Angola Prison Rodeo: Gamified

It’s time to rodeo! Let me guess what this phrase brings to mind: cowboy boots, angry bulls, horses, barrels with colorful clowns hiding inside, and way too much animal…waste. These are the things I imagine as well (maybe add a funnel cake in there, too). What has never crossed my mind as an integral part of a rodeo is a prisoner who has been sentenced to something like life behind bars. But for the Louisiana State Penitentiary (also known as Angola), without the untrained prisoner, there would be no rodeo.

I’m sure at this point you need details. This is not just any rodeo, as I am sure you have already speculated on your own. But what makes it even more untraditional is that a prisoner has to be on good behavior in their environment so that they can be deemed a “Trustee,” a task that can take up to 10 years, before they can even consider participating. This is a long time to be on good behavior and successful at challenges but the incentive is high for a prisoner because they have the ability to be cheered by all looking on and can, for a small amount of time, forget the confines of their cell. And along the way, conquering challenges can equal having a pet, getting a job, or freedom to roam the grounds.


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Customer Service Gets Gamified

Having to call to a customer service agent is often times a task I dread. While there are occasions when I get a delightful, helpful person at the other end of the call, there are also those times when I get a person who is just wretched and I can’t believe this person has a job that involves interacting with others. It’s this not knowing what I am going to get that makes the thought of calling a customer service agent so awful.


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Zamzee: Gamifying Health and Wellness for Kids

Exercising is one of those things that I am not naturally motivated to do. I’ve been blessed with a relatively fast metabolism, so outwardly you’d never guess I had a strong aversion to the gym.  As the years go by, though, I know the need to exercise the muscles inside my body, specifically my heart, is of the utmost importance. Which is why I am always on the lookout for ways to make exercising more fun. And I think I have finally found one that touches on everything I need: competition, incentives, levels, and rewards. It’s called Zamzee.



Truth or Dare?

Spin the bottle, seven minutes in heaven, truth or dare. These are the games that filled the hours of any party I went to in my younger years. I was never too fond of the first two, but truth or dare was my bread and butter. Always the daredevil, I never chose truth (also because I didn’t want to be asked the inevitably embarrassing questions). I haven’t accepted a dare in years, but Klash may just be the catalyst to revive my daring side.


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Gamification or Not?

I have a six-year-old niece who, every time I see her, asks for my iPhone as her version of a greeting and saying she’s missed me.  As it seems for many kids these days, she too is obsessed with the games that my phone has to offer. Within the last year, she’s stocked up more and more of the applications that allow her to make Cookie Dough Bites, decorate a cupcake, or create the perfect Icee. And I’m not ashamed to say that I too create my own masterpieces with the hope that I can transfer my success at virtual baking into an actual ability to bake. I recently read an article that discusses how these games are in fact used to advertise to kids and wondered if this could be construed as gamification. I’ve decided that it could. Here’s why:



Virtually Take Your Place In Line

What can you say about waiting in line? Physically waiting in line, that is. I waited for eight hours in the middle of a Texas summer for the iPhone 4. I waited in line at a Target in the wee hours of the morning to get the Nintendo 64 when it first came out. And for some masochistic reason, I get up at an ungodly hour on Black Friday to join the masses in line for super discounted shopping. Though I seem to subject myself to it quite regularly, waiting in line is not something I take pleasure in. I actually hate the whole idea of waiting and I often become cranky and overly dramatic. This is why CheckinLine is appealing because it is a form of virtually waiting in line. No standing, no crowds, no heat!


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How to Avoid Using a Metal Press to Cut Cookies

A Deeper Look at Richard Bartle’s Player Types, Part III

“Don’t use a metal press to cut cookies!”
– Richard Bartle, Multi.Player Conference Keynote, July 21, 2011

Richard Bartle does not mince words when he describes how his landmark player type model has been misapplied by others. He used the metal press analogy above to describe how the gamification industry often applies Bartle’s model without adapting it to fit the context.

Cookie Cutter Overkill

If you’re not familiar with Richard Bartle’s Player Type model, part one of this series delved into the definitions of each player type, how players of different types interacted with each other and amongst themselves, and how multi-user games need to achieve a balance between types.  In part two of this series, we looked at how Bartle’s full model explains how players move between types and how to use this explanation to design applications that support the entire user life cycle.

In part three, we delve deeper into Bartle’s own critiques about the misuses of his theory and discuss a framework for how players types might be properly used outside of the narrow confines within which Bartle’s model was originally conceived.

What Bartle Says


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When Saving Money is Fun

In my last post, I talked about my affection towards credit card spending and the resulting rewards. My mom, who is a financial planner and an avid stalker of my online presence, read this post and was appalled. So, on her behalf and for all of you readers who are more financially responsible, I bring you SaveUp, a site that is dedicated to rewarding you for money you have saved as opposed to spent.


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In Real Life: Credit Cards

When I was given my first credit card, I could tell that my expression was making my parents a little nervous. I could finally buy everything I wanted (or so I thought). Much to my dismay, there was a laughable maximum as the main point of my having it was to build my credit. This was way too responsible for my liking. Years have passed since my credit card debt was actually my parent’s debt and I am now the proud holder of my very own credit card. And I spend, spend, spend- all in the name of points and rewards, of course.



Public Transportation Gets Gamified

I’m a New Yorker, which means two things: I am constantly surrounded by people and I get everywhere I need to go via public transportation. When I am not reading on the subway, I generally spend my time people watching, listening to music, or staring blankly at the underground tunnels. Despite all of these options, I am always looking for better ways to entertain myself. Which is why I was intrigued by a video I recently watched where public transportation in the Netherlands is given a gamified boost.