Assistive Technologies for Aging Gracefully.

Comments

The growing population of baby boomers leads to serious challenges in the method of coping up with the challenges of aging. Modern advancements in medicine have resulted in providing the longevity but at the same time there seems to be no evidence of an eternal fountain of youth as a panacea for ailments that comes along with aging.  Decline in cognitive abilities, challenges in physical abilities, decline in motor skills, emotional loneliness, mental distress and social isolation are a few of the challenges facing the aging population (Czaja et al., 2008). This demographic has been neglected over time in terms of understanding their needs and their adaptability to information systems and technology. This paper explores the challenges faced in integrating technology towards assistive care.

Reference Information

Baecker, R. M., Moffatt, K., & Massimi, M. (2012). Technologies for Aging Gracefully. Interactions, 32–36.

Summary

The paper starts off with the stark reality that “the world is aging”. While longevity enhanced by modern medicine is a desirable aspect of life, with aging comes the challenges of sensory, motor, cognitive and social isolation.  Cognitive and physical challenges of older adults define the limitations and opportunities for them to participate in leisurely and recreational activities. Most usability studies have been conducted with younger adults, and a study of the limitations and abilities of older adults would help develop usability criteria for designing games for this demographic. Technology must enhance the lifestyle of older adults as a means to provide them with freedom, mobility and interdependence on one another in a social group. There should not be any discrimination in the use and experience of devices and technology for older adults and persons with disabilities. The concept of a barrier free living environment needs to be extended to the field of leisurely activities, personal entertainment and social interaction. The author formed Technologies for Aging Gracefully lab (TAGlab) in 2009 with the aim of enabling full participation in society by individuals with special needs i.e. peole afflicted with Alzhimer’s Disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), amnesia, aphasia, strokes, multiple sclerosis (MS) or vision loss. In the hierarchy of human needs as defined by Maslow, TAGlab focused its attention on the top three needs i.e. the love or social needs, esteem needs and self actualization needs.

Discussion

The authors framed the relevance of technology in relation to the improvement of lives of senior citizens using Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. The following table indicates the work done by the authors and others in the realm of assistive technologies for the enhancement of the lifestyle of older adults. Continue reading

Mandatory Fun: Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work

Reference Information

Mollick, E., & Rothbard, N. (2012). Mandatory Fun: Gamification and the Impact of Games at Work. The Wharton School Research Paper, (22).

Summary

This paper presents a study on whether gamification can provide desirable benefits that improve the affective experience and the performance of employees at work, while also providing a further analysis and highlight of the role of consent in games.

To achieve their results, the authors of this paper designed a field experiment with the salespeople of a growing technology company, divided into three conditions where gamification and game aspects were either (a) entirely present, (b) not present and (c) partially present. In the first condition, participants were exposed to what the authors call a “Game” condition, where they were engaged in activities for which they were already incentivized for – closing deals with customers, while being exposed to basketball themed leaderboards and using basketball lingo to define terms like closing deals and cold calls. In condition (b) participants had no exposure to any gamification means, as they were the control group, while condition (c) participants were exposed to leaderboards without any basketball theme association. In each of these conditions, the participants were also exposed to a short survey at the start and at the end of the study on positive and negative affect, as well as to a small set of questions also at the end of their participation to assess their degree of consent to the game.

The study concludes that games do increase the positive affect and performance at work when employees consent to them, and increase negative affect and weaken performance when consent is absent. The authors also concluded that employees who play games outside work have a higher degree of consent to games at work. and that partial gamification, when there are no mechanics that make it fun, worsens the results when compared to a condition absent of gamification.

Discussion

This paper begins with an incredibly thorough contextualization of the place that games at work have in our society and in research. From the several studies presented as references, one can understand that there is no real need for incredibly complex game mechanics to motivate workers to perform more efficiently in their tasks while at the same time increasing the affect towards fellow colleagues or even towards their managers. Such is the example provided by Donald Roy’s “Banana Time” game, where all that was asked was that a banana was stolen from the lunchbox of one of the designated factory’s workers. Games at work are also presented as, from a worker’s perspective, a means to pass the time, something that reduces fatigue and an activity that promotes skill practice, while providing social and non-monetary rewards that would not be achievable otherwise.
In my personal opinion, these studies all boil down to the same question: Why shouldn’t games at work be a common practice? They are a healthy way to humanize the work environment, which is commonly known as not being the most friendly place on earth due to the competitive nature of work in modern society. To put it in the same words of the authors, work isn’t always fun, games are fun, so turning work into a game will make work fun and lead to happier employees.

Were it not a paper about gamification, it would not have a broad literature review of this field like the work of Sebastian Detering. The authors make the bridge between games at work and gamifitaion, and the psychology behind it, by introducing concepts from the Self-Determination Theory of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that we all know) and the “yummi delicious” concept of Chocolate covered broccoli of Amy Bruckman – Hide non-motivating tasks under a layer of fun games.
But why go through all the trouble of implementing games at work by gamifying tasks? Let me tell you my story. I worked in a Software Engineering company, a huge one with about five thousand employees (I am not joking), with an extremely competitive environment. From the first week off you are supposed to know all the ins and outs of the whole software of a department, all the company’s structure and organization, among a huge list of cumbersome tasks that no newcomer is prepared for, while your managers are expect you to complete while they are “pointing a gun at you”. If you fail, you are out. To me, the biggest challenge was that there was definitely no intrinsic motivation to accomplish these tasks while someone is observing you in such a controlling and oppressive position, let alone the difficulty of understanding all the monolithic, non-commented code that was left for me to work on.
It was with a huge sarcastic grin that I read this part of the paper, because it proves that the managerial view that  games are for kids and that a workplace should never be either a place for fun or for forging new friendships with colleagues could not be more far from the truth.

And what is the consequence of disregarding the importance of the affective relations at work? Yet again, there is a broad review of the literature in the paper about how games at work are important as they have the key function of improving the positive affect people feel when they are at work. While gamification’s goal is not to make work more interesting in itself, it is indeed focused on improving the affective experiences that take place at work.

The paper touches another concept that it was new to me in the sense that I had never really researched on it, although I had thought of it as a consequence of gamifying work. If you are a manager of a company and you are gamifying the workplace of your employees, won’t they feel like these games are Mandatory Fun? Will not the game be felt as yet another imposed task on the work experience? Would it not make the work environment (even) more tense and deter the affective experiences that are generated? This is where the authors talk about consent to games. Games at work can indeed be seen as an obligatory experience, but there is an interesting reference in the paper that really caught my attention. There is a study of Michel Anteby on consent at an aeronautics plant. Anteby found that employees, after getting the permission of the managerial staff, used spare parts to create sculptures or pieces of art for themselves. On the other hand, the results were very different when the employees were told to do  sculptures or pieces of art for the managers. This dichotomy between being allowed to and being told to is particularly interesting, as it is clear that there is a different behavior when there is consent and when there is imposition. Finally, the authors hypothesize on the consent to games at work, formulating that employees that have had previous game experiences will more likely consent to workplace game experiences because they have not just accepted the importance of games, but have also embraced the sort of games that are used in gamification of work environments as researched by Mark Suchman.

Conclusion

Given the current on-going push for the gamification conference, this paper was actually an interesting and enjoyable read. It is a gold-mine for references since it is quite a long paper, with a good study that demonstrates that gamification is a powerful method when applied correctly. Its structure was really good since the literature review was ample, well written and very well articulated.

One additional bonus of this paper is that it overlaps my current study in punctuality which looks at gamification of work environments as well.

I feel that the movie Office Space is a great parallel way to visualize this paper, not in a sense that we should all become angry computer nerds at work, but rather in a what if sense. If the workplace nurtures a social, playful and collaborative environment, it will not end up like in the movie and everyone reaps great benefits, be them positive affect, increased productivity or overall happiness and enjoyment, instead of keeping the work isn’t fun motto in every employee’s life.

Further References

  1. Roy, D. F. (1959). ” Banana Time”: Job Satisfaction and Informal Interaction.Human organization18(4), 158-168.
  2. Deterding, S., Sicart, M., Nacke, L., O’Hara, K., & Dixon, D. (2011, May). Gamification. using game-design elements in non-gaming contexts. In PART 2———–Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 2425-2428). ACM.
  3. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2011). Self-determination theory. Handbook of theories of social psychology1, 416-433.
  4. Bruckman, A. (1999, March). Can educational be fun. In Game Developer’s Conference, San Jose, California.
  5. Anteby, M. (2008). Identity incentives as an engaging form of control: Revisiting leniencies in an aeronautic plant. Organization Science19(2), 202-220.
  6. Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of management review20(3), 571-610.

Image obtained from http://kylexcraig.deviantart.com/art/Link-working-365601255 on July 02 2013, licensed under the Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported. Credit goes to deviantart user kylexcraig.

Paper: Visualization-based analysis of gameplay data – A review of literature

Citation

Wallner, G., and S. Kriglstein. “Visualization-Based Analysis of Gameplay Data-A Review of Literature.” Entertainment Computing (2013).

Introduction

This paper reviews literature on visualization-based analysis of game metric data in order to give an overview of the current state of this field of research. Exactly, this paper reviews and classifies the visualization methods for game play metrics. Gameplay metrics are automatically collected by logging user initiated events (events that occur when a player interacts with a game). Furthermore, Gameplay metrics are numerical data about players’ behavior and interactions with the game and have become a valuable source for the analysis of how a game is played.
The paper first introduced application areas of visualization methods and then its classification of these visualization methods based on different aspects. Finally authors discussed their results of their review.
The authors classified the visualization methods for gameplay metrics, which intended for the analysis of data internal to gameplay sessions. Table 1 summarizes this classification.

Table 1-Summary of the paper classification
Class Subclasses reviewed references/softwares
Target audience Game developers Data Cracker
SkyNet
The Unreal Master Control Program
Flying Lab Software
Playtomic
Players Rockstar Games Social Club
Sc2gears
StarCraft II
Field of application Lithium (for Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory game)
Sc2gears
Data Cracker(as a Dead Space 2 tool)
Tracking Real-Time User Experience (TRUE)
SkyNet
Giant Bomb
Data
Microsoft Game Studios
Age of Empires II
Dragon Age: Origins
Sony Online Entertainment
Everquest 2
Unreal Master Control Program.
SkyNet
Representation Charts and diagrams Action Shapes
Biometric Storyboards
Heatmaps Halo 3
Half Life: Episode 2
Psychostats (for Half-Life 1 and 2
Tomb Raider: Underworld
Volition
World of Warcraft
SkyNet
Movement visualizations Lithium
World of Warcraft
PlayerViz
Self-organizing maps Tomb Raider: Underworld
Node-link representations KeyGraph

In the discussion part of the paper, at first, authors mentioned some practical problems in collecting and analyzing gameplay metrics data. They also discussed some suggestion about how we should overcome the existing issues in data collection and analyzing. Then, they shortly discussed open problems and future directions for research which mainly evolve around six broad areas. Table 2 briefly mentioned these areas.

Table 2-Future direction and research
Area Open Problems Suggestions
Data selection Which data should be tracked and how it should be analyzed Statistical techniques or aggregated data
Clustering, SOMs or graphs for data with unknown patterns
Frameworks or heuristics
Large-scale data Transforming, cleaning, analyzing and visualizing the very large amount of data
Ways to reduce the visual complexity of the visualizations
Using clustering in visualization
Context Misinterpretations of the data Including contextual data
Being combined with user research methods like playtesting, video capture, or thinking aloud protocols
Automatic analysis Automatic detection of patterns in the data to assist human analysis Landmarks in virtual environments
Movement patterns
Automatic identification of roles that avatars take in a group
The development of unsupervised and supervised machine-learning systems
Integration Effective game analytical tools Integrating game analytical tools in the development process
Causal relationships Understanding causal relationships to enhance playability

Discussion

To be honest, I didn’t like the paper. Exactly the topic of the paper is really boring. Reading such a tedious paper took lots of time of me, and killed me. However, in the technical view, the paper is written well and includes what it should. The authors mentioned that they reviewed 42 papers in this context, but they provided lots of other examples and references. The number of references, 130 papers, shows their deep analysis.

Paper: Control vs. complexity in games: comparing arousal in 2D game prototypes

2013-04-25-205551

The two of us chose this study as we both shared an interest in 2d game design. The article is rather short and doesn’t have a large amount of details, but the study itself takes a look at an important aspect of game design: the relationship between complexity and control.

Reference

Michael Lankes, Wolfgang Hochleitner, Christina Hochleitner, and Nina Lehner. 2012. Control vs. complexity in games: comparing arousal in 2D game prototypes. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Fun and Games (FnG ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 101-104.

http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2367616.2367629

Summary

This study takes a look at the correlation between player arousal and complexity of control in games. The authors hypothesize that more complicated controls will increase arousal in players who are faced with more ways to influence game play. Similarly, this implies that less complexity will make the game simpler and will reduce a player’s level of arousal. To test this, the researchers used a simple 2D game involving running and jumping, with two different versions that only vary in their controls. The simpler version of the game only involved using the mouse to move platforms, while the more complicated version required players to also use one hand on the keyboard to jump. The study found using physiological methods that the version of the game with more difficult controls resulted in players having higher arousal levels. The study suggests several implications for game designers, including using complexity as a tool to make specific game events more exciting, such as a game’s climax. However, the study notes that it was limited by a small sample size and a single game genre.

Continue reading

Review of “Electroencephalographic Assessment of Player Experience: A Pilot Study in Affective Ludology”

BECCACONTROLLER

Nacke, L. E., Stellmach, S., & Lindley, C. A. (2010). Electroencephalographic Assessment of Player Experience: A Pilot Study in Affective Ludology. Simulation & Gaming, 42(5), 632–655. doi:10.1177/1046878110378140

Summary

The presented paper has two goals. It seeks to both establish a methodology for the use of Electroencephalography (EEG) for game research and to examine the results of a pilot study following this methodology established. The paper begins with an in-depth review of the literature regarding the fundamentals of user experience including immersion, flow, boredom. The paper also features a pilot study. The presented paper looks at player experience using EEG and questionnaires. The authors vary the game design of the level to incite either boredom, immersion or flow. The paper looks at heuristics or Level Design Guidelines used to outline game design. The paper concludes the heuristics successful via the questionnaires. The EEG results were not entirely complementary. The EEG results indicated that the immersion- level design is associated with increased theta band activity. In the discussion the paper suggests that increased theta band activity caused by immersion could be linked to the exploration and navigation of virtual areas.

Continue reading

Paper: Pleasure to Play, Arousal to Stay: The Effect of Player Emotions on Digital Game Preferences and Playing Time

usedis

One benefit to reading a large number of research articles is gaining the ability to identify flaws in studies and reasoning. In particular, a study I reviewed by Barr et. al. (2007) helped me to get an idea of the sorts of methods that are appropriate for a study in HCI, and what researchers should and should not do in their studies. It was quite insightful for me to read a primarily theoretical paper then follow it up with an article about an experiment such as this one.

Reference Information

Pleasure to Play, Arousal to Stay: The Effect of Player Emotions on Digital Game Preferences and Playing Time. Poels, Karolien; van den Hoogen, Wouter; Ijsselsteijn, Wijnand; de Kort, Yvonne. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Jan 2012, Vol. 15, No. 1: 1-6. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0040

Summary

This article studies the relationships between player emotion, playing time, and game preferences. There has not been a substantial amount of research studying the relationships between these three factors, particularly in the home environment, as games have moved from the arcades to homes in the last 20-30 years. In the study, nineteen participants played four different games (two first person shooters and two racing games), and were analyzed with physiological measurements as well as self-reports. Three categories of emotions were evaluated: pleasure, arousal, and dominance. The study found that pleasure predicted short-term game preference while arousal predicted long-term game preference. Pleasure also strongly predicted playing time, while arousal only contributed to long-term playing time. The study was not able to accurately measure the effects of dominance on gameplay or preferences.

Continue reading

Paper: Entertainment modeling through physiology in physical play

A child playing Bug-Smasher

Citation

Yannakakis, Georgios N., and John Hallam. “Entertainment modeling through physiology in physical play.” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 66.10 (2008): 741-755.

Introduction

The goal of this paper was to provide an entertainment children-user model which predicts fun when children play a physical game. This entertainment model would predict the fun, by analyzing physiological measures.
They had two challenges to overcome for creating this model. The first challenge was how can we create this model, I mean using which existing technique? And the second challenge was how can we eliminate the impact of physical activities from captured physiological measures (I mean a physical activity and a physical game have some common features that are noises in prediction model)?
To producing this model, the authors designed two experiments, and used some feature selection algorithms and classification mechanisms. In the other words, they used and compared two feature extraction algorithms and three classification algorithms.

At the end, an entertainment model generates a number y that shows how much “fun” is it. For example in comparison of two games, the more fun game gets the higher value.

Main Experiment (the first experiment)

Seventy two normal-weighted children whose ages cover a range between 8 and 10 years participated in the main experiment. They played Bug-Smasher in nine variants on the Playware playground. The description of Bug-Smasher game is as follows:

The “Bug-Smasher” game is used as Continue reading

ElderFun: Putting Fun into Video Games for Older Adults

h-m-1

Comments

Much research has been done on the topic of the positive aspects of gaming and the use of gaming devices for older adults. Research has predominantly focused on areas of gaming and its applicability in various categories of rehabilitation; physical and cognitive training; leisure and entertainment; and adult learning. Older adults experience age-related changes in their cognitive and physical abilities. This paper has special significance because, this was the first paper that I had read, sent my way by Dr. Nacke, in my quest for research on the topic of social interaction in older adults.

Reference Information

McLaughlin, a., Gandy, M., Allaire, J., & Whitlock, L. (2012). Putting Fun into Video Games for Older Adults. Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications, 20(2), 13–22. doi:10.1177/1064804611435654

Summary

Learning needs and capabilities of older adults deteriorate with age. New technologies used in video games may pose barriers to the older adults’ population (McLaughlin et al., 2012) due to the decline in their cognitive and physical abilities. Game experiences and expectations from gamification experiments can pose serious challenges to game adoption. Continue reading

Paper: Using psychophysiological techniques to measure user experience with entertainment technologies

Citation

Mandryk, R. L., Inkpen, K. M., & Calvert, T. W. (2006). Using psychophysiological techniques to measure user experience with entertainment technologies. Behaviour & Information Technology, 25(2), 141-158.

Image from http://www.jingyif.com/dux/darpa-web-experience-for-kids/

Image from http://www.jingyif.com/dux/darpa-web-experience-for-kids/

Introduction

This paper describes two experiments designed to test the efficacy of physiological measures as evaluators of user experience with entertainment technologies. The authors described two experiments that were designed to test the two main conjectures:

  • Physiological measures can be used to measure a player’s experience with entertainment technology.
  • Normalized physiological measures of experience with entertainment technology will correspond to subjective reports. Continue reading

Paper: Art of Defense: A Collaborative Handheld Augmented Reality Board Game

AoD

Cooperating with fellow players by representing tangible objects in a virtual world!

Citation

Huynh, D., Raveendran, K., Xy, Y., Spreen, K. & MacIntyre, B. (2009). Art of Defense: a collaborative handheld augmented reality board game. Sandbox ’09: Proc. of 2009 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games, 135-142. doi: 10.1145/1581073.1581095

Summary

The authors of this paper were interested in exploring the affordances, constraints and player experience of mobile (handheld) augmented reality (AR) games. One of the key motivators is the ability to collaborate and socialize while playing such games; thus they analyze such products as social games. To explore all this, the authors created a game called Art of Defense (AoD), a tangible AR game that requires the players to interact with board game elements in the real world to drive the virtual simulation. The authors first discuss the technical details behind the game, the design considerations and, finally (and most importantly) the player experience. To evaluate player experience, the authors conducted a formal study with twelve participants. Participants played the game in pairs and were recorded on video, and observed, with a Continue reading