Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Games for Change - Day 1

Just got back from the Yankees game (they lost) after a very long and very interesting day at the Games for Change 2006 Conference. Overall, today left me with more questions than ever regarding social (or serious) games.

First up is to address why I'm attending in the first place... The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has an interest in games from at least two perspectives. The first is marketing and brand awareness. How we can utilize games and interactive media to bring awareness to our events. By creating viral games around marathoning, cycling and endurance events, it's possible that we could spark additional interest in Team In Training - netting us new participants.

More importantly, I'm looking for ways and ideas to help patients and caregivers access content that is either too hard in reading level or complexity given their mental state, or access to information and treatments. I know, this isn't a complete thought quite yet... but it's only Day 1 - give me a break! Whether that means creating our own games and game content or acting like a distribution network for cancer related games is yet to be determined.

Confusion - Games, Simulations, e-learning and more
In my world (marketing, revenue and patient services), we organize ourselves around outcomes. Despite some arguing about what's ultimately measurable - ideas simply do not get executed well within an organization without stated outcomes. These outcomes can be high level (more brand awareness) or can be very tactical (we must increase donations by x% or drive 2,000 advocacy actions on issue X). What I heard today was a lot of "game" talk - and not a lot of outcome talk. I fear that once again, we are making the mistake of not clearly defining our outcomes, figuring out a strategy and THEN deciding our our tactics (print, radio, web, board game, sandwich boards, urinal ads, video games).

For example: If I want people to send letters/emails to congress, I may certainly choose a game format to educate and inform - but the game is a means to an end - and frankly - I shouldn't be starting my project by stating that I want t create a game. Deciding to build a game comes after the strategy, not before. In any case, in this example I'd judge my success based on the outcome desired (in this case, letters/emails to congress).

Meanwhile, if I want my chapter staff to get better at talking with CEO's, I might create a simulation so they can practice talking to tough or disinterested execs. Outcome is better sales skills - building a game/sim would be the tactic to accomplish that outcome.

It's late and I'm hoping this is semi-coherent. I reserve the right to delete this post and try again when I'm thinking more clearly.

Lastly, I finally met in real life (as opposed to Second Life), Beth Kanter. Beth is "live-blogging" the event and is apparently, very good at taking notes :)

Worthy links to peep:
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