contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Posts Tagged ‘games’

Making Work Addictive like World of Warcraft

Posted by contentgrrl on March 8, 2010

Hi, my name is Tere, and I’m a workaholic. The projects I do and the communications I draft make me feel productive, needed, adept.

But I am extremely averse to housework. I have tried to reframe it in terms of blessing my home, blessing my family and pets, blessing the neighborhood, blessing the friends and family who visit. That works sometimes. But more often I just downright hate pulling the same weeds that cropped up last year and picking up the same clutter as yesterday.

Today I was reading Jim Lee’s blog on KMEdge.org, Knowledge: How Much Is Too Much? and especially his comment lower down in response to another link, A better way to manage knowledge. The Harvard Business Review article said,

“the real value is in creating new knowledge, rather than simply ‘managing’ existing knowledge. …That’s why we’re not keen to spend time entering our latest document into a knowledge management system. …

We’ve found in our research into environments like World of Warcraft (WoW) that new knowledge comes into being when people who share passions for a given endeavor interact and collaborate around difficult performance challenges.

The HBR article touted how WoW player Gullerbone completed The Burning Crusade expansion pack within an impressive 28 hours after its release in 2007. How did he do it? By using his guild, and related videos, blogs, wikis that make up the social media “knowledge economy.”

Jim Lee’s response: “I’ve said for some time if ‘KM systems’ could mimic the behaviors of WOW players, that we would see immediate impact and improvment [sic] of collaboration and outcomes.”

I sometimes feel the same way about updating old documentation as I do about cleaning the toilet. It’s gotta be done, but it makes me feel all grungy, and I’ll just have to do it again soon enough.

Fishing in World of Warcraft, by Captain Oblivious on Flickr Creative CommonsIn World of Warcraft, that kind of chore is akin to fishing. If you want to level up your skills enough to make some great coin and get the ingredients for the meals that will elicit extraordinary buffs for your guildies in raids and dungeons, you gotta pay your dues in the water. Many dedicated players are so addicted to getting that next level, they don’t mind putting in a few hours at the shore. Of course, it’s not as physically messy as it would be away from keyboard.

And so I’m trying to find a new way to reframe some of work’s less glamorous chores.

I wish that someday we may bring the addictiveness of gameplay into the world of work, and even (ugh!) housework. Can you imagine being able to track in reality:

  • how much coin you’re earning or wasting on your current task,
  • the buffs you gain by eating well/working out/working well with certain people, and
  • the upgrades/badges/titles you can win along the way?

Wish, wish, wish…

Meanwhile, here are the ways I’m making my chores more attractive:

  • Breaking them down into bite-sized chunks. For example, I made a long outline of what I need to do, and categorized it, counting the documents and estimating how much will fill a half hour or an hour.
  • Scheduling the bite-sized chunks across several days.
  • Rewarding myself for completing a bunch of chunks with a fresh cup of Joe and a break where I do something more creative like the next newsletter draft.
  • Testing it like my target audience would, and putting myself in their shoes when I find it easy to learn how to do what I want.

I’m glad I work in a place where the coffee is free, even the flavored kind, and the cleanup is minimal. 🙂

The next challenge is even more social: making technical edits fun for my wonderful developers, product managers, project managers, and technicians. There’s gotta be more than bringing cake and asking pointed questions. Any other thoughts?

Advertisements

Posted in community, games, grrly, learning, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

my Wii fitness level 59 and Lego Star Wars

Posted by contentgrrl on January 2, 2008

For Christmas, the grandparents on my side got the kids a Wii, with much thanks to my dear brother, who pulled favors with his connections in the local Wal-Mart.

So we’ve had the console, Wii Sports, an extra set of controllers, and Lego Star Wars the complete saga, for a week now. My husband played the Wii Sports with the boys and his nephew for five hours on Christmas Day. He started out with a fitness age of 63, and is now at age 28 after seven days and a sore shoulder from boxing, baseball, golf, tennis, and bowling. I just tried the fitness test today, and I wanted to record my age of 59 with a similar goal.

I feel we’re in pretty good company. After all, if frugal guru Trent of The Simple Dollar can justify it, then so can I.

I should say that my sons love playing golf, especially when they hit the ball into the water hazard. They do the same with Tiger Woods on the PC. But this way they actually stand up and swing instead of hitting keys. It does indeed get us off our collective buns.

Wii golf water hazard

Not to say there aren’t more sedentary alternatives. Lego Star Wars, for which we mostly sit, has been both fun and frustrating, partially because of the required fine motor skills that my boys just don’t have yet, and partially because my boys don’t want to destroy all the things that will score you enough points to get to the next level or build a minikit.

But my preschoolers now know this epic very well. They can name all the characters, creatures, and machines like the geeks their parents are. And it’s fun playing out scenes like Luke on a tauntaun on icy Hoth, being attacked by that Wampa monster, hanging upside down, grabbing the light saber with the Force’s telekinesis, and cutting off the monster’s arm (one of the brothers works very hard to take his arm out of his sleeve, and then falls dramatically to the floor).

Video courtesy of NextGenWalkthroughs.

Posted in games, grrly, performance, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: honorable mention

Posted by contentgrrl on December 16, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Here are our honorable mentions, which don’t get visits from us every week:

Dreamworks’ Over the Hedge site:

Over The Hedge site

Great characters, great animation. But not the most creative games: There’s a maze, a matching game, a “collect-the-nuts” game, and so on.

NickJr Playtime for Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go.

Funschool for a fairly engaging curriculum for many ages, and lots of variety of games for each level.

BoowaKwala for games up to age six, on a site that also offers games and craft activities up to age 10.

The Land of Cyke for games that focus on healthy emotional development for children.

Meddybemps for simple activities designed to prepare young children for learning across many different concepts and skills.

Posted in games, heroes, learning, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 5

Posted by contentgrrl on December 14, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Fifth on my list is Hasbro MonkeyBar TV:

Hasbro Monkeybar TV site

Between Star Wars Jedis, Transformers, and Spider-Man, this is fast becoming my boys’ favorite site. The older brother likes when Spider-Man gets shocked while climbing up a building of boobytraps.

But I was most impressed with the Video Mash-Up, where you can drag-and-drop video clips, sound clips, transitions and stills to create your own Transformers video. What a great skill to have!

Posted in heroes, learning, marketing, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 4

Posted by contentgrrl on December 12, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Fourth on my list are two similar sites from HiT Entertainment: Not the most creative of games, but nice brand-wise.

Thomas Train

Thomas Train site

Of course my boys love trains, and play with their cousins’ set at Grandpa’s. This site has their favorite characters, and like my brother at their age, they love to learn the parts and vocabulary of trains and other vehicles.

So there’s a race, jigsaw puzzles, a matching game, building with drag-and-drop Legos, and more.

I like the fact that this brand emphasizes the value of being Really Useful.

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder site

Of course my boys love those big construction machines!

Again, there’s a race, a “collect-the-sunflowers-for-points” game, more jigsaw puzzles, building with drag-and-drop Legos, and so on.

Posted in games, heroes, learning, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 3

Posted by contentgrrl on December 10, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Third on my list is PBS Kids:

PBS kids site

Like Playhouse Disney, PBS is also high on my list, but not as popular with my boys. Curious George unfortunately keeps getting in trouble, so I’m not sure I want to encourage sneaky unsafe behavior; but some of the games are nicely challenging in terms of pattern recognition (skates) and animal-sound matching. Much to my husband’s chagrin, they discovered Teletubbies, which plays on my boys’ love of babies to a cloying extent. But then there’s the Sesame Street, Between the Lions, and Mister Rogers. There are dozens of other show-related subsites for older kids too.

Posted in culture, games, heroes, learning, reading, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 2

Posted by contentgrrl on December 8, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

Second on my list is Playhouse Disney.

Playhouse Disney

When we watch TV or record shows for the kids, typically it’s from Playhouse Disney because they don’t have to watch third-party commercials for things they don’t need like toys that make noise and junk food. Little Einsteins is for learning about music, instruments, composers, dancing, and art. Handy Manny is about being helpful, solving problems, and using the right tool for the job, with some Spanish sprinkled in. Of course, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a new classic. And Captain Carlos is my hero, for encouraging my kids to avoid junk food in favor of a healthy diet, so they can have more energy, sharper thinking, and better sleep. Some of the games on this site are really creative, and that’s why it’s high on my list.

Posted in games, heroes, heroines, learning, reading, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

free fun and learning game sites my preschool boys love: part 1

Posted by contentgrrl on December 6, 2007

My sons, 2 and 5, have some time on the computer every week. When they play online, they have a select few favorite sites:

First is Starfall.

Starfall site

My neice-in-law turned me onto this site, after her daughter learned to read on it. It is absolutely the best program I’ve seen for teaching regular* kids letter sounds and letter combinations, building skills along an excellent curriculum with fun games, songs, stories to click around, and more.

There’s even a lesson on the alphabet in American Sign Language. And there are activities for every season and holiday on the Calendar: Earth Day’s cleanup is one of our favorites.

The lessons may be low in production value, but it’s very lightweight bitwise, so it can work in low bandwidth, while still being very colorful and full of great animation. I don’t know how they fund it (well, there’s a store with games, books, journals, plush dolls, and phonics packs), but bottom line, it’s a wonderful site, and I give a lot of credit to Starfall for making it easy for my sons to learn phonemes.

* The exception is one of my former employers, Creative Education Institute, which has the best program around for evaluating people with special learning needs and tutoring them in reading, English as a second language, and mathematics from number recognition to fractions. But unlike the Starfall site, the CEI systems are not free.

Posted in games, learning, reading, What They Play | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

playing on shoulders of generations of feminists

Posted by contentgrrl on November 28, 2007

Why can’t I stop writing about games? Well, I saw another great post from a gamergrrl, Kat@ttack, Female vs Male MMORPGs.

It turns my stomach to see some of the stereotypical marketing to girls for toys, games, and TV. But I’m glad to see more strong heroines popping up all the time: Handy Manny’s Kelly, Dora the Explorer, (you can tell how old my kids are, can’t ya?) Lara Croft, Diablo II’s amazons/sorceresses/assassins, the reinvented BSG’s Starbuck/Roslin/Boomer/Six/Cain, the reinvented Bionic Woman, The Closer’s Brenda Johnson, and anything from Joss Whedon’s body of work (Buffy, Willow, Cordelia, Zoe, Inara, River, Kaylee).

It’s too bad none of these strong heroines are moms. It seems you have to be single to explore your options and save the world. Moms in epics and games are always the lesser characters who sob loudly, protest against their sons being taken away, or roll their eyes and get back to mothering. OK, there’s an interesting exception in BSG’s Sharon “Athena” Valerii (not Boomer, who tried to snap the child’s neck), and I look forward to more there.

I’m a gamer mom myself, and so is my neighbor, who looks and talks conspicuously like Morgan on G4TV. I don’t have girls to raise; between dear hubby, dear sons, and dear dog and cat, I’m surrounded by testosterone.

But I’ll thankfully stand on the shoulders of the feminists from former generations who made a difference. Because now, all we really have to do is confidently, quietly do what we do best and it will earn the respect of our fellow gamers and colleagues, or at least those who matter. We can confidently, quietly widen our circle of influence. Will that change the tide of the stereotypical marketing machine? Maybe not immediately, but there’s hope.

If I’m too Pollyanna about this, or missing some heroic moms in entertainment, feel free to squawk back at me.

Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroines, marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

better than the standard misguided lists of games to buy as gifts

Posted by contentgrrl on November 21, 2007

Just in time for the holiday shopping rush, I ran across one lazy AP news item. It paid lip service to how little the industry knows about what girls like in games. Then without further ado, was a short list that had no surprises: Sims, Guitar Hero, Disney Princess, Imagine Babyz, and Hannah Montana Music Jam.

Yes, I know that a large number of girls are still brainwashed into emulating pink and purple princess rock star babysitters. But I would have loved to see more about why the industry knows so little about girls and women, and markets so little for them. I’ll leave the rant to others: There is some research about how game makers are dissin’ the women. And then there’s the GamerGrrls Manifesto, Part One and Part Two.

What about Portal? It’s a great puzzle, set in a first-person shooter world, but instead of shooting bullets, you shoot portals and use gravity and momentum to avoid obstacles and projectiles, and make your way to the next level. My character was a female form, and the system’s voice was a fun female voice. Even if that system voice got increasingly neurotic, it was intentionally funny. And the music and lyrics over the closing credits is totally hilarious. My only problem with this game was a little bit of nausea that has been the norm in any game where your perspective changes from moving from 2-dimensional maps to coming in from above and having to reorient yourself. Just like in Descent’s spaceships (from the ’90s). The nausea probably means it’s time to take a break. But if my 4-year-old son can play it, so can any girl or boy of any age.

What about Tomb Raider Anniversary? Forget that Lara Croft’s physical proportions are modeled after every Barbie doll and superheroine that ever was. Lara’s got skillz. And the play control is so much more user-friendly, that after only a little bit, you can get over the mechanics of how to control movement, and dig into exploring those tombs. And even if you played the original, you’ll be surprised by what’s new.

What about Dreamfall and the original Longest Journey? It’s got plot. It’s got great characters, and pretty good dialogue. It’s got great puzzles. It’s got incredible immersion into another world. And both games feature commendable heroines.

Speaking of puzzles, you can’t go wrong with Myst (1995), Riven (1998), Myst III Exile (2001), Myst IV Revelation (2004), Myst V End of Ages (2005), and Myst Uru Live Online (2007).

For Role-playing games, I’ve played the heck out of Diablo II Expansion (2001), where I liked building up my character and treasure chest and Baldur’s Gate II (2000), where I liked the dialog, plot, characters, and team strategy play.

I’ve got to give Elder Scrolls Oblivion (2006) marks for character building. You can go with a less combative character of any sex or race you wish. One of my favorite features is getting people to reveal more information or give you better prices: you win them over either with humor, flattery, boasting, or coercion; I’d never really thought of my encounters that way. It’s a bit of a roll of dice, though. I’d rather see them come up with real dialog examples that you could model in real life.

My absolute favorite RPG is Planescape Torment (1999) for its exploration of philosophies (such as anarchy, hedonism, entropy, chaos, order, freethought, cabalism, and so on) through gameplay and plot. And dialogue (OMIGOSH what fun colloquialisms)! I loved having a little guide who’s always with you to talk about what the next step might be.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m so PC-oriented. Coming up, I’ll talk up some games my kids love to play for free.

Posted in culture, games, grrly, heroes, heroines, learning, marketing, music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »