Constant connectivity has become the hallmark of 21st Century human communication, and with technology rapidly advancing, new digital platforms for interaction are frequently being introduced into society. Gaming is now seen as a communication tool rather than just a means of entertainment.
The structure of how games are made has not drastically changed in the last 30 years, according to Professor Wan Kei Chiu, who teaches interactive design and game development at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong, but the industry has a far more powerful role in day-to-day communications.
Chiu is a seasoned Digital Interactive Designer and Game Developer with 14 years experience in the area of console game and interactive entertainment. Chiu’s latest project, StoryMate won the Silver Award at the 2015 MyToy design competition. His animated film “Lollipop” won Best Film at the 1998 Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro and 1st prize at the 1997 ASIFA-East Student animation awards.
Chiu, in an interaction with People Matters, shares some intriguing insights on how gaming can be leveraged in solving talent and workforce challenges, retain and engage millennials, and leadership development.
What is the current size of the Game Design industry and how it is evolving to meet the growing needs of businesses?
As of 2018, the size of the gaming industry has reached roughly 2.3 billion gamers across the globe. The 137.9 billion global industry offers limitless opportunities for professional interaction and experimentation.
The gaming industry has evolved to meet the growing needs of businesses through three main avenues by tapping into the psychological drive behind games. Firstly, gamification of work, whereby employers are utilizing game deign principles to motivate employees in their job roles. Secondly, gaming principles are being incorporated into company training, allowing employees to participate in training outside of the workplace. Lastly, businesses are injecting a level of competition through online activities for employees, which increases user participation and loyalty towards a particular company or action.
At SCAD, we ensure students are well-equipped for this ever-evolving and dynamic industry with access to state-of-the-art resources and technology to assist in developing the necessary skills to create acclaimed applications and games that are relevant in the current and future market. This includes facilities such as full motion capture labs, augmented reality and virtual reality equipment, green screen studios, Wacom cintiq displays and more.
How are corporate leaders leveraging gaming in solving talent and workforce challenges? Share some compelling use cases and real-life examples?
Games are often used as a tool to drive self-fulfillment and motivation. In order to do so, the game needs to fully immerse the user in the activity and promote the concept of achieving goals. This mindset is what is fueling this synergy between gaming, human interaction, and development.
The “Nike+ App” fostered a community based around running and friendly competition. The gamification element being the tracking and storing of running distance, speed, and time data while being able to compete with friends and strive to get onto the leaderboard. Leaderboards are an effective game mechanic as it ranks users based on criteria influenced by their behavior.
Loyalty programs such as “Starbucks Rewards” are strong ways to mix acquisition with retention, to build a habit and sustainable growth. Users of the app can earn stars for participating in-store actives, visit locations or simply buying products.
Facebook, one of the most popular social platforms in the world, leverages free games to achieve user retention and brand stickiness. The act of liking a post on Facebook is a form of gamification, as it encourages users to communicate with one another, which feeds into the recipient’s sense of vanity. This process has evolved into sharing a reaction, which has improved the engagement experience to make it more authentic and less repetitive. “Facebook Games” are another way the platform has provided full immersion for their community, in terms of having fun while completing challenges.
“Duolingo” is one of the most popular learning platforms for foreign language. It is a free platform that provides subscribers with language tutorials and interactive games through its website or app, promoting self-paced learning. Through their bite-sized lessons, point system and timed sessions, users are enticed to level up to accomplish something new, as our brains are hardwired to desire development and progress.
Share some insights on how employers can add games to a Learning and Development Program?
Employers can incorporate game design principles through:
- As a learning exercise, create mini-games that pose challenges, then use the success rate to evaluate the learner’s progress.
- By evaluating the success rate/learning rate of individual users, apps can adjust the pace of when and how the materials are delivered to certain individuals. Thus, creating a customized platform for each user.
- A leaderboard can promote friendly competitiveness by leveraging sharing on social networks. Co-learning is a highly effective motivator.
Can gamification and gaming help retain and engage millennials?
Yes, I believe gamification of certain applications can help engage millennials as there is a desire to learn, grow and progress, which can be effectively executed with the utilization of gaming. Inherently, millennials are digital natives and have grown up in a world that is highly gamified, on and offline. Therefore, the concept of gamification is inherent, and taking challenges or moving to the next level is second nature. Companies are leveraging gamification in order to support this trait with systematic training tools, allowing them to understand their career progress and milestones.
Gamification is not a one size fits all solution. The industry is always able to develop different platforms and user stories, with its own innovative scope. For example, AIG ON THE GOAL encourages customers to lead a healthier lifestyle in order to gain prizes or discount in their insurance rate. Users can compare their exercise statics with friends/family or even other users worldwide.
At SCAD, we are noticing a new generation of talent that are taking a strong interest in learning about gaming and gamification, while striving to understand the artistic vision and technical mastery required to build such experiences. Our Interactive Design and Game Development program provides students with opportunities to participate in professional conferences and collaborate with industry giants. Representatives from Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Google, IBM, and Riot Games, creator of League of Legends, review portfolios and provide new perspectives on the latest industry developments.
How can gaming help in leadership development program?
The principles of game design can be used as a powerful tool to enable employee development through online training tools, allowing for a more visual, measurable outcomes of the level of the employee. Businesses can also build apps that allow for self-guided, continuous learning to assist in leadership development.
SCAD’s Interactive Design and Game Development programs provide opportunities for in-depth exploration of elements of game art and design, courses that focus on web experiences, physical computing and information design lets students specialize in interactivity. This interactivity is how these designers learn exactly how to engage their target audience and what the expected outcome of the interaction should be.
How to track the change in performance of employees taking gamified programs?
Employers can track the change in employee performance by capturing points and goals for different stages of the expected performance. The learning application can be delivered in the form of milestones and badges to give users a clear understanding of their accomplishments and expected outcomes. Without goals or rewards without value, employees may disengage as there is nothing to strive towards. With rewards, one must consider our target audience and what will make them frequent users. Rewards can include status, recognition, self-development or digital currency to put towards the game itself.
Difficult tasks or situations can be included in the learning program and users can tap into the knowledge received during trainings to overcome obstacles. This way employers can track the change in performance by showing a level of problem-solving, for example, placing an avatar in a difficult situation and having the employee guide the avatar to overcome the problem. With that being said, users need to feel a sense of optimism, as if they feel that the goal is unachievable from the start, they will not be motivated to attempt.