24 Feb 2017
Gamification: the inclusion of gaming elements such as point scoring, interactivity, and competing with others in non-game contexts to increase participation and engagement. With game elements such as virtual reality now being used by the likes of doctors and urban planners, gamification is changing the world, from business deals to education and everything in between.
One of the people leading the charge in gamification and its future possibilities is TAFE Queensland graduate Peter Mills.
“I think games offer the most opportunities as a new art form and we are yet to see a game that explores the full capabilities of the medium. If you’re making a video game, you’re doing more than just making a piece of software that you interact with. If you take those ideas and apply them to a piece of software that’s also designed for accounting, then you’ve got accounting software that’s fun and satisfying to use. You can influence, educate and unite with one fun idea.”
– Peter Mills
The new world of gaming
Forget the stereotypes around age, gender and social status. These days it’s just as likely that your parents, teachers, or sister are gaming just as much as your little brother. Gamifying every process is not only a trend, it’s now becoming the norm.
Stats from the 2016 Digital Australia report show there is an almost equal split between the genders with 47 per cent of Australian women identifying as gamers and 90 per cent of gamers with children saying they use their hobby as a time for family bonding.
But perhaps the most telling statistic about the future of gaming is that almost a quarter of Australian employees report using games for workplace training and 35 per cent of school children’s curriculum is based on some form of digital game play.
This is no surprise for Bachelor of Games and Interactive Design student Peter Mills, who is working towards finding his industry’s ‘eureka moment’.
“There isn’t one demographic that isn’t a gamer now. Not everyone has a massive PC and loves playing Skyrim, but everyone has a phone and engages with gaming in one way or another,” he said.
“Game design is essentially just making a piece of software that you interact with only because interacting with it is a fun, satisfying experience. If you take those lessons and apply them to a piece of software that’s also designed for accounting, then you’ve got accounting software that’s fun and satisfying to use. We’re gamifying how we pay our bills, we’re gamifying how we do everything.”
And that’s where Peter sees gaming technology — in particular virtual reality — headed.
“In a traditional screen and control set up the input and output match so you can really lose yourself in the games,” he said.
“That is going to be the next really big challenge for VR, balancing those levels. At the moment everyone is just trying to come up with something that doesn’t make people want to throw up, because the experience is so jarring.
“I think there will always be a place for VR though, particularly with simulations and training. It’s the kind of technology that will allow doctors to perform remote surgery on patients — it could save lives.”
And as far as Peter is concerned, the best is yet to come. He’ s excited to be a part of the generation who discovers what games can really do.
“I think games are the most interesting new art form and we don’t really know what they’re capable of yet,” he said.
It’s this vision that has Peter diving into the deep end of the growing virtual reality and augmented reality technologies that we’ve been hearing so much about. From playing Pokemon Go on your phone through to the Oculus Rift, there is no shortage of new opportunities for invention and collaboration. In Peter’s mind, there really is no limit to what we can do with this technology.
“Smart people love to fool around with things that start off as a bit of fun and then it turns out that ‘hey that might cure cancer’.
“If I can make something that pushes games forward as a medium and in 10 or 20 years people look back on it and say ‘Oh look, that’s where we figured out how that works’, I’d really like that.”
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