We all know the pain of watching the uninitiated perform seemingly simple tasks on computers. Without the shortcuts and time savers that have become second nature, watching others use the computer can be as painful as nails on a chalk-board. But even software “experts” often utilize only 10% of any given software, so no matter who you are, 9/10 people think you are incredibly slow on the keyboard.
A new round of help is on the way! To make software expertise easier to attain, today Microsoft unveiled the second version of its adventurous foray into gamified software training, Ribbon Hero.
Ribbon Hero 2.0 promises higher levels of engagement with updated points, challenges, leaderboards, and a narrative with a new leveling system. I sat down for a demo with Sarah Faulkner of Office Labs and Jennifer Michelstein, Senior Program Manager of Ribbon Hero.
The first project began in Office Labs based on the belief that Office “has a lot of powerful features that can save users a lot of time and help them do some really cool things,” Jen told me, but oftentimes users are simply unaware of the features. Using points, challenges, and tutorials, Ribbon Hero gave users a chance to gain experience with software outside of typically dry IT training videos.
“Ribbon Hero is a game that helps users discover new office features in a fun and motivating way. The goal is to have users build familiarity and expose them to the Office UI, so that they understand what kind of features are available” and eventually explore the software beyond the limits of the game.
The game stands alone on your desktop, but each challenge takes the player into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote to complete a task. The narrative follows our old friend, the always eager to-help-favorite, Clippy. There is a hint button in case you get stuck, plus the existing multitude of forums in case you get really stuck. Points and leaderboards let you race for a high score with colleagues, classmates and friends, and the site recommends “even put your score on your resume to show off your Office skills!”
Ribbon Hero represents many of the core aspects of gamification. It takes something traditionally outside of games and tries to make it fun and engaging, and what has been more traditionally outside of fun than MSOffice? Jennifer and Sarah mentioned that they had “never really considered themselves gamers”, and it was not until casual games came on the scene that they really began playing them. Although they received support from the XBox team, Ribbon Hero was their first foray into game design.
Even though competition has increased amongst office software, experience with MSOffice is still very much a part of modern day education. Ribbon Hero is a great step at making that experience a little easier to attain, and a huge leap in making work more fun.