NPS and Gamification

Last weekend I visited Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument for a 3-day digital detox. [Yes, believe it or not, I can put away the Interwebs for 3 whole days.]

While hiking in Bryce Canyon, I stumbled across a bit of gamification of the hiking trails called Hike the Hoodoos Challenge.

With all the hype about digital badges and gamification lately, I can’t help but wonder why the NPS doesn’t take this a step further and develop a digital mobile game where you can earn activity badges in all the National Parks and Monuments by hiking the trails. It seems that you could just as easily use QR codes on the signage to “check in” to various trailheads via a mobile app. Better yet, let state parks get in on the action.

Maybe you’d rather just see the pictures though … here’s Bryce Canyon and our hike to the Queen’s Garden.

And here’s Cedar Breaks National Monument (we took the 2-mile hike to Spectra Point/Ramparts Overlook Trail)

Of course, if the NPS did create a mobile app game for hiking (Hiking the National Parks with Zombies?), then I suppose I would have to carry my phone with me, huh? Here I am, sans Internet-enabled digital devices.

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Board Games that Change Attitudes

Two weeks ago I attended the APF ProDev Gathering in Orlando on the future of Games and Simulations. A great time was had by all, and we had an enlightening time thinking about what games and simulations would be used for 10-15 years from now. Several games I learned about are worthy of mention here:

Buffalo (by tiltfactor) is a game that has been shown to change your attitude about stereotyping careers based on gender and ethnicity. You wouldn’t really know that from playing it, but players walk away being more aware of how much they know (or didn’t know) about women and minorities holding non-traditional positions (CEOs, programmers, scientists, etc.).

Cards Against Humanity is really an “Apples to Apples” style game that should only be played by adults (and possibly only by adults that are consuming alcoholic beverages). This is a game that is interesting in many ways – one is that the game was originally a kickstarter, and the designers have made a small fortune on the game.  But secondarily, I’m pretty sure that playing this game lowers your moral standards (so yes, it changes your attitudes). I don’t have any research to back that up, but trust me on this one. Don’t play this game with your parents.

Pox: Save the People (and, of course, ZombiePox) is about stopping the spread of a deadly disease. You can choose to vaccinate against the disease or cure the disease. Curing takes more resources than vaccination.

One more game that I think is worthy of mention (though it is one I’ve known about for a while) is Train, by Brenda Brathwaite. This is a game that explores the “devastation and tragedy of the Holocaust.” Read more in the WSJ article: Can you Make a Board Game about the Holocaust?

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Biography of Gamification Thought Leaders

Last week, @enjoymentland posted a good list of thought leaders on the topic of gamification (but no links to any resources or explanation why these folks are on the list). I wanted to learn more about each person, so I’m adding biographical information and links to each name below.

Jane McGonigal, of TED Talk fame “Gaming can make a better world” and one of the founders of Gameful, a secret headquarters for “World-changing game designers” (read more about this at Kickstarter). Jane works at the Institute for the Future and is on twitter: @avantgame

Jesse Schell, from Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, is also the author of The Art of Game Design, which examines psychological principles that make all kinds of games “good games.” Twitter: @jesseschell

B.J. Fogg teaches at Stanford and examines interesting methods and metrics for changing behavior (captology) and I so wish I had the time to take his Persuasive Online Video course. Twitter: @bjfogg

Dennis “Dens” Crowley is the co-founder of Foursquare and teaches (adjunct) at NYU. Twitter: @dens

Amy Jo Kim is a researcher on online communities and social architecture (and CEO of Shufflebrain). You can watch her Google Talk: Putting the Fun in Functional: Applying Game Mechanics to Functional Software. Twitter: @amyjokim

Natron Baxter makes productivity games: “Fun is not the enemy of work … or productivity” and was one of the developers who built Evoke. In particular, I love his tips for Knowledge Sharing (Zipline) and I suspect he’ll love the article that I’ve written about KM that publishes in December (if he asks nicely, I’ll let him read it now).  Twitter: @natronbaxter

Jen McCabe builds mobile health and Internet health games (see imoveyou). Twitter: @jensmccabe

Nicole Lazzaro is the President of XEODesign, Inc. She has a 2004 paper called Why we play games: Four keys to more emotion without stories (PDF).  The four “keys” are: 1. Hard fun, 2. Easy fun, 3. Altered States, and 4. The People Factor.  Twitter: @nicolelazzaro

Raph Koster is the author of my favorite book from the last year, A Theory of Fun for Game Design and a game designer in San Diego. Twitter: @raphkoster

Mark Pincus is the co-founder and CEO of Zynga (they built the games Mafia Wars and Farmville). Twitter: @markpinc (not active)

Gabe Zichermann of Gamification Co. is involved in organizing the Gamification Summit and is co-author of the book Game-based Marketing.  Twitter: @gzicherm

Eric Zimmerman is the co-author of Rules of Play, teaches courses on Game Design for various schools, is a member of Local Number 12, and writes the blog Being Playful.  I attended one of Eric’s social game design workshops at GLS2010 and it was great!  Twitter: @zimmermaneric (not active)

Keith Lee is the CEO and co-founder of Booyah (see MyTown). Twitter: @keithlee0 (not active)

Byron Reeves is a professor at Stanford, and the co-founder of Seriosity, Inc and has built a product called Attent (to gamify productivity).  You can see one of his talks, Work Sucks, Games are Great on TechAffair. Twitter: @Seriosity

Colleen Macklin (my addition to the list)  is a Professor at the Parsons New School for Design and the director of the PETLab.  I’ve seen Colleen speak twice and I think she’s doing some awesome work on influence games.  Twitter: @colleenmacklin

Who am I? Here’s my bio. 🙂  Maria Andersen is a learning futurist and math professor who has spent the last two years researching games, learning, and game design (why? she has her reasons).  She’s given numerous presentations in education about restructuring learning around the principles of game design and play (especially as it relates to math).  She’s created a collection of good games for higher education.  She is very interested in the gamification of learning, and soon enough (December), you’ll see one of the things she’s been working on.  Twitter: @busynessgirl

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