Gamifying a Presentation
(This was originally posted on Isaak’s personal website, a long, long time ago.)
Throughout the years of doing all kinds of things I’ve begun noticing a pattern of sorts: whenever I’m presented with a set of rules I try combining them in all sorts of neat ways so that they become more than the sum of their parts.
It wasn’t until recently I discovered that I’m ‘simply’ playing around with rules and constraints until something new and exciting happens.
You could say that’s my take on gamification as well: taking existing parts and combining them into interactive shapes and forms, defining something completely different.
Like for instance this semester’s introductory assignment we were given at college the beginning of this semester:
Create a concept for an Alternate Reality Game revolving around the mobile phone in four days, film a teaser for it and present it Pecha Kucha style.
Or in other words: a presentation with twenty slides each lasting for twenty seconds, 20×20 in short.
Those were the rules. Together with partner in crime Kuno Stomp and a few others we decided to play around with them and devised a simple, mini Alternate Reality Game using the presentation as its point of entry.
Given that the ARG had to revolve around the mobile phone we first made an overview of all the features a modern mobile phone had. Most of our fellow students have either an iPhone or an Android based machine, so our players were capable of more advanced actions such as reading QR codes, following Twitter accounts, tracking GPS and the like.
A selection of that would come into play during the presentation, how or for what purpose however we weren’t sure of.
So we set off creating a plot and devising a goal. At first we thought silly and big; players had to stop a cow from being slaughtered, or somehow aid the people of Egypt. This (always somehow) ‘typical’ part of brainstorming fortunately came to a quick end when we settled on something simple and, most importantly, doable:
The players were to find a presenter who was completely lost and guide him to the right location so that he could give his presentation… and not blow up in a million tiny pieces.
Basically the game would go like this:
The presentation would start, but not with the original presenter. Instead someone else would tell how he was missing and if he didn’t show up in time he would die. Fortunately the audience could help him as he was smart enough to embed clues into the presentation’s slides.
These clues, QR codes, would lead to three different tools the players could use: a Livestream showing live footage from a mobile phone, the phone’s number players could use to text gim and finally a Google Latitude account for tracking him.
By combining video, texting and GPS players could see what the presenter was seeing, communicate with him and find out where exactly he was.
Here are the slides with the clues embedded, all services are now offline though.
This being a Pecha Kucha presentation, the slides would change every twenty seconds, so players had to race against the clock to get all the clues and save the poor man.
Unfortunately the experiment only partially worked. Despite telling the audience to have their phones and laptops at the ready they were late and only a few clues were decrypted. they got to the Livecast and the Google Latitude account but were unable to directly communicate with him. Fortunately they did went after him… that is until college’s dodgy wifi decided to flip us off and we lost our livestream.
Another technical issue was the difficulty of scanning the QR codes, which we believe is due to the flat screen tv showing the presentation. Perhaps the refresh rate was off or its resolution just wasn’t high enough, either way it didn’t work smoothly. Though seeing the audience (including our teachers) desperately flailing their phones in front of the screen was quite something.
In the end it proved to be a humorous and interesting exercise, leading to an experience far more fun than the common bulletpoint monstrosities, even though the slides may imply otherwise. But that is the potential of gamification: making something more than the sum of its parts.