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

 

 

 

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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.

GSMA’s Mobile Asia Expo – #2

There’s more to say about GSMA’s Mobile Asia Expo and the Connected Living Summit …

For context, GSMA’s Connected Living Program includes mAutomotive, Connected Cities, mHealth, and mEducation verticals. Regarding mEducation, GSMA has been focusing on addressing market barriers to Mobile Learning worldwide and assisting mobile operators, content providers, educational institutes, and governments to transform education via mobile technology.

In the mEducation session of the conference, GSMA’s Ronda Zelezny-Green (mEducation Knowledge Manager) adeptly moderated a panel of speakers that included leaders from Qualcomm, Nokia, Smart Communications (Philippines telecom), QooCo (language learning), Sesame Street Education Workshop, KT (Formerly Korea Telecom), and Spain’s Centro Superior para la Ensenanza Virtual (CSEV).

Panelists cited examples of successful Mobile Learning projects and discussed opportunities as well as barriers. For example, while mobile phones number 6.3 billion today (up from 5 billion last year) and high speed broadband is spreading rapidly, the lack of infrastructure in some schools makes delivery of digital learning very challenging. Often if a school does have broadband, it’s only for administrators and possibly teachers–not students. YTL’s Wing Lee talked about the challenges of covering “the last mile.”

Hee Kyoung Song, senior vice president of KT cited an example of solving this infrastructure problem by offering cloud-based ebook and library services that schools can access via mobile devices. KT has a subsidiary (KT OIC) that is a major education publisher in South Korea and “a global leader in the development of smart-learning content and digital language learning solutions.”

I should mention that in her mEducation Market Trend slides, Song included some of Ambient Insight’s high level revenue and growth data for the Asia region:

Hee Kyoung Song m-Education Market Trends

Hee Kyoung Song m-Education Market Trends

Another barrier to Mobile Learning that Ambient Insight has also identified is the need to train teachers in using mobile technologies. It was gratifying to hear examples of Mobile Learning value added services (VAS) that also included professional development for teachers.

Nokia fully understands the large opportunity that Mobile Learning VAS offers. Willie Cher, Head of Nokia Life China, talked about their very successful VAS. One slide presented identified the types of “lifelong learning” that nine different user-types engaged in; child, student, lesurite, citizen, worker, spouse, home maker, parent, and retiree.

Willie Cher, Nokia Life China - "Addressing Lifelong Learning"

Willie Cher, Nokia Life China – “Addressing Lifelong Learning”

I still have more to say about the Connected Living Summit and will do so in the next blog…

GSMA’s Asia Mobile Expo – #1

Mobile Asia Expo 2013-06-26 029_crop (2)

Last month, Ambient Insight’s Chief Research Officer Sam Adkins and I traveled to China to deliver a presentation at an invitation-only meeting of GSM Association’s (GSMA) mobile network operators (MNOs) and to attend the 3-day Connected Living Summit that GSMA organized in conjunction with their Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai.

(This new event is the GSMA’s Asia version of their Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona each year.)

Given the Asia region’s explosive interest in mobile (which we’ve detailed in our recently released Mobile Learning in Asia report 2012-2017), it’s not surprising that attendance at GSMA’s Mobile Asia Expo and Conference climbed over to 20,000 this year, up 30% from their inaugural year.

2013-06-24 002_Sam_crop (3)The Asia region is experiencing a boom in Mobile Learning: we forecast the highest growth rate (17.3% of any region in the world. We find China is a particularly interesting market for Mobile Learning–with their rising consumer class and recent announcement of the Chinese government’s decision to accelerate their 4G license allocation.

It’s going to take me a couple of blog entries to share what we learned.

Richard Cockle, GSMA’s Connected Living Program director, opened the closed session (for GSMA members) and introduced speakers Wing K Lee, CEO of YTL Communications (Malaysia telecom) and Willie Cher, Head of Nokia Life, China; both spoke about their highly successful projects.

  • YTL just received a Malaysian government tender (Sam checked: $465 million for the first five years) to deploy their 1BestariNet platform—with content from Khan Academy, British Council, TED, Coursera, and Crash—across every school in Malaysia. That’s 400,000 teachers; 6,000,000 students, and 4,000,000 parents—quite an ambitious 15-year project. But then, YTL claims to be the largest 4G network in all of southeast Asia and covers 85% of Malaysians.
  • Nokia Life, an SMS learning service that’s either preloaded (free) on Nokia devices or downloadable for a fee, now has 100 million users, up from 78 million in September 2012 across Asia and Africa. Equally impressive is their 72% retention rate—very unusual. This far reaching information service focuses on education, health, agriculture, entertainment, entrepreneurship, and women.

We provided insights on key catalysts, new revenue streams, and business opportunities; and contributed market sizing in the Asia Mobile Learning market.

Shanghai 1st morning 2013-06-21 013I have to mention that Shanghai is a splendid, sprawling, surreal city with an 11-route smoothly functioning subway system (of which, as a resident of the Seattle area–a city with no subway–I was truly envious). It has a  great user interface so it was easy to traverse 3 subway lines from the hotel in the old town area across (well, under) the Huangpu River, to the Expo site in the newly-sprouted Pudong trade and finance area. Unfortunately, even a fast subway system or Maglev train couldn’t connect us to Ambient Insight’s Advisory  Group member Aaron Pulkka (Chairman of Metal Rabbit games, China) who was briefly in Shanghai.

PleaseCherishTheGrassCompared to almost anywhere on earth, Shanghai is a huge city–with over 20 million people (Walking on the Bund one night, I think we saw most of them.) But still, there is a gentleness in the city.

Next up: More about GSMA’s mEducation session…

Tyson

CEO Ambient Insight

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