Posts Tagged ‘Gameful Game’

Blood typing was an important discovery in medical history. Karl Landsteiner discovered the major blood type groups while doing research into transfusions, without which many of the surgeries we take for granted these days would not be possible. He also won a Nobel Prize for his discoveries, which is why this game exists, but more on that later. I learned about blood types back in 10th grade biology and then again in Anatomy and Physiology in college, but lets face it, I don’t remember most of it because I barely applied it, if at all. That all changes now. Nobelprize.org brings us The Blood Typing Game, a hands on learning experience where the player is taking on the role of an emergency room doctor doing blood typing tests and transfusions.

The purpose of The Blood Typing Game is to teach younger people about the important of blood typing and is one of many new games on the Nobel Prize website. It also just happens to be a very nicely made serious game. The best part is that you can either read the 3 pages of information before the game starts which teach all about blood typing and the importance of getting it right for transfusions, or you can just jump right in and learn by doing. I chose the latter, just to see if it could be done. It walks you through the process quite nicely, and the messages telling you what to do stay there, but are easily ignored once you don’t need them any more.

One of the things I really liked is that while the game is hands on and scientifically accurate, its not overly bloody. I’m actually really squeamish about blood and I could play this with absolutely no problems. That alone gives them high marks in my book. I suspect that that may be a large part of why the graphics are the way the are. Everything is just slightly cartoony, not quite real. Just enough off from reality that anyone can play without getting grossed out or triggering phobias.

You can also see deeper into what’s going on at any time, which really helps with understanding the material being presented. The feedback presented is really good, and actually startled me a few times. After your patient screams once because you screwed up doing a transfusion, you never want to make a mistake ever again.

My one issue with The Blood Typing Game is that there are only 6 missions. The end of the last mission strongly implies that you can get new patients, but I followed their instructions and got the same batch I had already solved. This does seriously reduce the replayability of the game, which hinders learning to a degree. But overall, its a very well made game and it succeeds at its educational goals. I award The Blood Typing Game a 4.5 out of 5 hearts. Well done!

4.5 out of 5 zelda hearts

If you’re interested in playing The Blood Typing Game, you can find it here.

The Gameful movement is taking the indie game design world by storm, but what does it mean? What is a “serious” game and how do those two words together even make any sense? That is what I will be talking about today. The raw basic idea of what a serious game is can best be defined as any game that has a purpose beyond entertainment. These can come in several different varieties from the traditional educational game to the advertisement or training simulation or even a socio-political game. Gameful is a specific movement where game mechanics can be added to anything to help make the real world a better place, in particular, adding points and achievements to doing good things. Without further ado, on to the definitions!

The Types

Adver-Games
Adver-Games are any kind of game that is trying to get the player to buy some product outside of the game. They generally speaking use the product or the product’s mascot in some situation where they make it seem fun or exciting. Its like an advertisement only better because the player is invested in the game far more than they would be in a simple commercial. Adver-games don’t tend to be Gameful, given that they’re just a more audience inclusive version of your standard commercial.

Edu-Tainment

The edu-tainment category is a vast array of kinds of games, but for the sake of today, I’m going to define it down to any game that seeks to impart information of an academic or practical nature. This means that there are two types of games coming in under the Edu-Tainment umbrella.

The so-called Educational Game is the traditional type of game that most people think of when they hear Educational Game. They impart knowledge and information, typically geared to children, and include happy games, usually of the arcade style. Reader Rabbit and the Magic School Bus games are really good examples of this. Educational Games are quite Gameful.

The other type is Training Simulations. These teach a person how to perform a job or how to handle a situation. Many companies use these to train their employees, up to and including the military and police departments. They are particularly useful for teaching people how to handle volatile situations without putting them in danger, such as a police simulator that teaches officers how to handle various situations with possibly armed suspects. These can also be quite Gameful.

Persuasive Games

Persuasive Games fall into the dubious category of socio-political games. These are any kind of game that is trying to draw you over to the developer’s point of view. Darfur is Dying, Super SOPA Bros and ICED are good examples of the genre. These games can be made through a serious delivery of facts, or through comedy, or any other direction the developer wants to attempt. A lot of the really volatile ones about situations that the developer considers to be horrible will tend to be done through shock factor. These, of course, are very Gameful. I’ve seen some very good games that reward the user for doing good things, for talking to strangers, for cleaning up their homes and for almost anything else.

So now that we’ve defined the types, what makes a serious game good at what its trying to do. Well, the first rule (and the one most often overlooked) is that the target audience has to want to play it. It turns out that doing math problems on a computer doesn’t make doing math any more fun if you don’t like math. But if you make it an action platformer where you have to catch the proper answers, or a puzzle game where you have to slide tiles around to solve problems, it becomes much more fun. The second rule is that it has to impart whatever it is trying to impart, be it information or an opinion or even just a commercial. Adver-games are the simplest to succeed at but have the downside of most people can identify that they are an advertisement. Educational games are also reasonably easy, for a young audience. Training simulations have to be painstakingly accurate in order to be effective. Persuasive games are their whole own can of worms. Sure, you have an opinion. Everyone does. But can you convey it well? Can you make it sound reasonable? Can you avoid sounding like you’re crazy? Theses are all important concerns which have been failed countless times in the history of persuasive games.

For more information on serious games and the Gameful movement, you can go check out the Serious Games Initiative and Gameful.org.

Freerice

Posted: December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Freerice is an example of a really great serious game. For those of you who are new readers or new to my game designer lingo, a serious game is a game where the objective is more than just entertainment. In a lot of cases, serious games are used for educational purposes or to help make the world a better place. In the case of Freerice, it does both. The player gets to learn about lots of different topics and the better they are doing, the more rice gets donated to third world countries that need the food. What could be better?

Well, how about it being really really simple to play. So, you want to expand your vocabulary? Start with level 1 and get some nice easy questions, sending rice to people who really need it. Then you start hitting words you don’t know and you learn. Each subject has a different number of levels.

Any time you’re playing and you get something wrong, it tells you what the correct answer was and then just keeps going on. After a couple more questions, it will go back to the ones you got wrong and keep cycling like that until you get the correct answers.

It takes about 10 minutes to donate 1000 grains of rice. Sure, that’s not much, only about 3/4 of a cup. But that could be a child’s dinner. And if you, me and everyone else just logs on for half an hour a day, we could feed the world. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Sure the game has no flares, but that’s alright. Its worth it to play. I strongly suggest you check it out. Freerice gets 5 out of 5 hearts. They do what they do wonderfully.

If you want to play Freerice, it you can find it at freerice.com. Freerice is maintained by World Food Programme.