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Look At Me Takes on Autism Through Games-Based Learning


One of the characteristics of autism is the struggle to make and maintain eye contact. That challenge is part of a broader difficulty that autistic children have with social skills. Health care professionals have various ways to help autistic children connect with the world. Samsung is trying to do it with game-based learning.

Mobile apps and games help children learn and practice communications skills, Techcrunch explains. Samsung has developed a mobile app that offers a series of games, as well as photos and facial recognition software, to try to engage the mind and the eyes of an autistic child. Appropriately, the Samsung app is called Look At Me.

In one of the app’s games, faces of people have small dots over each person’s eyes. To play this game, the child must identify which person’s face appears in the dot from a selection of faces. Samsung says this game also teaches facial recognition by encouraging the child to focus on a person’s eyes.

Another Look At Me game tries to help autistic children recognize emotions. This game asks the child to discern between happy and sad from the lineup of faces presented. Each time the child chooses correctly, the child receives points. That reward encourages the child to keep playing and keep improving.

Samsung has put science behind the app. Look At Me was developed by doctors and professors from Seoul National University Bundag Hospital and Yonsei University Department of Psychology, according to TechCrunch. In a clinical trial consisting of 20 children, the researchers say that 60 percent of trial participants showed improvement in making eye contact.

Rhiannon Walton, a speech and language therapist, incorporates technology in her therapy sessions with children. She told London’s Daily Mail that the predictability of technology is particularly suited to the way autistic children learn. When you press a button, technology responds the same way every time, which is welcomed by autistic children. Unpredictability can confuse and even scare them, she said. There’s another reason that games and apps are so effective for children. Autistic children communicate visually, so they also best learn visually. Apps are very visual, making them particularly effective teaching tools, she said. Technology won’t cure autism. But the new Samsung app shows how gamification can offer new ways to help autistic children learn.

Image credit: Wikimedia


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Remodeling Clearly’s Logistics Training Program with Sean Goodman


Last time, we featured Clearly Logistic Supervisor, Sean Goodman to discuss how Clearly’s logistics department revamped their employee training program. Modeling after gamification concepts from Gabe Zichermann’s book “Gamification Revolution”, the program achieved major success and the organization is looking for new opportunities to incorporate gamification for its processes.

Watch the full interview below to learn about:

  • What challenges were facing Clearly’s logistics department before gamification was introduced?
  • How did the team came together in designing and implementing the program?
  • What has been the cultural impact on the organization upon implementing gamification?
  • How has the team responded to the introduction of non-cash vs cash rewards in the rewards program?
  • Has Clearly changed or rebalanced the value of the rewards in the virtual economy since the program’s introduction?
  • What were the lesson learnt in driving progress and specific metrics for individuals?
  • How has the management team reacted to the program’s success and taking it other parts of the organization?

Watch the video or listen to the audio podcast below.

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Nike+: Building Community and Competitive Advantage with Gamification


Nike+ Uses Gamification to Build a Community and Increase Consumer Engagement

Nike is a brand that has been engrained in the United States and around the world. Motivating people worldwide to “Just Do It”™ and be active; it is a beacon of health, wellness, fashion, and promoting physical activity. However, Nike hasn’t always been this successful. Arguably Nike’s most important product line is their running shoes. Nike has had fierce competition from Under Armour and Adidas for many years. Nike took a step forward and used gamification to increase customer engagement and brand awareness to take control of the running shoe market.

In 2006, Nike developed an app called Nike+ which tracks running distance, speed, and time. It stores the data every time you run so you can monitor your progress. You can compete with friends and other Nike+ users to try and run the furthest distance. The purpose is to get people active and running, and they use gamification to do so. There are leaderboards for different time frames (weekly, monthly, and so on). If you are one of the top runners, your profile is displayed on the leaderboard for bragging rights. Nike+ can export the data to other apps (such as food tracking apps for calories burned) and can also publish your information to your social media accounts. Nike+ has become a community of people who all enjoy running and want to push each other to keep improving and live healthy lifestyles.

In order to gain a competitive advantage, Nike implemented gamification to their marketing mix and was able to secure a controlling portion of the running shoe market. In 2006, Nike controlled 47% of the running shoe market and launched Nike+ in the middle of the year. In 2007, they controlled 57% of the market, and 61% in 2009. They’ve had a controlling portion of the running shoe market ever since. In 2007 there were 500,000 Nike+ members. In 2013, there were 11,000,000 Nike+ members and the numbers keep growing.

Overall, the development of Nike+ was very successful. It created an incredible community where physical health is celebrated and encouraged. They used gamification to create a community based around running and friendly competition. The demand for Nike shoes skyrocketed, and the brand awareness led to a controlling share of the running shoe market. Now the Nike name and logo is instantly recognized almost anywhere in the world.

Image credit: flickr


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Sokobond: Teaching Chemistry Through Games


Gamification is fun even with the most serious games. Learning through games is as interactive and entertaining as it gets, and Sokobond is no different.

This puzzle game has the player piece together molecules by controlling one atom at a time while trying to connect it to other elements through bonding electrons. Players create common molecules such as water and table salt as well as more complicated structures like ammonia and ethylene. Each new molecule formed unlocks new levels on the periodic-table-shaped map and shows fun factoids.

But its strength is the way it teaches basic molecular structure and critical thinking. Just as in real life, each atom only bonds through its electrons, and once the players uses up all the electrons, you’re out of options. Making the rules of chemistry the same as the rules of the game lets the player learn through varied application instead of routine repetition. A gameplay session with Sokobond instills its material better than any traditional science homework–but it doesn’t end there. It takes immense critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills to form each molecule. With a limited number of solutions and the added mechanics where certain spaces split or double existing bonds, the player must learn to solve the problems creatively.

With its unique take on science, its price, and technical accessibility–low system requirements for the PC version and an upcoming mobile release on iOS and Android–Sokobond is an obvious choice for giving others the building blocks of one the science’s toughest subjects.

Image credit: Pixabay


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Hyatt Reservation Center Boosts Employee Productivity with Gamification


Hyatt Employs Gamification to Make Call Center Work Engaging

Sitting in a call center taking and making calls is the kind of job that many people find repetitive and boring. But at one major American company, an entire department plays games on company time and does so with the full knowledge and consent of management. That company is the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Encouraging employees to play games, the company found, improved employee engagement in the work by setting goals, which in turn, boosted their productivity.

Hyatt turned to gamification to give employees incentives to meet company targets in the hotel’s rewards program, the loyalty program designed to keep hotel guests coming back to Hyatt. By making a certain number of calls or securing new enrollments in the program, an employee gains virtual tokens to play in games created by gamification company Snowfly. One game might involve unlocking a treasure, CIO magazine explains. Another game could be based on throwing darts. Snowfly’s developers designed the games and reward system to keep employees engaged with a task. The main key to success is to identify shorter and measurable accomplishments, Snowfly founder and CEO Brooks Mitchell told CIO.

“In sales, while the ultimate goal is the sale, there are many smaller sub-behaviors which, if accomplished and rewarded, will lead to the end goal of the sale,” he explained.

Brian Burke, an analyst at research firm Gartner, says that gamification works best when it focuses the effort on areas where employee goals are aligned with an organization’s goals. If a company or a department can find that alignment,gamification works because when an employee achieves his or her goals, the organizational goals are also achieved, Burke explains.

Hyatt now uses the Snowfly games for all of its reservation center employees, according to CIO. The company is so pleased with how the program has worked at the reservation center, that it is now experimenting with the games at some of its hotels as a part of an employee incentive program, as well.

Image credit: Wikipedia


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CyberDoctor Gamifies Medication Regimen With Novel Mobile App


As patients take more pills, tracking that medication and staying on the pill schedule gets harder and harder. There’s no shortage of mobile apps that aim to help patients stick to the drug regimen. But many of these apps feel punitive. After all, an alarm or warning that you haven’t yet taken your meds can feel more like medication compliance by punishment. It doesn’t have to be that way. A gamification startup has developed a mobile app that encourages medication compliance by turning the mundane drug regimen into an engaging game.

Startup CyberDoctor‘s mobile app Patient Partner presents scenarios for a character that’s chosen by the user. As the story unfolds, a user must make choices for his or her character. If the concept sounds similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of children’s books, that’s by design, CyberDoctor explains. By presenting scenarios in which a patient must make choices, the startup hopes to help patients understand the impact that their own choices have on their own health.

CyberDoctor’s choose-your-own-adventure concept sounds simple but it has scientific reasoning behind it. Akhila Satish, the company’s CEO and the developer of the app, holds a master’s degree in biotechnology. She also developed the app in partnership with pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies. The company has clinical trial data to back up the app’s claims of efficacy. Diabetes magazine A Sweeter Life notes that trials in diabetes patients who had struggled to follow doctor’s orders in maintaining their blood glucose levels showed improvement in that measure, along with improvements in adherence to medications, diet, and exercise.

When the Patient Partner game is over, the medical encouragement is not. The app provides feedback to encourage even more participation, which in turn, promotes better medical compliance. After the patient completes a scenarios, Patient Partner can e-mail results to the user, which can help the patient determine areas of improvement.

Coping with a disease is no picnic. But CyberDoctor is showing new ways that managing disease can be fun. Perhaps even more important, the company has real data showing that its app improves patient outcomes.

Credit image: flickr


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Reliving WWI Flight History with Mobile Gamification App: Ace Academy


Museum’s Mobile Gamification App Simulates Historical Flight Training

For many students, a field trip to the museum is a break from the classroom but to others it’s not much more fun than school. However, mobile gamification apps can give students a real escape while engaging them in the subject matter of the museum. These apps can turn museum visits into interactive adventures. Canada Aviation and Space Museum’s Ace Academy is one of these apps. It takes a visitor on a “time-trip” to World War I flight navigation training.


Canada Aviation and Space Museum wanted to hire a team to create Ace Academy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I. That team was digital communication and marketing development company SE 3D Interactive. SE integrated narrative, gamification and interactive learning with the museum’s World War I exhibit, including archives and aircraft models, to create a mobile app and installation program that would allow visitors to experience the likeness of a WWI aviation school. The result was a flight simulation app called Ace Academy that released in November of 2014.

How the App Works

According to the 2015 Museums and the Web conference’s website, Ace Academy’s storyline involves the user who assumes the role of a cadet in training. A character of an experienced pilot acts as a guide taking the user/cadet through interactive lessons. It’s a little like Star Wars: Empire at War. Empire at War features tutorials in which mentor-like characters guide the user through the lessons. The major difference is that Ace Academy is based on real historical events instead of those of an imaginary “galaxy far, far away.” When the cadet completes training, he or she takes a culmination exam in the form of a test flight that includes target shooting.


The user has a choice of seven digital 3D models of the museum’s WWI aircraft. Each model has 360 degree view rotation, hotspots that give details of facts and features, and a gallery of additional images from the museum’s collection. Half-way through the training, the user is given access to the museum’s “Hidden Collection” and additional content to artifacts and other display items he or she is observing in actuality. The content is accessible in both audio and text format that won’t compromise “downloadability” or cross “acceptable industry standards for size,” says Museums and the Web.


With its 3D graphical settings and other cutting-edge innovations, Ace Academy makes a trip to the museum an interactive time travel adventure rather than a mere academic observation. Yet, the user learns the history behind the artifacts.  The mobile gamification app, Ace Academy is available at iTunes and Google Play Store.

Image credit: Wikipedia


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DirecTV Gamifies Failure Into A Training Success


Playing games is fun, but people also driven to play games because they want to win. Businesses have found different ways to gamify employee training. But DirecTV is taking a counterintuitive approach that uses gamification to celebrate failure. And it’s working.

DirecTV’s goal was to support the company’s 1,000-person IT department, which had experienced a demoralizing succession of failed projects, according to CIO magazine. Company executives wanted to change things up without having the IT department descend into finger-pointing blame. Russell Bacon, an executive who holds the unusual title of chief inspiration officer, came up with a learning software platform that allowed the IT staffers to view and create videos about failure – an exercise intended to be a learning experience.

Since launching, the platform has expanded to incorporate social collaboration and crowdsourcing tools. The platform, Bacon explains, is a place for IT workers to not only learn but also to interact with each other. To entice employees to use the platform, DirecTV turned to gamification. The gamification features allows employees to earn points and badges based on their ability to complete assignments for viewing and creating videos, taking quizzes, commenting, and sharing.

“When you launch those kinds of platforms, a significant marketing effort is required so that employees understand it’s O.K. spending time doing this activity,” Brian Burke, a vice president at research firm Gartner, told CIO magazine. “If you don’t have enough people actively contributing, voting, and commenting, then it’s dead in the box.”

The games come with prizes, such as iPads and iPods – a strong incentive to play. According to DirecTV, gamifying the platform tripled employee usage of the software. But more important, that increased participation led to a reduction in IT problems by 30 percent. It doesn’t end there. DirecTV is so pleased with the results of gamifying failure that the company’s human resources department is now considering adapting the approach for additional training.

Credit image: flickr


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Educational Games: Approaching Controversial Topics with Care


While educational games have a history of contributing positively to student learning, there are cases where something developers perhaps should not have turned into a game. The recent flak over Mission US: Flight to Freedom illustrates the point.

Mission US: Escape to Freedomis a segment of a Web-based history game that has players assume the role of Lucy King, a 14-year-old slave living on a Kentucky plantation in 1848. Players navigate the game by making decisions that change the way the game progresses.

Mission US: Escape to Freedom is for middle school students. It is part of broader series of “missions” created by WNET, New York City’s public television station. Other missions in the series include stories from other perspectives:

  • A Russian immigrant at the turn of the 20th century
  • A teenaged member of the Northern Cheyenne nation
  • A young Boston colonist

WNET reports that they created the Mission series to get students engaged in learning about many aspects of the American experience, including the less savory parts of history.

In spite of this, and in spite of some awards, the “Escape to Freedom” mission has caused controversy for WNET. Common Sense Media deleted the game from their list of games that could be used to teach kids about Black History Month. They also pulled a review of the game.

This is not the first time that educators and activists have dealt with games that address unsavory aspects of history:

  • A game similar to the “Escape to Freedom” mission, Freedom!, was the target of a lawsuit and was eventually taken off the market.
  • The Anti-Defamation League has cautioned against using games to teach about the Holocaust.

What events or topics should educational games not deal with at all, or is anything up for gamification in some way? Should the slave trade itself be fair game for game developers for example?

Image credits: Wikipedia


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DevHub: Developing Consumer Engagement Through Gamification


DevHub is a platform where consumers can build websites and make money for their work. It had “over 300,000 sites built on the platform by the end of 2009” and is still recognized as a leader in website building and monetization. Their long term success is credited to solving a few core problems by implementing gamification:

  • A large portion of their user base were confused and had issues getting started.
  • User base fatigue from site-building, long term user activity would gradually decrease.
  • Many websites were being rushed and had little to no valuable content.

Geoffrey Nuval, the CEO of EVO Media Group which created DevHub, recognized that there were flaws in their system that needed to be addressed. To alleviate user base frustrations and assist in the early stages of learning and website development, DevHub created the DevHub Site Stream. The site stream was a dynamic checklist that provided suggestions and steps for consumers to fully flesh out their creation. New users could access it as a guide to making their first website. Experienced users were able to benefit from the checklist by making sure they didn’t miss anything. DevHub was able to help their new consumers build a website while at the same time teaching them how to create valuable content.

After introducing the DevHub Site Stream, DevHub went and implemented gamification strategies for their entire website. Their goal was to combat user fatigue and increase consumer engagement by providing additional incentives for proper website creation. Users were awarded coins and points every time they completed a step towards making a new website. DevHub made the points and coins valuable by adding a leaderboard and marketplace to their website. The leaderboard displayed the users with the highest amount of points to encourage friendly competition and bragging rights. The coins were able to be exchanged for tools, templates, and other goods to improve the quality of their website.

Each and every new game element DevHub implemented was to reach their overall goal of increasing user engagement and helping create quality websites. Following the implementation of the DevHub Site Stream and other gamification features, there was an enormous increase in user retention, website quality, and website creation:

  • Website building actions increased 9 times over per site.
  • New users on average did 10+ building actions on their first visit, leading to a 90% completion rate of fully developed websites.
  • Nearly half of the user actions were from the DevHub Site Stream.
  • The DevHub marketplace has become an extra revenue stream for users who want to sell goods and services.

Creating a proper gamification system for your organization can be a daunting task. Despite this, implementing gamification for your organization can have incredible results. Professionals with years of experience in gamification implementation can assist with defining your goals, developing a plan, and implementing features that will exceed your expectations.

Image credits: Wikimedia


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Nintendo’s Amiibos: A Valuable Lesson in Customer Loyalty


Anyone Can Buy a Product

Not everyone can create custom content that links back to a brand. A great example of loyal customers who love their company: Nintendo. Nintendo gamers love to riff, spin-off, and make YouTube videos about Nintendo products.

Amiibos are No Ordinary Toy

Take the example of Nintendo’s amiibo products. They’re plastic figurines with built-in NFC chips. As Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime put it at the June 2014 launch: This is no ordinary toy.” Players can use these figurines to create avatars on favorite games like Super Smash Brothers. Once a player taps the amiibo to their Wii U console, the amiibo becomes an interactive digital part of the game. The game sends information to the amiibo, and the amiibo can send information to the game.

But get this. An amiibo cost $12.99. Nintendo is banking on customer loyalty to add the rest of the value to compensate for its loss in price. Amiibos are all the rave among gamers because they love the novelty of the figurines, and they love how it gives them a tangible connection to what was once only a digital world. Not only can kids (and adults too) maneuver Link to fight Samus in Super Smash Brothers, but gamers can collect the toy to life figures for their own enjoyment.

However, it does not stop there and this is the crucial point. 

Here is a case study in how one fan took their love of amiibos and not has he become a loyal fan, but he creates content for the company. It’s a valuable lesson. He crafted a zombified Princess-Peach-Mushroom-spawn-born-out-of-her-stomach work of art. The piece goes by the name “Princess peach zomiibo mod” and the artist reminds us that the figurine “just needs a nice coat of vanish [sic].” What a game this would be — especially if you are a Ridley Scott fan, a Space Balls fan, and a lover of all things Mario-related.

Seriously, we have to give props to this amiibo transmogrification. First of all, Princess Peach has those lovely, scary Horror movie “white eyes” and not only is she giving birth to her power-up mushroom spawn, but she is simultaneously eating his brains out. Is this what would really happen in a counterfactual, realistic Mario world? I never thought getting (or, eating!) a power-up would be so much horrifying one!

And don’t you now want to go and buy  Amiibos? (so you can think up your own favorite mash-up?)

I go into the details of this custom-made amiibo not just because it is cool, but to illustrate how far fans will go to show dedication to the brand. One loyal fan on Reddit who obviously loves amiibos has created custom-made content that strengthens the brand, and adds to Nintendo’s legacy.

Do you think amiibos are Nintendo’s tangible answer to brand loyalty? Do you think fans go “too far” in their love of a brand? Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear what you have to say about the intersection between gaming and loyalty.

Image credits: flickr



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Duolingo: Game Based Learning of Languages


Imagine learning in 34 hours what would traditionally take an entire semester. Duolingo, a game based language-learning program, provides a platform for doing just that.

The service is a great example of games being used to provide a more expansive educational experience. A free service, it comprises an immense online collaboration between a language-learning website and a crowd-sourced text translation platform. Students work toward learning a language while translating websites and documents: authentic assignments all the more engaging for their real-world application.

Students progress naturally through Duolingo’s learning system, with novices starting with basic text from the web, and more advanced users working on more difficult translations.

With Duolingo, students log on to lessons in reading, listening, speaking, and translation challenges. Each lesson receives an immediate grade, so learners can see quickly how they can improve. Students vote on other learners’ translations, so they receive instant feedback for improved comprehension. The service presents the best translations for each sentence publicly, for continued learning opportunities.

The program’s monitoring of progress through a “streak count” encourages learners to stay on track. As they progress through the program, students earn skill points for lesson completion or translating web content. There are time-based features, such as extra skill points and time bonuses when success comes within a given time restraint. Further impetus comes in the form of “hearts,” which keep the learner alive. The student loses a heart with incorrect answers, and can start over for another attempt when she is out of them altogether.

Duolingo is an adaptive service that educators will appreciate for its individualized, differentiated instruction that is accessible to all learners at all levels. It tracks completed lessons, translations, and tests, provides essential feedback to encourage progress, and offers new lessons and assignments based entirely on the student’s progress.

It is also completely free, with no annoying ads or app purchases to make, and is available in both web and mobile applications. Languages currently available for instruction are virtually unlimited, and include French, German, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Image credits: Wikimedia


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Does Gamification Work? Recent Empirical Study Shows Positive Results


Gamification continues to grow in popularity as an innovative solution to problems in a wide variety of fields from education to healthcare.  This rising interest has led to a number of published academic studies all asking the same question: Does gamification really work?

Research Study

research paper produced for the 2014 Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences carefully reviews twenty-four scholarly empirical research studies which all focused directly on the success of gamification. These studies were broken into three parts: motivational affordances, psychological outcomes, and behavioral outcomes. The motivational affordances predominantly included points, leaderboards, and badges. The psychological outcomes included motivation, attitude, and enjoyment. The behavioral outcomes “used experiments or statistical analyses from existing services or implementations designed by the researchers” to measure response patterns and task performance and also investigated use intentions through survey methods.

A Survey of the Results

The study concluded that gamification yielded positive results when appropriately utilized for a specific context and tailored to individual users. The study warns that in certain contexts (such as e-commerce) “outside pressures (such as extrinsic rewards) undermine intrinsic motivations and hence would in essence undermine gamification which is an attempt to afford for the emergence of intrinsic motivations.” In order for gamification to succeed, game-like systems must be adaptable and engage both the specific context and behavioral patterns of users.


By focusing on the tailoring the four goals of gamification (accelerated feedback, defined rules, compelling narrative, and achievable goals) specifically to the industry and business needs, companies can further increase the positive effects of game design. Game mechanics should allow for the variety of motivational affordances to adapt to a broad spectrum of participants. As this study proves, the question we should ask is not “Does gamification work,” but rather, “How can I reap the greatest benefit from gamification for my industry’s unique needs?”

Image source: Flickr


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Gamified Airport Experience Survey with Beat LAX Traffic


Uncover Driver Behavior and Decision Making for Airport Passenger Pickup

LAX, Los Angeles International Airport is currently undergoing a major renovation project to overhaul its current layout of getting in and out of the airport terminal. The massive project potential involves reconstructing parking garages, developing a light rail line system and car rentals.  Critical decisions will be made throughout the lengthy duration of the project and those decisions need to be backed by statistical data. Instead of using traditional surveys, LAX has opted for an interactive gamified survey experience, Beat LAX Traffic.

The survey challenges the user to pick up their hypothetical passenger(s) from the airport within an allocated time.

The survey seeks to fulfill two key goals. First, to understand the thought process and decision criteria in making choices of every driver who pick up their passengers at the airport. Secondly, discern what facility and amenity features are valued by passengers during their typical LAX experience.

Option 1
Several decision points users will make involve how they would pick up their passenger.

Drawing inspiration from Choose Your Own Adventure narratives, the survey challenges the user to pick up their hypothetical passenger(s) from the airport within the allocated time. In their journey, users will be prompted with several decision points, most notably how they would pick up their passenger (park, circle around the airport or wait at In-N-out). Upon making key decisions, users will be given the opportunity to explain their reasoning.

Test your luck
Users are introduced to unique set of random events that mimics real life situations.

For each decision path, users are introduced to its own unique set of random events that mimics real life situations. For example, if one decides to circle around the airport, there is a chance of the user being spotted by the cops and told to move along. While it may take several attempts in getting the right strategy, users will eventually be able to successfully pick up their passenger(s).

Strategy 1
Options for choosing strategy.

Upon completing the goal, users are given the option to answer follow up questions in a more quiz like format such as desirable key amenities when taking a flight from LAX, average duration of picking up a passenger and how often you visit LAX.

Follow up questions are more quiz like.

Beat LAX Traffic provides a unique gamified experience that gives its users something to explore rather than a traditional, boring survey. By shifting the concept of surveys into a visually relevant theme coupled with fun gamification elements, it prolongs user attention while giving them a novel, fun experience just for a moment of sharing their thoughts.


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What Made the 90s the Golden Age of Educational Games?


Games in education is a hot topic these days. Teachers are trying to figure out how to use video games to benefit the education of their students. That’s difficult when entertainment games and educational games seem to exist as separate industries catering to separate worlds.

But somehow, it worked in the 90s. Blockbuster educational games resulted from a collaboration between education experts and game designers. Unlike today, the industries overlapped. Equal focus on creativity, educational value, and fun resulted in games children wanted to play.

Giving it time

In 2015, it’s reasonable to expect an app to be created within thirty days. New technologies and programs are produced at an alarmingly fast rate.

In the 90s, The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis and other highly popular games were often in development for over a year, in part because the developers tested multiple versions on children. It wasn’t about making a ton of money. It was about finding where peak learning and peak fun met.

As CD-ROMs shot up in popularity, there was a demand for mass production. Retail prices sunk. explains that, with minimal profit margins, “the ability to fund the long prototype times and high production values… slid away with every game.” The education games were no longer economically viable.

The Zoombini generation all grown up

The kids who once played Zoombini, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and The Oregon Trail are now having kids of their own and looking for the modern day equivalent that doesn’t exist.

Is the nostalgia factor enough to embark on a new golden age of educational video games? A modern version of Logical Journey of the Zoombinis is being developed by a nonprofit, TERC, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, and it might be the start of something.

Do you think educational games can make a comeback? And if so, can they stick around this time?

Image credits: Creative commons


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