Project Morpheus: blue pill or red pill?

 

Sony has just published its latest press release regarding “Project Morpheus” and it has set ‘the Internet’ on fire. The virtual reality battle is starting to heat up, with supporters defending both Oculus Rift (PC) and Project Morpheus (Playstation 4). Who will be the winner will be interesting of course, but what has our curiosity here at BrandNewGame is how the rise of Virtual Reality projects will affect Serious Gaming for commercial businesses. To be continued..

 

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PERSBERICHT

Tokyo, March 4, 2015

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT UNVEILS THE NEW PROTOTYPE OF “PROJECT MORPHEUS” – A VIRTUAL REALITY SYSTEM THAT EXPANDS THE WORLD OF PLAYSTATION®4 (PS4™)

New Prototype Enables Developers To Immerse Players in Amazing Virtual Worlds
Project Morpheus To Launch In The First Half of 2016

At the 2015 Game Developers Conference held in San Francisco, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) unveiled the new prototype of “Project Morpheus” (Morpheus) – a virtual reality (VR) system that takes the PlayStation®4 (PS4™) system to the next level of immersion and demonstrates the future of gaming.

Morpheus enables players to experience a sense of presence, where they feel as though they are physically inside the virtual world of a game. This unique VR experience was met with huge interest and industry enthusiasm since the unveil of Morpheus in March 2014. Over the past year SCE has been listening to feedback from both developers and consumers, and has made several enhancements that will further the capability of Morpheus to deliver a sense of presence and push the boundaries of play.

OLED display
In exchange for the 5-inch LCD, the new Morpheus VR headset is equipped with a 5.7-inch 1920 x RGB x 1080 resolution OLED display. This new screen expands the field of view and enables low persistence, removes motion blur and flicker, both of which build immersion and help deliver the sense of presence for the player.

120fps output
By adopting OLED, Morpheus now supports 120fps output, and is able to render 120 images per second. Furthermore, via a system software update, all PS4 systems will handle native 120fps output when connected to Morpheus. By combining the OLED display’s high refresh rate and the power of the PS4 system, Morpheus produces amazingly smooth visuals and achieves the next level of immersion.

More accurate tracking and reduced latency
To make positional tracking more accurate with PlayStation®Camera, the new prototype has added three more LEDs to the headset for a total of nine. Morpheus continues to support 360 degree tracking, and additional LEDs improve robustness and stability. Additionally, the overall system has been optimized to reduce latency between the physical movement of a player’s head and rendering on the headset’s screen.

User-friendly design
While inheriting the original visor style headset design that reduces the pressure on the players’ face, the new Morpheus prototype features a single band and a quick release button, which makes it easier for players to put it on and take it off. Other components have also been adjusted and configured to make the headset lighter, so that players do not find the headset cumbersome or uncomfortable to use.
Developers will be able to use the new prototype to create Morpheus content for PS4, a robust and well-defined platform that has sold over 20.2 million units*1 within 16 months of its launch. In addition to the enhancements, the new prototype will continue to support 3D audio and social screen, a feature that outputs the same gameplay that’s within the Morpheus headset to a TV so additional players can interact. Furthermore, SCE will provide an SDK that converts 60fps images to output in 120fps, which will allow developers to bring their content that was being developed on the prior prototype to the new Morpheus prototype.

SCE will continue the development of Morpheus in order to launch as a consumer product in the first half of 2016.

“With the technical specs achieved on the new prototype, we are one step closer to realizing our vision for making amazing VR experiences on PS4, and ultimately to deliver a real sense of presence to players,” said Shuhei Yoshida, President of SCE Worldwide Studios. “We believe that the near-final technology of Morpheus combined with the power of PS4 will provide a standard for game developers to target as they build on their creative ideas and turn them into VR games and experiences.”

Agile Game Design

I spoke on a congress recently about Agile and Gamification. My good friend (and business relation) Ahmet Akdag from ACM Software invited me to speak during the congress of a big Turkish telephone company ánd the ‘Agile Turkey Summit 2014’ and I had a blast! Over 400 people attended in the Dedeman Hotel, where we also do the Gamification Workshops.

Of course we (as BrandNewGame) use agility in game design and game development, but I never really realized how much we actually need it during our development proces. A game is such a complex system, which makes it suitable for an agile approach and using scrum during meetings, but the interaction with the player makes it even harder to develop something sticky, fun and successful (effective). The average lead-time of our productions take about 3 to 6 months and we iterate the hell out of each phase / milestone. Just to give you an idea how a typical applied game design project goes, these are the milestones we define:

1. Idea creation phase

2. Concept visualisation phase

3. Prototype phase

4. Development phase (alpha & beta code)

5. Launch & Support

Each phase has several sprints (depending on the size of the project) and we do not continue to the next phase unless our client (the ‘product owner’) and his ‘Game Changers’ – as we call them – are satisfied. Our clients participate actively in each phase and ‘co-create’ the product we develop. This is not only the best solution for the quality of the product, but it also helps us to ‘sell-in’ the idea. During development process, more and more employees get involved in the development process, especially for testing the prototype, alpha code, beta code and finally during launch to promote the game.

The funny thing is that the development proces of games look a lot like the actual gameloop that most games have. Most games require the player to undertake 3 to 5 sequential actions that they need to do over and over again, take FarmVille for instance: buy seeds, plant seed, wait, harvest plants for money… buy seeds, plant seeds, wait, harvest plants for money… buy seeds, plant seeds, wait, harvest plants for money…  and of course: level up! Running a business is an equal process, but I will not go into detail about that – I will try to stay on-topic about gamification of agility…

Now how can you ‘gamify’ agile methods? Well… we have our own methods and products – which I cannot disclose yet, but simple tools to start making meetings more fun is to add some rules to your meetings, ad time (use a sand timer) and to always have an objective for each meeting.

Our rules for meetings are:

1. Set an objective for each meeting

2. Set the rules: come prepared, show active involvement during the meeting, leave the meeting with actions you defined

3. Time the meeting, the time you wish to spend on topics (each participant gets 5 minutes), and how long people can discuss a topic (ten minutes in total) – if you only have 5 minutes to get your point across in a meeting, you will prepare a meeting really well!

4. End each meeting with a recap of all proposed actions and give positive feedback to the individual and team effort.

You can find the presentation I held in Istanbul above (you found it already of course) – and if you want to know more about Gamification in Turkey, read the article below or check out www.4pio.com

Gamification of education in USA

From our friends over at the ESA.

ESA FOUNDATION AWARDS THREE SCHOOLS WITH EDUCATION CHALLENGE GRANT
Grant Enables Teachers to Deploy Educational Technology in the Classroom

September 23, 2014 – WASHINGTON, DC – The Entertainment Software Association Foundation (ESAF) today announced the winners of its 2014 Education Challenge Grant. With ESAF’s support, Bronx Compass High School in Bronx, NY; Dunlap Community Schools in Dunlap, IL; and Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson, WI, will leverage video game technology to create engaging learning experiences for their students.

“Educators increasingly use video games to create new and exciting ways for their students to learn and to foster their development of valuable 21st century skills,” said Jenny Lai, vice president of ESAF. “We are proud to support these schools and look forward to seeing the results of their innovative programs.”

This year’s Education Challenge Grant winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges, who chose schools based on the creativity of their proposals to integrate video games and technology into their curricula.

Now in its third year, ESAF’s Education Challenge Grant is the result of a partnership between the Federation of American Scientists, the Association for Middle Level Education, and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The grant is part of ESAF’s efforts to help promote video games and game technology as educational tools.

2014 ESA Foundation Education Challenge Grant Recipients

  • Bronx Compass High School
    Location: Bronx, NY
    Project Title: Serious Video Games Development
    Students in grades 9-11 will work with mentors to design and produce computer games that address real world issues. By integrating humanities and technology curricula, the program will challenge students to communicate and empathize with the daily challenges faced by inner city youth.
  • Dunlap Community Schools
    Location: Dunlap, IL
    Project Title: Simulating STEM with SimCity
    Students in grades 7-8 at Dunlap Middle School and Dunlap Valley Middle School will use SimCity to understand the core elements of science, technology, engineering, and math topics by conceiving, designing, building, destroying, and eventually rebuilding a virtualcity. Students will work in small groups to identify problems that arise during the design process and develop solutions, leading to a successfully operating city. The game will be fully integrated into the class, and students will be evaluated based on the number of achievements earned throughout the game.
  • Jefferson Middle School
    Location: Jefferson, WI
    Project Title: Minecraft Government and Economics
    Eighth-grade students will use Minecraft to construct their own civilization while developing a greater understanding of American government and economics. Throughout the course, students will blog about their settlements and attempt to persuade their fellow classmates to adopt certain economic ideas.

About ESA Foundation
Created by the American entertainment software industry, the ESA Foundation (ESAF) works to make a positive difference in the lives of America’s youth by providing scholarships to the next generation of industry innovators and supporting charitable organizations and schools that leverage entertainment software and technology to create educational opportunities. ESAF is primarily supported by proceeds from its signature annual fundraiser, “Nite to Unite – for Kids” and other charitable initiatives. For more information about ESAF, please visit www.esafoundation.org or follow us on Twitter: @ESA_ Foundation.

PlayStation 4 Line Up 2.0

PLAYSTATION GAMESCOM CONFERENCE 2014 – IN SUMMARY         

As part of PlayStation’s continued commitment to The Players, this year’s conference burst out of the blocks, before Jim Ryan took to the stage, with updates on big titles from SCE WWS all available over the next six months: 

  • inFamous™: First Light – the upcoming standalone expansion to inFamous™: Second Son
  • Ready at Dawn’s cinematic masterpiece – The Order: 1886™
  • LittleBigPlanet™3 – which showed off the exciting Create potential for SackBoy™ and his new friends
  • And a dynamic first gameplay reveal for the highly anticipated new franchise from industry legend Hidetaka Miyazaki and his studio FROM Software, Bloodborne™.

PlayStation went on to showcase the innovation and imagination of developers across the globe, highlighting their willingness to leverage the potential of PS4 to push the envelope and provide truly breakthrough experiences. A range of unique, compelling and quirky experiences were on show to demonstrated the level of choice coming to the diverse PS4 community

  • Dylan Cuthbert of the acclaimed Q-Games took to the stage to kick off this deluge of exciting titles by offering a first glimpse at their fantastical new game The Tomorrow Children
    • The game is a beautifully depicted reimagining of a future world created by the after-effects of a 1960’s Soviet experiment gone wrong
    • Players must explore, mine, craft and battle in cooperation with each other in a bid to reinstate the human race and restore it to its former glory
  • It was announced that indie favourite The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was headed to PS4
    • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a story-driven mystery game that focuses entirely on exploration and discovery
    • The game is played through first-person perspective to offer immersive storytelling – an escapist experience of discovering the secrets within another world
  • Mike Bithell, independent game developer and creator of the critically lauded Thomas Was Alone then introduced a new video for his latest work, Volume, coming to PS4 later this year
    • Volume is a stealth game about being heard and is a near future retelling of the Robin Hood legend starring Danny Wallace and Charlie McDonnel
  • Two new titles were announced as coming first to PS4 from Paradox – Hollow Point and Rune Master
  • Dean Hall, from Bohemia Interactive announced that Zombie-survival sensation Day-Z was coming to PS4
  • Hell Blade, by Ninja Theory was announced to be coming first to PS4
  • A new trailer for Tequila Works’ RIME was also shown, once again enthralling audiences with its beautiful art style and mysterious setting
  • An additional eight indie titles were also announced to be coming first to PS4

SCEE showcased the diverse range of partnerships across the entire gaming spectrum as well as the plethora of awe-inspiring PS4 games being produced as a result

  • Eric Hirschberg, CEO of Activision Publishing and Jonty Barnes of legendary game creators Bungie showcased the latest trailer for Destiny, featuring multiplayer action on an epic scale
  • An exciting partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive will offer PS4 players exclusive content for the upcoming action adventure title Shadows of Mordor, launching later this year
  • Alex Hutchinson, creative director at Ubisoft, demonstrated the vast opportunities available to players using the Keys to Kyrat mechanic, making its debut in Far Cry 4
  • Hideo Kojima, Head of Kojima Productions, came on stage to unveil an unusual and light hearted view of his next blockbuster game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • A playable teaser for PT is also now available to download exclusively from the PS Store 

Just as critical to the PlayStation experience is the technology that underpins it. With social connectivity at the heart of PS4, SCEE announced the evolution of its system software promising groundbreaking new ways to interact with this global gaming community

  • System Software Update 2.0 – launching in Autumn – improves on the best-in-class innovation gamers have come to expect from PlayStation with many new features designed to take the central experience of sharing and interaction to a whole new level
  • Share Play was announced as a key feature in the update; a truly groundbreaking addition that allows gamers to invite their friends to join them in a shared gameplay experience even if they don’t own the game that’s currently being played
  • Whether it’s asking a friend to take over and help them overcome a particularly tricky section of gameplay or having them join in a game of intense multiplayer, Share Play is a completely new way of sharing these interactive experiences with friends
  • Other feature announcements include:
    • The ability to upload game footage direct to YouTube and even view it through the bespoke PS4 YouTube Player App
    • And more to come

SCEE unveiled plans to expand the PlayStation ecosystem in the European markets over the coming months

  • It was announced that a PlayStation Now beta would be coming to the UK in 2015 – opening the doors to a large library of PS3 games, ensuring the innovative service is the destination for all players
  • SCEE announced that it would be bringing PlayStation TV to European and PAL territories for the low price of just €99, including three digital games, on the 14th November
    • PlayStation TV is an entertainment system that utilises Remote Play functionality allowing players the freedom to play their favourite PS4 games on a separate television
    • PlayStation TV gives players access to a vast lineup of PS Vita, PSP, and PS One classic titles, complementing the outstanding PS4 remote play experience
  • Project Morpheus, [the Virtual Reality project / Oculus Rift device of PlayStation] made available to the public for the first time on the Gamescom showfloor, is part of PlayStation’s pursuit to reach the outer limits of immersive and breathtaking PS4 experiences that have never been seen before. It immerses players in other worlds with a full 360 degree perspective

Senior Vice President of SCE WWS, Michael Denny, unveiled even more 1st Party exclusive games for PS4 

  • Built from the ground up to take full advantage of the PS4, Until Dawn is a truly next generation horror game that allows gamers to craft a bespoke interactive experience based on their actions
  • Paul Rustchynsky of Evolution Studios demonstrated the social heart of DRIVECLUB, a title that is redefining the racing genre
  • It was announced that the mesmerising platform adventure Tearaway will be making the jump to PS4 in a reimagining of the PS Vita hit – Tearaway Unfolded. The game has been rebuilt from the ground up to take advantage of the enhanced power of the PS4 and the unique features of DUALSHOCK®4 Wireless Controller, with new fourth-wall-busting interactions and a bigger, more beautiful world to explore

Michael Denny closed the show by announcing two brand new IPs, developed in Europe, coming exclusively to PS4

  • Alienation, developed by the hugely talented Housemarque, creators of the hit PS4 shoot-em-up RESOGUN
  • WiLD, a survival adventure that offers players unlimited online interactions in a vast Celtic landscape set 10,000 years ago, was announced live at the conference
    • This modern adventure tasks players with handling the primal beauty and harsh destructiveness of the natural world and everything in it, offering emergent gameplay in a living community where every other character or animal could be another player
    • Developed by Wild Sheep, an all-new European studio, WiLD was built using the core philosophies of the PS4: power and sharing

More information about PlayStation® products can be found at www.playstation.com

Games as a Training Tool? Does it Work?

When I mention the topics of applied games, serious gaming and gamification, they are often greeted with scepticism. And for good reason; video games have had a very tumultuous history. 

By Luis Ramos 

Ever since their inception, critics have associated video games with a number of negative  consequences, like aggression, addiction and social isolation. In spite of this, the industry has thrived and grown into a $70.4 billion industry in 2013. This number is expected to top $86.1 billion by 2016 1. It is still the fastest growing entertainment sector, and with the advent of mobile gaming, the number of users exceeds that of any other form of entertainment. This makes video games as much a part of our modern lives as any other medium.

Yet, the mention of video games in a serious capacity is still met with many concerns. They are games after all, aren’t they? How could playing games possibly help us reach any organizational goals? Luckily, we can use the science of psychology to finds some answers.

For this article, I’ve chosen to home in on the topic of employee training. Also met with much resistance within the workplace, employee training is a vital tool for developing employee skills, fostering cooperation and increasing overall organizational adaptability. However employees, as well as managers, tend to react negatively to training, often labeling at as boring, unnecessary and a distraction from their ‘real’ work. This lack of engagement can seriously undermine the motivation of the employees, which in turn impacts the effectiveness of any training program being implemented.

If one were to pair the above mentioned with any possible scepticism on the use of video games as a training tool, they would surely conclude that it would be doomed to fail. However, one of the most important characteristics of any game is their ability to fully engage the player. By demanding the use of multiple senses, and providing a challenge that is just difficult enough to exceed the players skill level, games create a ‘flow’-experience: a temporary state in which a person feels detached from their surroundings and becomes completely engrossed by the task at hand. It is a state associated with performance at every level in many different disciplines.

Another reason video games can be so engaging is their ability to motivate the player. Here are some things video games do really well in order to motivate players to keep playing:

Visual representations of progress

A game will show you how far along you are and how much more you need to go. You are never left to guess if you are making any progress.

Multiple long-, mid- and short-term goals

Games are great at breaking up challenges into smaller goals. This is already apparent in the classical level structure that most games use.

Reward effort

A game often rewards the players for every action he or she undertakes. Whether it’s smashing some bricks with a jump or successfully dropping puzzle piece, the action is rewarded in one way or the other.

Rapid, frequent, consistent and clear feedback

Games tend to provide quick feedback for everything you do, enabling you to rapidly gage the effectiveness of your actions. Feedback ranges from small pinging sounds when you jump or grab an item, to on screen flashes that you are receiving damage and are in danger.

This is just a sampling of what games can do to influence and motivate peoples behavior. This ability to influence and motivate peoples behavior is what makes video games such a powerful training tool. Each of the above aspects can be expanded upon by further researching scientific literature on the relevant subjects, but we’ll leave that for another time.

So, now we have an idea of how it could work. But a more important question remains: Does it actually work?

Industrial and Organizational psychologists Traci Sitzmann and Katherine Ely set out to answer this very same question2. In their 2010 article, they compiled 55 reports that researched the effectiveness of training games, dubbed ‘simulation games’ in their article, and compared the results of these reports through statistical analysis.

What they found is that self-efficacy (the strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals) was 20% higher for trainees receiving instruction via a simulation game than trainees in a comparison group. They also found that, on average, trainees receiving instruction via a simulation game had 11% higher declarative knowledge levels, 14% higher procedural knowledge levels, and 9% higher retention levels than trainees in the comparison group. This means that trainees receiving instruction via a simulation game were found to know more of what was taught, more of how to perform a task or action and remembered it better after an extended period of time. In addition to the above, another important find was that training games worked best when they were part of a training program. This allowed for post-play feedback session that improved results in all learning categories. For a more extensive report on the investigation, be sure to consult the article.

For an example of a successful application of serious gaming, we need look no further than the “Hot Talent” Game; a game we at BrandNewGame developed for one of the leading telecom retailers in the Netherlands. Check out the game here: http://www.brandnewgame.com/bizz/projects/belcompanys-hot-talent/ 

The company approached us with the objective of wanting to improve the understanding and application of the principles of cross- and upselling by their sales personnel. They had already developed a training program for the same purpose, but found they wanted to increase the amount that employees interacted with and applied the knowledge provided through training. The game placed the player in a store environment, where their task was to greet and engage customers in conversation, wherein they tried to discover a customers consumer profile. For instance: are you dealing with a casual consumer who doesn’t have a lot of product knowledge, or is the customer a gadget freak, who wants state of the art and is up to speed on the latest developments. When the customer profile was identified, the player had the task to match the right tone of voice to the profile, increasing the trust the customer had in the player. Doing this correctly resulted in the ability to make a better sale.

The results were impressive. A total of 680 employees played the game for an average of 40 times within the first 8 weeks after the game was deployed. Some employees even played the game 200 times! The game significantly increased the voluntary interactions the employees had with the training material, which in turn resulted in an increase of sales.

Research in the field of psychology keeps providing us with positive evidence for use of serious games for training. By combining the knowledge privy to us from the field of science with that of the field of game design, the possible results are realistic and significant. Furthermore, gaming provides us with a tool to convey knowledge and vision in a playful, dynamic and challenging way. On top of everything else, it can help relieve the stigma of training in the workplace, by changing the way we all look at training. Those who dare to challenge conventions will be able to reap the benefits of gaming as a training tool. Playing games just got a whole lot more interesting!

Parents believe games are good for kids

From our friends at the ESA.

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April 24, 2014 – Washington, DC – A majority of parents say playing video games benefits their children, according to new research released today by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The report, 2014 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, reveals that 56 percent of parents say video games are a positive part of their child’s life.

Other key findings include that 68 percent of families with children under 18 at home believe game play provides mental stimulation or education, and more than 50 percent believe games help them spend time together. Moreover, 58 percent of parents whose children are gamers play games with their kids at least monthly, and among parents who play with their kids, 88 percent believe video games are fun for the entire family.

“Parents across America recognize the widespread benefits of video games, including education, mental stimulation, and the bonding opportunities they create for families,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, the trade association that represents the U.S. video game industry. “Video games are a favorite pastime enjoyed by men and women of all ages, and millions worldwide who share their game play experiences with friends and family.”

The report also found that parents monitor their children’s game play. In fact, 95 percent of parents report paying attention to the content of the games their children play, and 91 percent are present when games are purchased or rented. Additionally, 88 percent of parents whose children play games believe the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) video game ratings are either very or somewhat helpful in choosing games for their children.

“Our industry has an unparalleled commitment to helping parents make informed entertainment choices, and these findings underscore the value of the ESRB rating system,” Gallagher said. (Bart adds:) Personally I strongly advice all parents to play all games their children play and reflect on what they play in an interactive way with their children. Not all games are suitable for all kids – and you should invite them to play a broad variety of games – not just one genre over-and-over again. Especially since kids are very sensitive to patter-recognition (compare why kids love to read the same comic over and over or cartoons over and over) which makes it so addictive to play. It’s good to stimulate to play multiple genres, set rules for when to play (after homework is done and checked) and never more than 1 or 2 hours continuously.

The 2014 Essential Facts also provides statistics on gamer demographics; the types of games played and the kinds of game platforms used; the top-selling video games; and other industry sales information. Notable findings include:

  • 181.3 million Americans play video games;
  • 51 percent of U.S. households own a game console, and those that do own an average of 2;
  • The average game player is 31 years old, and 39 percent of game players – the largest age segment – are 36 or older;
  • Gamers play on-the-go: 44 percent play on smartphones, and 33 percent play on wireless devices;
  • Casual and social game play on mobile devices and online increased in popularity by 55 percent from 2012 to 2013; and
  • Consumers spent more than $21 billion on game content, hardware, and accessories in 2013.

Essential Facts is the most in-depth and targeted survey of its kind. It is conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, gathering data from more than 2,200 nationally representative households (Bart adds: in the USA).

ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers, including conducting business and consumer research; providing legal and policy analysis; advocating on First Amendment, intellectual property, and technology/e-commerce issues; managing a global content protection program; owning and operating E3; and representing video game industry interests in federal and state government relations. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com

Gran Turismo 's sixth Race Challenge with Nissan

By Bart Hufen – Player 1 @BrandNewGame

A great example of building a brand through an in-game tournament is Nissan’s search for driving talent through the game Gran Turismo. They have been organizing this event for six years now. The virtual talents have proven themselves on the real-life circuits in races like Le Mans 24, GP3 (the championship known as the predecessor for the Formula 1) and in some cases the drivers have moved on to Red Bull’s racing driver development team.

In the past six years more than 4 million people entered the GT Academy. They all fought for a chance to become the newest NISMO Athlete. The great results so far (mentioned above) have proven that in-game training for talent is successful, which is why Nissan continues to organize the online tournament. In 2014 new talents will be delivered to drive in competitions in Europe, US, Australia, India, Middle-Esat countries, Mexico and Thailand. After an intense Driver Development Program, only five international driving champions can win the ultimate prize: becoming a real race driver for Nissan in the 24 hours of Dubai next January (2015).

Like I mentioned in my book – Gran Turismo in my opinion is a ‘simulation-game’. It tries to be as accurate in creating a real-life experience. The fact that Nissan uses this game to find racedrivers around the globe proves that games can train people to become anything they want – provided that the game was developed by professionals.

You can enter the GT Academy through the game Gran Turismo 6 for PlayStation 3, but you can also check some real live events through Facebook… More information can be found via these links:

www.facebook.com/GTAcademy and http://gran-turismo.com.

The Gamified Self Part I:

Between the Virtual and the Real: Seeking Evidence of Behavioural Transmission.

By Menno Gottmer – Player 2 @BrandNewGame

In the next couple of blog posts, I will elaborate on the ‘Gamified Self’, an idea devised by me with help of my colleagues at BrandNewGame, that serves as the main inspiration for my master’s thesis, which I hope to finish this year. Week by week, using these blog post, I will further develop my ideas about the Gamified Self, starting in this blog post with the mental steps that brought me to this idea.

The main goal of serious games or what some refer to as applied games is to learn or unlearn certain behaviours, with the goal to be able to apply these behaviours in the ‘real’ world. While the use of serious gaming concepts by various commercial and non-commercial organisations has skyrocketed over the past few years, evidence of an effective transmission between newly trained behaviours in the virtual world of serious games to the real world, has remained largely absent. Initially this could mean two things: either there is a discrepancy between behavioural change in the virtual world and the real world, or people have just not been able to study a possible correspondence between behavioural change in these two spheres. Since it has not yet been scientifically falsified that behavioural changes in a virtual environment might lead to behavioural changes in a ‘real’ environment, this leaves the second option open as the more viable one. But what in fact could be the cause of this epistemological hindrance that restricts people to research a possible transmission between the virtual world and the real world?

First let us focus on behavioural change within virtual environments, such as serious games. The possibility to acquire metrics inside a virtual environment ensures the precise tracking of all kinds of behavioural changes within that virtual environment. A metric is a measure of some property of a piece of software, which of course also includes serious games. Precise quantitative measurements are essential to do scientific research on behavioural change, and because of this, software lends itself excellently for this. Thus, metrics inside a serious game provide objective, reproducible and quantifiable measurements that can be used to precisely track behavioural change.

However, measuring and quantifying behaviour in the real world is not nearly as simple as it is in a virtual word. This in turn makes it particularly more difficult to acquire scientific evidence for the transmission between newly trained behaviours in the virtual world to the real world, evidence that is needed to prove that serious games are a valid and effective method for behavioural change.

First, what we need is an effective way to quantify human behaviour in the real world, and second, we need a way to measure the degree of correspondence between the quantified behaviour in serious games and the quantified behaviour in the real world.

Enter the ‘Gamified Self’; a thought construct that functions as an intermediary between the virtual and the actual, the game and the ‘real’ world. In theory, the Gamified Self is a portal where metrics of someone’s virtual and real behaviours are continually being processed. The ultimate goal of the Gamified Self is to be an on-going objective reflection of a person’s knowledge and skills, a reflection shaped by quantified behaviours exhibited in both serious games and the real world. Using the metrics of both real-world and virtual-world behaviours, The Gamified Self will be able to set relevant challenges for people. So not only will the Gamified Self be reproduce who you are, it will also produce new relevant challenges for you. While the Gamified Self is still only a thought, one day I hope to be able to realise all this.

The ‘Quantified Self’ movement was my main inspiration for this idea, and in next week’s blog post I will elaborate on this movement, and precisely explain how it offers possibilities to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real

Google’s Aprils fools’ joke – genius gamification project

By Menno Gottmer – Player 2 @BrandNewGame

Last Tuesday companies around the world were once more pranking people on a massive scale. While most of these Aprils fools’ jokes were actually dull, cheesy, or even straight down terrible, one was so ingenious that many still wish it wasn’t actually a joke.

One day before April the first, Google released the following video on YouTube with the title “Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge”.

According to the video’s description: “Dozens of wild Pokémon have taken up residence on streets, amidst forests and atop mountains throughout Google Maps. To catch ’em all, grab your Poké Ball and the newest version of Google Maps for iPhone or Android. Then tap the search bar, “press start,” and begin your quest.”

The video, now seen by more than 12 million viewers, features the announcement of a new job role at Google: “Pokémon Master”. In the video, the Vice President of Google Maps, Brian McClendon, explains a challenge where applicants for this job position have to catch 150 wild Pokémon in various real-world locations using the Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge application. The video features various scenes of applicants trying to catch wild Pokémon in all types of terrain, such as deserts, mountains, forests, and the open sea. McClendon states that “the winner will start at Google at September 1st 2014.”

While this video was convincingly shot, and people at Google (in cooperation with Nintendo) obviously put some real effort into it, it was also obviously a joke. However, to everyone’s surprise, on the next day people using the Google Maps application on IOS or Android could actually see the icons of little Pokémon creatures scattered across the entire world.

What it basically came down to is that only for that day, Google integrated a feature in the Android and IOS Google Maps application, which allowed people to ‘catch’ wild Pokémon by clicking on their icon, and pressing on the button that appeared in the bottom right. The cached Pokémon were subsequently transferred to the ‘Pokédex’, a build-in system that kept track all your newly acquired Pokémon, and also showed how many Pokémon you still has to catch.

People around the world were notifying everyone on the Web about this joke-intended game, and within no time many people were putting aside their mandatory work for a way more fun activity: catching Pokémon! This reaction that was posted on the game related news website Kotaku sums up what many felt during that day:These people were taking the task to catch all 150 Pokémon very seriously. As a result, an entire community emerged that day, consisting of many Pokémon collectors who were helping each other in their shared quest to find all the Pokemon’s locations. Most were located at well-known landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China.

As a gamification enthusiast, I am very eager to find out how many users were using Google Maps during that day, and how these numbers compare to ordinary days. From what I’ve read on social media, blogs, and news websites, many people really enjoyed this gamified version of Google Maps. If Google wants to get more people using the Google Maps application on IOS and Android, similar gamified initiatives seem to be a very effective method. However, the duration of such gamified initiatives remains an interesting point of discussion. From what I’ve read, people were sad that the Pokémon initiative was only for one day. On the other hand, if you are trying to navigate to a particular location and there would be multiple Pokémon icons in your way, that would be somewhat annoying. Anyway, I can’t wait for Google’s next Aprils fools’ joke.

Neurensics proves positive effects of gamification on our brain

Thanks to Neurensics the positive effect of gamification on our brain has been scientifically proven.

By Menno Gottmer – Player 2 @BrandNewGame

Neurensics is a neuromarketing research and consulting firm based in Holland, that has direct access to high-end neuroimaging techniques. Using these techniques Neurensics can measure the brain activity of potential customers, and subsequently determine the objective motives of these customers. As a result, Neurensics can provide their clients with unique insights into what customers are actually experiencing in their brains when dealing with certain images, products, advertisements, logos and games.

Neurensic’s research has been especially fruitful for KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines. Early 2012, KLM developed a strategy with the qualitative objective to connect KLM to holiday spirit, and the quantitative objective to acquire people’s email addresses and their preferred holiday destinations. This was a necessary strategy, because KLM was still too often seen as expensive and merely for business, and therefore not top of mind at many holidaymakers. To reach this objective, KLM’s advertising agency developed a thematic campaign with the theme “To what new memory can we bring you?”, for which they created a television commercial.

Besides this campaign, the Crossmedia Division of the Telegraaf Media Group developed an activation campaign. The core of this activation campaign was the “KLM Vakantiespel”, an online revamped version of the well-known Memory card game. Before players could start playing the “KLM Vakantiespel”, they had to upload their portrait photo. The game then processed these photos in various vacation scenario images. As a result, in these images, you as a player could see yourself in a not yet enjoyed holiday in the Middle East, Africa, or any other distant KLM destination. These images were your ‘new memories’, as it were. For each found image match, you received a stamp in your virtual passport with the destination depicted on those matching images. After you finished the game you were asked to choose your preferable holiday destination from all the received stamps. After this, you immediately heard if you won any prices. Every day players could win two tickets to a ‘new memory’. In total, the “KLM Vakantiespel” was played more than 67,000 times, and more than 31,000 players left their email addresses and preferred holiday destinations behind.

Using the neuroimaging techniques of Neurensics, both the thematic campaign and the activation campaign were studied for their effects on the consumer’s brain. The thematic campaign’s television commercial scored positive in the brain on dimensions that are important for buying behaviour. However, Neurensics’ results also showed that the sought connection between KLM and holiday spirit was not made, something the activation campaign’s “KLM Vakantiespel” díd achieve. Neurensics’ objective neurological research showed that the game brought its players in the holiday spirit and also made the KLM brand significantly more relevant to the players. These are interesting results, not only because for the first time the relationship between gamification and brain activity has been demonstrated, but also because previous neurological research already showed that future buying behaviour and self-relevance are strongly interconnected. In short, Neurensics’ research has shown for the first time that keeping people busy with a brand via a game has great value to advertisers.

Unfortunately, many famous brands still turn towards traditional one-way advertising methods, such as television and radio commercials. Although gamification and serious games are becoming increasingly more used for various purposes by various companies, they are still not used that much for brand related purposes. While working at BrandNewGame, I learned that among many of the biggest brands there is still a largely negative connotation towards gaming in general. It would be wise for them to stop burying their heads in the sand, and look at the scientific facts that research firms such as Neurensics provide.