Ready, get set game!

Ready, get set game!

Gabe Zichermann’s talk about How games make kids smarter almost convinced me to let my children, 16, 5, and an almost 4 years old, go to their games all they want. But then the World of Warcraft and League of Legends maniac I know flashed in my head and reminded me that I don’t want my children to just sit and play online – on their computer or on any gadget — most of their time.

I definitely want them to be smart, but I think there are lots of ways to nurture the intelligence of my children. Besides wanting my children to be intelligent, I also want them to be always comfortable and importantly happy. But is the dopamine hit from gaming enough? Will half an hour of gaming gives them enough dopamine hit or all I will get from these 5 and 4-year old will be tantrums once I tell them to stop?

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I’m torn about gaming and introducing it to my young boys. Although I am aware that there’s no way of stopping it from tempting my children, all I can do for now is delay it as much as I can.

For now, I will enjoy watching these boys play off the digital world as much as I can. Photo by: RKhamal

But what else is not gamified these days? We are surrounded by gamification, from education, business, marketing, workplace and many more.

Gamification, according to Brian Burke (2014) is the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.”

With the use of fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities, Yu-Kai Chou, calls it “human-focused design” as opposed to the “function-focused design.”

Gamification according to Chou, better our world.

Understandably, for non-gamers gamification is an uncomfortable thing, it is a worrying thing especially if all you remember about games and gaming are the negative effects it brings.

However, with the right approach and right balance, I believe gaming can be positive as Zichermann mentioned in his talk. One thing that caught my attention as a parent was his prescription in dealing with present-day children.

I am raising a teenager, and have maintained a good relationship with her and I remember how gaming connected us.  There will come a time that gaming will be inevitable in my children’s lives, and at that point I take Zichermann’s prescription, “get into the games with your kids, stop fighting the game trend. Become one with the game, enter the game, understand the dynamics of how your children play the games that they play. Understand how their mind works…”

My teenage daughter and I bopped it, twisted it, clicked it! And it was fun! Bop it! was one of our favorite games. Temple Run is our first digital game together. She hit the 1 million scores ahead of me. I tried to beat her score a few times, and I failed every single time. I resorted to deleting the game app from my phone. Shame on me, I know. I just had to. From then on, I know how competitive my daughter is.

So those are our dopamine hit kind of games.  Once in a while, I binge on other games. The recent one was Everwing and Words With Friends. I get carried away, is a false statement because the truth is I get addicted.

Aiming for higher scores every single time is keeping me hooked on playing.

With addiction in mind, I can only think of lots of negative effects than positive results from online or digital gaming. Nevertheless, I acknowledge Zichermann’s argument, as well as the success of Ananth Pai gamified strategy of learning for the 3rd-grade class. Jane’s recovery through a game is another admirable fruit of gamification.

In spite the good stories brought by gamification, it is undeniable that gaming can become an addiction. As the world we are in gets gamified, our dopamine hit will surely keep us hooked to this gamification.

Since gamification is widespread, and it is satisfying the three innate human instincts for social, survival and sanctification drives that are pouring out into our happy hormone, then it is here to stay.

Ooopppsss sorry, I have to go. I need to get my dopamine fix! 🙂

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