Gamification Roundup – January 30, 2012

Gamification Roundup – January 30, 2012


This week in the Gamification Roundup we have little companies doing big things. In the face of massive companies and acquisitions, startups and other smaller institutions are still achieving great innovations across all sectors and are growing as a result.

Folding Virtual Proteins Brings Real Scientific Success

The online protein-puzzle game Foldit has been active since 2008 with over 240,000 registered users that play the game to aide in research to provide more structurally stable protein models. This week, Foldit achieved something great and actually resulted in the redesign of an enzyme. The Scientific American reports on a redesign of a Diers-Alders reaction enzyme that has led to a “13-fold increase in activity”. Could Foldit eventually produce proteins that block viruses altogether?

Rocketpower Your Child’s Math and Reading Scores

Rocketship Education is a fairly new charter school network that has a focus on game-based learning in their famous Learning Lab. According to blog MindShift, the students go to this learning lab to engage in 50-minute computer sessions in reading and math. The games also include gamification elements in which a cartoon character rewards players with points when they answer a question correctly. The program is definitely showing success, especially at their flagship school at Mateo Sheedy Elementary: 90% of students at Mateo qualify for free/reduced lunch and yet their test scores are at 925 API, equivalent to the much more affluent Palo Alto school district nearby.

Sensor All the Things!

I have seen attempts to gamify life already but GreenGoose is taking it to another level. ProgrammableWeb reports on a new API by GreenGoose that allows you to purchase their proprietary senors that allows you to stick them to just about anything you can think of. The API will enable you to transmit and read data so that you can keep track of the information picked up by the sensors in any way you can think of. Essentially, the GreenGoose enables you to turn anything into a game. You could attach a sensor to a leash to see how far you can walk your dog or you could even attach a sensor to a frisbee and try to break your best distance record. There are multiple types of stickers and sensors available to purchase right now but will we eventually see real-life gauges and meter bars as well?

Prize Unlocked: Ice Cream for Breakfast

Many people criticize videogames as a big reason for why kids are so lazy these days but why not use this to your advantage and make chores into a videogame? TechCrunch talks about a new startup named HighScoreHouse that aims to do just that: kids do chores and input their achievements in an iPad application that awards them points. These points can be redeemed for prizes especially imporant to kids, such as ice cream for breakast or getting to sit in the front seat of the car. Cofounder Kyle Seaman aims to “do for families what Zynga did for social networks and gaming.”

Hoopla is Addding ESPN-like Feeds to Motivate Sales Teams

FlyingKite reports on a gamification company called Hoopla that has recently acquired $2.3M in series A investments. Hoopla’s approach to gamification is to provide visual information in an ESPN-like fashion to provide analytical information to motivate sales teams. Having large displays on analytical information about the sales team while providing statistics sounds like one of the more ideal gamification applications I have heard of. In a competitive environment such as sales, the introduction of stats and analytics simply makes sense as a way to motivate sales personnel even more.

Image (c) chrisbastian –


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  1. I was thinking that Gamification was different from a real game. Isn’t it?, If so the protein folding game is just a game, not the gamification of a marketing effort.
    So are we talking games themselves and how to monetize them or how to lay gaming engagement over a product or service that isn’t a game when we discuss gamification?

    • If you look at on the surface, it looks like a game. If you’ve played it, you’ll know it is a moderately engaging puzzle game of discovering the most efficient three dimensional structures.

      I am not arguing that isn’t a game, but it is also a great example of gamification. If you look back at the development of, you’ll find how the research team out of the University of Washington took something that was very much not a game – the computer modeling of proteins – and gamified it with a human interface and clearly described points, teams, and competitions in order to make it what it is today: a game.

      Now, I agree with you that lot of the marketing campaigns you described are not games. They aren’t fun, interactive, or engaging, but when gamification is successful a task as dull as modeling a protein can be engaging to a wider audience.