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Games & Tourism - Meaningful Play 2016

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Games & Tourism - Meaningful Play 2016

  1. 1. Games & Tourism Two Fields That Play Well Together Elizabeth Lawley, Rochester Institute of Technology School of Interactive Games & Media & the MAGIC Center lawley.rit.edu
  2. 2. A LITTLE BACKGROUND Why games and tourism?
  3. 3. PICTURE THE IMPOSSIBLE (2010) Designing a Game for Local Tourism
  4. 4. Location Games
  5. 5. http://bit.ly/ptivideos
  6. 6. JUST PRESS PLAY (2011-2014) Creating a Game for Student Engagement
  7. 7. play.rit.edu
  8. 8. GAMES & TOURISM: THE AHA! MOMENTS Putting the Pieces Together
  9. 9. “I’m living in Assassin’s Creed.” -my 16yo son, March 2013, Dubrovnik
  10. 10. Our“Assassins’ Creed” Tour of Italy
  11. 11. https://youtu.be/fvZIMH0M3bA
  12. 12. https://youtu.be/Ss-Z-QjFUio
  13. 13. But…. Most of these games have failed. Why?
  14. 14. Monetization/ROI
  15. 15. Boredom
  16. 16. Administrative Load
  17. 17. ARE TOURISM RESEARCHERS THINKING ABOUT GAMES, TOO?
  18. 18. https://www.zotero.org/mamamusings/items
  19. 19. CONCEPTUAL OVERLAP & INTERDISCIPLINARY POTENTIAL
  20. 20. SO, NOW WHAT?
  21. 21. Call me, maybe?
  22. 22. Contact info: lawley.rit.edu Slides: slideshare.net/mamamusings

Hinweis der Redaktion

  • I'm going to start with some context, in the form of stories. Two about games, one about travel.
  • The first story is about a game that RIT ran in partnership with the local newspaper in Rochester back in 2010. I'll be talking about this game in more detail Saturday morning, so if you're interested, feel free to stop by that presentation as well!
  • PTI was a seven-week alternate reality game with a mix of game activities: web-based puzzles, newspaper puzzles, weekly creative challenges, and weekly mobile scavenger hunts.

    The goal of the game was to engage community members in learning about and exploring downtown Rochester. We didn't label it as "local tourism," but that's absolutely what it was.

    The newspaper wanted to target young professionals, and we wanted to target families, and we were successful on both counts. We also engaged a surprising number of seniors, probably because of the newspaper connection.
  • Here's an example of a creative challenge: we listed things that Rochester was "first" at, and then challenged people to take a photo that incorporated at least three of those things. This was our first creative challenge, and we were worried that nobody would participate. We were wrong; we got hundreds of entries, and many of them were simply spectacular.
  • This is two RIT engineering students sitting in Mount Hope cemetery at the grave of George Selden, the inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile. They’re wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and reading the local Gannett newspaper.

    (Fun fact: Susan B Anthony is buried in this cemetery, and I’ll be making a pilgrimage there after I vote on November 8th!)
  • We looked at the neighborhoods that we thought our players would enjoy exploring, and the community events happening in the fall that we could coordinate with.
  • Contrary to popular belief, not everybody owns a smartphone, and that was even more true when we were designing the game seven years ago. We were trying to be as inclusive as possible, so we worked with a company called SCVNGR to create scavenger hunts that could be run with a smartphone app *or* via a series of SMS text messages.
  • Each weekday, we released a new puzzle, with content based on that week's content theme. On Wednesdays, for instance, there would be a map puzzle, challenging people to locate relevant businesses and landmarks on a map of the city. This was the food and drink week. (Nick Tahou’s is the home of one of Rochester’s most colorful signature foods, the garbage plate.)
  • We had two types of competition in the game—an individual leaderboard with cumulative points earned in the game, which was used to determine which players would be invited to a celebratory gala at the end of the game, and a team-based challenge that aggregated points from players affiliated with one of our three factions on a weekly basis, and used that to determine how much of a charitable contribution would be made to that group's affiliated charity. The team standings, paper-based puzzles, and stories about what was happening in the game, occupied a full-page spread in the local paper on a weekly basis throughout the game.
  • The last creative challenge in the game was to make a video of 3 minutes or less about how you’d “pictured the impossible” over the course of the game. This was the winning entry, and it highlights the local tourism and community engagement aspects of the game. (There are lots of really lovely stories from other players in a YouTube playlist at that URL.)
  • PTI was an unfunded mandate from our university president—student workers got paid, but the rest of us worked for free, or used project courses and independent studies. And I told my chair, Andy Phelps, that I was *never* going to manage a project like that again.

    It took less then a year for him to convince me to take on the next big project, which at least had funding from Microsoft Research attached to it.

    Just Press Play was our attempt to create an achievement system that would engage our undergraduate students in more of the *extracurricular* activities that we knew were highly correlated with student success both during and after their time at RIT.
  • We had a number of goals for this project—probably too many. We wanted students to be able to record and reflect on the things that they did at RIT—not just academic accomplishments, which a transcript measures, but social and creative activities as well.

    We wanted to them to have a better awareness of activities and opportunities outside of their academic coursework, from wellness to collaboration to knowledge of the campus and city, and inspire them to sample a range of experiences.

    Provide students with a more playful and less stressful context for experiencing the campus and interacting with faculty, staff, and other students.

    Note that "Explore" features prominently again. From learning about the many tunnels that could speed them through campus and allow them to avoid snow and ice covered outdoor walkways, to discovering the many coffee shops scattered around campus, we were once again doing a type of "local tourism" without ever really describing it as such.
  • We've written quite a bit about Just Press Play, including a paper we presented in the "Hall of Failure" at GLS a few years ago—I'm always happy to talk about it with people, too.
  • In the spring of 2013, I spent a semester teaching at RIT’s campus in Dubrovnik, Croatia—one of the top tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea. I wasn't there to teach about games—I was helping our Information Sciences & Technologies department cover classes on Technology Transfer and Needs Assessment. But as with most things I do, games ended up being a major theme.
  • Dubrovnik is one of the top tourist destinations on the Adriatic sea, with approximately 2 million visitors per year. Overnight visitors skew older—middle aged and senior. Cruise ship passengers are more varied, but have a very short window of time in the city.

    I would sit in outdoor cafes on the main street of the old city, and watch people walk by—often missing the hidden gems of restaurants, stores, historical sites, and views that were down smaller side streets.

    I started wondering...how could games make the city more appealing to a younger demographic, and get the cruise ship passengers to do more than hit the main tourist attractions?
  • My first Aha! Moment came when my then 16yo son took this photo from the city walls not long after we arrived. He posted it to Facebook with this caption. It made me think about the value in having game design students spend time studying here. The richness and depth of texture—physical, historical, narrative—lends itself to thinking very differently about design.

    (Two years later I had a chance to talk to Patrice Désilets, one of the lead designers on Assassin's Creed, and he told me that he actually brought the design team to Dubrovnik for a little while while they were working on the game.)
  • The second Aha moment was closely related to the first. I had told my son that we could spend ten days after graduation visiting the European country of his choice, and he opted to plan out an Assassin's Creed-themed tour of Italy—we visited Rome, Florence, San Gimignano, Venice, and Forli. (With a brief detour to Trento so I could give a talk there.)
  • Here he is listening to the Assassin's Creed soundtrack while watching the sunset from Plaza di Michelangelo. A perfect merger of games, culture and travel!
  • It turns out I wasn’t the first person to make this connection between Assassin’s Creed and Italian tourism—but I didn’t find this article until I started doing more in-depths research on games and tourism this year.
  • Here's the third Aha moment.

    One of the stops on our Assassin’s Creed tour was historic San Gimignano, a town that—like Dubrovnik—is fascinating for history and architecture buffs, but significantly less engaging for kids.

    But in the museum just inside the gates of town, the welcome center sold a treasure hunt game, complete with kid's activity book, that turned exploring the town into a playful activity.
  • I saw kids throughout the town with their books, eagerly scanning architectural details and views looking for the answers to the puzzles in the book. The potential for using something similar in Dubrovnik was intriguing.

    Three aha! moments was enough to make me want to make this my new area of research and teaching focus.

    So, I started looking around for other examples of successful games related to travel and tourism.
  • It turned out to be harder than I expected to find a good examples. This report on best practices and game examples came out in 2014, and it's one of the few publications that includes a variety of published game examples, including those from the commercial sector, rather than discussing small-scale experimental game research projects.
  • One can argue that nearly any game focused on cultural heritage, or cultural institutions (like museums and galleries) could be considered a game for tourists, which greatly expands the range of games to be considered.
  • A lot of the games I found were intentionally short-lived, like Picture the Impossible, so other than any papers or articles written about them (which don’t make for compelling visuals), there’s not much to show now. Here’s one that’s now defunct, but which was developed by a media company in Ohio.
  • One of the few large-scale commercial games with a strong connection to tourism is Ingress. It’s both an alternate reality game and an augmented reality game, and it requires you to travel to the historical and cultural landmarks that make up its network nodes in order to play strategically.
  • And, of course, who doesn’t know about Pokemon Go? It’s one of the few commercial games that tourism agencies immediately recognized the potential for.

  • Multiple reasons:

    Open ended exploration games don't appear to be as compelling as those with a fixed time frame and constrained availability. The latter allow for more competition and collaboration. That's why PTI ended up being much more successful that JPP; the novelty wore off quickly with JPP, and students got bored. If you need a certain level of engagement in order to financially support the game via advertising/placement, this can be a real problem.


    Photo Credit: Jon Vonica, https://flic.kr/p/5EajYr
  • How to monetize? Marketers are often creatures of habit. We ran into this with JPP. When we did a "coffee shop crawl" scavenger hunt, we suggested to
    the newspapers advertising group that they approach the coffee shops on the route to encourage them to buy ads for that week, possibly including coupons, so that people would be inclined to hang out for a while rather than simply checking the shop off on their list and moving on. They couldn't wrap their head around this at all. Game developers haven't done a good job with needs assessment in the travel/tourism space, particularly when it comes to how to monetize. (Ingress had no monetization strategy until more than two years into its run; its value to Google was the location data they collected, but when Niantic split off they had to find a more explicit way to make money.)

    Photo credit: Flickr User 401(K) 2012
    https://flic.kr/p/brd1K2
  • Open ended exploration games don't appear to be as compelling as those with a fixed time frame and constrained availability. The latter allow for more competition and collaboration. That's why PTI ended up being much more successful that JPP; the novelty wore off quickly with JPP, and students got bored. If you need a certain level of engagement in order to financially support the game via advertising/placement, this can be a real problem.
  • Similarly, open ended games require a lot more administration and monitoring, which is expensive and difficult to maintain. This is one of the big challenges for Niantic with both Ingress and Pokemon Go.
  • Okay, so from a game designer’s or game researcher’s standpoint, tourism is an interesting context for games. But one thing that I learned when I was in Dubrovnik is how little most game designers know about the day-to-day realities of tourism and hospitality businesses. So I wondered…are tourism researchers thinking about games, too?
  • I was a Fulbright scholar in spring of 2015, with a focus on developing curriculum in games and tourism at RIT Croatia. There was very little for me to draw on from a curricular standpoint, since so few schools are teaching in this space. Because it was a teaching fellowship, however, my time for digging into the literature was limited. So…
  • I took a sabbatical in the spring of this year, to explore the intersection between games research and tourism research in more detail. I found a good bit of work being done on games and tourism by researchers in each of those fields, but very little being done collaboratively.
  • The ENTER conference is one of the only tourism and hospitality conferences that specifically includes games and gamification in its CFP.
  • There are a handful of researchers in tourism who appear to have a solid foundation in game design principles, but for the most part they aren’t working with games researchers directly. Bournesmouth University in the UK for instance. Jessika Weber authored that Digital Tourism Think Tank document I showed earlier, and has written a number of papers in this area.
  • Manchester Metropolitan University created the very interesting Dublin AR mobile augmented reality game, which was written in up in multiple tourism venues.
  • Roman Egger at the University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg has written a book on Gamification in Tourism.
  • The more I dug into the literature, however, the more I recognized areas of overlap between the two fields.
  • Motivation—the psychology behind motivation is a huge issue in both fields. Why do people play/enjoy games? Why do people travel? Why do they choose the types of games (or trips) that they do?
  • Like games researchers, tourism researchers think a lot about user experience, about storytelling and narrative, about memories and "replayability" (return visits)
  • User-generated content, social media, and community: Games researchers talk about player-generated content, and value-added from communities. Tourism talks about user co-creation. But while the terms are slightly different, the concepts are essentially the same.

    Image from: http://thesocialmediamonthly.com/making-waves-in-digital-marketing-with-visual-user-generated-content/
  • Globalization is an increasingly important issue in both spaces—in education, in research, and in development/commercialization.
  • We need more interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary partnerships. Not just with content experts (museums, historians), but with process experts as well, people who understand the motivations associated with tourists and travel.

    And we need more emphasis on interdisciplinarity and globalization in our educational processes, something that we’re working hard on at RIT, leveraging our strong program in hospitality and service management in Dubrovnik and our games program in Rochester.
  • Want to work with me in this space? Let me know! I love collaborating 

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