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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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

 

 

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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“All Roads Lead to Mobile”

Ambient-InsightFor years, we at Ambient Insight have been saying “All roads lead to Mobile.” And for the fifth year in a row, Ambient Insight’s Chief Research Officer Sam Adkins, the author of our Mobile Learning market reports, has revised his worldwide Mobile Learning forecasts upwards—significantly upwards.

The money is there–$5.3 billion in 2012, doubling to $12.2 billion by 2017. The numbers in the 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market report we just released (a compilation of 7 regional reports) reflect the galloping speed with which buyers around the world are embracing Mobile Learning.  What’s interesting also is which countries in terms of revenue, took the top five slots in 2012 and which will be in the top five positions by 2017.

MobileLearning_horseRaceIn 2012, the top five buying countries were US, Japan, South Korea, China, and India. The revenue picture changes by 2017: China leaps ahead from 4th place to the top spot, the US drops back to 2nd, India moves up from 5th to 4th, and Indonesia and Brazil join the top five in 3rd and 5th place respectively.

It’s not really a horse race, of course, but it is a very dynamic and robust market.

MobileLearning_Top20Worldwide5YrGrowth_countryThe growth rates are impressive, too, as are the patterns that Sam reports. The worldwide five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 18.2% Of the 93 countries (analyzed in this report) from the seven worldwide regions, 22 countries have growth rates in excess of 40%.

Further, of the top 20 countries with the highest growth rates, 6 are in Asia, 6 in the Middle East, and 5 in Africa.

The pattern is clear, as Sam puts it, “Mobile Learning is now being embraced as an essential strategy to improve education in these dynamic economies.” We saw confirmation of this first hand in November at the Connected Living Summit in Dubai, which included a focus on mEducation for Skills Development and Employability in the MENA region.

What’s Driving This Mobile Learning Market?

Catalysts vary from region to region, and country to country–and each regional report delves into those–but five catalysts are continually: strong consumer demand, new direct carrier billing agreements, large-scale tablet adoption, personal learning devices, and the explosion of Mobile Learning value added services (VAS).MobileLearning_WorldwideCatalysts

The free Executive Summary of the 2012-2017 Worldwide Market for Mobile Learning  premium report goes into detail on these catalysts, and you can download that document and the seven regional Abstracts from Ambient Insight’s Market Research page on our website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dubai – mEducation in the Desert

GSMAThe GSMA Connected Living Middle East Summit in Dubai in November 2013 brought together mobile network operators, device manufacturers, and NGOs active in mEducation (Mobile Learning) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Slides we presented highlighted key findings from Ambient Insight’s Mobile Learning research and forecasts for 2012-2017 in a closed session for GSMA members. (We compiled data from two regional reports—Middle East and Africa—to deliver the MENA outlook.)

 AI Research banner

The Wednesday session on mEducation for Skills Development and Employability focused on “equipping young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa with the skills to enter the workforce through the use of mobile technology.” Presenters included Joe Yousr Battikh, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Ericcson; Lauren Dawes, Head of Mobile for Employment and mEducation Regional Lead, GSMA, Africa; George Held, Vice President of Commerce, Etisalat Group; Yomna El Meshad, Head of Mobile Learning, British Council; Mr Chams Ouerdiane, Proinvest/Tunisiana partner; and Yazeed Sheqem, Director of Business Development, Souktel.

Tyson and Hannah Dubai 2013-cc

Ambient Insight’s Tyson Greer and GSMA’s Hannah Metcalfe

The topic was well chosen, given high rates of unemployment and mobile penetration in the MENA region. GSMA’s Lauren Dawes reported that the MENA region is plagued by 32% unemployment (73 million), which is nearly three times the 12% rate of worldwide unemployment.

Mobile penetration in the region is the highest on the planet. Kuwait and Oman are the only countries in the world with mobile subscription rates over 200%.  Lauren Dawes also noted that “71% would spend their last $10 to top up their mobiles, rather than on food.” 

Given the high mobile penetration rate, it’s not surprising that mEducation has outpaced eLearning. The compound annual growth rate (2012-2017) for Mobile Learning in 15 MENA countries is 18% and for six of those countries, it is over 50%. High growth rates typically mean market opportunity.

Telecoms in the MENA region have responded to opportunities to deliver mEducation value added services (VAS). At the end of 2011, there were three Mobile Learning VAS in three countries; by the end of September 2013, there were 14 in six countries.

In spite of the impressive growth of Mobile Learning VAS, there are challenges–for the sustainability of the product type and for mobile network operators.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects risk failure because, to take an example from the real world, if a company goes in and builds a well and it breaks a year or two later, there’s likely no one to go back in and fix it. Likewise, without a revenue model, a VAS project can be difficult to sustain.

Morning Dubai 2013-11-16 004The Connected Living Summit was held in the extraordinary city of Dubai, a stunning study in contrasts. In a very few decades the city catapulted itself from a fishing village into a dazzling example of technology with the waters of the Persian Gulf on one side and the Arabian desert on the other.

 

Tyson with Harris Hawk

Ambient Insight CEO Tyson Greer flying a Harris Hawk.

The city can boast the tallest (if you discount another’s claim as an antenna, rather than architectural feature) building on the planet, water systems, and the efficient user-friendly in-city trains.

The desert gave us an opportunity for a remarkable first-hand experience at flying raptors at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

 

 

 

 

Privacy Update in a Data-Driven World

How do you collect, use, share, and/or retain personal information? Most app stores require a privacy policy from developers. But as developers and platform providers find new ways to make use of user data for product features, adaptive instruction, or new services; the questions surrounding a user’s privacy becomes more acute.

Privacy_feel like you're being watchedThere have been “advances” in the US this past year that may figure in a learning technology supplier’s privacy protection plans.(Reminder: This is a blog, not a legal brief.) Two worth mentioning in particular were issued to protect consumers of mobile apps and children using online products.

 

California’s Guidelines “On the Go”

To borrow from Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the AG’s guidelines are just that – guidelines – not legal rules or even government-inspired, enforceable online privacy “codes of conduct” such as those the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTLA) was working on. Basically, the California guidelines reinforce the FTC’s “privacy by design” approach and the Organization for Economic Development’s (OECD) “Fair Information Practice Principles,” (FIPPs) with a couple of new twists.

What was new in the guidelines is that the recommendation to encrypt transmissions of PII (personally identifiable information) includes apps downloaded or used. Second, the guidelines introduce a new term “surprise minimization,” meaning to “minimize surprises to users from unexpected privacy practices,” such as not collecting data that goes beyond an app’s basic functionality, providing a downloadable privacy policy, and providing “enhanced measures” that alert users to and give them control over data not required for functionality or include sensitive information.

FTC’s Expanded Definitions to Protect Children

Of interest to developers and platform-makers who focus on Mobile Learning products for children–and particularly, but not exclusively, Location-based Learning products or services–are the revised rules the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that went into effect in July of this year.

PRIVACY-06kids-web-articleLarge_NYT_JuliaYellowFTC’s new amendments expanded the definition of personal information to include persistent identifiers, geo-location information, photos, and videos. In addition, the rules require websites or online services to obtain parental consent before they can use, collect, or disclose a child’s (under 13) personal information.

The loophole the FTC intended to close is the practice of providing children’s information to third parties for advertising purposes.

KidzPrivacy_FTC

EdNET-working the Crowd

About 500 education industry professionals—suppliers, administrators, and practitioners, plus Ambient Insight—came to Denver at the end of September for the 25th annual EdNET conference.

Nelson Heller, creator of EdNET conference

Nelson Heller, creator of EdNET

That in itself was a cause for celebration, as the networking conference that Nelson Heller (2009 inductee into the Association of American Publishers’ Hall of Fame and currently president of The HellerResults Group) started in 1988 is still going strong.

Conversations and presentations ranged from new ways to use data to traditional and new approaches to funding. One theme that came up at EdNET this year was one that Ambient Insight has seen across the planet and that was the need for suppliers to think about teaching the teachers how to implement and incorporate a new learning technology product. “Teachers are busy… (A product) needs to be a simple as an ATM machine” because teachers don’t have the time to figure out how to implement or incorporate a learning product, according to Harold Levy’s point of view as an investment firm executive.

EdNET 2013 "Staying Nimble in an Evolving Market"

Harold Levy, former New York City Schools Chancellor and now Managing Director at Palm Ventures, and Clement Erbmann, Managing Director of First Analysis and formerly with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, participated in the Private Equity panel chaired by Ambient Insight’s chief research officer Sam S. Adkins.

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight's chief research officer

Sam Adkins, Ambient Insight’s chief research officer

Sam reported to conference attendees that as of mid-September, investment totals for learning technology products and services for 2013 stood at $950 million—with $57 million just in the two weeks preceding the conference.

  • Download the whitepaper “The 2012 Global Boom in Learning Technology Investments” and Sam’s slides  on investment patterns, including 2013 investments, from the Ambient Insight Resource Library: www.ambientinsight.com/News/PublishedContent.aspx.

Ambient Insight

The panelists offered insights into the dynamics of the ed tech investment world, including their firms’ different approaches, and provided valuable guidance on “what works” (and what doesn’t). Mr. Erbman reported that his firm takes a minority position and looks for established firms with positive cash flow and high growth rates. Mr.Levy’s firm targets “distressed education businesses” and innovative startups, and often takes a “slight majority” position. He also spoke emphatically that his firm was not interested in companies that offered “technology without pedagogy.”

Both panelists agreed with the impact of the new worldwide trend to alternative funding that Ambient Insight has been tracking for several years: the growth of new incubators and accelerators, and of crowdfunding. Mr. Erbman noted that crowdfunding is emerging as a viable funding alternative for startups.

For example, in 2012, Mango Health was one of 14 startups included in Rock Health’s 4th annual accelerator class. Mango Health did well in school: in 2013 they launched their medical adherence edugame with $3.1 million in funding.

The JOBS Act directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to remove the 1933 ban on advertising publically for investors will figuratively jump-start (pun avoided) more crowd funding and level the geographic playing field. According to crowdsourcing.org, crowdfunding platforms raised a total of $2.7 billion in 2012, an 81% increase over 2011.

Ironically, the new rules on crowdfunding became official on September 23—the last day of the EdNET conference –a place for an exceptionally networked crowd.

 
 
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