The presentations on gaming mechanics for social action were fascinating. The idea of using game mechanics to achieve social action at first appeared novel but after a few minutes of schooling we were made aware of significant change achieved by making challenges/chores/laws “fun”. A wonderful example offered was an experiment by a car company who created a “Speed camera lottery”. Over a period of days a speed camera measured those speeding and those not, recording the details. Those who broke the speed limit were issued with fines as normal but those who obeyed the rules went into a lottery to win some of the money surrendered by those who were fined.
The change (for the better) of driving habits in the area were profound. This was one of many ideas floated out during the session. Words like “gamification” “interestingness” and “pointsification” are all real words even if this spellchecker doesn’t agree. Collecting, points, leader boards, levels, exchanges and flow are other words also used to describe the game mechanisms that people use to encourage participation in an activity.
The counter gaming presentation, apart from being heavy on theory (not a bad thing, and a great reading list is provided) was actually quite confronting. Videos such as “dead-in-Iraq” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTnuUMM7frk) and “Shoot an Iraqi” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtvvVbeaSHk) showed us how games and social media designed to re-enforce the institutions of war and conflict can actually be ‘hacked’ in various ways to turn the message on its head. Given the academic background of the material used, I’ve got to do some serious reading before I can say anything more in-depth! We’ll get a copy of the reading list up on the blog when we can!
FII’s Joomla presentation was comprehensive and energetic, demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of the web content management system. Working with the software for many years they have developed a range of open source and commercial components, modules and plug-ins which Andrew gave us a brief overview of. The question about open source versus proprietary CMS software was asked, the answer was that the entry cost of open source is much lower than a commercial solution but you have to trust in the community behind the free software to support your needs into the future; in some cases organisations require service level agreements that can only be properly arranged in a paid environment. On the other hand the community behind Joomla is so large and friendly that finding good help isn’t that hard.
By the end of the day everyone appeared happy and tired. The closing plenary summarised a lot of the feelings I’d heard expressed out during the tea breaks. A good group of people that have come together to share some great ideas. There’s plenty of work to be done by ourselves and by the conference. One discussion earlier today perhaps alluded to the goal we all share; by working hard enough and encouraging enough positive change we’re actually all working to put ourselves out of business, making our support groups unnecessary and irrelevant. Some groups put a timetable on that goal (2020 for example) and the more cynical among us perhaps don’t. Personally, I don’t mind – Tweeting and blogging isn’t all I do. Getting back to the other side of the continent is next on the list, for example. Then, probably sleep.
Thanks to everyone involved, see you next year!