Games, how they work, and how they should work

Not Just Toys

Games can be more than toys that everyone judges you for playing in your late twenties when you should really be looking for a job. Games and game techniques can be used in the “real world” to generate startling results.


That’s a tangent to you non-maths-type people, and that means tangential learning. Tangential learning is really more of a side-effect of creating references in games or films etc., but can be used intentionally. How many of you watched 300 and then decided to read more about the Battle of Thermopylae or Spartan history in general? That’s what tangential learning can do, and it’s effective because the information is not being forced on the audience. This incidental tangential learning (that’s a mouthful) is already present in many games, but there are some out there that use it deliberately, and there is definitely more potential.


We are beginning to see a new technique in commerce arise, and it stems from some great aspects of the gaming world. It’s already working its way into advertising, and is superseding the old method, which is shown not to work well any more. Earning or winning something when you buy a particular brand is a much better reason to purchase it over a rival brand than if they just say they are better. A prime example of this is the McDonalds Monopoly Game. It persuades customers to collect rare items by purchasing products in an attempt to win big prizes. You could also argue that BOGOF deals use the same psychology. Rephrase it along the lines of “Extra [product] when you the same [product] between [allocated time window]” and you can at least begin to see the similarity with achievements. Of course advertising is a rather shallow use of “gamification” as I’ve heard it called, but it is not the only application. Imagine it being used to motivate workers or get them to do over time, or school children to do their homework, or any of your own ideas.

Both these phenomena are incredibly powerful, and that power is just beginning to be understood. Expect to see more these kinds of effects soon, but until next week, farewell!


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