If you’ve been reading the articles on this blog for very long, you know we’re interested in eLearning, Community development, Technology, Fun, and how all these impact and work together in changing the exciting landscape of online learning for the next generation. Often, I talk with folks who look puzzled when I start discussing the unification of these practices. Most take each of the areas above and put them in separate silos. At best, they merge one or two with another, but rarely will they see all four areas working together. In an article I recently read, it was evident that Rob Pardo and the team at Blizzard Entertainment understand this unifying idea.
With more than 6 million subscribers, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (WoW) has hit on something more than just geeks and gaming. Pardo, himself is part of a subgroup (in WoW terms, a Guild) that communicates regularly outside the game.
“Outside the game we stay in touch using online forums, a wiki, blogs, and a mailing list – plus a group voice chat, which I have connected to my home stereo so I hear the guilds banter while I’m cooking dinner. I have never been this addicted to anything before,” says Pardo.
Keeping It Fun
According to Pardo, there are four basic draws to this online environment: the ability to socialize, an achievement system that gives users an incentive to improve, complex and satisfying strategy that makes playing fun, and an underlying narrative that users want to learn more about. Add to this the ability for the user to customize his/her experience and interface and you have a winning formula for retention and success.
According to Joi Ito, some call online gaming the new golf, but it is more than that…
“…it is millions of people with diverse backgrounds collaborating, socializing, and learning while having fun. It represents the future of real time collaborative teams and leadership in an always-on, diversity-intensive, real-time environment. World of Warcraft is a glimpse into our future.”
As evidenced in this environment, here is a case-study/incubator for NextGen learning paradigms. The disciplines of eLearning, Community development, and Technology under the umbrella of Fun are not separate functional areas. The fact is they all work together in tandem.