Sunday, November 8, 2009

Windows 7 Language Quality Game

The Windows Language Quality Game enabled native language speakers to help assess and improve the linguistic quality of localized editions of Windows 7.

There is coverage on Spanish TV - link is here - about minute 13


• Computerworld (German) - here
• Pacific NW Software Quality Conference - here
• Jim Mockford on Twitter - here
• Microsoft Press Blog - here
• Techflash - here

Google Test Automation Conference - Video and Slides

GTAC 2009 - Zurich - 22 Oct 2009

Video is here

Slides are here

Paper is here

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Score One for Quality

Google Test Automation Conference
Zurich - Oct 22nd 2009

Paper is here:

Research into the generation gap between current managers from the Baby Boomer era and the incoming group of Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials shows that video games are a significant distinction to separate the two. Those generational differences indicate the need, as we seek to understand this research, for experimentation in how test teams find bugs. Bug Bash 2.0
We found a very powerful mechanism for communicating organizational priorities effectively and quickly. People engage quickly, and games can drive QA behaviors that help improve both product quality and employee morale. This creates a virtuous cycle where standard productivity metrics improve as engagement improves. The game discussed here introduces a new level of quality into the localization efforts by using “the crowd” – a diverse worldwide employee base in this case. We predict that “Games at Work” or “Productivity Games” carry a huge potential for influencing not just the software engineering workplace, but all industries and employee populations.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

BBC News - Games at work may be good for you

BBC NEWS Technology Games at work may be good for you:

"Games at work may be good for you"

Scientists from the University of Utrecht have studied the effects of game playing on 60 employees in a Dutch insurance firm.

The results suggest that, instead of games being a waste of time at work, they might help personal productivity and make people feel better about their jobs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Addressing World-Scale Challenges : Computer Games and Learning

Microsoft Research Faculty Summit

Addressing World-Scale Challenges
Computational approaches provide a powerful means for addressing previously unsolvable problems. Increasingly, computing technologies are what makes the difference in enabling new approaches applied to world-scale challenges in such diverse disciplines as medicine and healthcare, energy and the environment, and educational and social progress.
In response to these significant global challenges, the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2009 investigates how computing technologies can best help scientists make progress in these important areas. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in creative, open discourse on research topics.
Identifying computational enablers for solving critical social and scientific problems is a main theme for this year’s faculty summit:
• Energy Sustainability.
• Addressing climate change.
• Transformational improvement in healthcare.

Computer Games and Learning: Best Practices Using Games to Teach—in Academia and at Microsoft
Chris Franz, Microsoft; Jennifer Michelstein, Microsoft; Ken Perlin, New York University; Ross Smith, Microsoft
The Games for Learning Institute is a joint venture with Microsoft Research, New York University, and affiliated New York regional schools. Nine months into its efforts, it has prematurely published its annual report discussing the latest research about how to make great games and how to make great game vehicles for teaching. This talk is complemented by three efforts at Microsoft where product groups are using games to teach the esoteric features of Microsoft software, facilitate learning, and improve software development. See some very cool stuff and learn how to get your kids to love math (as does Ken Perlin) or find out how to use a feature in Microsoft Office Word you have not yet discovered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Looking for a great quote

I was preparing a slide deck for an upcoming presentation about Productivity Games. I needed a quote to help show how the generation gap is only going to get wider. I opened Mike Muetzel's book, "They're Not Aloof... Just Generation X", because I knew he had a lot of great ideas in there about the challenges existing managers have working with Gen-X employees. It didn't take long, and I found one in the intro.

"And if you think managing Gen X employees and managers is a tough assignment today, then I can tell you the next generation will take you over the edge and push your existing management styles to limits you never dreamed existed."

That just summed it up so well. The age-old management techniques that many of us have learned in our careers so far are just not going to be as successful with the incoming generation of employees as they were with us. We need to start innovating how we manage people now so that we can find the best ways to help the Gen Y and Millenial generations come into the work place feeling engaged, appreciated and motivated.

That's where productivity games can play a role.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Serious Games in the Enterprise

Farmer's Insurance

IBM introduced Innov8 2.0. and Farmer's Insurance is running a pilot for using the game to train employees on call center operations and and claims processing .

Article in Manufacturing Business Technology here

More here and IBM site here

The IBM site has a link to play online and try it out. link

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Google's Image Orientation Captcha

Google's new image orientation captcha is a good example of a productivity game. The core skill required is an ability to discern between an upright image and a not-upright, or incorrect, image.

Players use these core skills to work at re-orienting the images correctly.

The paper is here:

"Given a large repository of images, such as those from a web search result, we use a suite of automated orientation detectors to prune those images that can be automatically set upright easily. We then apply a social feedback mechanism to verify that the remaining images have a human-recognizable upright orientation."


Tech Blorge:

Friday, April 10, 2009

View an archived version of the Productivity Games webinar

PDF of presentation with speaking notes
Also includes links to some of the research and sources that were discussed

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Productivity Games Webinar hosted by Snowfly

Snowfly will host a webinar on Productivity Games on April 2, 2009

"The increasing presence of the "Gamer Generation" has forced many organizations to come up with a better way to motivate and inspire employees. When you take into consideration the obvious effect that video games have had on today's workforce, there seems to be a perfect opportunity to design work as a game and re-engage employees and improve productivity."

More info link

Snowfly is a Wyoming-based company that develops employee incentive software. Their approach rewards employees with game play, using random point-yielding games to drive productivity improvements. link

A recent article in Canadian Business describes more:

"Capstone gives employees who meet their objectives a chance to play online games from which they earn rewards such as cash in the form of a reloadable Visa card (the most popular option), electronic gift certificates and gift cards." - link

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Patriot Points and Blog

See for more information and a link to the full proposal.

An American investment in infrastructure – schools, broadband, energy-efficient buildings, highways, etc – should include a “national point system” to provide an incentive scheme for people to volunteer and help America grow. To create a new spirit of cooperation will require a bit of a nudge. The demographics of the country illustrate that a large percentage of citizens have grown up with and/or actively play video games. There is a sense of optimism about what Americans can accomplish, but hard work will be required. The establishment of a “Patriot Points” system will provide a way to attract volunteers, encourage cooperation, and track progress in a cost-effective and entertaining way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Benjamin Franklin: Using Chess to learn Italian

Happy Birthday to Benjamin Franklin today, January 17th

"The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strenghtened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have points to gain, and competition or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn:

First, Foresight...

Second, Circumspection...

Third, Caution...

And lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating ones self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory by our own skill, or, at least, of giving a stale mate, by the negligence of our adversary." Benjamin Franklin, The Morals of Chess.

That final paragraph is inspiring to read, even 300 years later.

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17th, 1706. Today is his 303rd birthday. He grew up in Boston. He was the youngest son, and had nine brothers and seven sisters. He loved to learn – to read and write. He liked the game of chess and a game called "Magic Squares" -

He trained to be a printer, traveling to England for two years as a teenager to learn the trade.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin wrote "The Morals of Chess" about the game he had been playing for decades.

The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. For life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effects of prudence or the want of it.

Most importantly, though, from a productivity games perspective, is that in 1733, as he was learning languages, he had finished with French and was learning Italian. He found a friend who was also learning Italian, and enjoyed chess. As with the video gamer today who plays Halo late into the night at the expense of homework, Franklin realized that the time he spent playing chess was taking away from his progress on learning Italian. He and his friend decided that they would use the game as a way to drive their linguistics progress:

" I had begun in 1733 to study languages. I soon made myself so much a master of the French as to be able to read the Books with ease. I then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance who was also learning it, used often to tempt me to play Chess with him. Finding this took up too much of the Time I had to spare for study, I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every Game, should have the Right to impose a Task, either in parts of the Grammar to be got by heart, or in Translation, &c, which task the vanquish'd was to perform upon honor before our next Meeting. As we played pretty equally we thus beat one another into that Language." (1, p.30)

Franklin's use of chess to drive him to learn the Italian language shares many of the characteristics of successful productivity games. Italian was a volunteer or "citizenship" behavior for Franklin – he was a printer, and learning the language was a way to EXPAND his skills, not part of his regular job. The game appealed to both player vs. player (he and his chess partner), player vs. self (the present Franklin vs. his future "fluent-in-Italian" self) – and player vs. environment (Franklin vs. the challenging language). The games were short in duration – each game of chess resulted in the loser performing a lesson, and then a new game would commence. Just as with productivity games, the goal was to keep playing (keep the chess games going as a way to motivate the Italian studies. The game was a diversion to keep him diligent in the task of learning a challenging language. Franklin's use of chess to learn Italian in the late 18th century shares many of the characteristics of successful productivity game deployment today.


And whoever considers, what in chess he often sees instances of, that particular pieces of success are apt to produce presumption, and its consequent, inattention, by which more is afterwards lost than was gained by the preceding advantage; while misfortunes produce more care and attention, by which the loss may be recovered, will learn not to be too much discouraged by the present success of his adversary, nor to despair of final good fortune, upon every little check he receives in the pursuit of it. – The Morals of Chess.

Games like chess can not only teach great life lessons, but can be incorporated in deliberate, planned, and consistent work towards goals, whether in the workplace or in life.

Note: Thanks to Thiru for his interest in Franklin…