domingo, 9 de julho de 2017

Time, entertainment and the state of flow

When we are experiencing certain activities, time passes differently. Time can go fast when we are playing an interesting game, or slowly if we are watching a boring movie. It varies from person to person, but all of us have different perceptions of the time passing. In this context it’s important to highlight that there’s one chronological time (seconds, minutes, hours etc.) and a subjective time (one that affects every single individual in an unique way).

This is a complex subject to discuss in a short post, so I want to talk about these perceptions related to the gaming field. To help me in this mission, I’ll summon the ideas of the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This researcher (1975) has developed the idea of flow to explain some time lapses we can experience when we are involved in some specific activity. Csikszentmihalyi (1975) explains that “flow” is a state in which a person is fully immersed in an action and highly focused to the extent that one can experience, for example, a loss in the feeling of self-consciousness and time experience. To help us visualize this concept, Csikszentmihalyi created a graph to visually explain the idea of flow:

Source: Tolstoy Therapy

In a synthetic way, we can observe that there are two axes in the graph above: one shows the degree of challenge and other shows skill and confidence levels. When we are experiencing a very stressful situation (like an emergency surgery, one very difficult test or a complex work to be done in a short period) we can enter a zone of panic and anxiety. On the other hand, if we are experiencing a very boring situation (a monotonic class, an annoying movie or a non-challenging game) we can enter a zone of complete boredom. Both extremes lead us to states of attention that - potentially - are harmful to our minds.

But there’s one zone of perfect balance between a stressful situation and a complete boredom state: the flow. When we experience a state of flow, we immerse ourselves in a state of mind that we can even feel the passing of time differently. Have you ever played videogames for three hours but inside of your head, only one hour has passed? This is one situation when a flow happens.

Games are excellent examples to illustrate this discussion. When we like the experience of playing certain games (analogic or digital), we can feel immersed in the state of flow. So, one important component of game design is how to engage players in the game experience so that they potentially access the flow state. There’s no recipe for this, but to test a lot of games with different beta testers that could show some interesting ways to do it.

I want to dedicate this post to all gamers that need to wake up early, but instead say “just ten more minutes” (and play for another hour). =)



CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, Mihaly. Play and intrinsic rewards. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol 15(3), 1975, 41-63. Online >> click here.

domingo, 25 de junho de 2017

Gamification loop

Source: Gabe Zichermann's gamification presentation on Slide Share (click here).


segunda-feira, 5 de junho de 2017

Keeping track of your gaming analysis: a personal approach to organizing notes for classes, meetings and projects

Working with game development requires a lot of references and annotations all the time. Sometimes, we need to find a good example for a game designing class; sometimes we need to reach for a fast good reference to explain some mechanics for a company’s gamification project. Or, maybe, we just need to remember a specific game to write an article or post about it. It helps a lot to have all that stuff at hand to create presentations, classes or academic content. In this post, I’ll share one method that I use to create and organize quick notes about the games I played.

1. Every single game I play is registered on an online document

I call this my “ludic journal”. I have one excel file on Google Docs where I register all played games in chronological order. For analogic games (card games, board games, dice games etc.) I write a note on the same day I played the title. For video games (console, PC, mobile etc.) I register it when I finish the game or when I have sufficiently experienced its core mechanics/narrative. It’s important to write fast to put personal impressions in the document. Usually, I write the game’s name, the day I played, give it a personal rate (one to five asterisks), summarize the game’s narrative/plot (if available), make a list of the core mechanisms and attach a pic. Like in the following example:

Type: board game
Date: December 11th 2007
Rate: * * *
Summary: Players are builders constructing the reign of Carcassonne in France. Using some special characters it’s possible to build roads, churches, castles and farms. When you finish one of these constructions, you earn points. The player with the most points wins the game. The game uses tiles and creates a very interesting design on the table and a random result at the end of each match.
Mechanisms: area control, area influence, tile placement.

2. Add tags to your notes

This second step helps me a lot. After describing the previous elements, I always create a list of tags for the game (a very personal “mix” of words to describe the game in its essence). This is very useful because it’s possible to find a game for a specific use doing a simple search for keywords in the system. Still using Carcassonne as an example, I wrote these tags for the game (tags, in this case, could be single words or even complete phrases):

Tags: Carcassonne; board game; tile game; France; historic context; build; competitive; area control; area influence; tile placement; clever graphic design; metaphor for architecture; useful for history classes; puzzle. 

This method helps me a lot to prepare content in many occasions. Last week I was preparing a class about “casual games”. A fast search in my document revealed 40 occurrences for this kind of game. So, I combine “casual games” with “funny narrative” and the system gave me 7 results. As I said: it’s a personal method. It could probably not be so useful for another person other than me, but this post is to inspire people to create their own methods.

3. I complement my notes using social networks

I like to create personal text registers for the games I have played, but I also like to organize visual references and gaming stuff in other platforms, too. My favorite place to store visual references is Pinterest. Check ot my GAMES, RPG and GAME DESIGN boards. It’s a very practical way to access ideas.

I’m preparing a second post about this subject with other personal methodologies to organize content for work. I hope it helped.

Now, on to your opinion!


domingo, 21 de maio de 2017

The Counting Kingdom: learning math could be fun

What an excellent surprise one student brought in the last “gaming analysis” class. The Counting Kingdom is an educational game for kids (6 to 8 years), that teaches basics concepts of sum and equations using a tower defense mechanics. It’s very easy: you need to cast a spell using some magic scrolls to stop the monsters. Each monster has a number of strength and the player needs to sum the scrolls to make an equal number and eliminate the enemy. Check the gameplay:

That’s a great example of how we can use a game-based learning strategy. It’s important to mention that a game like this one does not replace a math class, but it helps to complement and reinforce the studied ideas.


terça-feira, 9 de maio de 2017

Article: Analyzing the creative process of mobile indie game RockFlickz

A complete article discussing in details the creative process of my last mobile game RockFlickz. Click here to download.

Send me your opinion!


domingo, 16 de abril de 2017

International Academic Conference on Management, Economics and Marketing in Budapest 2017, Hungary (IAC-MEM 2017 in Budapest)

Last week I was in Budapest to attend the International Academic Conference on Management, Economics and Marketing. The event was great! Full of good content and awesome people. This conference is very important to me because it's the first event that I attended as a PhD (Yeah! Finished my doctorate one month ago!).

I had the opportunity to present the article "Advergames: games as marketing tools". Below, I want to share the PDF file with some slides from the presentation.

You can download the full article by clicking here.

One more international achievement unlocked. =)


domingo, 2 de abril de 2017

Let's give the floor to specialists in advergames

I selected four experts from the gaming field and asked each one the following question: what are three essential characteristics for an effective advergame? Below, I present and discuss the answers:

Fabio Tola, Brazilian elementary school teacher and specialist in the use of games for education, says that one advergame 1) must reach the target audience; 2) convey the branding/product message effectively; 3) become viral – this last item is very important to quickly expand the marketing message to the social media environment.

For Guilherme Camargo, CEO of the Brazilian gaming studio Sioux, the three essential characteristics for an effective advergame are: 1) have a well-defined purpose aligned to the brand, product or service (it seems obvious but, often, an advergame is detached from the core concept of a campaign); 2) know your target audience to match the style, mechanics and other characteristics of the games; 3) be fun – it is fundamental to create something that strengthens engagement through entertainment languages.

Mauro Berimbau, Brazilian high school teacher and specialist in advergames ponders that 1) in this modality of games, is elementary to send a clear marketing message; 2) to observe the historical socio-cultural aspects of the players; 3) to study the player's interpretations and responses to the system. From these opinions, we can ponder a lot before an advergaming project or an analysis of an advergame. We will discuss these ideas in the final topic of our article.

Laura Herrewijn, guest Professor at University of Antwerp, says that 1) it is important to be sure that your audience will have fun, to create an original game in which you integrate your brand message in a central, prominent way; 2) it’s necessary to focus on the moments where the player has no attention left to perceive the brand messaging; 3) you need to make sure that the behavior you want to promote (e.g. visiting a website, buying a product) is made as easily as possible (e.g. to include a very visible link/ a coupon, etc.).