Careful What You Call It!
Of the 7,817 people that played the games in the past 15 days (3 different groups and three different games), the data suggests that it was a success. The majority of those who played a game, played it all the way to the end. About one-third, played the game at least twice, and the average time spent playing the game was 5:15 minutes. The game consisted of 9 questions, and featured additional teaching points in most questions.
The issue, as they saw it, was with one of the test groups. This group had the largest audience, and in fact had the smallest number of plays compared to the other groups. At first, they thought the “frivolous” look of game may have prevented many from playing the game. But, after studying the data, they realized that the game was not the issue at all - it was the way it was promoted that kept their audience from playing.
Let me give you a little information so you can follow:
The data collection starts as soon as a game is launched. If their original observation was correct (that people opened the game, thought it was too gamey, and immediately closed it), then we would see a higher number of clicks or opens of the game, but a much shorter time in game play (much less than 5:14 minutes). Since we know that the majority of people who clicked on the game, played it all the way through, we know we had a different issue. It became obvious, to the client, that the issue was rooted in perception.
Why? We believe that the game was presented to this group in a way that marginalized the educational impact of the game. They actually doomed the game before people even got to it, by describing the game as a “fun holiday trivia game.” In fact, the game (although it had a holiday theme) contained no holiday content. It featured questions, based on educational articles from their website, that would not only teach them something, but encourage them to dig in and learn more.
This goes back to something I have mentioned many times, “be careful how you describe your game.” Be aware that the word “game,” connotes many things to different people. Games provide a powerful vehicle for delivering instructional content, but may be perceived as a frivolous exercise. If you want your game to be taken seriously (and reap the benefits that games provide –engagement, motivation, interaction), make sure you let your audience know that they might just learn something while “playing”.