Chris Filip dissertation blog

Deconstructing and analyzing crowd-sourced games

Category: Gamification examples

Deconstructing: AddressHunter

AddressHunter is the last of the gamified apps that I looked to cover and review as part of my dissertation research, when I started, a little over 2 months ago. Let’s see if the last on the list will rise up to the expectations or sinks under the weight of its own ambition.

AddressHunter

I’d like to start by saying that this is the first game that I’ve reviewed that is done by a German-Romanian company called Skobbler, which seem to have invested quite a bit of time and resources in creating quality assurance tools such as this one and MapDust, a bug-reporting website.

AddressHunter is a treasure hunt game with RPG elements. From the beginning, you’re shown your character, with your current experience and how much more you need to advance to the next level, alongside your avatar.

AddressHunter

You currently only have the option to start a multiplayer game or check out the help screen. While over-explained, the Help screen is quite helpful, taking you step by step, with pictures, through how to start, organize, play and end a game.

The purpose of the game is to hunt for addresses in a given area. Once you’ve found an address, you need to tak a picture of the number and submit it as found. The player with the most addreses found at the end of the game wins. Experience-wise, you get 1 point for each address found and a I believe your points get doubled if you win, but I couldn’t find for sure from their documentation. At the beginning of the game, you get to set the radius of the area in which you’ll be hunting for addresses, as well as the time limit and the number of addresses that need hunting.

There are clear game elements, and I like the initiative. It would’ve been nice if they actually mantained the game or at least made it open-source, for others to take it up themselves and improve on it.

However, it seems that for every thing that I enjoy about AddressHunter, there’s one thing that I believe they could’ve done better. I like that you have an avatar, but why can’t you change it? It only represents your level. I like that it gives you a level progression, but that only counts for a fancier avatar. Likewise, the number of points for each level-up doesn’t seem tested. It looks like it would take about 1000 matches to be able to get to the cartographer title.

AddressHunter

AddressHunter

AddressHunter

The image at the beginning of the article is the landing page for the game, and from the start it asks you to login with your OSM credntials. That’s not particularly very good, from my point of view, because it turns away everyone who does not have an OSM affiliation. Kort, for example, allowed you to log in with Facebook. Another thing that they could’ve done in order to improve on the first-play experience and help the onboarding experience is that they don’t say anything about the game itself, when they could’ve just copy-pasted the one-liner from the help page: “AddressHunter – gather as much validated addresses as possible to win experience points and become a cartographer.” That’s the perfect one-liner for the game, looking like whoever wrote this did their game design homework.

I believe that this is the most frustrating thing about AddressHunter: it looks like there was some work behind it, it looks like they had an actual game designer behind this game, but then they fired him just after they launched it and nobody was there to balance it and add extra content, maybe even listen to player feedback.

This game is a good effort, but unfortunately, it wasn’t sustained.

Chris F.

P.S.: The “About” button on the landing page only shows the copyright data and states that this game is version 0.1 since 2011.

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Deconstructing: MapRoulette

In the next to last OpenStreetMap improvement game that I was able to find till now, MapRoulette. It’s the initiative of OSM member, developer and awesome person Martjin van Exel. It started as an initiative from him to help the OSM US community correct the mistakes that a government data import created to better map the country. It now is one of the most addictive OSM games, from my point of view. Here’s what I think about it.

MapRoulette

MapRoulette is a simple game/gamified app. It presents you with a problem and asks you to see if you can fix it. At the moment it asks you to try and connect unconnected roads that apaear that they should be connected (roads that end within 5 meters of another road). When I started working on this round of MapRoulette, there were over 20000 errors that needed fixing, and at the moment there are just under 8000. I started working on it earlier this week, so you can see that it works.

What’s it made of?

MapRoulette works on campaigns: it starts with a type of error that they want to fix (till now only in the US from what I know), and then they allow people to work on it till it’s done. Once no more errors remain, they move to another campaign.

MapRoulette

Once on their webpage, as seen above, you’re presented with one of the errors. You are then given options in the right-hand side and can choose to mark the error as a false-positive, if you know it’s not an error or skip it if you think you can’t do it or don’t know if it’s an error or not. If you want to try and fix it, you can open that part of OSM in either JOSM or Potlatch, which are 2 of the 3 big OSM editors out there.

MapRoulette

Once you click edit, you get this nice dialogue asking you if you fixed the problem. You have the options to say yes, no, say it was already fixed or that it wasn’t an error after all. The reason why I like ths dialogue is that it allows you to say that you’ve done it or that it wasn’t a problem or that you couldn’t solve it. It’s permissive.

Now comes the best feature of MapRoulette. Once you press any of the buttons, this happens:

MapRoulette

and you’re taken to the next problem. Again, and again and again. Once you click that button, there’s no “Do you want to move to the next error”, there’s just “Here’s the next error, have fun”. And that’s what makes it so addictive.

First, all the errors that appear on MapRoulette are easily fixed. Anyone can do it and most of them have the same degree of difficulty. There’s the great option of being able to skip a problem if you want. If you are new to MapRoulette, a guide is always posted on the right-hand tooltip, with an explanation not only of what needs doing, but also why it needs to be fixed. For example, this last connectivity error really helps routing algorythms.

Gamification-wise, it’s interesting to see the statistics of the challenge: how many erros remain, how many have been fixed this day and in the last hour. This helps the players a lot because you know that, for example, from the 24 that have been done in the last hour, 8 are yours.

There are no leaderboards, no levels, no badges. It works completely off the intrinsic motivation, letting them know that they have contributed to getting the number of fixed errors up and lowering the total number of errors, but that’s about it. Another interesting part for MapRoulette is that it works off campaigns, which are another name for missions. Each of the challenges is huge, in the number of hundreds or thousands of errors, so no one person could fix them easily, there’s no solo-ing the dungeon. Instead, it’s a community challenge, and anyone can participate.

As an improvement for MapRoulette, I would like to see the number of original errors, and then the current number, to give me a bigger sense of achievement when I look one week later and see that over 50% of errors have been fixed, and it will also motivate me to work harder to get the number down faster, a progress bar, if you will. I would like to see if it would work better if you also had personal statistics based on cookies, so it could show you the number of the errors that you fixed per session and per day. That might take down the sense of community challenge though, and increase the sense of personal achievement instead of being part of something bigger.

To conclude, MapRoulette is nice and simple, and that’s where it strenght lies.

Chris F.

Gamification example: Mineral water Contrex advert

Another gamification example that I’ve found recently is one from an older advert for Nestle’s mineral water Contrex. This is an ad whose gamified component happened in an event in France. Here’s my take on it:

That neon goodness

That neon goodness

What really struck me when I watched this advert was the one-off-ness of it. You can do this only a few times before it becomes too expensive to sustain. You need a spot in a public plaza, all the bikes, the power for the neon lights and the rented facade of the building you’re putting the neon signs on. I see how this is doable by someone from a huge corporation such as Nestle, but is the Return on Investment of it really that big? Yes, you get people talking about your brand for a few weeks, maybe even a month, but I can’t help but see this as just a small bit in a marketing campaign, not necessarily something which has gamification at its core. On the other hand, this can stand to serve as an example of what can be done in some gyms to get people to exercise.

One of the things that I do like about this ad and example is how it encourages people to work together. You needed all the bikes to be active in order to get the shiny neon stripper to move. Extra points for the co-op instead of competitive or single-player environment.

Chris F.

Gamification example: Squats for tickets

Here’s something that I’ve read: in Russia, in order to celebrate the approaching winter Olympics (I’m not going into the controversies of that), they have placed some interactive machines (I’m assuming with a Kinect inside) that will issue you a free subway ticket if you do 30 squats. Here’s my thoughts on this.

Squat 30 times and get a free subway ticket

Squat 30 times and get a free subway ticket

Let’s analyze this: is this gamification? I believe so. It takes something that people usually do as a chore, squats, and adds an incentive to it: you get a free subway (tube) ticket. It works off extrinsic motivation, giving out a real-life reward for something you might not be otherwise motivated to do. It is a single-player gamification example, and one that takes maybe less than it would take to wait in the queue for a subway ticket. Would I do it? Yes, I would. I believe that it would motivate me to do 30 squats if I were to get a free ticket.

How could they have done it better? Multi-player? What if you had to compete with a friend or a random stranger to see who would get the biggest score? Maybe it would be unfair if they were to give only the winner a ticket, but would be nice to have a timer or something similar, to allow you to measure your performance.

Have I learned something from this? Yet again, gamification is shown to be successful in marketing schemes.

Chris F.

References:
http://www.gamification.co/2013/11/15/squat-30-times-free-metro-pass/

Deconstructing: Ingress

I apologize in advance for the length of this article. First, a little background: Ingress is a Google Lab game from Niantic Operations. The guy behind the project is also the guy who was the lead on Google’s geo division, responsible for Maps and Earth. He wanted to make a game using Earth and Maps’s capabilities, and went to form this Lab division called Niantic Labs. Ingress is a game, which helps Google with something (nobody can decide what with yet). It’s not just a gamified app, it’s not just an app. It’s a game, and it’s HUGE. And it’s brilliant. Here’s why.

 

The Game

Ingress is a mass multiplayer online territorial acquisition game played on mobile devices using a modified version of a map, with extra information added on top as an additional layer. The player joins one of two warring factions in the game, The Resistance and The Enlightened.

As a player, your goal is to help your faction control as many “mind fields” as possible all over the world. In order to take control of mind fields, your faction needs to control portals. You can link 3 friendly portals together to create a field. The larger the distance between the portals, the longer the links and the larger the field will be, the more points (dubbed MUs – mind units) your faction gains.

The extra layer

In many ways, Ingress is an augmented-reality game (ARG). It has special in-game information that only players would know about, such as XM, portals, even the factions themselves, it contains a unique premise: portals have opened throughout the world in key locations, and you need to capture them for your faction. It also makes the player feel special through this, by allowing you to feel like one of the relatively few people who can do anything about this.

It comes with a lot of developer-generated content, such as weekly reports about the game done in a news-style video, “journals” written by key influential figures in the game and even having real-life books written about the universe.

All of these, along with encouraging the players to set up communities via channels such as Google+ and Facebook allows for a very, very deep game immersion.

On a technical side, the game has 2 layers. The map background, which is a simple grey map with all the streets and paths on a dark background, with 2 different widths: thick for streets and thin for paths or pedestrian-only streets. The second, top layer, is the game-only information: XM fragments, portals, resonators, dropped items, links, fields and the player.

The player is represented by an arrow indicating your current position and orientation, with an “action radius” of 45 meters around you, in which you can take actions such as hacking portals.

Technically, it seems very simple, as Kort does the same thing, as well as tons of other OSM-based games. What I love about this game is that it takes itself seriously and uses the resources available to it for creating the virtual world around it and keeping the players invested via worldwide events, just like most mass multiplayer online games. At the moment, an event called Operation #13Magnus is taking place, at the end of which the game will go from closed beta to open beta.

I, the Player

First, it needs to be said that you will need to get out of your house to play this game. The game relies on your GPS location, so you will need a GPS-enabled mobile device in order to play it.

You can take actions as long as you have energy (called XM in the game). Your energy does not regenerate over time (ha, Facebook games). Instead, you need to walk over XM clusters that are spread throughout the in-game world. Also, each portal has a field of XM around it that regenerates over time, assuring that you will be able to take a minimum number of actions, provided you are next to a portal. Most of your actions require you to be in a 45 meter radius from the target of your action. Also, you collect XM from the same radius.

XM field around a portal. The circle around the player is the action radius. If your XM meter is under the maximum value, you automatically harvest the XM inside the radius,

The player has quite a lot of options in the game, as far as the games that I’ve visited till now go. Your main goal is to help your faction have more MUs than the opposing faction. You do this by linking friendly portals together.

In order to link portals together, you need to have Portal Keys. To get Portal Keys, you need to hack portals. You can hack both friendly and enemy portals. A hacked portal yields one or more of the following items: XMPs, resonators, mods and/or the key for that portal. Not every hack guarantees a portal key, and, as far as I’ve seen, once you have a portal’s key in your inventory, that portal won’t drop another key for you. You can, however (as I’ve recently learned from some veterans), drop a key on the ground, hack a portal, get its key, and then pick up the key that you’ve dropped earlier, giving you two keys.

In order to capture a portal, you need to deploy Resonators on it. Each portal can be fitted with a maximum number of 8 resonators, and once it has all 8, it can be linked to other friendly portals. You will need to destroy an enemy portal in order to be able to deploy your faction’s Resonators on it. Resonators have a life bar that naturally decays with around 1/6 of its life per day. You can recharge a resonator’s life, either while having the portal that it’s attached to in your action radius, or remotely, from wherever, if you have the key to the portal that it’s attached to. If you recharge a resonator remotely, the amount by which you recharge it depends on the distance to the portal, with a higher distance lowering the recharge efficiency (only noticeable over huge distances: from Ipswich to a portal in central London, the efficiency was 99.7%).

To destroy an enemy portal, you need to destroy the enemy Resonators on it by using an in-game weapon, called XMP. An XMP fires a damaging circular wave from your current location. It damages any enemy resonators caught in the wave and its damage decays with distance, with the most damage being dished out at the dead center (your location). So, if you want to do the most damage to an enemy Resonator, you need to stand on top of it when you fire the XMP.

You can also apply up to 4 modifications to a portal. These modifications come in 6 flavours: Shields, Force Amplifiers, Link Amplifiers, Multi-hack, Heat Sinks, and Turrets. These have effects such as making the portal more difficult to attack, increasing the intensity of the portal’s response to attackers, and increasing the yield of hacking the portal. As of September 2013, an individual player may place up to 2 mods per portal. They may not be removed or upgraded once placed.

Everything in the game, except XM fragments, links and fields, has a level between 1 and 8. As a new player, you start at level 1. Most of the actions you take generate AP, and you level up at certain AP values. Although you have all the action set unlocked since level 1, it’s very hard to engage in conflicts at lower levels. For example, destroying enemy resonators if they’re a higher level than you is very challenging. At low levels, you’re much better off if you just capture neutral portals for your faction, hack enemy portals and link your faction’s portals, hopefully creating fields.

As a player, you also have in-game access to the game community, through the COMM (communicator). You can select the range for which to see player messages in the COMM, with choices between 20km, 200km and global. Once you’ve selected which range you want to see, you can broadcast messages either to only your faction or to both factions. Also, in the COMM you get alerts every time sometime does something notable in your chosen radius, from capturing a portal to establishing a link or creating a field. You get these messages for both factions, and you’re also alerted if anyone attacks your portals or resonators.

We, the Faction

All your actions as a player help your faction. The more fields your faction has, and the larger they are, the more MUs your faction has. You can see the global score inside your OPS screen, which is more or less your dashboard. From your OPS screen, you can see the global score, you can access your inventory, the game settings and your stats.

The global score is usually around 50%-50%, with occasional variations. In almost 3 weeks of playing, the most disparity I’ve seen was 57%-43% for one of the factions.

Much like the Alliance vs. Horde dynamic of World of Warcraft (WoW), being a member of one of the two global factions allows you to feel part of something greater, it gives you a feeling of belonging. It’s great when you see people who are of a higher level than you giving you a helping hand with understanding the game, or giving you the items which you need.

This being a GPS-based game, it also means that if you want to organize something akin to a WoW raid, with tons of players working together at the same time for a greater faction reward (like creating a huge field between cities or countries), you actually need to meet with those people. I met with 3 other members of my faction this weekend and it was really great to do stuff together, take portals from the other faction and create fields and make most of Ipswich belong to my faction. Meetings like this are also a great opportunity to learn new things about the game, new strategies and secrets. I’ve been asked by one of the others that I met with yesterday: “So, Chris, how’s your gear? Is there anything you need? I have some level 4 XMPs if you need them.”. It took me aback for a bit, making me feel like an actual part of something bigger. It also sounded like someone trying to sell you something, only he was giving them away to help you play better: he’s a level 8 player, what need you he have of level 4 XMPs when he has level 8’s?

I’ve had a lot of help since I joined the game, mostly with understanding the underlying mechanics and the community’s perception of the game, and I think the game would be so much more bland without this layer on it.

With this extra “you need to be outside” layer, one of my first concerns was “What would happen if I met someone from the opposing faction, hacking away the same way I am doing right now?”. I was worried about the real life interactions with a person who was my virtual opponent, not knowing if they would know to differentiate between the real world and our digital rivalry.

During my meeting with the other Ingress-y people, I approached this subject as well. They have told me that generally that is not the case and players are actually ok with people from opposing factions, a fact also confirmed by the general Ingress Google+ groups, where people from opposing factions prod each other with in-game monikers such as “Long have my eyes endured the spreading of the enlightened . It’s time to stop it,
it’s time to resist” (pro-Resistance) or “Resistance is futile, you will be Enlightened” (pro-Enlightened) and then reaffirming that everything was in-game. I’ve also been told that there were a few exceptions (as there usually are), with some people whose phones have been stolen after being stalked by people using an unofficial app which allows you to track a user’s movements using their activity feed.

As a gamer myself, I should know this, but I felt that the extra stripped intimacy might affect parts of this dynamic. I’m happy to know that is not generally the case.

Motivation

Why have I played Kort only for 2 hours on a Saturday night but Ingress ever since I’ve downloaded it? Why am I even now plotting what the best route would to be to go get some Coca Cola from the local Iceland by passing the most portals and still get there till they close at 4PM? Why did I manage to persuade someone to switch from iPhone to Android just so they could play Ingress? All in all, what makes this a good game?

First, I believe that this game is very good simply because it has a high level of polish. It’s immersive, it doesn’t have visible bugs, and it looks like there has been quite a bit of design going in behind it. To be honest, it passes my personal favourite test for seeing how much game design effort has been in a game by allowing me to easily visualize it as a non-digital game.

While being owned by Google does have its advantages, I think that’s not the main thing that drives the advanced polish state that this is in. It’s a game, plain and simple, and you can see that it has been done by people who love it. It’s not just another university project, it’s not a master’s thesis, it’s not a side project. You can see that the amount of time that needed to be put into this so it works has been put there by people who worked on this full-time. Would the game be better, as Eric Raymond suggests, if it were open-source? Possibly. Would it have been a good idea to start this project as a weekend project by someone who works full time as something else? I don’t think so. Even Raymond says that good open-source projects build on what other people have done, before making them your own.

What does the game do to motivate me?

One of the things that I love the most is the amount of feedback that it gives you. Ever since you start the game, there is a voice feedback that tells you what you’re doing. It welcomes you back, tells you the amount of time since you last logged in (if more than a few hours). If you capture a portal, it congratulates you on your hacks and captures, tells you when a portal is attacking you, tells you when you’ve collected XM and so on. A game that gives feedback to its players is more likely to keep you invested because you know what you are doing and why certain things happen. For example, if you hack an enemy portal, ADA (the voice) tells you that you are under attack and you can see the portal shooting out a red lightning at you.

Enemy portal retaliating after you shoot an XMP burster

Taking Bartle’s model, here’s what you get for each type of player:

As an Achiever, you can collect badges in-game, with 8 badges available, each with 5 ranks, awarded for different achievements. No, you don’t get a badge when you’ve just started a game, after your first portal hack etc., these are badges you actually have to work for. I only have 1 badge at the moment, for holding a portal for a certain number of days. I’m close to getting the first rank of distinct portals hacked when I’ll get to 100 and that’s about it as to how close I am to getting badges. Another aspect that will appeal to Achievers is that you have TONS of detailed stats which you can gaze at in your OPS screen, from how many kilometers you’ve walked with the app open and in-focus (having it in the background doesn’t count) to how many MUs you’ve brought to your faction.

Agent tab in OPS screen.

As an Explorer, well,this game was made for you. You get to explore the real world around you, find new interesting things, and even can submit portals, which can then go live in about a month after submission. Your job in this game is to find and submit new portals, based on the awesome things around you.

Portal submission screen. Take a picture, write a name and description and you’re set.

The COMM is the in-game social channel, and it’s a great design choice: it gives Socializers something to do, allows new players to ask for hints and generally facilitates interaction between players, making it a truly multiplayer game. Socializers take care of the community and make sure that everyone feels welcomed.

Player conversations in the chat. [secure] means that only other users of the same faction can see those messages.

When a portal or resonator that you own gets attacked, you get an in-game message and email, if you’ve signed up for it. This feedback towards the player allows Killers to feel good, knowing that any damage they do on other player’s portals gets fed back directly to those players, harassing them in a way. ADA also tells you that you did a good job every time you destroy a resonator, which also appeals to a Killer’s ego.

Damage report on a Resistance portal, telling the player that a link has been destroyed.

Damage report on a Resistance portal, telling the player that a link has been destroyed.

But, why?

Why would Google invest in a game? What does it bring to them? Well, there’s a lot of speculation going on, with a fair share of conspiracy theories to them, as with everything Google-related.

The guy behind the project, Brandon Badger said that they are still considering how to monetize this opportunity, from the data collected on ad placement.

Ingress would also be, according to Badger, a really good launch product for the Google Glass. How awesome it would be to actually have a proper AR overlay for portals AS YOU LOOK AT THEM, and not just on your phone?

They could use this as a marketing software for the Glass, a more logical reason, take path and walking data from their users and update their Google Maps with better directions for walking.

Conclusion

Ingress is a great game. It shows that when you put a focused team on a project, and allow them to work just on that a great game can be made. I also think that Ingress is the proof of concept that map games work in real life.

Till next time, I’m gonna go get some Coca Cola and capture do some fields throughout Ipswich, hopefully I’ll get to level 5.

Chris F.

Deconstructing: Kort Game

I’ve recently been playing the first gamified application on my to-play list, the Zurich-made Kort. This is my attempt at deconstructing it in order to find out what makes it tick.

First, let’s see what the goal of this is: you need to verify a series of OSM data points around your GPS location. Each type of issue has a unique item. For example, buildings that need to be named have a blue building icon, places of worship that don’t yet have a religion assigned to them have a person praying on a green background, roads that don’t have a type of surface have a brown background and places whose languages haven’t been assigned have two dialogue bubbles on a dark green background. They’re easy to identify like this.

different icons for different types of missions

different icons for different types of missions

In terms of game flow, once the player signs in, he is presented with a map of the area that he is in, centered on his GPS position. You see two types of missions: the first one is the “add things that don’t exist yet” missions, and the second one is “verify what someone else said” missions. From there, you choose your missions and you complete them.

All the missions around Ipswich at the moment

All the missions around Ipswich at the moment

From what I’ve seen till now, there’s only two things that you can do: either you choose from a list of possible choices (i.e. choose religion of a place of worship) or input text (i.e. what’s the name of this pub?).

Input text

Input text

Choose from a list

Choose from a list

After each mission you are awarded a certain number of “Koins”(points), based on how hard/important the developers thought that mission would be.

Screenshot 05

You are also awarded badges based on the quantity of information that you put into Kort, with badges being awarded for your 1st, 10th, 100th and 1000th missions completed, respectively missions verified. There are also badges for being the 1st, 2nd and 3rd player worldwide. You are told immediately when you win a badge, in the same message in which you’re being told how many Koins you got from that mission.

Screenshot 06

And that’s, more or less, the game. I believe it’s quite good at giving you feedback about what you’re doing at any given time, with quite frequent dialogues Through the Profile tab, it allows you to see your stats: the number of missions/checks that you’ve completed, it shows you your global ranking and Koins, as well as all the badges in the game, with the ones that you’ve got being unlocked.

Look at all these badges I don't have

Look at all these badges I don’t have

Through the “Highscores” tab, you have access to the global leaderboard which shows you the top 10 players, followed immediately by you. As you scroll down, more and more of the top players get revealed, but your place is still immediately after them.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 383..Wait, what?

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 383..Wait, what?

You also have the option to see “My score”, which will show you the scores with you centered.

383 before me, 383 just after me...

383 before me, 383 just after me…

Analysis

The gamified app is good, but it could stand for some improvements.

I like the style of it, it’s really clean and it achieves its purpose. I believe that having different types of icons based on the type of task is really good, because it allows me, as a local, to think about or look for specific details.

It’s also good that it only shows you missions within a certain radius of your position, so you don’t get missions from another town or another country unless you’re actually there.

I’ve had a fiddle with ideas of not allowing you to resolve a mission unless you’re right next to it, in order to avoid cheating, but I guess you just have to take some chances. I did know one or two things on the map before I ever left the house (I went into town to actually check the things I completed), but I can’t help but think that I could just complete all the missions from my home and still get all the Koins. I would suggest you would have to be in a 100m radius of each of the missions in order to complete them.

Speaking of cheating, I don’t really understand the point of verifying missions before putting them in OpenStreetMap, with some of the missions having really high verify requirements (5 people need to verify this piece of road before it’s included in the OSM database). Although I understand you’re trying to prevent cheating, I don’t really see why I’d have to wait however much till 5 other people play this in Ipswich and verify my submissions when I can just get onto OSM and add the information there myself.

6 people needed to tell what a road is paved with. Sounds like Romanian bureaucracy

6 people needed to tell what a road is paved with. Sounds like Romanian bureaucracy

I would understand if you were trying to justify this as part of the game logic and make an important mechanic out of it, but the game only awards 5 Koins for each verified road. I wonder what would happen if they were to switch the importance of the missions, with checks being worth more Koins than missions. I believe it would be quite interesting, because people would know that they need to do checks to be high in the leaderboard, but in order to do checks, they need to complete missions. It sounds like a nice economic model.

One of the things that really irks me is that it does not have any location-based leaderboards. I’d be much more pleased to know that I’m the best Kort player in Ipswich than seeing that a random German user is on the first place world-wide.

Point related, I don’t know why they called their points Koins. I understand the need to call points something else than points in order to give the player a higher sense of immersion, but please don’t call anything Koins unless I’m actually allowed to use them as coins and exchange them for something else (maybe allow me to expand the radius around me in which I komplete missions or give me a nice avatar or I could choose a mission on the map on which to add a bonus for the person who kompletes it).

Now, let’s talk about the way this game plays with motivation.

It works really nice in giving me choices, as in I can choose to do whichever mission I want to do, be it a mission or a check, which is good: you’re not railroading me. It might seem a bit vast to a first-time player, but it’s straightforward enough to make it work. But.

When you finish a mission, it congratulates you and tells you that you’ve won Koins! Basically, it praises that you did something by telling you that you’ve won points, not that you have helped the world. I believe it encourages cheating by working off of extrinsic motivation (I get points), not on intrinsic motivation (I helped map the world!). Seeing as how it’s an OSM game, and as I’ve mentioned above, Koins are just over-glorified points, it seems a bit unnecessary to just tell me I got more points and it might work better if I knew I helped someone.

It also has no choices when it comes to player customization. I can use my Google/Facebook/OSM avatar, and that’s about it. What about letting me set an avatar in-game, maybe from a list? Maybe unlock more and more avatars as I complete more and more missions. Also, what about titles? It would be nice to know that I’m the Naming-King of Ipswich, because I named 100 buildings around town. If you are giving people choices about what missions to do, at least reward them differently based on those choices, with more than a different number of Koins.

I am generally against over-socializing an app, but when it comes to crowd-sourced efforts, I would add the option of allowing me to share my exploits around town on different social media websites, in order to maybe attract other users to the game and in the community.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s a nice gamified app, but it has a lot of fine-tuning to do, especially in giving the players more options and motivating them, keeping them in the game.

Gamification example: Pong crosswalk in Germany

When you say gamification, people usually think badges and levels and points. I’ve recently came across an example that marketed itself as a stop sign in Germany that allowed players to play Pong while they were waiting for the red light to change.

This is an example of gamification because it takes the task (chore) of waiting at the stop a pleasurable activity. It gives you a small game to play with someone on the opposite side of the street. This way, it both raises the interactivity and fun of waiting at a stop light, and it also encourages social interaction between people on opposite sides of the street. You can see it in action in this video:

Although this has been uncovered to be a video made by art students, but it shows a real-life application that would hopefully help solve some of the jay-walking problems in different countries around the world.

This stands to show how gamification could be applied to help transport or public safety problems.

To be fair, this could suffer from some problems like defacing with graffiti or someone who was angry punching the LCD screen, but I believe it could be a really nice initiative.

Chris F.

Bibliography
Carl Pierre. (2013). Why DC Needs To Take a Lesson on Innovation From This German Traffic Light . Available: http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2012/09/12/why-dc-needs-to-take-a-lesson-on-innovation-from-this-german-traffic-light/. Last accessed 6th Oct 2013.