GEOG 588
Planning GIS for Emergency Management

Emerging Theme: Gamification



The use of gaming principles in the design of technologies and practices in what are typically viewed as non-gaming situations is called Gamification. This trend has become very popular in recent years as researchers have discovered new ways to motivate people to do serious (and not-so-serious) tasks by using tricks from game design. As you'll see in the talks I've selected for this week, there are both pyschological affordances as well as new technical advances that make Gamification possible and desirable.

This talk by Seth Priebatsch of SCVNGR is a bit frenetic and breathless, but it helps describe several of the key psychological motivators that can be leveraged to embed gaming concepts into any imaginable task. This video is a bit old, but it nicely presents some of the key concepts around gamification that I would like you to consider. I’d also like you to reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same since this presentation with regard to gamification in general and in emergency management. His examples are about pretty mundane things, but I'm sure you can envision how these concepts could be embedded with topics relevant to our class, to motivate the development of VGI, for example.

The second talk I'd like you to watch is by Will Wright. Will designed SimCity and has had a hand in dozens of other influential games since then. Will gave a keynote speech for Where 2.0 in 2012, focusing on the intersection of gaming and reality. As Will sees the world, the age of simulations in gaming has progressed now into a phase where we are, instead, able to actually parse reality. If you extend this line of thinking into disaster management, one could argue that we're at a tipping point now where gaming could be used to develop fast intelligence (situational awareness) from the enormous and complex data streams that start arriving the moment a crisis occurs.

Geo Gaming

There are several examples now of the use of gaming principles to underpin otherwise mundane tasks in the geospatial realm. Quite a lot of innovation in this area is happening around VGI platforms like OpenStreetMap. Check out MapRoulette (more info about MapRoulette here), which attempts to motivate new contributions to OSM by encouraging a culture of healthy competition among users.

A recent geogame that's become wildly popular is GeoGuessr, a game which plops you down onto a street in Google Street View and asks you to try and identify exactly where you're located. It's hard to do, and addictive. It appears that the GeoGuessr team doesn't have alternative motives aside from creating an enjoyable game, but I bet you can think of some interesting ways in which this kind of game could lead to cleaner datasets, better geocoding, crowdsourced image analysis, etc... right?

Deliverables for this week's emerging theme

  • Post a comment that describes what Emergency Management applications you think stand to benefit from Gamification concepts. Alternatively, which aspects of geospatial emergency management should *not* be Gamified?
  • Then, I'd like you to offer additional insight, critique, a counter-example, or something else constructive in response to one of your colleagues' posts.
  • Brownie points for linking to other technology demos, pictures, blog posts, etc... that you've found to enrich your posts so that we may all benefit.

Note: Post your deliverable in the Lesson 5 Emerging Themes Discussion Forum in Canvas.