Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Introduction
Evoke is a social network game started in March 2010. The player has to complete ten levels, which consist of one quest and one mission that is again divided into three parts. Aim of the game is to get creative solutions which can be implemented to social problems in real life. This seminar paper is an evaluation of the second season that ran between March 2011 and June 2011. The following questions were predefined by the seminar instructors.

1.Which positive experiences did you have while playing EVOKE?
Playing the online game EVOKE was an exciting and interesting experience. Compared to other online games, it is not just a set of entertaining challenes, but tasks that relate to current problems of the world. It is motivating to see that being succesful depends not only on luck, but moreover on the players’ skills and how much effort they put into widening their knowledge base. I think the different mission themes (eg. water crisis, food security and power shift) were very well choosen. In general everybody hears about these topics in the news but nobody really thinks about them deeply and considers their consequences. The range of questions covered in every mission force the players to tackle these topics and look for solutions. This process encourages the player to follow up with actions in their real life. This also leads to an expansion of general knowledge. Furthermore, it was positive to see the range of users playing EVOKE. The different ages, backgrounds and education of the players from all over the world lead to a wide variety of posts, ideas and different points of views. It was easy to get in contact with others to share information and get feedback. As a conclusion it was rewarding playing EVOKE and it allowed me to learn a lot of interesting facts.

2.Which negative experience did you have while playing EVOKE?
The questions in many missions, especially those in the LEARN part of the game, ask mearly for a summary of existing knowledge. I would call this negative aspect the “copy-paste” effect. The purpose of the game is more about spreading information, not about generating new ideas. An ambivalent point, in my opinion, is the fact that getting powers is highly dependent on the rating other players give you. It is nice that players can rate posts but most commonly they only rate posts of people they already know. A possible consequence of this fact is that players get power points not because of the quality of their posts but because of their relationships to other players.

3. How can EVOKE be improved to increase the motivation of players?
To increase the motivation of players, the amount of credit points that can be gained when a level is accomplished should be better adapted to the amount of work put in. For instance, the amount of points in the first levels was less than that in the higher levels. Especially in the beginning stages of the game, I needed to spend much more time on getting information and writing my posts than in later parts. That aside, in higher levels the time I spent on a level didn’t always match with the credit points that I received.
Furthermore it would be motivating for the players if they would know if Alchemy
(or somebody of his supporting team) reads and/or comments on their posts.

4.How should EVOKE be improved to further increase the users’ knowledge?
In my opinion the amount information the user learns is of a sufficient level. Nevertheless, I think the best way to deliver information is when the players have enough freedom in their research to find the information they are interested in. A possible suggestion is not to show the players a list of recommended homepages from where they should take the information, rather to allow them more scope to find their own research sources. This will stimulate their creativity and researching skills. Furthermore self-guided research can lead to a deeper knowledge. For that reason less guidelines might be helpful.

5.How should EVOKE be improved to facilitate solving the tasks?
In my opinion, the more guidlines the players get, the more limitations on their creativity. To facilitate solutions, the core problem has to be better explained so that it is clear for the players, what exactly they have to find a solution for. That’s why it was sometimes hard to start with a mission as I was insecure if this would be what the game inventers expected me to do.

6.Was there an event while playing EVOKE, which was particularly noteworthy or meaningful?
Unfortunaltely I don’t have a special event in mind but I had some nice experiences with the students which are living in my residence. When we meet in our kitchen, we talk quite often about this online game and my missions. I really liked these discussions and it was nice to see the impact of the different study programs in the ideas and optinions they had. They influenced me, which can be seen in some blogs I posted.

7.Which game mechanisms would you rate positively?
The most positive game mechanism for me has been the blogs. Reading the blogs of other people promoted my own creative thought and was a good support and motivator. Furthermore I liked the level consisting of four questions (Quest and Mission). It is better to see the success by getting points for reaching small milestones, rather than receiving all the points at the end of one level. I also liked the fact that quests could be answered more individualy and missions were more about general knowledge. The feedback of other players was also really motivating. It showed that others were interested in my ideas and the information I shared.

8.Which game mechanisms would you rate negatively?
There is nothing I would rate really negatively but I am unsure about some game mechanisms. For instance, the leadercloud. It is motivating to see one’s own name listed. On the other hand, it can be demotivating to always see the same players occupying the pole positions. As I mentioned before, the awarding of power points can be seen as unfair. Friends mostly rate their own friends, this oft being independet of the quality of their posts.

Conclusion
In concluding my review, I would recommend this game to other people. I think it is a nice experience, especially compared to the common courses at university. The game allows the player to really show their character and individual skills and interests. Although it is very time-consuming, I had fun playing it and it helped me to recognise new aspects of the given topics and supported me to form stronger, more informed opinions.

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