Serious Play Conference 2014

This year, Serious Games Association executive director Sue Boyle moved the Serious Play conference from misty Seattle to sunny L.A., where it was hosted by the USC Interactive Media & Games Division.

WP_20140723_006If you missed the conference, serious game (and serious sim) topics ranged from collaboration, behavior modification, and measurement to virtual world frameworks, markets, and gamification (see June 2014 post, “Sims & Edugames & Gamification–What’s in a Name?”)

Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer at Google, gave an excellent keynote, including a discussion of the game-changing possibilities of new hardware. (No, he was not wearing those glasses). He reminded us that although when we think “mobile” we might think of smartphones (after all in 2013, smartphone sales did surpass feature phone sales worldwide), but that much of the world is still using feature phones—a market not to be dismissed.

Along the same lines, in addition to doing your homework and knowing mobile penetration rates in each country you consider your potential market, it’s also important to know bandwidth percentages. For instance 80% of China Mobile is still on 2G, although they have an aggressive program to roll out 4G.

Probably because we at Ambient Insight are very strong on definitions, I enjoyed the quote that Justin Leites (VP for Games at Amplify) gave of Canadian philosopher Bernard Suits’ definition of a game from The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia: “Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” Justin also noted that Mark Twain designed educational games (and that he wasn’t very good at it… personally, I’m glad he kept his day job). 

WP_20140722_018Erin Hoffman, Game Design Lead at Glass Lab / Institute of Play, told a great story on (surmounting) the development team challenges and lessons learned from creating Argubot Academy, a middle school edugame designed to teach kids how to build and validate (or change) an argument. GlassLab is following a pattern we’ve seen lately, instead of only developing games, of expanding to become a platform for other partners to use.

I was pleased to participate again this year, presenting forecasts, investment patterns, catalysts, and trends on both the 2013-2018 Worldwide Market for Sims and Edugames (which our chief research officer Sam Adkins has delivered in the past) and the 2013-2018 Mobile Edugame market. Worldwide, the Game-based Learning market growth rate is 6.7% and will reach $2.4 billion by 2018 with Asia still as the strongest buying region by far. CWWgame-basedMarket

In my mobile session I reported that 5-year CAGR growth in North America for mobile edugames is at 12.5% , and from 2013-2018, revenues will nearly double. kidSAFE__PlusI also raised the warning flag again about the need to keep informed about the various government entities (e.g. FTC + COPPA in the US) that are focusing on regulations, guidelines, and legal action about protecting online privacy for children, and that includes mobile apps.

We routinely post conference presentations (and white papers, our Research Taxonomy document, and executive summaries of our reports in Ambient Insight’s Resource Library and they’re always free to download. (See the Event Presentations section for slides.) If you’re seriously interested in serious games, you might want to also download the summary for the 2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market report we published in January 2014. (See White Papers, Summaries, and Executive Overviews.)

The conference drew participants and speakers from as far away as India and Scotland.  WP_20140722_005It also attracted the attention of the NTD Global TV Network, the “No. 1 Chinese Media Group.” (They also interviewed Sue Boyle and me — about 7 minutes in, if you’re curious and have time on your hands.)

That’s all for now,

Tyson

 

 

 

Sims & Edugames & Gamification – What’s in a Name?

As learning technology analysts, we have to be precise. So when the term “gamification” started getting batted around, it just made me twitch.

You can’t get your arms around (or quantify) a “gamification market”—the term is too amorphous to be able to develop quantitative analyses or revenue forecasts.

So, pushing gamification aside for the moment, we can precisely define and analyze the Simulation-based Learning and Game-based Learning (a.k.a. edugames) markets—and we do in Ambient Insight’s 2014 Learning Technology Research Taxonomy, (and provide a lot of other free information about markets in that document, too).

Definition: researchWhy do definitions matter so much? Because you need to know what types of products, precisely, fit into which markets that interest you. Same with buyers—we identify two academic markets–PreK-12 and Higher Ed–because the buying behaviors are so different for each.

Back to definitions. For us, the difference between sims and edugames is pedagogical.

Sims: We rely on the definitions from veteran instructional designers Alessi and Trollip. They compressed the four types of Simulation-based Learning to two instructional design strategies: learn something (physical and process) or learn to do something (procedural and situational).

Edugames: We define edugames as a knowledge transfer method that utilizes “gameplay” and includes competition (against yourself or others, you know or don’t know) and a reward/penalty system. Game-based learning have specific pedagogical goals, and a user “wins” when they achieve the objectives of the game.

Definition: GamificationGamification: We looked to SpongeLab, which defines it as the application of videogame rules, game mechanics and conventions (such as rewards) to a non-gaming situation.  These are bolted on another endeavor, such as an employee wellness program or a loyalty program. Think Starbucks stars and free drinks.

So – back to quantifying (numbers). I’ll be presenting a session July 22 at the Serious Play Conference in L.A. on the 2013-2018 Worldwide Sim and Edugame market, and a second session on the 23rd on 2013-2018 Mobile Edugame market—high level numbers, trends, catalysts, product types, buyers, and so on . We’ll post the presentations in our Resource Library where you may download them.

And, no more throwing around the word “gamification,” unless you aren’t talking about the games market.

 

 

Looking Beyond Today’s Learning Technologies

While visiting the L.A. offices of one of Ambient Insight’s Advisory Board members, Aaron Pulkka of Rabbx (Los Angeles) and  Metal Rabbit Games (Changzhou), I had the opportunity to try out some new technology. I should say “try on” some new technology.

Aaron with Google Glass

Aaron Pulkka, co-founder and CEO of Rabbx, co-founder and chairman of Metal Rabbit Games

A lot of virtual ink has already been spilled exploring the potential of Google Glasses for providing augmented reality learning experiences. There are “how to” or skills-based apps such as Kitch Me and Sous Chef, cooking instructions that walk you through the steps of cooking, and knowledge-based apps such as CamelBak Thirst, one of numerous “Glass” fitness apps that delivers hydration tips.

But the real eye opener was experiencing Aaron’s head-tracking Oculus Rift, that little startup behind the virtual reality (VR) device Facebook now owns. My first “trip” was around a Tuscan villa by the sea, and as I joy-stick traveled around the grounds, the background sounds changed seamlessly, adding to the immersive feeling. (Not a learning experience, just a see-what-it-can-do demo.)

That was nice, but a trip through the solar system via the Oculus Rift demo Titans of Space really demonstrated the expansive opportunities that this head-mounted display technology offers for learning.

Tyson Greer with Occulus

Ambient Insight CEO Tyson Greer exploring with the Oculus

We all know that Mercury is really small and that Jupiter and Saturn are really big and have seen plenty of 2D pictures to prove it, but taking a self-guided tour through space—experiencing the spatial distance between celestial objects—takes learning to a new level.

Besides experiencing relative distance, each click of a button on the game-controller device brought new information to the virtual panel at the bottom of my field of (VR) vision. These displays provided a wealth of contextual details about the planets, moons, dwarf planets, and asteroids in our solar system, and two ginormous suns beyond—one bigger than our entire solar system, I get that now. After “experiencing” it, I really get that now.

At Ambient Insight, we focus on learning technology that has gained enough traction to be commercial, but sometimes you just have to look… well, far out.

 

Change That Matters

(Published on the Change That Matters blog, April 27, 2014.)

change-managementFirst of all, it’s critical to distinguish change that matters, from change that doesn’t. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Not so much.

…I remember the first time I rented a car that had a GPS after-market thingy (it was attached to a stiff cable bolted to the floor, where a stick shift could have been). Driving my 80+ year old Dad out to dinner, I was bragging on it—for him, it was a BIG change, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. He bet me (literally – a Baltimore blue crab dinner) that if I purposely made a wrong turn, it would get confused and couldn’t find “its” way back to his house. That Chesapeake Bay blue crab dinner was soooo awesome.

Since then, the upgrades have provided more devices (stand-alone to smartphone) and more features (I like the red-yellow-green road colorations, indicating real-time traffic levels, and the “Make a LEGAL U-turn” advice in Australian English); but they aren’t the changes that matter.

What matters was the initial disruption—a technology that changed our choices for how we way-find: Big map that never folds up right again, or non-judgmental little device that now does everything except make an iced latte.

Learning technologies are changing the way we educate our children and ourselves. For example, location-based learning is the love-child of location-based services (LBS) and mobile learning—it’s just-in-time learning, in situ.

Dow Days augmented reality app

“Dow Days” is an example of a Location-based Learning, augmented reality app that uses a mobile’s GPS and camera to go back in time and space to experience the 1967 peaceful-sit-in-turned-riot on the Madison, Wisconsin college campus.

 

It brings learning out of the classroom (the box) out to anywhere you are with your mobile device—in a museum reading more information than fits on a little card or in the field examining bugs on the forest floor or at the site where a historical event took place. It has changed learning by expanding the opportunities for learning—and that matters.

International Catalysts of Location-based Learning

Figure from Ambient Insight’s Worldwide Mobile Location-based Learning Market: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis

 

 

Digital English Language Learning – China Report Released

JadeBuddha-CityScenes-RailwayMuseum 2013-06-26 077In 2013, thanks in part to government-run schools, China moved to the top position as generating the highest revenues ($323.1 million) for digital English Language Learning products and services, not only in the Asia region but across the planet. Private language learning schools and consumers did their bit also. With a 26% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), digital English Language Learning products revenues will reach an astonishing $931.8 million in 2018.

The Chinese government has boosted digital English language learning in two ways. First, by their plans to deploy massive number—over 10 million—of educational tablets and second, by establishing compulsory requirements for students to learn English in an effort to promote internationalism and be competitive in a global market place. In higher education institutions, English is compulsory and students must pass an English proficiency test twice a year. Exams foster a market for test prep, and English language learning is no exception.

There is a thriving market for online courses for specialized forms of English: business, tourism, hospitality, and aviation. Again, for China to compete in the global marketplace, these skills are important. After presenting at a conference in Shanghai last year, I can attest to the prevalence of business, tourism, and hospitality English. (And since landing and taking off safely, I assume aviation English as well).

Digital Eng_China1Digital Eng_China2International sporting events such as the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup games to be held in Brazil this year often cause a spike in English language learning.

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight’s Chief Research Officer, reports in his deep dive into this market in China, 2013-2018 China Market for English Language Learning that “All roads lead to mobile.” True, it’s just one of the five product types for which Sam has provided revenue and growth forecasts in this report, but Mobile Learning is strong in China.

In 2013, over 350 million smart phones were sold in China and in 2014 the number sold is anticipated to climb to 400 million. In January 2014, the iPhone was offered for sale in China by China Mobile, the nation’s largest telecom, which is continuing to build out their 4G network—and this was good news for iOS content providers. Android devices, supplied by vendors such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, and ZTE that sell low-cost phones (where the country’s smartphone growth is) have the dominant share.

Telecoms are sitting in the cat bird seat in China. Not only do they have vast subscriber bases to market their Mobile Learning VAS products, but they, as other carriers do, have the advantage of direct billing.

For more on the China market, download the free Abstract for the “2013-2018 China Digital English Language Learning Market” report from Ambient Insight’s Resource Library.

Digital English Language Learning – Asia Region Report Released

The Asia market for Digital English Language Learning is hot. This region’s revenues—the highest on the planet—were $863.1 million in 2013 and by 2018 will be a whopping $1.6 billion.

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight's chief research officer

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight’s chief research officer

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight’s Chief Research Officer and author of the Digital English Language Learning reports, provides the numbers and details on what is making this market boom in The 2013-2018 Asia Digital English Language Learning Market, the first of the regional reports in this series.

Mobile Learning value added services (VAS)

One of the important factors in the growth of the Asia English language market is the energetic growth of Mobile Learning value added services (VAS), a fusion of products and services that we identified first in the Asia region in 2008 and that since then has enjoyed a meteoric rise, particularly in developing economies, around the world. Telecoms and device makers created the market and are still the leaders.

Telecoms based in Asia as elsewhere are taking advantage of their reach—millions of customers—to partner with a host of language learning content providers to offer low-cost digital English lessons. Sam reports that by the end of 2013, there were 98 Mobile Learning VAS products in Asia and 230 million customers were using them; and those 98 VAS products accounted for nearly half (45%) of Mobile Learning VAS products on the planet. However, 5 of the 20 countries analyzed in this report do not yet have Mobile Learning VAS products—and this can mean new opportunities for suppliers.

2013-2018 Digital English Language Learning growth - AsiaIn Asia, English language learning is the top revenue-generating type of Mobile Learning VAS and the second product type in terms of growth. The top growth spot goes to Mobile Learning Apps and edugames. Of course, “mileage varies” country by country.

The full report identifies catalysts, details buyers—a particularly complex subject in the Asia region—and breaks out revenues for the five learning technology products they are buying.

For more about this market in Asia, including the other catalysts and country by country growth rates, download the free “2013-2018 Asia Digital English Language Learning Market Abstract” on Ambient Insight’s Digital English Language Learning Market Research page.

North America Edugame Market Report Released

If you’re a Mobile Learning supplier, you can thank parents in North America for doing their part in boosting the market for mobile Game-based Learning products and services.

LittleBoyWithTabletGrowth of the North America mobile edugame market—12.5% compound annual growth (CAGR)—is strongest at two ends of the age spectrum: young children (math and language learning) and elders (brain trainers and brain fitness).

However, the brain trainer market is no longer exclusively the province of elders. Savvy suppliers are producing products for youngsters as well; parents see the value in getting a competitive head start (or help staying on track with concentration training).

Lumosity is reaching out to EVERYONE via their massive media marketing campaign that includes paid search, print, and radio. (National Public Radio does seem a logical fit as a “sponsor” venue.)

One of the interesting trends I’ve been watching in the Game-based Learning market is the increasing use of data–data to drive decisions for developers and platform providers and data shared with parents to offer them increased engagement opportunities with their youngsters who are playing edugames.

Periple au coeur de la colonie

“Journey into the Colonies” by Arcane Technologies

 

The key word in edugames is: engagement. Schools purchase edugames (packaged content) to increase student engagement.

MurderAtTheMet

“Murder At the Met” by Green Door

 

 

 

Nonprofits and all levels of government purchase content services or create their own edugames to attract and engage visitors to their museums, parks, and other cultural or heritage destinations. Location-based Learning games continue to rise, however augmented reality games have not enjoyed the same success.

For more info on buyers and the catalysts and inhibitors for this thriving market, download the free Executive Overview of the 2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market, which you can find on Ambient Insight’s Game-based Learning Research page. The 76-page report goes into detail about trends and buying behaviors, and identifies the total addressable market for six distinct types of mobile edugames product types.

 

 

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