The Cogs of my MA

To accompany my application and other promotional materials that I intend to exhibit at our Masters exhibition, I have created a piece I have titled “The Cogs of my MA”.  This piece is a chance for me to show and look back at a lot of the things that have informed my MA projects and a lot of the things that I have created.

Although this is a very busy piece with lots of information within it, it still does not encompass my entire Masters study but it is a good visual interpretation of the many things, including considerations, acquired information, productions and conclusions that have been moving like cogs in my head throughout the past twenty two months.

I hope it shows the breadth and depth of my inquiry, whilst also showing how a design is influenced by many considerations that all are important.  The version below is a small low quality piece, to gain a proper consideration for the piece you will have to attend our exhibition.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 21.50.40

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Better late than never :Vikings Documentry

I have been meaning to make this post for a very long time but better late than never I suppose.  Back in January, as part of my research I came across a very interesting Vikings documentary on one of the BBC channels, it was broadcast in the early hours of the morning and I more or less come across it by chance.  The documentary was the third of a three part series and I was a bit gutted to have missed the first two episodes but since then I have managed to find two of them on YouTube and I thought I would post them below:

Although these documentaries are not perfect for my target audience, I would love to be able to add high quality video like this from the great locations visited but presented in a more child friendly manner.  Unfortunately, I do not have the financial resources to visit these places, nor do I have the finances or technical skill to produce videos of this quality on my own.  I feel that it would definitely not be worth adding sub standard video to the app, so unfortunately my app will not be featuring any video but it would have been a nice addition.

Presenting our work effectively for exhibition and dissemination.

As part of our examination process, we have the task of organising and presenting our work effectively for exhibition and dissemination, in an appropriate sophisticated form.  We are doing this in the form of an end of year exhibition.

During informal discussions about our exhibition, I suggested that we needed an unusual word that people would not automatically know and the example I used was the name of my fellow Masters’ student Gareth Sleightholme’s blog:

http://apopheniainc.wordpress.com/

Apoheinia is “the perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things.”

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39714

Gareth then proclaimed that his current favourite unusual word was “Dasein”; this is a German word that means “being there”.

Philosopher Martin Heidegger is heavily linked with the concept of “Dasein”, which he appropriates for his reconceived notion of human existence in the world.

In existentialism “Dasein” is being “in a concrete and historically determinate situation that limits or conditions choice.  Humans are therefore called Dasein (“there being”) because they are defined by the fact that they exist, or are in the world and inhabit it.” http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/152062/Dasein

The notion of having a place in the world is something that fits quite well with the situation we find ourselves in as MA students.  We are choosing to conduct our enquiries in a diverse range of disciplines, in order to realise our potential and establish reasons for our choices in our lives and in our practices.  Our exhibition is a chance for us to stand by those choices and state publicly our right to be there, wherever that may be personally and professionally.  This is the reason that as a group we decided to brand our exhibition under the title of “Dasein” and for the viewing public to fully understand our individual exhibits, there is a requirement of attendance or being there.

As a result of this decision, I produced 3 possible logos which can be seen below:

dasein_logo_01

Each of us had the opportunity to produce a logo and eventually a group decision was made to combine one of my attempts with an attempt by Gareth Sleightholme, the final result can be seen below:

DASEIN-LOGO-GUIDE

Bibliography

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39714

http://apopheniainc.wordpress.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasein

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/152062/Dasein

Creating Asgard and the Æsir

Recently, I have been working on the Viking beliefs section of my application.  As part of this segment I shall be delivering information about the Viking’s religious beliefs; the Vikings had their own pagan religion.

To accompany the written information about the Norse gods I have created some images.  Nobody knows for certain if these beings exist and to the best of my knowledge nobody has met one or even better taken a picture that I can base my artwork on, so a certain amount of artistic licence can be afforded in the production of my designs.  I have been producing imagery based upon my research and previously produced media featuring the individual’s deities in question.  The main sources of information regarding these beings are the old Norse written accounts, featured within writings such as the Saga’s and stories depicted on Rune stones and within other carvings from the Viking period.

I started by researching the home of the Viking gods, followed by the creation of a mood board (see below).

ASGARD_MOOD_BOARD

How do you design the mythical kingdom of an ancient race of gods?  To answer that quest ion I began researching Asgard, in order to identify any identifying features of that realm that would hopefully inform my design.  My research indicated two main areas that I felt would be important in my depiction of Asgard and those were:

Vallhalla

Vallhalla is a great hall where fallen Viking warriors go to feast after their death, until they are called upon by Odin to battle again at Ragnarok .

In front of Vallhalla stands the golden tree Glasir.  The hall’s ceiling is described as being thatched and adorned with golden shields and spears.  Valhalla is the home to some creatures, such as the stag Eikþyrnir and the goat Heiðrún amongst others.

See my Vallhalla below:

valhalla

Bifrost – The Rainbow bridge

The rainbow bridge is an important identifying feature of Asgard but I have also used the fact that the route to the realm of the gods is a something that is seen in the sky, as the logic to set Asgarde floating above the clouds in the sky but out of view of those below.

The rest of my production was open to a lot of artistic licence but I tried to base my design on things that the Vikings may have encountered in their lives.  As we know the Vikings where intrepid travellers, who will have seen different forms of architecture in many different countries but there is a constant in most societies.  Castles and palaces have been built around the world to house those who are considered or consider themselves to be of importance.

I tried to base my art work upon a castle structure, constructed from materials known to the Vikings like stone and wood, the roofing is based upon precious metals like copper and gold.  I have set my castle structure upon a floating mountainous island, that floats amongst the clouds connected to Midgard via a rainbow bridge. See Asgard Below:

asgarde_02

The Menu

To access information about the individual Viking gods, I have created an interface that features a bottom up menu that auto hides to create more space for the information on the screen.  The menu background is based upon Viking carvings and the buttons are framed headshots of each god with their name displayed on a scroll (see below).

gods_menu_bg

btn_god_balder btn_god_loki btn_god_odin btn_god_sif btn_god_thor

 

 

 

 

 

 

To create the Viking gods, I once again researched each individual god and created visual mood boards of pre-existing imagery.

Below you can see my mood boards and my interpretive creations.

Odin

Odin is described differently depending upon whether he is in Asgard or in Midgard.

One important distinguishing feature of Odin is that he only has one eye, due to him sacrificing the other to drink from the fountain of wisdom.

The descriptions of Odin whilst travelling in Midgard, are believed to have heavily influenced the descriptions of Gandalph the wizard in J.R Toilkin’s, Lord of The Rings and this is evident in mine and other people’s representations of both characters/beings as you can see below:

odin_mood_board

Viking_god_odin_earth

Viking_god_odin

Frigg

Frigg was Odin’s wife and the queen of Asgard, she was the goddess of marriage and motherhood. Frigg is often depicted as wearing blue which is something I carried into my depiction, see below:

frigg-mood-boardfrigg

Thor

Thor is the Norse god of thunder, strength and war.  Whilst creating Thor I felt it was very important to stick to the written descriptive accounts, where he is described as a mighty warrior with great strength, red hair and a beard.  I tried to include his three main weapons:

  • Megingjörð – a magic belt that doubled his strength.
  • Járngreipr – a pair of iron gloves that were needed to handle Mjölnir.
  • Mjölnir – the mighty hammer that could crush mountains and create lighting flashes across the sky.

Many people may not know of the written description of this deity, due to the Marvel comics character Thor created by Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.  Marvel’s Thor is based upon the Norse legend but the character’s visual appearance is different to the recorded accounts, as he has long blonde hair and the only weapon he carries is Mjolnir the mighty hammer. It is hard competing against such popular incarnations but as I mentioned earlier nobody has seen the supposed entity in question, so any visual creation is open to interpretations, that ultimately cannot be wrong or right with no accurate visual record existing.

Below you can see my mood boards and my interpretive creations.

Thor_mood_board

viking_god_Thor

Sif

Sif is Thors wife and most depictions feature her adorned in blue clothing, which I have also done.  The main description that stands out in my research of Sif is her long golden hair, which I have tried to incorporate into my imagery see below:

sif_mood_board

Viking_goddess_sif

Loki

Loki is considered to be a Norse god although his parents were actually giants.

Loki is known as the Norse god of mischief.  He is a trickster with magical powers who is often naughty, causing problems for the other gods which is why I have based my design upon a jester, which also is a theme in older imagery of Loki.

Loki is often described as being handsome but he is a shape shifter, so he can change the way he looks.  He appears in the form of men, women and animals and to show this I have created a simple shape shifting animation, that you can see below:

loki_mood_board

viking_god_loki

Balder

Balder is often described as being very popular amongst the other gods, due to his invulnerability and his good looks.  This is something that I have tried to capture in my imagery, see below:

balder_mood_board

viking_god_balder

Below you can see a short video of my completed ‘Viking Gods’ information section:

In order to make best use of my time, for university grading times and constraints, I have not as yet included or produced imagery and information based on every god but I feel I have produced enough to provide a strong indication of how this part of the application will look and operate.  If time permits I will add more to this section before the end of the project.

Viking Rune Stone Keyboard

I am very happy to be making this post because it means that I am back in the production element of my application.  As much as I enjoy acquiring new information, I really prefer the creative production side of my practice.  I am currently working on the Viking language aspect of my application; the Vikings used a symbol based written language that they called Runes and alongside my research I have created a Viking Rune mood board that you can see below:

viking_rune_mood_board

It is my intention to provide the user with an on-screen Rune keyboard, so that the user can write their name in Viking runes.  I have started working on the development of the Rune Keys for the keyboard and my design for these is based upon Rune stones which were commonly used by the Vikings for casting, which was a part of Viking magical practice and fortune telling.

As part of my development I have learnt a new technique for applying textures in Adobe flash, which I learnt from an online tutorial (see here).

My design is based upon a rough drawing that I made in my sketch book, see below:

IMG_0204

Below you can see my design for the Rune Stone keyboard:

rune_keyboard_screen_grab

The next stage of the development with regards to this feature is developing a code script, which makes the Runes appear on the screen as the user presses the keys shown in the image above.

References

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCFYvG9VVnw

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/write-your-name-in-runes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runes

http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/The-Vikings-Runes-6133692/

http://norse-mythology.org/runes/

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/worksheets/vikings/rune_stones.pdf

http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/write_in_runes.html

Jack of all trades

In a recent meeting, my external examiner said that he could not see what is masterful about my Master’s project.  This was a statement that I found to be quite painful to hear, especially as it was at odds with other appraisals of my work by my own tutors and my peers.  During my reflections and conversations after the external examiner’s damming thought on my work, it was suggested to me that his statement may have been a challenge to explain and communicate the value of my work to him, a challenge that I may have simply failed to meet.  It seems ironic that as a student who is studying the effective communication of information, in my meeting with my external examiner I may not have communicated effectively the nature of my Masters study.

My Masters study is wide and varied, with me looking at areas such as learning theory and practice, the role of new media in education and heritage, digital natives, Gamification, historical information relevant Vikings and illustration amongst others. It soon became apparent to me that it may be hard to see how all of the areas and theories I am investigating link together, I now understand how from the outside it may be hard to see the wood for the trees when looking at my Masters study, there is rather a lot going on but to me I can see the connections between the dots that maybe are not evident to those who are not directly involved.

There is of course another plausible explanation for what is going on, that are no connections and my perceived associative factors are part of my own delusion and I am in fact crazy?  Hopefully by the end of this post I will be able to effectively communicate the nature of my Masters Investigation, highlighting the connections between the different relevant parts, and you will be able understand my Masters study or officially diagnose me as being a delusional.

Through my Masters investigation, I have been looking at the effective communication of educational information through new media digital devices and as an example of my investigation I am creating an Interactive App for the Ipad, to provide educational information about the Vikings.

Whenever I start a project or individual parts of projects, I find it very useful to create mind maps to try to expand and record my ideas and this may be a very useful way of showing the varied nature of my enquiry and its many investigational strands.  See below:

Interactive Learning Enviroments Mind Map

Interactive Learning Enviroments Mind Map

The Vikings Mind Map

The Vikings Mind Map

These are just two of the mind maps I created and there are many more with differing strands of possible enquiry.  Hopefully this helps enlighten those who may be struggling to see how everything fits into my project, but if not the rest of this post may also provide an insight into my thought processes within my professional practice.

Through my approach I can see how it could be argued that my study does not make me a master of my practice but it may make me a well-rounded jack of all trades.

Through a conversation with my peer Gareth Sleightholme, I reached a realisation that surprised me.  There is a common theme to my master’s project that can be traced back to my B.A dissertation “Looking Towards the Principles of the Bauhaus as a Way to Improve the Relationship Between User, Designer and Digital Interface”.  Although my dissertation was focused upon the design of digital interfaces, when opened up to include my practice and my own personal approach within it, there is a commonality that I had not been previously aware of.

In my 2011 thesis I explore different disciplines including Usability, Psychology, Human Computer Interaction, Cognition, Ergonomics and Aesthetics, in order to see how they can be brought together to inform the design process of digital interfaces.  I draw on the example set by the Bauhaus in the early twentieth century:

“After the Werkbund period, an attempt to narrow the gap between the arts and crafts of the early twentieth century was made by Walter Gropius, a German architect who founded the Bauhaus; an art and crafts school that operated in Germany between 1919 and 1933. The Bauhaus originated a unique approach to bring together artists and craftsmen, to form a new breed of craftsman for a new time:” (Shakesby, 2011: p18)

Walter Gropius believed that narrowing the gap between what was known then as the arts and crafts would have a positive effect, on both sets of practices he saw how they could influence and enhance each other:

“Let us then create a new guild of craftsmen without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist!” (Gropius (1919), cited in Shakesby, 2011: p19)

In 2011, I saw the similarities between the divided practices that Gropius identified and the fractioned design practices that exist today:

The arrogant barrier that Gropius mentions is similar to the divide between interface designers; those who follow particular design philosophies often have such confidence in their chosen viewpoint that it may obscure other possible theories. A joining of theories in order to create a utopian balance requires openness on all sides, to listen and learn from each other, in order to affect change.” (Shakesby, 2011: p19)

Gropius believed that by bringing the Arts and Crafts together to combine their knowledge in a pedagogy to be passed on to a new generation, the result would be a more well rounded generation of producers who had the knowledge to amalgamate Arts and Crafts theories into a more balanced practice.  My 2011 piece discusses how interface design needs a modern day equivalent to the Bauhaus method of teaching, providing students with knowledge of many practices.

“Students at the Bauhaus were taught by masters of form and also by masters of craft, the Bauhaus was attempting to teach an all round production philosophy, well balanced in terms of aesthetics considerations, production values and functionalism, in order to create the new breed of practitioner, the craftsman of a new guild envisioned by Walter Gropius.

For Interface design to progress there is a need for designers to be students of different masters or theories, a well balanced design orientation is required in terms of aesthetics considerations, production values and functionalism, these new designers could be a new breed of practitioner that are equipped for the challenges and changes of the twenty-first century.” (Shakesby, 2011: p20)

In 2011 (p.23), I argued that through this type of union of design awareness “a new design theory could arise, suitable for today’s technology, bridging the gap between designers and users in the same way that the Bauhaus helped bridge the gap between producers and consumers in the twentieth century.”  At the time I did not see the bigger picture in regards to my argument and now I would argue that not only would this approach benefit interface design, it would actually benefit my wider practice of interactive multimedia design.

The pace of technological advancement since the early 1990’s has had a massive effect on the world and it has changed our everyday lives, both professionally and personally.  Computers, the Internet and mobile devices are just some of the technological advancements that are pervading society and becoming integral to the way many people live their lives.  These new technologies present new challenges, and knowledge of differing design practices is required to have the information to work out the design equations, to find the appropriate solutions to the new possibilities that we are afforded by the technology.  If you don’t understand what is possible, how can you be confident that the decisions you make are correct?

There is one problem with attempting to have knowledge of more than one discipline. There is a common saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”.  This is a term used to describe people who are competent with many skills but is not necessarily exceptional in any particular one and it is often used in a derogatory way to devalue these people.

The potential problem for a “Jack of all trades” is that they may be seen as the saying goes, as a “master of none”.  Outside perception may be that a specialist may have the ability to produce a higher standard of work.

This of course does not mean that your work will be inferior but there is a greater risk that a lack of knowledge may arise at some point causing a potential dilemma.  This risk element is one of the main reasons that some people are put off by the “Jack of all trades”

Wagner describes the negative perception of the Jack of all trades“Being considered a “jack of all trades” has always had a negative connotation. It implies that you dabble in bits of everything, but never achieve the expertise needed to be good at any one pursuit.” Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

Jeroen Van Geel explains how a little knowledge can lead us to become overconfident in our abilities:

“When we think we have an understanding of how things work, we have the feeling that we can impact everything. Of course this is great and we all know that curiosity should be stimulated, but at the same time this energy and endless search for knowledge can be a curse. Before we know it we become the jack of all trades, master of none.” Van Geel, (2013), http://www.tuicool.com/articles/U7RBNv

By following a “Jack of all trades” process, you will need to require a proficient knowledge of the practices you wish to work within and although you may be willing to put in the hard work and dedication needed to acquire this knowledge, others may not have the same level of professional commitment and this can lead to situations where work is carried out at a substandard level, tarnishing the reputation of all who follow the multi-disciplinary approach.

There are positives aspects of the “Jack of all trades”/multi-disciplinary approach and according to Wagner the judgment of people with a broader range of knowledge may be unfair, he offers an alternative point of view:

“Maybe a successful generalist should instead be considered a “Renaissance man” (or woman).” Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

Wagner’s alternative description places the “Jack of all trades” as an individual whose skill-set spans a considerable number of different subject areas; it is a positive reference that recognises the capability of some to be able to work at a more than proficient level across differing practices.

“Being a jack of all trades doesn’t mean that you are doing a million things at once. It means that you make sure that you are knowledgeable about and capable of doing the basics of any new innovations within your professional field of choice.”  Dixon, (2012), http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/04/the-art-of-being-a-jack-of-all-trades/

The earlier negative views of “Jack of all trades” underestimate the capabilities of people in general, Heinlein explains:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  Heinlein cited by Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

Every day we prove our capacity to master more than one task and history has many examples of people who were masters in more than one field, the most famous being Leonardo da Vinci “Few would argue that DaVinci should have stuck to one subject.” Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

By being a “Jack of all trades” you can actually become more valuable, Wagner believes “If you do it right, being a jack of all trades should be considered a strength.” To turn the negativity surrounding the “Jack of all trades” into positivity, a balance is needed between a significant level of knowledge in one area and a small amount in others. Wagner agrees “To really be successful, I suggest you strike a balance between generalist and specialist.”  Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

In football a player who can play in more than one position is a valuable asset to the team, that versatility increases that player’s value within a team but only as long as he is proficient in each position.

In design the same proficiency is required within any areas you may decide to incorporate into your skill-set, Wagner believes you need to “Go beyond “enough to be dangerous” This requires learning beyond the basics of subject areas, so that you can be proficient to a level where you can solve most problems and be capable of engaging in communication with specialists, if you do encounter any problems in order to identify a solution.

By being a “Jack of all trades” “You can be the person who sees the big picture and understands how all the parts interrelate.”  Wagner, (2009), http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/

There is another approach that allows us to bring together the knowledge of different design practices, this is collaboration.

Wigan (2009: p63) describes collaboration as “The act of working with others to create something.”

One advantage of working collaboratively is that there is less risk of problems due to lack of relevant knowledge; collaborations can feature specialists in the appropriate capacities/roles.

Sometimes, collaborations may produce a result like an attempt to mix oil and water but others can produce mixtures that complement and enhance, like the ingredients in a good recipe.  Over time practitioners can identify and form collaboration’s that are recipes for success rather than disaster.

Working collaboratively can be frustrating, as each practitioner may have their own methods and beliefs and these differences of opinion need to be mediated.

Compromise would be one possible solution in this situation but a successful outcome for this circumstance cannot simply be the ability to make a decision, it needs to be the ability to come to the appropriate decision for the task at hand.

Who would be qualified to make such a decision, if each practitioner has a differing opinion on what is appropriate?

In interactive media, the person responsible for making these decisions would be the ‘Project Manager’.

“The Project Manager is responsible for the successful planning and execution of a project. He or she decides what work needs to be done, who will do what, and when it must be finished.”  Creative Skillset, (2013), http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4754_1.asp

As part of their role, the ‘Project Manager’ will be responsible for the organisation of the project as described below:

“The project is usually divided into a number of stages that are often dependent on each other; the Project Manager must work out a schedule and ensure that the right people are available when needed so that each stage is completed on time and does not hold up any of the others.”  Creative Skillset, (2013), http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4754_1.asp

The ‘Project Manager’ will have to plan the project, taking into account any potential issues that may endanger the success of the project.

“A large part of the job involves identifying risks and assumptions that might adversely affect the project, and working out ways to ensure they do not – for example, by making contingency plans and by being rigorous in ensuring specifications and deliverables are properly documented.”  Creative Skillset, (2013), http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4754_1.asp

One issue that the ‘Project Manager’ needs to be aware of in a collaborative effort, is the potential interpersonal disagreements that may be spawned from both personal and professional differences of opinion, “He or she may need to brief and manage specialists, ensure open communication between team members and resolve interpersonal conflicts.”  Creative Skillset, (2013), http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4754_1.asp

My master’s project is an individual pursuit and thus I can see how my personal approach may be seen by others as a “Jack of all trades” styled methodology but it could also be argued that my approach is a wider reflection of my industrial field.

In 2012, as part my Professional Practice module I wrote a piece entitled “A Perspective of a Deeply Ingrained, Integral but Often Misunderstood Practice in the 21st Century.” Within this essay, I highlight the difficulty in defining my professional practice, saying:

“I have experienced people attempting to pigeon hole my practice into a definition that only includes part of my practice; it sometimes feels like I am a square peg being pushed into a round hole.  My practice involves elements of other practices and this is what in my opinion causes a lot of the confusion, Creative Skillset also recognise the overlapping nature of interactive media practice with other practices, their website says “The interactive media industry is a very fluid sector with many overlaps with, and blurred distinctions between, other sectors”.  (Creative Skillset, 2012, http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/industry/article_6838_1.asp)”

Due its multi-disciplinary nature, Interactive media is hard to define effectively but there is a definition provided by the authors England and Finney in the ATSF White Paper—Interactive Media UK 2002:

“Interactive media is the integration of digital media including combinations of electronic text, graphics, moving images, and sound, into a structured digital computerised environment that allows people to interact with the data for appropriate purposes. The digital environment can include the Internet, telecoms and interactive digital television.”  England and Finney, (2002: p2), http://www.atsf.co.uk/atsf/interactive_media.pdf

Since that definition in 2002, the mediums and possibilities have further developed but even then the multi-disciplinary environment within the field was more than evident.  As an interactive designer, there is a requirement to have a broader diverse range of knowledge to be effective and I believe this validates my approach when looking into what others may call specialist disciplines.  To be a master of my discipline requires me to have a high level of knowledge of different areas.

To be a Master of interactive media you need to be a master “Jack of all trades”, a “Renaissance Man”.  There may be some specialists who see this as an encroachment on their practice but this is not the case, it is a requisition for my practice to acquire this knowledge and any feelings of distain towards the perceived intrusion, should not lead to them denigrating practitioners of multi-disciplinary fields through terms such as “Jack of all trades”.  By using urban terminology I would say to these aggravated practitioners “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game” and for those who don’t understand that saying, there is a definition below:

“Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure.” Urban Dictionary, (2005), http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Don’t+Hate+The+Playa%2FPlayette+Hate+The+Game

Technological advancement has created new possibilities, genres and practices; this is part of an evolution and others practices may need to evolve too, in order to not become obsolete.

Everybody has the right and the ability to expand their own knowledgebase but this does not mean you must become a “Jack of all trades”; expanded knowledge is a powerful tool, especially to those in the creative industries.

Combinatorial creativity is a theory that believes “To create is to combine existing bits of insight, knowledge, ideas, and memories into new material and new interpretations of the world, to connect the seemingly dissociated, to see patterns where others see chaos.”  Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

The 20th Century Fox Television show Touch (2012), features a young boy described below:

Jake possessed an extraordinary gift – the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet” 20th Century Fox, (2012), http://www.fox.com/touch/about/

The show also features other characters that have the natural ability to see connections in different elements of life, connections that the rest of us are oblivious to.  I personally fall into the latter bracket, I am unaware of any natural ability I may have to see patterns that others don’t but I am naturally inquisitive and I do look for patterns, answers and reasons when sometimes others blindly accept.

Popova explains that throughout time illustrious creative’s, scientists and inventors have embraced the building blocks of combinatorial creativity:

““Stuff your head with more different things from various fields,” Ray Bradbury encouraged students in a 2001 address. “You should stay alert for the moment when a number of things are just ready to collide with one another,” Brian Eno advised. “Creativity is just connecting things,” Steve Jobs proclaimed. “Science,” Darwin recognized, “consists in grouping facts so that general laws or conclusions may be drawn from them.” “Substantially all ideas are second-hand,” Mark Twain observed, “consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them”” Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

These people could see how new juxtapositions can be created through a bricolage of existing practices and philosophies, combined in ways that are different to the intended purposes of the individual original.

Combinatorial creativity is a process that combines the existing elements to form a new, but this means that nothing is truly created but instead repurposed or remixed:

“Implicit to this idea of combinatorial creativity is the admission is that nothing is truly original, at least not in the sense of being built from scratch, and that can be hard. There’s a lot of resistance in the creative ego to that idea.”  Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

Popova provides a paradigm of this idea that nothing can be truly original because it will always be informed by our previous knowledge, in the form of an anecdote about Picasso and an interview with Paula Scher on the creation of the famous Citi logo, in summery of these examples she says:

 “Both of these stories captures something we all understand on a deep intuitive level, but our creative egos sort of don’t really want to accept: And that is the idea that creativity is combinatorial, that nothing is entirely original, that everything builds on what came before, and that we create by taking existing pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill and insight that we gather over the course of our lives and recombining them into incredible new creations.” Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

Lego is an example used by Popova to illustrate how the combinatorial creative process works:

“The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our castles will become. Because if we only have one color and one shape, it greatly limits how much we can create, even within our one area of expertise.” Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

Popova also offers an alternative description “We can, however, optimize our minds for combinatorial creativity – by enriching our mental pool of resources with diverse, eclectic, cross-disciplinary pieces which to fuse together into new combinations.” Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

The gathering of information is an important part of the combinatorial creative process.  All information can be considered useful in one way or another but when you have specific goals or desired outcomes, it is important show restraint and not run around like the proverbial headless chicken, gathering every bit of information you can find.  A conscious decision is required to tame inquisitive desires and focus upon the area that is more likely to yield the informational results you require.

 “Curiosity without direction can be a taxing and ultimately unproductive endeavor. Choice is how we tame and channel and direct our curiosity, where we choose to allocate our time and energy, and ultimately, what we choose to pay attention to” Popova, (2012), http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/

Popova is explaining that to truly create, to connect the dots, see the patterns, find the answers of even the right questions, then the relevant knowledge needs to be procured.  At that point a cross-pollination of ideas from a range of disciplines can occur through recombination’s that become new creations in their own right.

It is my belief that to flourish as an interactive designer requires an element of the jack of all trades persona; it requires a level of curiosity that drives enquiry beyond the obvious, in order to be informed to a level where it is possible to find connections and correlations that others cannot.  The ability to be innovative requires thinking not only inside and outside the box but also thinking through the box.

Projects like mine are appropriate for collaborative approaches but they are also appropriate for interactive designers who have taken the time and effort to investigate and acquire the knowledge to produce such works, without the need for collaboration but there also needs to be a realisation that situations may arise, where a higher level of knowledge is required in a specific area and willingness to collaborate when appropriate is needed.  Pride is the enemy of many designers when it comes to collaboration, collaboration is not an admission of the inability to perform a certain task, it is an admission that some things can be done better by working with others.

Interactive media is a multi-disciplinary practice and as a practitioner of this field I am required to have knowledge of more than one practice.  Interactive media is also a developing field that is in a constant state of flux, due to the pace of technological development and thus, the ability to adapt to the possible and potential developments and affordances that may arise is also essential to prosper in this field.

Combinatorial creativity suggests that my attempt at accumulating knowledge through my investigational process should aid me in my creative endeavours, both now in my Master’s study and in my future practice.

There is a saying that “Knowledge is power” and I believe that the knowledge that I am procuring during my masters study, will strengthen my proficiency within my practice.

Bibliography

Wigan, M. (2009) The Visual Dictionary of Illustration, UK: AVA Publishing SA

20th Century Fox, (2012), Touch [online] Available at: http://www.fox.com/touch/about/, [accessed 22nd April 2013]

Creative Skillset, (2013), Project Manager – Interactive Media, [online] Available at:
http://www.creativeskillset.org/interactive/careers/article_4754_1.asp, [accessed 20th April 2013]

Dixon, R. 2012, The Art of Been a Jack of All Trades, [online] Available at: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/04/the-art-of-being-a-jack-of-all-trades/, [accessed 21st April 2013]

England, E. & Finney, A. (2002) Interactive Media – What’s That? Who’s Involved? [online] Available at: http://www.atsf.co.uk/atsf/interactive_media.pdf, [accessed 22nd April 2013]

Shakesby, P. (2011) Looking Towards the Principles of the Bauhaus as a Way to Improve the Relationship Between User, Designer and Digital Interface, [online] Available at: http://www.newmedia.artdesignhull.ac.uk/pshakesby/level3/Dissertation_Looking%20Towards%20the%20Principles%20of%20the%20Bauhaus%20as%20a%20Way%20to%20Improve%20the%20Relationship%20between%20User,%20Designer,%20and%20Digital%20Interface..pdf, [accessed 22nd April 2013]

Popova, M. (2012), Combinatorial Creativity and the Myth of Originality, [online] Available at: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/06/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality/, [accessed 22nd April 2013]

Urban Dictionary, (2005), [online] Available at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Don’t+Hate+The+Playa%2FPlayette+Hate+The+Game, [accessed 22nd April 2013]

Van Geel, J. 2013, Jack of all trades, master of none: Danger for interaction design [online] Available at: http://www.tuicool.com/articles/U7RBNv, [accessed 20th April 2013]

Wagner, M. 2009, In Defense of the Jack of all trades [online] Available at: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/in-defense-of-the-jack-of-all-trades/, [accessed 20th April 2013]

Gamification

Gamification, what is it?  The definition of the term Gamification provided by the website Gamification Wiki is “Gamification is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” Gamification Wiki, (2010), http://gamification.org/

The assistant director of Bloomsburg University’s acclaimed Institute for Interactive Technologies, Professor Karl M. Kapp (2012: p66) also provides a similar definition, he says “Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.”

Basically Gamification is the gamefying or application of game design theories in differing fields.  To understand Gamification we need to understand what games are.

Roger Caillois a French theorist saw many of the structures in society as elaborate forms of games and much behaviour as forms of play.

Caillois proposed a useful system of classifying different types of experiences that are present in games in his book “Man, Play and Games”. A game can include just one or all of these different types of experiences.

Agon

This could be a contest or competition, the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Alea

This describes games of chance such as roulette or a lottery. Games of chance throughout time have often been the subject of gambling.

Mimicry

This can be described as copying, simulation or make believe.

Illinix

This describes games in which there may be a momentary disorientation in a physical sense, for example vertigo or dizziness.

Caillois’s taxonomy of game play experiences helps us understand about types of games but why do we play games in the first place?

In 2010 I wrote a piece during my B.A Interactive Multimedia at Hull School of Art and Design, in which I describe my theory on why people play games based upon Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs:

“Why do we want to play games?  Why do people get addicted to games and what makes a game addictive?  It is possible to get completely immersed in a game, to the point where we are entirely focused on playing and all other things become irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big part of why we feel the need to participate in games can be understood by examining a psychological theory by an American psychologist named “Abraham Harold Maslow”, considered the founder of humanistic psychology he conceptualised the theory a “hierarchy of human needs”, this is often condensed and displayed for visual representation as “Maslow’s Pyramid Of Needs”.

maslow pyramid of needs

Deficiency Needs

Maslow called the lower four layers of the Pyramid “deficiency needs”.  Within the deficiency needs each lower need must be met before moving on to the higher needs.  If at a later time a lower need is detected, the person will take steps to fulfil that need before resuming focus on their higher needs.

Physiological Needs

These are the literal requirements for human survival; breathing, drinking, eating, sleeping, sexual activity etc.  Without air or food one would die, without sexual activity as a species it would mean the extinction of humanity, this explains the strength of these instincts within individuals.  This does not seem relevant to game play at first, until you consider that the whole purpose of a lot of computer games is survival, for example any game were you have a health bar that depletes is a game of survival.  There are some games like ‘Resident Evil’ that directly deal with the survival of the human race as part of its storyline.

Safety Needs

Wanting that feeling of safety and security is part of a need for control; people yearn for a predictable, orderly world without injustice and inconsistency.  This can be found in any game were you control a hero or fight against a villain.

In the modern world our options in most situations are so abundant that boundaries between right and wrong are not always obvious and it is increasingly hard to judge your own actions and results in comparison to those of others.  This inconsistency means that it can be complicated when deciding what we should be doing and this confusion makes it hard to gain the pleasure of knowing that we have done something well.

Games can help with these fulfilment needs, as games can be played against other people, against yourself, against a computer or perhaps even against magical forces unbeknownst to man.  All games have one thing in common in that they have goals and rules to follow in order to play, so providing us with the consistency that we crave in the real world.

Social Needs

Social needs are the emotional needs that are fulfilled by relationships between people.  Families, friendships and communities often feature within games. In some games you have a companion i.e. “Super Mario Brothers”, Mario and Luigi are both family and companions.  In other games you have the ability to act as part of a team  i.e. in “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” you work as part of a four man team to defend the planet.  Some games require you to have social interactions within everyday family life i.e. “The Sims”.

Computer games in particular have addressed social needs in an altogether different way by creating a community in which people have found common ground with each other through a common interest.

Esteem Needs

The need for self-esteem and self-respect is also known as the belonging need, it is the human desire to be accepted and valued by others.

People need to engage themselves to get recognition as a sense of contribution; this gives the person a sense of personal value.  Without this people can suffer from low self-esteem, people with low self-esteem want or need respect from others.

Game play can provide an outlet for these needs by giving people a platform that they can show off their talents through, i.e. escapism.

By playing games people can become the focus of the virtual environment, it gives them a platform on which they can get attention, status, and power.

Success in the virtual world of computer games can aid people to be competent and to achieve recognition.   

Self Actualization

The motivation to discover one’s own maximum potential and possibilities is considered to be the master motive or the only real motive in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  The need for self-actualization is the final need that manifests when the lower level needs have been satisfied, this is why it sits above all other needs at the top of the pyramid.

This is possibly the easiest human need to explain why games are so popular, the need to better oneself by rising to the challenge that games present.  To conquer a game or raise ones performance through practice, constantly looking to go further, faster raising confidence and fulfilling the needs of self actualization.

In a way, everything we do in our daily lives is in either a direct or an indirect way related to these needs.

The human body recognises needs and rewards, its fulfilment is often associated with feelings of pleasure to encourage repeat behaviour, i.e. when we are thirsty we drink and after doing so we feel better.

The reward process for our psychological needs is slightly different, as different people have different requirements.  The person in question sets personal targets that they want to accomplish, it does not really matter what we do, how we do it, or why?  As long as we feel that we are doing the right thing, for the right reasons and getting the results that we want, we will get that feeling of fulfilment.

This explains the feeling of pleasure felt by people during game play, some people may say “It’s only a game” but that depends on your psychological needs.

The ultimate goal for all our activities is the fulfilment of needs.” (Shakesby, 2010)

When you understand why people want to play games, you can identify with the level of engagement shown by people during game play, this engagement often causes people to lose their temporal concerns; they don’t eat, drink, sleep or even go to the toilet because they are truly immersed in the task at hand.

Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the hypothesis of Flow (psychology).

Csikszentmihalyi’s theory was that people get a great sense of deep happiness, satisfaction, or fulfilment when they are in a state of great concentration or complete absorption with the activity that they are immersed in and it is this feeling that he calls “flow”, popular culture often describes the psychological state as “being in the zone”.  The flow state causes game players to be utterly engrossed in the undertaking or challenge at hand, this happens when there is a balance between the challenge of the task and the skill of the player, if the task is too easy or difficult the flow state cannot occur.

It is this deep sense of interest or engagement with undertakings that people hope to re-appropriate for their own interests, in other words people interested in Gamification want to create that same level of engagement and interest exhibited in tasks found in game play, into other areas through the use of game theory.

Education is one area that has exhibited an interest in Gamification, Cohen (2011: p15) explains that there is a growing movement of education professionals that would like to see the Gamification of education “The world has entered a bright new technology-driven era, yet the education system remains rooted in a gray industrial past. At least, this is the argument that a growing number of education professionals are making.

Cohen discusses a potential idea for the restructuring of the educational system, that would see online gaming and learning replacing the traditional class room text books and he believes that this idea is gaining in popularity.  I personally from my research would never advocate such a radical step but I would argue for a greater increase in interactive digital media within learning environments.

Cohen (2011: p15) explains that “While traditional education proponents may be quick to dismiss computer games as inconsequential, others argue that a strong precedent for independently motivated online game-based learning has already been established”.

One thing that we do know is that everybody is different, we all look different, sound different and learn differently, we have different needs and these needs change depending on a number of varying factors including age, experience, mood, fatigue, etc.  Gamification may very well be an effective way of providing learning to some people at some times but to base an entire educational system around one theory or medium would surely be a mistake?

The paper based education system that I grew up with did not meet all my educational needs but it works for a great number of people, our education system should be able to offer learning through various mediums based upon a multitude of theories, as a broader approach that does not expect the learner to conform to its methods but actually offers the learner choices, choices that make learning easier for the individual.

It is import to point out that Gamification is not a purely digital idea; you can add game dynamics to a wide range of situations, for example if students were asked to find objects in a classroom and each object found is given a point value, the game would be a game based upon Caillois’s description of Agon, a competition.  This is of course not the only way you can augment situations with game theory, Kapp (2012: p 66) says:

A well-designed game is a system in which players engage in an abstract challenge, defined by rules, interactivity, and feedback that result in a quantifiable outcome often eliciting an emotional reaction. Games can be designed and delivered in an online environment with multimedia graphics, interactive characters, and automated scorekeeping, or they can be face-to-face and conducted in a classroom with simple interactions and engagement.”

Below is an interesting info-graphic about the Gamification of education:

This info-graphic shows a large amount of information about the positive effects of Gamification but one thing that I find particularly worrying is the Agon element of competition, the will to succeed and win is a powerful motivational factor but should education be a competition?

The motivation of winning makes certain individuals become Olympic gold medallists or sees others accomplish things faster than anybody else has done before but it is also the thing that makes other cry in despair when they fail.  A gamifyed system could unintentionally create de-motivated players through fear of failure, rather than motivated players striving for success and I believe it will probably create a number of players in each camp.  Surely education should be available to all, not just winners!

Kapp discusses an area of Gamification that he calls “Freedom to fail” he explains

In most instructional environments, failure is not a valid option. Learners are objectively scored, and they either get it right the first time or fail and do not pass. Few people enjoy failing in traditional learning environments, and most will do everything they can to avoid failing. This means that most learning environments do not encourage exploration or trial-and-error learning.” (Kapp, 2012, p66)

Kapp goes on to describe how games can turn the negative effects of failure in a positive outcome:

Games, however, encourage failure. Players will purposely fail to see what happens or to get a sense of the gamespace in which they are playing. Failing is allowed, it’s acceptable, and it’s part of the game. Games accommodate failure with multiple lives, second chances, and alternative methods of success. Games overcome the “sting of failure” by allowing, as part of their design, multiple opportunities to perform a task until mastery.” (Kapp, 2012, p66)

Kapp (2012: p66) also says that Gamification “involves encouraging learners to explore the content, take chances with their decision making, and be exposed to realistic consequences for making a wrong or poor decision”.

I am not sure that I am entirely in agreement with Kapp at this point, games can be designed to encourage failure, and multiple chances at task completion can help player’s master tasks, helping increase self esteem and putting the player on a path towards self actualisation but if the level of that task required is placed well beyond the capabilities of the play, frustration can occur leading to a lowering of self esteem and usually disinterest in the completion of the task at hand.

If the player is exposed to realistic consequences for making wrong or poor decisions it is not always a positive thing. This is why we often see kids crying when they cannot complete parts of video games, it could be argued that this is character building or is it just delivering life’s harsh message that you cannot be good at everything?  This frustration can lead to emotional breakdown and user/player frustration can lead to disengagement with tasks or some players may simply choose to quit rather than repeat a task until completion.

Eliminating the risk of failure would solve this problem but there is another way, designers of games and Gamification need to be realistic when assessing task difficulty and potential player proficiency.  Games need to be designed to be easy enough to accomplish tasks, whilst also being challenging enough to prevent potential boredom but the possibility of failure when used correctly can be a great tool in player engagement, Kapp (2012: p66) says:

The risk of failure without punishment is engaging. Learners will explore and examine causes and effects if they know it’s OK to fail. In many cases, they will learn as much from seeing the consequences of their failure as they will from a correct answer.”

Gamifying a learning application would be a great way to engage the user, hopefully making it easier to effectively communicate information whilst they are engaged, it also would make the application more appealing to users, Kapp (2012, p66) explains:

Games are incredibly appealing. They engage players because they provide an environment and a context in which actions provide direct feedback and lead to direct consequences. They can provide a realistic context in which actions and tasks can be practiced. Games create a surrogate for actual experiences that provide rich learning opportunities.”

But a gamifyed application does not need to be a game; it just needs to re-appropriate the elements from game design theory to engage the user in an interesting, informative and entertaining way.

Kapp (2012, p67) says that Gamification:

provides the learner with an engaging, relevant learning experience without the heavy time commitment necessary to play most games. Through the careful application of game elements—such as the freedom to fail, interest curve, storytelling, and feedback—in learning programs, ordinary content can be made more engaging without the development of a full-fledged learning game

Within my application I have a number of interactive elements that I have been describing thus far as relevant interactions, these include:

Barter (Trade) a Viking Comb

In this section the user chooses the amount of coins needed to trade for a Viking comb, the user has the freedom to fail by choosing the wrong amount of coins but they are able to make another choice until the correct choice is made.  Using Caillois classifications it is fair to say this is a game that shows Mimicry, it is a virtual representation of a historic process, a simulation from which the user will hopefully learn the process and the tools involved in a Viking trade transaction.

Archaeologist Game

This interactive features an archaeologist who invites the user to help him find a Viking ship, the user has to choose from one of four archaeological dig sites, they then rub away an onscreen layer of virtual soil, to unearth an artefact in the hope that it is the Viking ship they have been tasked with finding.  If the user does not find the ship they can go back and choose another dig site until they complete their task.

It is possible to argue that this is a game that exhibits elements of Alea, as the choice is a bit like a lottery, it is a game of chance but it is also once again Mimicry as it is a very basic simulation of an archaeological process.

Decorate a Viking Shield

This part of my application allows the user to paint a Viking Shield, as a digital recreation of a process that many Vikings undertook.  Again Caillois classifications would place this interactive in the category of Mimicry.

Control a Viking boat

This interactive element is an Easter egg within the game. a hidden piece of fun that can be played when inquisitive users find it.

The task for the user within this part of my application is to control a Viking ship, manoeuvring it from one point to another whilst avoiding the sea serpents. Caillois classifications make this game an example of Agon, as the user is the protagonist trying to successfully navigate a course without interaction with the sea serpent antagonists.

Some may argue that there is a lack of reward system within these interactive elements, for them to be considered as games or examples of Gamification whether it is a points system, levelling up or some other prize.  In fact it has been said directly to me by my external examiner that my application is not an example of Gamification and I agree that my application is not a game, it is in my opinion an interactive learning application that features elements of game theory amongst others.  My application does however definitely fit into a broader category that encompasses Gamification, as described below:

Firstly, “Gamification” relates to games, not play (or playfulness), where “play” can be conceived of as the broader, looser category, containing but different from “games”” Deterding,et al (2011: p3)

Play is essential in child development, family counsellor and parent educator Helen R Williams explains:

Children boost self esteem through play.  While they play, children are developing an understanding of themselves and others, increasing their mastery and knowledge of their physical world and learning to communicate with others. Play is essential to children’s development by contributing to their physical, social, cognitive and emotional well being.” Williams, H. R. no publication date, http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Boost-Self-Esteem-Through-Play&id=1028608

Caillois described the difference between games – ludus (or “gaming”) and play – paidia (or “playing”) Deterding,et al (2011: p3) says:

“In game studies, this distinction between games and play is usually tied back to Caillois’ concept of paidia and ludus as two poles of play activities [12]. Whereas paidia (or “playing”) denotes a more freeform, expressive, improvisational, even “tumultuous” recombination of behaviors and meanings, ludus (or “gaming”) captures playing structured by rules and competitive strife toward goals.”

According to this definition the majority of my interactive elements do not qualify as games, although I could argue that the Archaeologist game and the Control a Viking boat could be classified as games.

The distinction between games and play is there but it is ambiguous to the uninitiated.  Korhonen, Montola and Arrasvuori tried to define playfulness by creating the PLEX framework, Deterding,et al (2011: p2) describes:

“Korhonen, Montola and Arrasvuori have made the most systematic attempt in this regard [43,44]. Combining the “pleasurable experience” framework of Costello and Edmonds [20] with further theoretical work and user studies on video game play, they developed a Playful Experience Framework (PLEX) that categorizes 22 (originally 20) playful experiences.”

Deterding,et al also tells that recently others have investigated and found evidence to support the clear differences between “playing” and “gaming” :

Recent theoretical and empirical studies have provided further support for the distinctness of “playing” and “gaming” as two modes, foci, or “values” of behavior and mindset2 encountered during video game play [4,41]. This distinction also appears in HCI research on playfulness. The aforementioned PLEX framework acknowledges Caillois’ distinction of paidia and ludus in that it explicitly sets out to capture all experiences between these two poles [43].” Deterding,et al (2011: p3)

My application definitely features elements of playfulness, the Barter (Trade) a Viking Comb and Decorate a Viking Shield interactives are playful elements.  I do not consider my application to be an example of Gamification but it does exhibit some of the qualities of Gamification, it also exhibits elements of playful design, Deterding,et al (2011: p3) describe why my application cannot be considered as an example of Gamification:

In terms of defining “gamification”, this means that it too has to be analytically distinguished from playfulness or playful design – indeed, this marks the novelty of “gamified” applications. In practice, it can be assumed that they often can and will give rise to playful behaviors and mindsets as well, just as video game players often switch between playful and gameful behaviors and mindsets during play [4].”

The quote above explains that users can switch between the behaviours and mind sets that define games and play during these activities, which is good for my application, as I believe it exhibits elements of both Gamification and playfulness and hopefully these elements that feature within my application will help engage the users of my application.  The evidence above suggests that Gamification and playfulness are different but both essential to child engagement and development, and by adopting elements of these theories alongside other theories of information communication, I hope to be able to develop an application that is engaging, entertaining and informative.

Bibliography

Caillois, R. (2001) Man, Play and Games, USA: University of Illinois Press

Cohen, AM 2011, The Gamification of Education, Futurist, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp. 16-17, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 March 2013.

Kapp, K M. (2012), GAMES, GAMIFICATION, AND THE QUEST FOR LEARNER ENGAGEMENT, T+D, Vol 66, Issue 6, pp. 64-68, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 March 2013.

About.com Psychology, no publication date, Abraham Maslow, [online] Available at: http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/ig/Pictures-of-Psychologists/Abraham-Maslow-Picture.htm [accessed 09th March 2013]

Deterding, S. Dixon,D. Khaled, R. & Nacke, L. (2011) From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness: Defining “Gamification” [online] Available at: http://85.214.46.140/niklas/bach/MindTrek_Gamification_PrinterReady_110806_SDE_accepted_LEN_changes_1.pdf, [accessed 10th March 2013]

Edudemic, (2012), The 100 Second Guide to Gamification In Education, [online] Available at: http://edudemic.com/2012/09/the-100-second-guide-to-gamification-in-education/, [accessed 09th March 2013]

Gamification Corp. (2012) [online] Available at: http://www.gamification.co/. [accessed 10th March 2013]

Gamification Wiki, (2010), [online] Available at:  http://gamification.org/, [accessed 10th March 2013]

Williams, H. R. no publication date, How to Boost Self Esteem Through Play, [online] Available at: http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Boost-Self-Esteem-Through-Play&id=1028608, [accessed 11th March 2013]