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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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

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