Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers

From Engadget

Nissan Leaf rates you against other drivers, creates a high score list for hypermilers
Xbox Live and the Achievement system kind of reinvented the high score list, letting you compete against your friends even when you're roaming solo through a stark, barren wasteland. It looks like Nissan is doing much the same with the Leaf -- but minus the bloatflies and the supermutants. As the cars are now rolling out to eager owners we're learning more about just what its Carwings system can do and another neat trick is the "Regional Rankings" page, where one driver's driving efficiency is rated against others in the area. There are bronze, silver, and gold medals up for grabs but, if you cover the thing with speed tape and only commute downhill, you might just be awarded the platinum award. What does that get you? Why, a little picture of a trophy, of course. What were you expecting?

DOD Launches Casual Games site

from Armed with Science

On December 1st, 2010, Defense Acquisition University (DAU) launched the first ever Department of Defense casual games site with 13 mini games designed specifically to enhance Acquisition workforce education.

DAU’s Global Learning Technologies Center became determined to launch a site of this nature when it was realized that DAU students were similar in demographic to users of other casual games sites. The rationale behind the site was to serve as a place where professionals in the Acquisition workforce could go to play games that were related to the “core competencies” that are central to Acquisition. The result was a game site that mirrors some of the functionalities that most sites use today, including the ability to create a login to store, rate, and comment on games as well as collect badges for achievements in play.

Monday, December 27, 2010

MiX: Here's a Resolution Worth Working On: Have More Fun


Happy Holidays!

As we close out 2010 and look forward to the New Year, let’s take a look at a well honored tradition – the New Year’s resolution.

Celebrating the New Year is perhaps one of the oldest traditions we know of. Over 4000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the new moon on March 23rd. Years later, in 153BC, the Roman Senate selected the god Janus to represent the beginning of the calendar year. In 46BC, Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar, securing January 1st as the official start of the year.

read more

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Video Games Are Infiltrating--and Improving--Every Part of Our Lives

Fast Company

Pretty soon, every soda can and cereal box could have a built-in CPU, screen, and camera, along with Wi-Fi connectivity. And at that point, the gaming of life takes off. "You'll get up in the morning to brush your teeth and the toothbrush can sense that you're brushing," Schell said. "So, 'Hey, good job for you! Ten points' " from the toothpaste maker. You sit down to breakfast and get 10 points from Kellogg's for eating your Corn Flakes, then grab the bus because you get enviro-points from the government, which can be used as a tax deduction. Get to work on time, your employer gives you points. Drink Dr Pepper at lunch, points from the soda maker. Walk to a meeting instead of grabbing the shuttle, points from your health-insurance provider. Who knows how far this might run? Schell said. He offered psychedelic scenarios, like the one in which you recall a dream from the previous night where your mother was dancing with a giant Pepsi can: "You remember the REM-tertainment system, which is this thing you put in your ear that can sense when you enter REM sleep, and then [it] starts putting little advertisements out there to try and influence your dreams." If the ads take hold, you win big points for discounts at your local grocery store. "Then there's your office mate," Schell continued, "and he's like, 'Check out this new digital tattoo' " that he got from Tatoogle AdSense, and when you show him yours, you realize you're both wearing Pop-Tart ads. You get paid for the ads, plus 30 additional points just for noticing.

Full article

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whistle While You Work (but only if you are winning)

Management Innovation Exchange

We're all for smiling at work—that is, until we start losing.

Just watch what happened when the Arizona Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson was caught smiling and laughing during the Cardinals 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night football. A short video clip of the lighthearted moment has triggered a bit of a frenzy. Post-game questions about the incident resulted in a tirade from Anderson and set off a storm of discussion in locker rooms and sports talk radio shows all over the country.

Here is a NY Times blog post. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard spoofed the Anderson episode here.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Forrester: Product Managers Take Note: Microsoft Is Using Serious Games To Product Test (And You Can Too)

Forrester TJ Keitt

In September, Forrester's TJ Keitt published a case study of Microsoft's Windows and Office Communicator (now Microsoft Lync) teams' use of "productivity games."

What are productivity games?

Put simply, they are a series of games produced by a small group of defect testers to encourage rank-and-file Microsoft employees to put software through its paces before it is released to the public.

As many technology product managers can attest, getting employees of your company to take time away from their tasks to run a program in development and report any problems can be a Sisyphean effort: Bug checking doesn't have the allure of being an exciting, sexy job -- but it happens to be necessary.

It will come as a surprise, but since 2006, Microsoft has used five games to look for errors in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Office Communicator; a sixth game -- Communicate Hope -- is currently in the field to test Microsoft Lync. Why so many games, you ask? Well, they work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes

Wired Magazine

Just before he reached the end zone, with 17 seconds remaining, Stokley cut right at 90 degrees and ran across the field. Six seconds drained off the clock before, at last, he meandered across the goal line to score the winning touchdown. For certain football fans, the excitement of a last-minute comeback now commingled with the shock of the familiar: It’s hard to think of a better example of a professional athlete doing something so obviously inspired by the tactics of videogame football. When I caught up with Stokley by telephone a few weeks later, I asked him point-blank: “Is that something out of a videogame?” “It definitely is,” Stokley said. “I think everybody who’s played those games has done that” — run around the field for a while at the end of the game to shave a few precious seconds off the clock. Stokley said he had performed that maneuver in a videogame “probably hundreds of times” before doing it in a real NFL game. “I don’t know if subconsciously it made me do it or not,” he said.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Playing Videogames At Work Makes Dollars And Sense


In most workplaces playing videogames will get you fired. But at some companies it may actually get you promoted.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Communicate Hope: Using Games and Play to Improve Productivity

As the demographics of the workplace shift and more employees actively play games outside of work, the opportunity to use games to improve productivity expands. Organizations can leverage the appeal of game play, game theory, and competition to attract discretionary effort and increase productivity. Productivity games do not require a multi-million dollar first person shooter high graphics development effort – but can be rudimentary, with limited investment – and still yield tremendous results – particularly when compared with Six Sigma, TQM, and other tradition business process improvement initiatives. Communicate Hope is a productivity game in use at Microsoft to help encourage pre-release usage and product feedback for Office Communicator.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How 'Gamestorming' May Change the Way We Work

IT Business Edge

Gamestorming encourages a quicker and more democratic way of working than most of us are used to. Visualization, improvisation, good listening and language skills become more important than they have been in the past, which may be a challenge for many folks. One key is not forcing it. Says Gray:

It's an approach to work that's about engaging people in collaboratory activities. It's not a game if people are forced to play, so you need to have people and projects that stir people's curiosity and emotion.

Gamestorming won't work in every work environment. It's a good way to try out different scenarios and test the results. While the approach is great for fostering creative energy and innovation, it isn't useful for work that demands a predictable, consistent approach. Says Gray:

You don't want people playing too many games in the accounting department.

Unlike factories or other workplaces where folks are engaged in highly visible tasks, many knowledge workers have trouble envisioning how their work fits into a bigger strategic picture. Gamestorming offers a way to help overcome this lack of transparency and the cubicle layouts common in many offices, which aren't exactly conducive to collaborating with coworkers.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How Playing Videogames Can Boost Your Career

How Playing Videogames Can Boost Your Career

Game-play can teach you valuable leadership and strategy skills.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Elliot Noss, chief executive of domain name provider Tucows, has spent the past five years training to become a better leader. How? By playing "World of Warcraft" for six to seven hours a week.

"'You have these events [in "World of Warcraft"] that are very leadership-driven," Noss says. "For example, when you're in a raid that's poorly led, it's really easy to see how valuable are skills like managing the social dynamic, making sure there was the right level of preparation and making sure that there was a clear hierarchy in terms of who is performing what roles."

In "World of Warcraft," each action, even a small task like hunting an animal, has a purpose and fits into a broader framework. Similarly, Noss has set up frameworks at Tucows ( TCX - news - people ) that allow employees to understand how day-to-day tasks impact the company.

In Pictures: 10 Ways Videogames Can Boost Your Career

He does this, in part, by giving employees a broader narrative and context for their work. Noss does a regular lunchtime series called "Tucows Lore." Around 20 employees come to each session. Noss plays the company poet, telling tales of Tucows over the years--its heroes, villains, battles with large telecommunications companies or the early days of the domain registration market. "The feedback is fantastic. It helps people feel they are part of something bigger," Noss says.

Noss' efforts seem to be paying off. He says he has seen employee satisfaction rise and turnover decrease by a noticeable percentage.

To be sure, videogames have long been thought of as distractions to work and education, rather than aids. But there is a growing school of thought that says game-playing in moderation, and in your free time, can make you more successful in your career.

"We're finding that the younger people coming into the teams who have had experience playing online games are the highest-level performers because they are constantly motivated to seek out the next challenge and grab on to performance metrics," says John Hagel III, co-chairman of a tech-oriented strategy center for Deloitte. Hagel has been studying the effect that playing videogames has on the performance of young professionals in the workplace.

Hagel cites Stephen Gillett, a gamer who became chief information officer of Starbucks ( SBUX - news - people ) while still in his 20s. By playing "World of Warcraft" Gillet developed the ability to influence and persuade people through leadership rather than trying to order them around.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Serious Games Festival 2010

The Serious Games Initiative, with support from the Federation of American Scientists and other partners presents an event showcasing leading serious game projects and research to assist developers, sponsors, and partners operating in the serious games field.

This event kicks off Games Beyond Entertainment Week 2010 which offers a slew of events dedicated to exploring the edgier possibilities for videogames in today's global economy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Check out Ribbon Hero from OfficeLabs

The Office Labs team has built a cool game to help learn the ribbon user interface in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint 2007, and the upcoming Office 2010.

Check it out here

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