The Game Layer- You're in the Game

According to Seth Priebatsch the Princeton drop-out who calls himself the Chief Ninja at SCVNGR, the last decade was the social decade. It was all about connections. "We took all the digital connections to our friends, to our families to our colleagues, we digitized them and we put them online. The framework for that social layer is facebook and it is built."

The next decade he says will be about the Game Layer. It will be about influence and there will be no set foundations. It will influence where we go and what we do. It's only just begun but we all will be involved so we should think about how it will be built.

He talked about 5 big problems that the game layer could help solve. The first problem and the one most interesting to me is of course school.

"School is a game," says Priebatsch but it's a poorly designed one that is broken. But school is a near perfect ecosystem because it has motivated players, challenges, rewards, rules, allies, enemies, levels, appointment dynamics, countdowns and incentives and disincentives. The two problems with the game of school are engagement and cheating. Students show up late, don't do their work. Lack of engagement is caused by a broken grading system. As for cheating, Priebatsch says it's a standard game mechanic.

What school has created, he says, is the "Moral Hazard of Gameplay." It has replaced the real reward which is learning for learning sake with arbitrary letters causing people to view the real reward -learning for learning sake- as a chore. Grades fail as rewards because they are just levels, and status; the problem is they are a game mechanic where you can loose. You can go from an A to an F on a bad day. He suggests focusing on the positive and progressing only up. As you do progressive challenges you level up and focus on the end result.

For the second problem cheating, he showed a student filling out a scantron form with cell phone open. The problem with the picture isn't the phone it was just that it wasn't an Android phone and the screen wasn't big enough. The cheating results in a disincentive- if you get caught you fail; but if you don't get caught, you win. He talks about how cheating at Princeton was stopped by changing the game. Princeton holds tests with no teacher, no admin no oversight but gives two rules: students write the honor code and agree that complicity is a crime. The shift changes the game says Priebatch, it puts the students in the role of the enforcers.

He made some interesting points. See more below

See his talk at SXSW here
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