Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

I'd like your opinions about motivation, especially as regards Evoke. I've seen some posts about the gameplay aspect of this site, and some posts about teaching, but not seen the two groups talking very much.

I used to work in sales, now I'm a teacher, and I'm participating in Evoke after seeing Jane's TED speech about using games to teach people. I use stuff like Third World Farmer to stimulate conversation quite often. (Be careful, this one can be addictive.)

Sales is a science. It's a process of understanding your customer, helping them to understand their own problems more clearly, directing them to define a solution, then presenting them with something that solves the problem as they define it, and finally making it affordable/attainable. Sometimes, you have to mislead people in order to influence their understanding and decision-making, and I was never very good at it. But teaching is basically the same thing.

I just saw a brilliant speech about math education in the USA, in which the speaker says: I sell a product to a market that doesn't want it, but is forced by law to buy it.... it's just a losing proposition. (It's 11 minutes, and well worth the investment in time.)

Clearly he gets it, teaching is all about presenting information in a way that motivates people, which is where Jane comes in. Evoke is presented as a game, with points and runes to chase after. It's also time-limited, which in my case meant trying to do everything in just six weeks.

I'm trying to figure out:
  • does the points system detract from the learning objectives?
  • does the time limit motivate people or make them feel that the goal in unattainable?
  • what else should I be considering that I haven't thought about this early in the morning?
Games are all about commitment.

The key thing in sales is to obtain a commitment at each step of the process. The customer should have said "yes, I believe in you and your reasons for talking to me, and I have defined my problem as X and I really do want to solve that problem because the benefits are Y, and my ideal solution will be Z. I would really love to have Z, and if you can show me something that can do that and it's affordable then I will buy it."

If they haven't 'bought' you then nothing that happens after that point means anything. If they haven't bought you then they won't buy your vision. Even if they bought you, if they didn't buy your vision then your solution isn't going to solve their problm, no matter how cheap it is. And so on.

Sometimes people will nod their heads and go along with you, just to make you happy, but they're not committed. They just comply with your wishes until it comes to closing the sale, and then they make objections. (I don't like the colour.) A poor salesperson responds to the objections, a good salesman rewinds the process until they find the point where they stopped getting commitment and started getting compliance.

As a teacher, my students will comply in order to get the grades that keep their parents happy. Or, if I do my job properly, they will become emotionally committed to doing what I want because they see some benefit to themselves in extracting knowledge from me that is useful for them. Teaching is all about motivation, not facts. But the facts have to made available in bite-sized packages so that the students can digest them. In other words, we make the learning attainable, affordable in terms of effort required. Jane talked in her speech about games presenting goals that are achievable at each level. Same same, but different1

Similarly, Evoke has tried to use the 'game' format with points and runes to motivate people, to get commitment. I'm very interested in this concept and would like to hear other people's insights as to the successfulness or otherwise. The final task, Imagine10, was accepted by 146 people out of 19,348. Learn1 was accepted by 4,399 people out of a smaller original group. What's going on? What can be learned?



I looked up some related topics, please add others that you know of.


And finally: http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/the-wired-interview-with-...

Views: 97

Comment by Jeremy Laird Hogg on May 15, 2010 at 2:56am
em. this post is yes.

I would like to transmute my brain to the comment section. Unfortunately the only process I know is imperfect and effortful. So I'll be back with posts, possible spam warning up front.
Comment by Jeremy Laird Hogg on May 15, 2010 at 3:18am
does the points system detract from the learning objectives?

Points must somehow be heterogeneous. Having a 1-5 rating system will crazy detract from motivation. those with lower ratings will be miffed and self-image mechanisms will attack and sour grape-ing will ensure. those with all 5s get all superior quickly (or the temptation is there).

However, if different apple-to-orange points are used, everything changes. In games with this mechanism, even the people who lose (imagining a board game) get so say, "yeah but did you see how great my x-criteria for winning was. Man never seen that much x before/ that was a pretty decent amount...". Evoke gets this dead on, it's right dead centre among the reasons for its successes.

Use points but let them be heterogeneous. The choice of type of points to give is interesting too, more interesting that rating 1-5. And offers more to reflect on in the getting - more than people loved it or didn't. But yeah, points for drive.

I love points. Fight to keep them meaningful to players in all roles of the game.

not about points but you must read this guy in your contemplations:
Ming Liu, who posted these
Comment by Ursula Kochanowsky on May 15, 2010 at 3:54am
Don't worry about the mission acceptance from the beginning and the end. If you complete the mission and log the evidence, it doesn't show that you've accepted the mission. Even though its done.
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 15, 2010 at 5:02am
I was JUST about to write a blog post about how much I hate 3rd World Farmer for being a patronizing sack of BS. Its a great concept, but its so demeaning and hopeless. The best you can do in that game is get a cell phone, buy a politician, grow some opium, and then buy a bunch of huge machinery and livestock.

There has to be a better way...
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 15, 2010 at 5:05am
As for points and stuff, I think the carrot needs to be better than just a rune to light up. The mentorships and grants from the World Bank are somewhat motivational, but they're really paltry compared to the total budget that institution has and could have committed to a project like this.

Maybe they decided to wait and see how the pilot season goes?

For the Gratitude Gardens, we're looking to get enough money from a foundation to be able to give regular small, medium, and large grants to participants in exchange for aggregating content.

We're hoping that will foster more participation and quality content generation and information sharing, and by having the prizes consist of seeds, equipment for seed-saving, and grants for gardens and community programs, there will be a real world expression of the online competition.
Comment by Ssozi Javie on May 15, 2010 at 6:43am
in my opinion I think the points were meant to motivate people and also to help the Agents rate content generated by fellow agents. Once one gets the point system twisted they mistaken it for competition which is not the case.
However, there are some agents who made incredible contributions that must have gone unnoticed because there was probably no one to read their content.
I am glad you are investigating this and looking to make something out of it Chris. ;)
Comment by Nick Heyming on May 15, 2010 at 8:03am
I wrote a blog about my opinions on "Third World Farmer". No offense meant to the developers of that game...
Comment by Chris Ke Sihai on May 15, 2010 at 11:24am
Nick, your comments about 3WF are good, and I left a reply. I should have made it clear that I use the game in language cla****, to get a conversation going. It's certainly too limited to teach anything more than a basic awareness of social issues.

BUT, after pointing out the game's deficiencies, what are we left with? What's the alternative? Where is the compelling educational online material we're looking for? OR, how can it be created?

We're here to make change. I'm hoping this discussion will be a catalyst, an enabler, a source of ideas. Pointing out failures is OK, but proposing better alternatives is much better.
Comment by Chris Ke Sihai on May 15, 2010 at 11:26am
I dunno about the runes thing, I really have mixed feelings. It would be good to get opinions from the 19,000 people who didn't complete everything, but I guess they've given up and gone home?

Are there any admins around who can share some statistics about page views, posts per day, repeat visits, etc? I'd love to have more insight into how people interacted with the site.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on May 15, 2010 at 1:37pm
A couple of thoughts:

You can only teach people things that they have a real need to know. Anything else is just temporary memorizing. (Which is why I've forgotten nearly all the French I learned in junior high...) Real learning is internally motivated, not externally motivated, which brings me to...

Points/grades are indeed distracting, and generally more harmful than helpful. Unless we're talking about real world scientific quantification, such as percent of this month's trash that we've been able to recycle or reuse instead of throwing away, or the MPB of a vehicle (miles per banana), or some other easily measurable "fact". (Note, even scientific "facts" are subjective, as Einstein pointed out, so don't get too caught up even on fact based points/grades...)

So if you want to teach, find out what your students want to do, and offer yourself as a resource for helping them do what they want to do, using what you know as the tool for doing it. And if you want to bring the game/competition element into the process, you can find out what your student's goals are, frame that in some scientifically measurable way, and create an arena (game space) where they can play with the available resources as they test things out to see what works best for getting to the level of skill they are seeking. And you can easily include time in that level by saying something like: The goal is for X to do Y, by Z. Where Z is a specific time/date.

For example, a game I'd like to play would define my winning "score" as having ten government and/or NGO leaders (X) publicly put the Maslow 2.0/Prime Directive into writing as their basic policy (Y), by my birthday on May 17th, 2011 (Z).


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