Start Seeing Games: 10 Examples of Games that Overlap with Life

A number of years ago I read Chaos by James Gleick, and afterwards couldn’t help but see fractals everywhere.

Now, I’ve been interested in the application of games in learning environments for years — specifically the fundamentals of game design (points, leveling, challenge, achievements, collecting, etc.), and lately I’ve been seeing game thinking everywhere I look, particularly how games overlap with life (or vice versa).  I have a post brewing (promises, promises) on why I think this is interesting, and what some potential applications for learning are, but I thought in the mean time, I would do a round-up of the most interesting ones:

  • #4: I linked previously to a post about the idea of Barely Games from Russell Davies in the last post, but I’m going to do it again (it’s that great). He talks about interacting with the world in a game-like way, and how that can be much more evocative that aggressively over-designed game experiences.

  • #5: I first encountered the game Noticings (the game of noticing the world around you) on the CogDogBlog.  He points out that part of the allure of the game is that “there may be hidden rules, that can only be discovered by earning them”

  • #8: This hour-long video of Amy Jo Kim doing a Google Tech Talk is excellent primer on applying game mechanics – she’s specifically talking about how to apply game mechanics to functional software (eBay, Twitter, etc.) but what she’s talking about can be applied to learning applications (ILT or e-Learning). It’s the same ideas that are cropping up in applications like Foursquare.  Highly recommended:

So, I’m sure I missed dozens of good examples.  Which ones have you seen?

8 thoughts on “Start Seeing Games: 10 Examples of Games that Overlap with Life

  1. Hi Julie

    I once ran a course for four Japanese women based entirely on games. I didn’t do this for sound pedagogical reaons, but because I was bored 🙁

    Anyhoo. The game was called ‘looking after yourself’ and the idea was that if somebody dropped you in the middle of London, you’d be able to get yourself out of trouble by talking your way out of the situation. And the situation could have been getting lost (ie an obvious ‘trouble’ situation) but could have also been ‘making polite conversation in a bar’ or ‘helping a small child’.

    Day 1: we practised how to describe objects (shopping in a department store).
    Day 2: explore strategies for adjusting nouns (adjectives, relative clauses, all that grammar nonsense)

    The point was that teaching people grammar and ‘lexical sets’ and ‘functional competency’ was just a waster of time. With Japanese people, all your doing is showing them how big the rules are and how easy it is to get something wrong.

    But the best thing was the barely game. On the last day of the course, I bought my 6-year-old daughter in and told them to look after her for a couple of hours. 6-year-olds have no ‘theory of mind’ for foreign people. They just don’t get that other people might speak another language. They’re rubbish at circumlocution and paraphrasing but love playing games.

    I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take pictures of the Japanese women’s faces (a) when I brought her in (b) when they realised I was going to leave them alone for two hours and (c) when I got back into the room. Would have made the best animated GIF ever.

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