Exploring Gamification II – The Allure of Failure!
In a recent post Jason Linderman discussed on of the key principles used in Gamification. Small challenges allowed players to achieve and earn tools that they could use in the game.
If you missed it here is the link
In this post we are going to explore another element of what we can learn from the computer games industry. Remember in 2012 91% of all American kids between the ages of 2 and 17 spent time gaming.
Last year I attended a conference where a speaker presented on Under 10 Tennis. It was a sound and interesting presentation and half way through the subject of sedentary kids was raised and the appeal of computer games reared its head. “They provide instant success!” was one of the comments. At this point I knew that this guy was not a gamer and also it occurred to me that there was something truly unique that he had missed.
In fact many games provide instant failure. If you have ever played a game like Call of Duty or any combat game you will know that it was less than 10 seconds before you were shot and had to restart. In fact most games take time to master. I was recently destroyed by a 15 year old at FIFA Soccer. Games provide lots and lots of small failures, or more rightly small challenges.
So the question in my mind is why are these challenges relished while tennis seems to become a greater and greater cauldron for young players? Here are some keys to consider:
1) No one is watching. You get to lose in public and no one is making judgements about your successes or failures. There is no audience cheering, creating pressure or standing head in hands as you get shot again. The reaction of the human environment in tennis makes losing so much harder and we must seek to manage this more effectively.
2) Restart. There is always a chance to go again. Learning happens when we have the chance to correct a mistake, take a different path or try something else. So often in tennis we run practices with a winner and loser and no chance to evaluate. Try having an imaginary restart button on the court. If the player can clearly explain what they should have done but didn’t let them play the point again. Allows them 3 or 4 opportunities to press the button in a drill or they may be restarting every time.
3) There are multiple mini hurdles. Games know how to hook you. They start with a simple level that makes you feel like you can achieve and even though you fail you know as soon as you master the skills you can move on. On the court try setting up a drill sequence that allows children to choose their entry point (beginner or intermediate) and then making gradual progress to help a player map their tennis journey.
4) Games appeal to the problem solving approach that is now mirrored in education. Tennis is an amazing game to develop the sort of problem solving skills that are crucial in today’s world. In an age where the entire knowledge of the world is held in your hand via your smart phone, the ability to solve problems and seek answers is crucial. Sometimes we seek technical conformity and forget that it is not the weapons you have but the ability to use them at the right time and place that makes a tennis player.
The fact is no sport is happy with its retention levels. Soccer has a huge drop out, golf is crashing and every other sport is looking over their shoulder to their neighbour to steal the next big idea. Meanwhile 91% of kids in the US are gamers. Five year olds have access to and can master an ipad. The saying goes, “if you can’t beat them join them”, but on reflection I prefer “know your enemy!”
Mike Barrell is the Director and Founder of evolve9
He will be presenting at the evolve9 Revolution Conference, November 7th – 9th IMG, Bradenton Florida