,000 units. This was soon raised to 150,000 for the 1975 Christmas season. It was the beginning of a long relationship between Atari and Sears, which would continue even after Nolan Bushnell sold Atari to Warner.

(Picture 2 - Source: http://www.thegameconsole.com/ataripong.jpg)

But while the fruit of retail development in early videogames appeared mainly in video arcades and home consoles, the rapidly evolving home computers of the 1970s and 1980s allowed their owners to program simple games. Early home computers from Apple, Commodore, Tandy (Picture 3) and others had many games that people typed in.

(Picture 3 - Source: http://gym2learn.pbworks.com/f/tandy%20radio%20shack.jpg) 55


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In the earliest second generation consoles videogames were found on cartridges; programs were burned onto ROM chips that were mounted inside plastic cartridge casings that could be plugged into slots on the console. When the cartridges were plugged in, the general-purpose microprocessors in the consoles read the cartridge memory and executed whatever program was stored there. Another big competitor was ColecoVision, an even more powerful machine, appeared in 1982. Its sales also took off, but the presence of three major consoles in the marketplace and a glut of poor quality games began to overcrowd retail shelves and erode consumers' interest in videogames. Within a year this overcrowded market would crash. In 1979, Activision was created by disgruntled former Atari programmers “who realized that the games they had anonymously programmed on their $20,000 salaries were responsible for 60 percent of the company’s $100 million in cartridge sales for one year�. The Golden age of video arcade games reached its zenith in the 1980s. The age brought with it many technically innovative and genre-defining games developed and released in the first few years of the decade, including: action adventure games, role-playing games, fighting games, racing games, realtime strategy games, rhythm games and so many other.

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Following the success of Apple and Commodore, a series of cheaper and incompatible rivals emerged in the early 1980s. These ones helped to catalyze the Home Computer and the games market by raising awareness of computing and gaming through their competing advertising campaigns. In 1984, the computer gaming market took over from the console market following the crash of that year; computers offered equal gaming ability and since their simple design allowed games to take complete command of the hardware after power-on, they were nearly as simple to start playing with as consoles. In 1979 and 1980 two handheld electronic game consoles were released, that used interchangeable cartridges: Microvision (by Milton Bradley Company, Picture 4) and Game and watch (by Nintendo, Picture 5).

(Picture 4 - Source: http://geekjoan.com/videogames/microvision.jpg)

(Picture 5 - Source: http://mrgamewatch.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/game-watch-game1.jpg)

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Third generation consoles: Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES), was designed by Masayuki Uemura and released in Japan on July 15, 1983. During its first year, many criticized the system as unreliable, prone to programming errors and rampant freezing. Following a product recall and a reissue with a new motherboard, the Famicom's popularity soared, becoming the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984. Encouraged by their successes, Nintendo soon turned their attentions to the North American markets. With a completely redesigned case and a new name, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, Picture 6) proved to be just as popular in America as the Famicom (Nintendo Family Computer) was in Japan, and played a major role in revitalizing interest in the video game industry.

(Picture 6 - Source: http://mrgamewatch.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/game-watch-game1.jpg)

In the new consoles, the gamepad or joypad took over joysticks, paddles, and keypads as the default game controller included with the system. The gamepad design of an 8 direction Directional-pad with 2 or more action buttons became the standard.

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Also handheld gaming began to become more popular throughout the decade, thanks in part to the release of the Game Boy, which influenced the gaming way of millions of people. CD-ROM drives were first seen in fourth generation consoles, as add-ons for the PC Engine in 1988 and the Mega Drive in 1991. Basic 3D graphics entered the mainstream with flat-shaded polygons enabled by additional processors in game cartridges like “Virtua Racing” and “Star Fox”. In 1989 Sega Genesis debuted (Picture 7), which was graphically superior to the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). After two years of development Sega introduced their “next generation” system to the world. Thus, Sega began an aggressive marketing campaign, not only to costumers but also to developers.

(Picture 7 - Source: http://static.jjgames.com/images/12080.JPG)

But it’s probably the fifth generation of videogames consoles that marks a real change in the videogames world.

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Three main consoles were released in 1994 in Japan and later (1995) in North America: Sega Saturn, PlayStation and PC-FX. Nintendo asked Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on called “PlayStation� (Picture 8) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Because Sony wanted 25% of all profits Nintendo earned from sales of this PlayStation and all PlayStation games, after Sony revealed that they were developing it, Nintendo instead went to Philips. This caused Sony to consider abandoning their research, however instead they used what they had developed so far and made it into a full blown console. In this way PlayStation quickly outsold all of its competitors, with the exception of the aging SNES, which still had the support of many major game companies. By the end of the period 1994-1998, Sony had become the leader in the video game market. The Saturn was moderately successful in Japan but a commercial failure in North America and Europe, leaving Sega outside of the main competition. The Nintendo64 (1996) achieved huge success in North America and Europe, though it never surpassed PlayStation's sales or was as popular in Japan.

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(Picture 8 - Source: http://vitadigitale.corriere.it/playstation1.jpg)

In the meantime, mobile gaming interest was significantly increasing, thanks to Nokia and its mobile phones which include some games. The most famous and popular was Snake (Picture 9), still now installed onto newest phones versions. Soon also every major phone brand offered “time killer games� that could be played in very short moments such as waiting for a bus. Mobile phone games early on were limited by the modest size of the phone screens that were all monochrome and the very limited amount of memory and processing power on phones, as well as the drain on the battery.

(Picture 9 - Source: http://www.serenabasciani.it/blog/nokia-snake-cheevo-530w.jpg) 61


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In the sixth generation consoles, Sega exited the hardware market, Nintendo fell behind, Sony solidified its lead in the industry, and Microsoft developed a gaming console. PlayStation 2 development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000 in Japan (Picture 10). The PS2 is the best-selling console of all time, having reached over 150 million units sold as of January 31, 2011.

(Picture 10 - Source: http://i01.twenga.com/videogiochi/console-ps2/sony-playstation-2p_443615vb.png)

Before the end of 2001, Microsoft Corporation, best known for its Windows operating system and its professional productivity software, entered the console market with the Xbox platform (Picture 11). Based on Intel's Pentium III CPU, the console used much PC technology to leverage its internal development. In order to maintain its hold in the market, Microsoft reportedly sold the Xbox at a significant loss and concentrated on drawing profit from game development and publishing. 62


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In November 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox Live on-line gaming service, allowing subscribers to play on-line Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This on-line service works exclusively with broadband. 250,000 subscribers had signed on in 2 months since Live was launched. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live reached 1 million subscribers, and announced in July 2005 that Live had reached 2 million.

(Picture 11 - Source: http://www.gamevideos.it/images/xbox.jpg)

One significant feature of this generation was various manufacturers’ renewed fondness for add-on peripheral controllers. While alternate controllers weren’t new, as Nintendo featured several with the original NES and PC gaming has previously featured driving wheels and aircraft joysticks, for the first time console games using them became some of the biggest hits of the decade.

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Nintendo still dominated the handheld gaming market in this generation. The Game Boy Advance in 2001, maintained Nintendo’s market position. The seventh and actual generation videogames consoles opened early handheld ones, as Nintendo introduced Nintendo DS and Sony the PSP (PlayStation Portable) in 2004. Also Apple entered the realm of mobile gaming hardware with the release the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the summer of 2008. The greatest shift brought by Apple’s entry was to abandon the traditional reliance on “brick and mortar” retail sales for software purchases; instead, the iPhone platform relies entirely on digitally distributed content. In console gaming, Microsoft stepped forward first in November 2005 with the Xbox 360, and Sony followed in 2006 with the PlayStation 3, released in Europe in March 2007. Setting the technology standard for the generation, both featured high-definition graphics, large hard disk-based secondary storage, integrated networking, and a companion on-line gameplay and sales platform, with Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, respectively. Coming with Blu-ray and Wi-Fi technologies, the PlayStation 3 was the most expensive game console on the market since Panasonic's version of the 3DO, which retailed for about $700. Nintendo would release their Wii console shortly after the PlayStation 3’s launch, and the platform would put Nintendo back on track in the console race. While the Wii had lower technical specifications (and a lower price) 64


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than both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, its new motion control was much touted. Many gamers, publishers, and analysts initially dismissed the Wii as an underpowered curiosity, but were surprised as the console sold out through the 2006 Christmas season, and remained so through the next 18 months, becoming the fastest selling game console in most of the world’s gaming markets.

(Picture 12 - Source: http://www.psphacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/wii-ps3xbox360.jpg)

The way gamers interact with games changed dramatically, especially with Nintendo’s wholesale embrace of motion control as a standard method of interaction. The Wii Remote implemented the principles to be a worldwide success. Later, At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2009, Microsoft and Sony each presented their own new motion controllers: Project Natal (later renamed Kinect) and PlayStation Move, respectively.

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(Picture 13 - Source: http://cdn.ubergizmo.com/photos/2010/11/sony-playstation-move-microsoftxbox-kinect.jpg)

One new console is Nintendo’s new handheld: the successor to the Nintendo DS known as the Nintendo 3DS. The system incorporates 3D graphics and effects without the need for using 3D glasses. Other features include three cameras (one internal and a dual 3D external set), a motion sensor, a gyro sensor and a Slide Pad that allows 360-degree analog input.34 35 36

(Picture 14 - Source: http://techbook.myblog.it/media/01/00/1057920832.jpg / Picture 15 - Source: http://www.topnegozi.it/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/occhiali-3D-LG.jpg)

34

http://www.thegameconsole.com/videogames01.htm

35

Kent, Steven L. (2000). The First Quarter: A 25-year history of video games. BWD Press.

36

M. J. P. Wolf, The video game explosion, 2008, Greenwood Publishing Group, pag. 177

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Lastly, thanks to Apple and its products as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad tablet we observe the birth of a new console concept. Although these products are meant to serve another primary purpose, they end up being real portable consoles like some of their predecessors Game Boy or PSP. For example, the iPhone today has the capability of playing music, watching movies, playing games and… phoning. The same for iPad and iPod Touch (the latter doesn’t allow to call as a normal phone, but just using Voip applications). We can conclude that smartphones a new generation of game consoles, in which you can play and have fun in some ways even more than on a normal home console. A new (eighth!?) generation is just born.

3.1.2

Videogames (software)

It is easy to imagine that all videogames produced during these decades are too many to mention in this paper, and that would definitely be out of scope. We are just going to analyze the most important and best selling: 

Pong is the first arcade videogame of history that deserves to be mentioned. It is a tennis sports game featuring simple twodimensional graphics. The aim is to defeat the opponent in a simulated table tennis game by earning a higher score. The game was originally manufactured by Atari Incorporated, who released 67


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it in 1972. Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game, which led to the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's gameplay, and eventually released new types of games. As a result, Atari encouraged its staff to produce more innovative games. The company released several sequels that built upon the original's gameplay by adding new features. 

The Super Mario franchise spawned over 200 games since its first release in 1981. As we said above, the series sold 240 million copies, standing at the first position on the top best-selling list of videogames ever.

Pokemon is a series of videogames developed by Game Freak and Creatures Inc. and published by Nintendo as part of the Pokémon media franchise. First released in 1995 in Japan for the Game Boy, the main series of role-playing video games has continued on each generation of Nintendo's handhelds.

Of

course, what helped this game to a great success was that Pikachu was a lovable cat-like creature, but the most brilliant marketing decision had to be splitting the Pokemon species between the initial Red and Blue versions, so if the kids wanted

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to “Catch’em all” they needed their parents to buy them both (207 million copies sold).37 

Tetris is the falling-blocks puzzle videogame and it was released on 1985 on a vast spectrum of platforms, from calculators to videogame consoles and computer, with also a bundled version on Game Boy (125 million copies sold). Today you can find it also installed on a TV or onto some old version of mobile phone. However, no edition of Tetris was more popular than the one available on the Game Boy in the late ‘80s, ensuring teens lost full days and all feeling in their fingers to the falling blocks for the next decade and beyond: 33 million units.38

The Sims is a videogame series developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts, released on 31 January of 2000. The game in The Sims series lack any defined goals: players create virtual people called "Sims" and place them in houses and helps direct their moods and satisfy their desires. They can either place their Sims in pre-constructed homes or build them themselves. Each successive expansion pack and game in the series augmented what the player could do with their Sims.

37

Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games, San Val Inc.

38

http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment_300/317b_top_10_list.html

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It was the most addictive time-waster, and it influenced the making of copycat universes, such as Second Life, World of Warcraft and one based on the popular MTV show The Hills. Over then 100 million copies sold.39 40 

Need for Speed is a series of racing videogames published by Electronic Arts and developed by several studios including Canadian based company EA Black Box. The first version was released on 31 August of 1994, and it consisted mainly of racing with various cars on various tracks, and to some extent, included police pursuits in races. It is the most successful racing videogame series in the world, and one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. As of October 2009, over 100 million copies of games in the Need for Speed series have been sold.41

Another epic game created by Electronic Arts is undoubtedly FIFA, released for the first time on 1993 and actually still produced each year with a new updated version. It is a football (soccer) videogame known all around the world. As of 2011, the

39

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sims_(series)

40

http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment_300/317c_top_10_list.html

41

Electronic Arts (2009-10-21). "EA’s Need for Speed Franchise Races Past 100 Million

Copies". Press release. Retrieved 2009-10-21.

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FIFA franchise has been localized into 18 languages and available in 51 countries. The series has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling videogame franchises. FIFA is also a case of spending money to make money, with EA Sports shelling out millions for the right to use the real world leagues and the real world players as Italian “Serie A”, English “Premier League”, Spanish “Liga, German “Bundesliga”, and so on. 

Grand Theft Auto series, best-known as GTA, has had an almost immeasurable impact on the medium of the videogame. It’s not just its content, or because of the way people react to it. These games have changed the way people play. First version released was on October 1997 and the name of the series is derived from grand theft auto, a term referring to motor vehicle theft. The series is set in fictional locales heavily modeled on American cities, while an expansion for the original was based in London. The gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engaging in side activities; all consisting of action, adventure, driving, occasional role-playing, stealth, and racing elements. The subject of the games is usually a comedic satire of American culture, but the series has gained controversy for its adult nature and violent themes. The series focuses around many different protagonists who attempt to rise through the ranks of the 71


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criminal underworld, although their motives for doing so vary in each game. More than 100 million units sold until now.42 

The Final Fantasy series began in 1987 with the eponymous videogame conceived by Sakaguchi as his last-ditch effort in the game industry; the title was a success and spawned sequels. The videogame series has since branched into other genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, and racing. The series has been commercially and critically successful; it is Square Enix's best-selling video game franchise, with more than 97 million units sold, and one of the best-selling video game franchises. The series is well known for its innovation, visuals, and music, such as the inclusion of full motion

videos,

photo-realistic

character

models,

and

orchestrated music by Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy has been a driving force in the video game industry. The videogame series has affected Square's business practices and its relationships with other video game developers.43 

Madden NFL is an American football videogame series developed by Electronic Arts. First version was released in 1988,

42

http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/863/863028p1.html

43

is an American football video game series developed by Electronic Arts Tiburon for EA

Sports.

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and it was already a great success caused for great passion collected by all American population. The game is based on original American football sport, and its realty attraction is, for most of addicted player, caused by original TV commentators. Until 1993, the Madden series did not have official licenses from the National Football League or National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Madden NFL '94 was the first game in the series to include real NFL teams, and Madden NFL '95 added an NFLPA license for real players. Until now over 70 million units sold, but the number is expected to grow up in next years.44 

Pro Evolution Soccer, officially abbreviated as PES (known before in Japan, Korea and in the Americas as Winning Eleven) is an association football (soccer) videogame series developed by Konami. Every year, the new version of the game is released first as Winning Eleven in Japan, and after a few months a slightly modified version is released worldwide, in two different packages: World Soccer: Winning Eleven for the Americans, and Pro Evolution Soccer for the rest of the world. First version was

44

http://uk.retro.ign.com/articles/896/896893p1.html

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released on 2001, and since then they were sold 59 million copies of the game.45 

Second only to Mario, there is no more influential videogame franchise in the entire industry than The Legend of Zelda. This became one of the best-selling video game franchises because it invented the action-adventure genre, since only a player’s imagination limited the ways they could explore the Kingdom of Hyrule. It is a high fantasy action-adventure videogame series created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It was developed and published by Nintendo. As of April 2010, The Legend of Zelda series has sold over 59 million copies since the release of the first game and continues to be successful worldwide.

Call of Duty is a first-person and third-person shooter videogame series franchise, created by Ben Chichoski and owned by Activision. The series began on the PC, and later expanded to consoles and handhelds, and several spin-off games have also been released alongside the main series. It is based on several epic wars scenarios, as First and Second World War, Gulf War and others. The first version was released on 29 October of 2003; as of November 27, 2009, total sales for the entire Call Of

45

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_Evolution_Soccer

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Duty series have surpassed 55 million units worldwide, taking $3 billion in retail sales in the process.46 

World of Warcraft, often referred to as WoW, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. With more than 12 million subscribers as of October 2010, World of Warcraft is currently the world's most-subscribed “MMORPG”. As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar (also referred to as a toon) within a game world in third or first-person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) or other players. Also similar to other MMORPGs, World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription, either by buying prepaid game cards for a selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a regular basis. World of Warcraft contains traditional fantasy elements, such as gryphons, dragons, and elves; steam-powered automata and extreme engineering typical of steampunk; zombies, vampires,

46

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty_(series)

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and other undead typical of horror; as well as time travel, spaceships, and alien worlds typical of science fiction. World of Warcraft requires a subscription fee to be paid to allow continued play, with options to pay in one month, three month or six month blocks, although timecards of varying length are available both online and from traditional retailers. Expansion packs are also available online, and are also available from traditional retailers. As the game client is the same regardless of the version of World of Warcraft the user owns, the option to purchase the expansion online was added as it allowed for a quick upgrade. With more than 19 million of subscribers as of October 2010, it is one of most known online-game worldwide ever. 47 I want to conclude this chapter about videogames, reporting an interview to Anita Frazier, a game analyst at market researcher NPD Group. She says that the proliferation of new platforms, digital content and an influx of new users who have never played before will generate growth in both numbers and revenues this year. She also added some reason (seven) why videogames will grow in 2011:

47

http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/

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1. The economy is improving. That will lead to increased consumer spending, as began to happen during the holiday shopping season in 2010. 2. The mobile markets for smartphones and tablets are growing dramatically. 3. The digital distribution of games through downloadable content, social networks, and web sites is on the rise. About 17 percent of the U.S. population and 33 percent of hardcore gamers now play games on social networks. 4. Broadband penetration continues to grow, enabling the impulse for digital purchases. The hassle of downloading is starting to disappear, as it now takes less time for people with good broadband connections to download a game. About 71 percent of the U.S. population has high-speed internet. 5. Motion control adoption, through Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move peripherals, is driving new game sales. Microsoft’s Kinect (pictured in use above) sold 8 million units in its first couple of months, making it the biggest-selling consumer electronics launch in history. 6. Stereoscopic 3D gaming arrives with Nintendo’s 3DS. Nintendo’s new handheld system arrives with glasses-free 3D in March. 7. The spend on games is expanding through other avenues such as advergaming and promotional referrals or offers. This enables

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people without cash to spend on games to enjoy them and still generate revenues for publishers. Frazier said that consumer expectations have changed, with more people focused on instant gratification. That means they want their games “on demand”, as soon as they can download them.48

3.2

3.2.1

Sociological considerations

Behavioral observations

In the view of many sociologists and psychologists, videogames encourage the player’s stimulation of the brain, causing it to act differently than usual because of the immediacy of the visual message provided by images. The effect of videogames on the brain is a research area gaining popularity as the percentage of children and adults who play videogames is increasing. Steven Berlin Johnson, writing “Everything bad is good for you” compares the cognitive activity that takes place inside a videogame player to the scientific method. This, however, is sometimes considered an obstacle for a player in childhood or adolescence, and then in the process of learning:

48

http://venturebeat.com/2011/02/10/seven-reasons-why-video-games-will-grow-in-

2011/

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communication that comes from a teacher cannot always be acceptable to a young man accustomed to purely visual messages. Another behavioral expert observatory is Akio Mori, a professor at Tokyo's Nihon University, who conducted a recent study observing the effects of video games on brain activity. He divided 260 people into three groups: those who rarely played videogames, those who played between 1 and 3 hours three to four times a week, and those who played 2 to 7 hours each day. He then monitored "the beta waves that indicate liveliness and degree of tension in the prefrontal region of the brain, and alpha waves, which often appear when the brain is resting". The results showed a higher decrease of beta waves the more one played videogames. "Beta wave activity in people in the highest amount of videogame playing was constantly near zero, even when they weren't playing, showing that they hardly used the prefrontal regions of their brains. Many of the people in this group told researchers that they got angry easily, couldn't concentrate, and had trouble associating with friends". This study also asserts that a lack of use of the frontal brain, contributed by video games, can change moods and could account for aggressive and reclusive behavior. An important question arises: if the brain is so impacted by videogames as to create behavioral changes, must that mean that the brain perceives the games as real?49

49

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1742

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In this connection it could be interesting to report a David Perry TED video-presentation about how games are changing our life-style and if they are better than real life.50 An interesting point marked by him it’s about a player of “World of Warcraft” called “Project Entropia”, which plays online; well, this user actually spent until now $25,600 to buy an own island. Of course, we are talking about fictional island! This marked is now estimated to be over 800 million dollars annually, but what is surprising is that this market is created by the players themselves. They sell accounts to each other and they pay real money to buy additional updates. But the unbelievable element is what it is possible to find on eBay.com: people sell own account and someone even dares to start an auction at $174,000! During his presentation, he shows a beautiful video created by Michael Highland, who tells his own life from a videogame point of view. I agree with him when he states that videogames are able to be emotional, making us cry, scream, laugh, angry or happy. But not only that: some people (like him) learned to drive using virtual steering wheel to play car-racing videogames.

50

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/david_perry_on_videogames.html

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People who created these emotional games are smart, because they know what make us scared, excited, panicked, proud or sad and then they use this emotions to “dimensionalize” the worlds they created. Michael concludes that what troubles him is not that videogame violence is becoming more like real life violence, but that real life violence is starting to look more like a videogame.51 So the next future question could be: are videogames controlling our real life, or is it the contrary?

3.2.2

Clichés

Critics often accuse video games of making players lazy, inept and socially awkward. Contrary to popular belief, though, many build, not burn brain cells by requiring extensive problem solving, teamwork and dynamic decision-making skills. More interactive and absorbing than passive forms of entertainment like movies and TV, videogames promote higher levels of engagement because observers are actively and enthusiastically involved with on-screen activity. Video games may soon save lives as well.

51

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ2VSnD2wzQ

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According to Dr. Jeffrey Taekman, the director of Duke University's Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center, “serious games and virtual environments are the future of education”. He also affirms that “the traditional textbook will soon become passé”, and he suggests “gaming platforms will offer an interactive way for students to learn and apply information in context”. Massively multiplayer games such as “World of Warcraft”, “EVE Online” and “City of Heroes” may seem like idle fantasy and sci-fi escapes. But many require active teamwork and high-level project management to do well. Collaborative elements often take the form of loose alliances disguised as in-game guilds, factions or virtual corporations where players join forces to complete objectives such as seizing territory or battling otherwise unstoppable opponents. As Georgia Tech professor and Persuasive Games founder Ian Bogost explains, these titles frequently require advanced mastery of resource allocation and practical leadership techniques. Requiring direct management and informed decision-making at multiple levels, group heads quickly learn to delegate responsibility, direct personnel and steer allies toward a common goal. Actively promoting teamwork between seemingly disparate individuals located states or entire countries

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apart, all ironically offer preparation for a job in today's increasingly virtual workforce.52 Christopher J. Ferguson is a researched and teacher at Texas A&M International University, and he conducted a research analyzing the correlation between videogames and social obligations in young people. What came out from it is that, as violent video games have become more prevalent, violent crimes have decreased dramatically. This is true both for police arrest data, as well as crime victimization data. Similar statistics for reduced crime have been found in Canada, Australia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom using both arrest and victimization data. This is certainly not to say that violent videogames are necessarily responsible for this decline, even partially. However, this certainly cuts away the basis of any belief that violent games are promoting societal violence. The correlation is simply in the wrong direction. So while there is still someone toiling to wonder if violent videogames transform all children into potential serial-killers, this research shows that the responsibility of parents is totally decisive, and it can affect activity

52

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/gaming.gadgets/01/31/video.games.smarter.

steinberg/

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“potentially harmful” and change it into something positive and rewarding.53 In my opinion, videogames are so attractive because they have the quality of being so explicit and real in representation of man, of women, of power, of control in general. But violence in videogames can’t be considered responsible of children behavior because, following this theory, all people who like to play sport games should be practice sport too; but they actually don’t. A new research shows how videogames can make us more prepared to face up to new rhythms of modern life-style; also elderly people could get benefits by them. Many videogames are good for the brain, as it has been said by researchers on the journal “Frontiers of Cognition”. Lorena Colzato, teacher at Psychology Department of Leiden University affirms that “playing videogames helps with natural reflexes and makes players more responsive in switching several operations at same time. This mindset is really practical for a modern lifestyle where people do many things contemporaneously.” She also states that gamers who like to play “violent titles” do not necessarily express anti-social behaviors. Parents should let their children play because the skills developed could support them to frenzied jobs. Furthermore, videogames may help people to overcome mental oldness. She concludes putting forward an

53

http://www.tamiu.edu/~CFERGUSON/shooters.pdf

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innovative and provocative proposal: “playing videogames could become a common activity in a nursing home. It would be a successful strategy!�.54

54

http://www.sify.com/news/violent-video-games-make-you-smarter-news-international-

kexk4chbaaj.html

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4

Gamification

Gamification

4.1

What does “Gamification” stand for?

Gamification is a recent entry in modern vocabulary, which consists in using gameplay mechanics for non-game applications particularly consumeroriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also encourages users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications. While the term is relatively new, the tactics are not and have already been in use for quite some time. Gamification makes technology more engaging by taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming. This technique can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading web sites.55 In theory you can apply Game Design to almost anything including Education, Health, Work and more. So Gamification at its core is about fun, rewards and social connections; it has the opportunity to connect people in ways never seen before.

55

Huling, Ray (March 25, 2010). "Gamification: Turning Work Into Play". H Plus Magazi-

ne.

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Gamification has two very interesting goals that I will describe in this chapter. First is to stimulate active measurable behaviors. The implementation of game mechanics is one of the most efficient methods to involve people in the activities of a website or a specific service. It is therefore an active participation: the user does something! In fact, encouraging active behaviors, the message to communicate can become connected to the same action and it must be enclosed in the next context of experience. From this point of view, it is possible to obtain another important key advantage gained by gamification: users’ behavior is measured by collecting data based on actions taken within the game. The second aim of gamification is to lead an active interest to the communicative message. This kind of “tool” works well because it leverages on desires and needs of people; for example gamification provides goals, rewards to gain, and overall it encourages the competition within the community. In this context, gamification is social: users can discuss, share and compare their experiences. Gamification has started being popularized as the next big thing in marketing. A common example of Gamification in the real world is Frequent Flyer Programs, or FFP, such as the one that United Airlines pioneered. This is a great example of Gamification as a Loyalty Program; however this is just one example of Gamification with the possible

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applications being endless.56 People can earn points (called also “air-miles”) simply booking their flights using the same airline, in order to obtain points and turn them into free flights or other benefits (e.g. special food on the airplane, priority boarding pass, special access to the “VIP Lounge” at the airport, etc.), which definitely increase loyalty between company and customers. And this process is the same for supermarkets, or even of gasolinecompany. So nowadays virtually all companies have loyalty program, and they do it just because it proved to be very important to keep their customers; people are persuaded by the idea of preferring to go always in the same store to score as many point as possible. For example, all regular customers of Starbucks participate in this kind of “game” (yes, it is a game). At the beginning, the company offered immediate access to free selected syrups and soymilk, free brewed coffee refills, a free beverage with the purchase of a pound of whole beans and two hours of free wi-fi access. Today things changed, and to enjoy benefits customers have to visit Starbucks at least five times before moving up to “Green level” which permits to be considered frequent customer.

56

http://gamification.org/wiki/Gamification

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Additionally, a 10% discount on most purchases offered through the Starbucks Gold Card seems to have fallen by the wayside, as has with the $25 annual fee charged for the Gold Card. Customers earn “Gold level” after 30 visits, and receive, in addition to the “Green level” benefits, a free drink after every 15 purchases. The way Starbucks shows the points you earned is using a progress bar, where points are in the form of stars to track your progress, as shown in the image below.

(Source: http://adavox.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/my-starbucks-rewards.png?w=549&h=157)

The example of Starbucks is just one of many companies that adopt similar loyalty programs. Also the small “pizzeria” next to our houses apply this loyalty system, offering a free pizza or beverage every 10/20 pizzas purchased. Another different way to create customers loyalty is the one of NIKE called NIKEiD. The big brand allows full personalization through their ability to create on-demand customized shoes for each person. Through their NIKEiD.com website, people can fully customize the colors, materials,

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sizing, and fit of their very own special Nike shoes and Nike will ship it just for the interested customer. This process is not the same of any frequent customer program, but it makes you enjoy a different and unique way to buy shoes, making it more fun than usual purchasing. 57 Well, to understand better what we are talking about in terms of cybernetic world, it could be interesting to make some other real-world examples of gamification. Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are significant examples of users who are collecting a list of friends. No more agendas in people’s pockets, but social networks able to connect people from all over the world simply accessing on network. There, you can share photos, videos, game scores challenges, emotional thoughts and so on. However, while many of these companies have been using these strategies for a while, they are likely not thinking of this consciously as gamification. Viewing these tactics through the lens of game mechanics and psychology prompts deeper analysis around effectiveness and engagement. Are they optimizing the virality of gift invitations, or figuring out how to tune their rewards systems to be fun? There’s a lot of psychology and science

57

http://adachen.com/2010/10/04/what-is-gamification-and-real-world-examples-of-it/

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underpinning why basic game mechanics can be so effective in motivating consumers to engage. Hopefully, as gamification becomes more mainstream, the result is that products will be more fun and engaging!58 The most recent evolution of purchase and reward systems includes games that customers can use on their mobile phones. It’s easy for someone to continue to play the game because they always have their phones close at hand. Having a mobile phone application can also imply that your product or company is in touch with the most cutting edge technology.59 Continuing to report the Starbucks example, they recently reserved for frequent customers a cool feature through which they can pay for their drink using the “Starbucks Card Mobile” application. Entering their own card number, the device will display a barcode that is possible to use as a replacement of the Starbucks Card to make purchases. It is fast. It is so easy. And it is a revolution in mobile payment. Currently “Mobile Pay” is available at nearly 6800 company-operated Starbucks stores, in the United States60, but it will be soon available also for the rest of world stores.

58

Ibid.

59

http://www.thetechscoop.net/2011/04/01/gamification-and-the-threat-to-the-art-of-

gaming/#axzz1IJbF6QKp 60

http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/mobile-apps/starbucks-card-mobile

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Regarding the applications for mobile phones (or better, for smartphones), as these are designed by marketers, rather than game developers, the end results are not always very reliable. Game developers see this as an insult to the industry and often become frustrated by the cheaply slapped together simplified games that are riddled with glitches. As more and more people experience the poor quality of a bad gamification design, they may begin to equate glitches and poor play with other types of computer games as well. Some game developers feel that their craft is compromised by these poor quality applications that are being presented as games. I totally agree with the blogger Jessica Bosari when she states that “the best way for developers to control the process is to become involved. Instead of turning their backs on gamification projects, they should embrace the technique so they can have a voice in how the technology evolves. When high-quality developers work on these applications, everyone wins: the consumer, the student and the personal growth enthusiast.�61 A very representative example of the expansion of gamification, I think of what is currently happening in the Japanese restaurant chain Karasushi. It is a popular franchise chain which is turning business more into a game to enhance the customer experience, excitement and even lower costs.

61

http://www.thetechscoop.net/2011/04/01/gamification-and-the-threat-to-the-art-of-

gaming/#axzz1IJbF6QKp

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Kurasushi is a kaiten, rotating sushi bar, where the sushi streams by on rotating belts throughout the restaurant. Kurasushi has taken the experience to new levels with a touch panel ordering system and plate collector that counts how many sushi dishes you have eaten. Not only this reduces the staff needed to take special orders and deliver the food, but Kurasushi also turns it into a game by giving users a chance to win a small prize after every five plates dropped into the collector. Even though the prizes are small and not particularly interesting, it is a lot of fun to drop the plates and play the game to see if you win or not.62 Several restaurants already have loyalty programs that reward customers who have ordered the most dishes. Frequent customers are given special tables and items that are not on the menu. In conclusion, the next few years are definitely the time when the gamification generation comes of age. The first challenge is to realize that this is happening and to think of how it can benefit your customers or audience. The second is that videogames have evolved massively from

62

http://www.ideaeconomy.net/ideas/gamification-business-kurasushi-japan/

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“PacMan” to “Starcraft 2”, and for even the simplest game mechanic to succeed, it will take a lot of complexity and knowledge in the background.63

4.2

Criticism and skepticism about Gamification

“Lots of people have been jumping onto the anti-gamification bandwagon lately”, says David J Edery.64 And that’s quite true, considering how many articles are found on the internet regarding criticism on gamification. First to be criticized is the term “gamification”, which has been replaced with “pointsfication”. That’s because all its appeal is based on the simple points collection, not offering any ludic interaction to users, for example where players behave and think depending on choices that must be done according to cause-effect rules and within which the primary reward is represented by the true and original act of playing. But I totally agree with a writer on “alittleb.it”65 who gives another interpretation of the term gamification. I think that the fun factor, which comes from integration of real ludic gameplay, becomes an instrument to increase competition and represents a personal motivation. Playing has just

63

http://thewayoftheweb.net/2010/09/the-gamification-generation/

64

http://www.edery.org/2011/01/why-does-gamification-tend-to-devolve/

65

http://www.gamification.it/gamification/perche-la-gamification-non-e-una-semplice-

pointsfication/

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to be a fun repayment of itself. So the main goal of gamification is not just to obtain points and leveling up, but rather the entire conception of gaming and having fun doing a serious activity (as at workplace) at the same time. Others critics find black-sides to gamification because its proponents are generally not game designers and so they do not understand how hard it is to make a good game. They also add that in some cases this is the unique reason why gamification is a very tough sell. This last point is particularly true. Lots of applications are very boring and have such a low-level design that nobody would spend one cent to have installed it on their smartphone or tablet. Now it is not fair to report titles of ugly “apps”, but everyone who had the opportunity of downloading some of them, surely will agree with me. And that’s maybe the reason why there are a lot of applications that you can download for free! Some more criticism that is addressed to gamification concerns the “timeaspect”. Someone says that gamification is older than people can imagine. That is just because, for example, the concept of “happy hour” (which is a typical example of “gamifying” real life) has been around for at least 10 or 20 years, so it arrived before gamification! I believe this doesn’t matter. We are not here to cheer who arrives first or second. Right now we are witnessing a large-scale massive gamification of many aspects of our lives, not just a few sporadic ones.

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Also, John Radoff criticized gamification because there is not any kind of storytelling, as usually found in every game/videogame. He also says that “Games are experiences! They are about involving you in an activity that is fundamentally fun (with or without point systems) and taking you through some sort of transformational journey, whether it’s about a character transforming from the mundane to the heroic, or simply teaching you a new skill that changes you in some way.”66 So in his opinion, the absence of these features mark a strong difference between gamification and games, and he supposes that the term seems to trivialize the potential impact of a game’s experience. Anyway, the point is that you can criticize the term, but not the reality: gamification is evolving quickly and it is going to become an essential element for any process in our life.

4.3

Gamification of the workplace

We are going to focus now on a particular application of the Gamification trend, the one that is increasingly taking place in the workplace. Incentives play an important part in motivating employees to create a kind of excitement, sustained innovation culture. But generating workplace

66

http://radoff.com/blog/2011/02/16/gamification/

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engagement can be a challenge. A recent Towers Perrin study discovered that only one-fifth of employees are truly engaged in their work. The rest ranged from disengaged (38%) to indifferent (41%). There is a feeling of detachment, and sense of not having a voice in the company. But a number of different ways to motivate and engage your employees are coming out. The two most common methods are reward and recognition.

4.3.1

Rewards

Rewards, both financial and non-financial, can play an important part in an innovation initiative. Brightidea (a San Francisco-based company that provides on-demand Innovation management softwares) recommends that financial or material rewards be reserved primarily for public campaigns, where incentives are necessary to attract attention and drive large-scale participation. For example, GE’s Ecomagination Challenge has attracted tens of thousands of participants motivated by the $200 million prize. For internal-facing challenges, financial rewards can become problematic, both considering logistics of global application and the ability to sustain motivation overtime. Some issues include: 

Employees may consider financial rewards an entitlement, and continue to expect them in the future.

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Cash incentives may not translate appropriately to different countries with differences in pay and cost of living.

Legal implications as the challenge and rewards may constitute a contest or gift, and need to be reported and taxed accordingly.

Financial rewards may not be sustainable for long-term or largescale campaigns, as well as for smaller companies or departments with limited budgets.

Most importantly, financial rewards may actually prevent building a culture of innovation by promoting participation driven by personal gain. Non-financial and non-material rewards, however, are great ways to motivate your employees while incentivizing being part of a larger team and collaborating for the improvement of the company as a whole. Nonfinancial and nonmaterial rewards, however, are great ways to motivate your employees while incentivizing being part of a larger team and collaborating for the improvement of the company as a whole. Nonfinancial rewards can be: 

Lunch with the CEO;

Assignment to develop and implement the idea, and see it through to completion;

Vacation time

Other workplace perks (e.g. premium parking spots, etc.).

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By thinking outside the box and creatively tapping the spirit of co-creation and collaboration, non-financial rewards can have a positive impact on sustaining participation from employees in a variety of different internal innovation campaigns.

4.3.2

Recognition

Recognizing employees for their contributions can provide much more than just a psychological benefit. Management consultant and author Cindy Ventrice states that, as long as employees have what is considered a fair salary, money is not really a factor in how motivated they are. Instead, it comes down to feeling valued in the workplace, that their thoughts and opinions matter, and that there is opportunity for learning and advancement. Managers can recognize employees in a variety of ways: 

Employee of the month plaque or featured on the company website or internal intranet, or campaign homepage

Email newsletters or company blogs

Department leaderboards that highlight the top performers and create friendly competition

Public acknowledgment during meetings or other events

A personal note to say “thank you”

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While these are all virtually without cost, they are essential to building trust between employees and managers, and can encouraging your employees to achieve more and continue to think outside the box. There are several practices to take into consideration when approaching employee recognition. Some of the most important practices are: 

Consistency: It’s crucial that recognition is consistent to avoid confusion and hurt feelings. It will also make it easier for other employees to model the desired thoughts and actions. Establish a guideline for desired performance or actions to help keep recognition consistent.

Communication: It’s important to be clear about what and why your employee is being recognized. Not only is it a chance to make it apparent that you’re paying attention, but also you have the opportunity to provide other feedback – areas of improvement, weaknesses, etc.

Personalization: different employees want different recognition. Some may want to be publicly recognized, others may simple want a pat on the back. It’s important to always keep your recognition personal. A boilerplate note given to every team member does little to inspire them to go the extra mile.

“Reward Effort, Not Just Success”: enthusiasm and effort are as just as important to recognize as success. Even if it ends in failure,

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constructive criticism along with praise will build trust and encourage employees to take meaningful risks. Recognition is a crucial component to a building a sustained and thriving innovation community. First, encouraging greater communication and transparency builds trust between employees and managers. In this environment, employees can contribute ideas without the fear of being “wrong” leading to a freer flow of thoughts and ideas. Business innovation author called Steven Johnson claims that this environment is “where good ideas come from.” Finally, rewards and recognition are not mutually exclusive. However, while rewards can help keep your workers motivated, it’s recognition that builds a truly innovative culture.67 The interesting book “The 7 hidden reasons employees leave” by Leigh Branham talks about reasons why people leave their job. A research detected that the top seven reasons why people leave jobs are: 1. The job or workplace was not as expected. 2. The mismatch between job and person. 3. Too little coaching and feedback

67

http://blog.brightidea.com/innovation_work/2011/02/reward-and-recognition-turning-

employee-engagement-into-innovation.html

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4. Too few growth and advancement opportunities 5. Feeling devalued and unrecognized 6. Stress from overwork and work-life imbalance. 7. Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders Just notice that none of these reasons have anything to do with salary.68 69 So following these principles, games in the workplace may be a catalyst for business success. Some of the most relevant techniques to gamify the workplace include: 1. Clear Benchmarks — Score the most points, beat previous time, raise production, lower losses. Games in the workplace keep the whole organization focused on measurement against yesterday’s, last week’s or last month’s goal. 2. Clear Scorekeeping — There must be no doubt on how to keep the score. Gameplay is objective, self-administered, peer-audited, and

coach-promoted.

Everyone

understands

the

company

benchmarks and what constitutes win or loss. 3. Frequent Feedback — Scores are public, visible, always known, and displayed in real-time. Allow for improvement during the game

68

http://501cweb.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/why-people-leave-jobs/

692005,

Leigh Branham, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

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and mid-course correction during play rather than feedback at end when it is too late. 4. Choice — Players are empowered to leverage personal strengths. Rather than being managed in how to do something, rules include an effective end goal message which supports autonomy and personal satisfaction for employees. 5. Consistent Rules — Rules don’t change during play. Coaches (management) and players (employees) agreement on rules results in high levels of cooperation and teamwork. The ultimate goal of the games is to empower workers and motivate them to solve job-related problems. When everyone understands how important their job is and knows the cost of failure and the value of success, a company has a foundation on which it can overcome obstacles, succeed, and grow. Humans want to do better, out-perform, and participate in winning. The workplace reward may be tangible or intangible; however the key is in setting clear goals and measurements.70 A clear summary could be the one of Ray Wang, who states that “Gamification represents another consumer tech innovation entering the

70

http://www.workplacerewards.com/safety/5-principles-of-gamification-games-in-the-

workplace/

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enterprise.

Game-like

Gamification

mechanisms

can

improve

engagement

and

participation in the enterprise for all stakeholders.� So any company that is considering gamification should focus on five key elements of engagement, as follows:

1. Intrigue: Content and story line often represent the consumer tech side. The enterprise needs to develop relevant content to keep users engage. Content could include help topics, related information, user generated comments, etc. 2. Reward: Both non-monetary and monetary incentives can be deployed. Rewards should match level of difficulty so users gain a sense of accomplishment. Non-monetary rewards could include exclusive information, access, or recognition.

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3. Status: Leaderboards codify status in gamification. Leader boards reward status and provide a recognition mechanism as well as a way to tier users. A robust analytics platform must align with the objectives of gamification and support reward systems. 4. Community: Social is a key part of gamification. Users want to connect, share, and reach out to other “players”. Expect integration back to mobile and social platforms. 5. Challenge: Users must earn a sense of accomplishment to remain engaged. Gamification in the enterprise should tie back to the achievement of levels with increasing difficulty. Challenges will tie back to reward and intrigue over time.71

4.4

Ludoffice

During a trip in Amsterdam, I met a fellow traveler from the US and we started talking about our common passion for videogames. From there, we ended up talking of gamification, brainstorming “crazy” ideas about it. Today, I can state that a perfect representative of my thesis’s subject is undoubtedly “Ludoffice”. The mission of this start-up is to introduce game mechanics in the workplace.

71

http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/31568/trends-5-engagement-factors-for-

gamification-and-the-enterprise/

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Ludoffice is a SaaS (software as a service) application, available via web browser or via smartphone. Companies that use Ludoffice subscribe to it as a service, and don’t need to purchase any hardware or maintain any database or servers. In order to better understand what’s behind this young company, I personally reached out to the founder Joe De Martini in San Francisco (via Skype), who was kind to give me an interview.

4.4.1

Interview

Hello Joe, the first time we talked about Ludoffice we were in Amsterdam and it was just an idea, almost a joke! But today it seems a serious project. So to start off, please could you explain us what Ludoffice is about and what is your role in the company? Ludoffice is a website that puts a gaming layer on traditional office processes. As an employee, you gain points and status when you achieve good performance, if you submit good ideas, if you arrive on-time, etc… all these examples are “normal” office activities, but historically employers do not recognize them positively, or give you rewards for them. Besides simple points, we will soon apply more sophisticated game mechanics. With Ludoffice, employee reward and recognition becomes a very important part of the whole employment experience. At the moment Ludoffice is a startup company, in the very early “prototype” stage. I am one of two co-founders, and I deal with the product design and business logic. My co-founder is the technology specialist and the main contributor from a software development perspective. Nonetheless, our roles blend very often, since we have 106


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similar backgrounds and we always make all decisions (both functional and technical) together. Right now we have a functioning website that contains very basic features, enough to be used. This is what is called an MVP (minimum viable product). We are offering the product to organizations that are willing to test it and give feedback on existing features and ideas for future development. At the same time, we are just starting our communication/marketing efforts. We plan to evangelize our approach, which we believe will change how people work, and how companies engage with employees.

Before talking about your idea, could you please briefly summarize your education background? Both my co-founder and I are computer science engineers. The idea behind Ludoffice came later on in our professional careers as consultants in the human capital management sector. We have about 4-6 years of experience working with companies in optimizing their human resources processes.

What was your motivation to start up a company? Did it just pop up in your head? Why do you enjoy working on this project? This idea (not really a “company” yet…) started as a side-project. For quite some time, my co-founder and I we were thinking of doing something “for fun”, beside our everyday work. After working with many companies on a regular basis, we started realizing that, sooner or later, the workplace will be different. The current management class still does

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not fully understand the needs of younger hires, who spend more and more time playing online games and who expect the same type of approach in the workplace. When this mentality changes, we will be ready to deliver! We enjoy working on this project because it’s pure fun, and nobody tells us what to do: we decide everything.

Besides you, who else is involved? As I already mentioned, I have a co-founder. We are trying to involve at least a third person, to take care of the online communication/marketing efforts. Neither of us is a specialist in this area, and we want to spread the word more quickly and effectively.

How many employees work for your company and where are the Headquarters located? We are currently two, and we don’t have a physical office yet. For the moment, we work from our own homes, but we will try to find a space to work together when we expand to three or more collaborators.

That is pretty interesting… Could you please discuss the pros and cons of working from home, without a real office? We are used to work from home. In the consulting business, it is quite common to work from home, in between customer visits. There is a lot of discussion going on regarding 108


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working from home, and people in general think that it’s great to be totally independent and flexible, free to start/end your day when you want, etc. In reality you need to be very disciplined, otherwise you won’t be productive at all. In my experience, the greatest advantage of working at home is that you minimize (to zero!) the travel time to the office. In this way, you work effectively for at least 1-2 hours more per day, compared with an average worker. The greatest disadvantage is the lack of social interactions. I don’t go out for lunch with colleagues very often, I don’t have coffee breaks, and I don’t spend any time chatting/laughing with colleagues, which is a very important component of every job. Discipline will partially overcome these disadvantages: for example, by forcing yourself to stop working at 5pm, and going to the gym or to play a soccer game with your friends.

On to your product: how long did it take to go from the thought in your head to the final product? My co-founder and I are using agile methodologies. You can find extensive documentation on these techniques on the internet, and you will see how effective they can be in cases like ours. In an agile way, you are supposed to create a prototype in a few weeks. For Ludoffice, it took us about 2-3 weeks to have a working web application. Then we spent another 3 full weeks to refine some pages and add some graphical design, which is at least as important as the business logic: nobody will want to even test a product if it’s not at least minimally pleasant to the eye. The product is far from being “final”. In fact it will never be “final”, because we hope to have plenty of users and to add features for years to come!

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Do you use any social network to advertise your product? We have plans to use Facebook and Twitter, along with a blog, but as I said, we are in the very early stage of our marketing efforts, and we haven’t essentially started using them yet. Nonetheless, we don’t believe in social network as an advertising-only medium. We think that they are more useful and effective to evangelize our concept/technology, and to fuel a productive collaboration with industry experts, more than just attracting customers.

How many companies already use your product and how do you think to expand your business? We currently have 2 companies using Ludoffice in their daily business. One is a call center with about 400 employees and the other is a small financial services office with about 60 employees. We are working with these companies mainly to test the current product and receive valuable feedback. We plan to expand our users base in the call center sector (where we think that this concept applies very well), and possibly in the retail industry (i.e. supermarkets, clothing stores, etc.). Call centers and supermarkets are a typical example of environment where many employees are young (they expect to “play at work”) and their work/performance can be easily measured and rewarded.

Do you think it will be possible to sell your product outside the US? If yes, will you modify it to make it more adapted to other cultures? 110


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The concept is universal, because Ludoffice is not a game, but a gaming platform. We don’t impose the rules of the game; the company defines its own rules, so for example, if in Europe the law doesn’t allow companies to give an extra day of vacation in exchange for 1000 points, the company can just invent and implement other “rules of the game”. The biggest challenge for us, when expanding to non-US markets, will be language localization: translating the current web pages to many other languages. Right now ludoffice.com is only available in English.

How do you get feedback from your customers and what is their opinion regarding on your product? We use standard tools to collect feedback from our current customers. The main tool is a “community” widget, in the form of a very visible button on the side of every single page of the web application. Users from all our customers are together in the same virtual space (the community), and they can very easily create a topic, submitting a question, or a problem, or an idea. So far, we have great feedback; users love the app, and they say that it changed their work life quite significantly. They also have plenty of great ideas that we hope to implement in the application in the near future.

Are you working on any new products for the future? What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years?

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We made the strong decision of providing ludoffice.com both in the desktop browser and as a smartphone. We believe that the development of the smartphone app will have a bigger weight/priority in the future. We see the clear technological trend that people will spend more and more time on their phone, and less time on the desktop. We are not thinking of other products, but we are also aware that when you are – like us – early on the development of an idea, the idea will very likely change over time. I don’t think that we will change direction at 180 degrees. The next 5 years are the baby-years of gaming. The last decade was the decade of social networking, the current decade is the decade of gaming. We believe we are the precursors of a whole new phenomenon and we see our product evolve to become one of the most well-regarded enterprise tools for the new generation of workers. In terms of company development, if we have the right growth, we will increase the number of collaborators, and spend more efforts on geographical expansion.

If someone was looking to start their own company, what important advice would you give to them? I would tell them to start work on their project as soon as they can. Every day that you wait till “the conditions are right”, or till you “learn more before you start”, is a wasted day. In starting a company, you will make mistakes. Better making them earlier and learn from them, than making them late and being too late to learn from them.

Is it hard in the US to complete all the bureaucratic steps to create a company? Did you get any assistance from the government? 112


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Bureaucracy is very minimal, but also government assistance is very minimal. Financial help typically comes from private investors. They also take care of the administrative part (registering the company, hiring lawyers, paying taxes, etc.).

As to the gamification trend in general, what is your opinion about it? I think it’s a very important topic because it has an immense impact on newer generations. People who are 40-50 years old and older, tend to believe that games, and especially videogames, are a waste of time. On the other hand, I believe that games are a fundamental part of nowadays’ life, like it or not. And it’s better to like it, since progress is unstoppable and if we don’t want to stop all activities in the world, we need to gamify them to make them attractive, or at least interesting, to the billions of people that are “active”. Retired people can just enjoy their life without social games or video games, but I can guarantee that they will still play some type of games in their country house… bocce or poker, you name it! Joe, I feel the need to thank you very much for your kindness and availability for this interview. Before greetings, lastly, if you were to close this interview using a slogan, which would you choose? I would use a sentence that I think employees will say to their colleagues when they arrive at work in the morning: “Get ready! The game is on!” Thank you so much, and good luck with your project! Thanks to you. And thanks for your wishes! 113


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5

Conclusions

Conclusions

At the end of this paper, it is interesting to spend a few words on the predictions of the next few years in the arena of gaming and gamification. The videogame industry will remain one of the above-average growth segments of the global entertainment business. The Global Industry Analysts (GIA) projected that the global market for gaming software will be about $91 billion by 2015. The gaming industry seems to be one of few business sectors that doesn’t suffer any recession’s crisis repercussions; in particular, North America and Europe comprise most of the money spent on gaming in 2009, primarily with adoption of consoles such as PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. MMOGs continue to catch on in East Asia and Japan, while mobile phones and devices like the iPhone are making a huge impact in developing markets.72 One of the questions with many answers and interpretations is: why do people continue to invest in games, dissociating themselves by the enormous economic crisis that involved the whole world in the last twothree years?

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by-2015/

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What’s important to consider is also that the gaming market is starting to include enterprise investments, and these funds are going to pay for game creators and designers, marketing, service costs, etc. and it is generating a wave of new jobs. And since investments have good feedback and revenues, the gaming market will soar, and eventually make more and more people happy. Certain aspects, for example the gamification of workplace, are still a reality very strong-rooted just in United States, although lately some European companies have started to adopt them. As vastly described in this paper, gamification can be already considered one of best methods to expand a business. Concluding, I am very fascinated by the gamification phenomenon that we are witnessing, and I would like, in the near future, to begin my work experience in this field, and apply the results of the research that is behind this paper.

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6 6.1

References

References Books

Aumann R.J., Game theory, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, 2, 1987, p. 460 Branham Leigh, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late, 2005 Caillois R., I giochi e gli uomini, Bompiani, 1981 Fairbairn John, History of Go in Korea, 2007 Huizinga J., Homo ludens; a study of the play-element in culture. Boston: Beacon Press; 1955 Kent Steven L., The First Quarter: A 25-year history of video games. BWD Press., 2000 Kent Steven L., The Ultimate History of Video Games, San Val Inc., 2001 Koster Ralph, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Paraglyph Press, 2004 Radoff J., Game on: Energize your business with social media games, Wiley Publishing Inc., 2011 Wolf M. J. P., The video game explosion, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008 pag. 73-177

6.2

Articles

Wagner, Roy (May 1988). "Puzzling Encounters". Computer Gaming World: pp. 42–43 LePine J. A., Team adaptation and postchange performance: Effects of team composition in terms of member’s cognitive abilities, Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 67-84 Elena Esposito, “Aesthetik und Spiel”, 2007

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References

Huling Ray, "Gamification: Turning Work Into Play". H Plus Magazine, (March 25, 2010) Parkin Simon, "Catching up with Jonathan Blow". Gamasutra, p. 3. Retrieved 9 December 2010

6.3

Videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ2VSnD2wzQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDwNl1WTflI http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/david_perry_on_videogames.html http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html http://blog.ted.com/2010/08/20/building-the-game-layer-on-top-of-the-world-sethpriebatsch-on-ted-com/

6.4

Websites

http://www.gamesmuseum.uwaterloo.ca/About%20Games/origins.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Game_of_Ur http://www.pokerjunkie.com/history-of-card-games http://www.mcvuk.com/press-releases/46114/3rd-Annual-ELAN-Awards http://www.mmogchart.com/analysis-and-conclusions/ http://gamification.org/wiki/Encyclopedia http://www.cemea.asso.fr/ficemea/IMG/Il_gioco_al_tempo_della _globalizzazione.doc http://www.buzzle.com/articles/reasons-people-play-games.html

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References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game#Ludwig_Wittgenstein http://www.media.unisi.it/ingioco/archivio/ben1.htm http://www.uniurb.it/Filosofia/isonomia/Zavatta.pdf http://www.wyrdology.com/mind/creativity/variety.html http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/reqvar.html http://www.doceo.co.uk/background/requisite_variety.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_mechanics http://www.scvngr.com/about http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/25/scvngr-game-mechanics/ http://www.gauravonomics.com/blog/game-thinking-is-a-bigger-idea-than-gamemechanics/ http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/9136/the_origins_and_history_of_ video_games.html http://www.thegameconsole.com/videogames01.htm http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment_300/317b_top_10_list.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sims_(series) http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment_300/317c_top_10_list.html http://news.ea.com/news/ea/20091021005343/en http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/863/863028p1.html http://uk.retro.ign.com/articles/896/896893p1.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_Evolution_Soccer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty_(series) http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/

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References

http://venturebeat.com/2011/02/10/seven-reasons-why-video-games-will-grow-in-2011/ http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1742 http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/gaming.gadgets/01/31/video.games.smarter. steinberg/ http://www.tamiu.edu/~CFERGUSON/shooters.pdf http://www.sify.com/news/violent-video-games-make-you-smarter-news-internationalkexk4chbaaj.html http://gamification.org/wiki/Gamification http://adachen.com/2010/10/04/what-is-gamification-and-real-world-examples-of-it/ http://www.thetechscoop.net/2011/04/01/gamification-and-the-threat-to-the-art-ofgaming/#axzz1IJbF6QKp http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/mobile-apps/starbucks-card-mobile http://www.thetechscoop.net/2011/04/01/gamification-and-the-threat-to-the-art-ofgaming/#axzz1IJbF6QKp http://www.ideaeconomy.net/ideas/gamification-business-kurasushi-japan/ http://thewayoftheweb.net/2010/09/the-gamification-generation/ http://blog.brightidea.com/innovation_work/2011/02/reward-and-recognition-turningemployee-engagement-into-innovation.html http://501cweb.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/why-people-leave-jobs/ http://www.workplacerewards.com/safety/5-principles-of-gamification-games-in-theworkplace/ http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/31568/trends-5-engagement-factors-forgamification-and-the-enterprise/ http://www.edery.org/2011/01/why-does-gamification-tend-to-devolve/ http://www.gamification.it/gamification/perche-la-gamification-non-e-una-semplicepointsfication/ 119


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References

http://radoff.com/blog/2011/02/16/gamification/ http://www.industrygamers.com/news/gaming-market-estimated-to-reach-9196-billionby-2015/ http://www.ludoffice.com/

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