Interestingly, I just queried QST for an article I'm entitling "Ham Radio
Contests - The Original MMOG" (MMOG=Massively Multi-Player Online Game).
They are interested, and I hope to get this done in the next few months
(work and contest commitments permitting).
This article is still being formed, so I want your feedback.
I will discuss many of the attributes of game design, evident in good
- Easy to play, hard to master.
- Flow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
- Leveling up: Visitor>Novice>Regular>Master>Elder Player
- Badges and Leader boards (certificates, trophies, Top-10 listings, etc.)
- Collections (DXCC, WAS, etc.)
- Aesthetics and emotional engagement: Surprise (JT1 calls over the pole),
satisfaction, pride, gratitude (QSL cards), etc.
- Community, administration, policing, and chat boards (like this one)
- Social style: Playing alone with others (single op),
- Bartles player types (Achievers, socializers, explorers, killers)
I will make suggestions for improvement that are informed by what the game
design community has learned:
Onboarding - the process of getting someone started (what if there was a
frequency on each band where volunteers help onboard casual operators who
would otherwise find their operating weekend destroyed by a contest),
The Engagement Loop - adding missions, quests, unlocks, in-game currency,
custom leader boards, progress bars, etc.
In her book *Reality is Broken*, Jane McGonigal makes the case that,
compared to modern well-engineered games, the real world is not very
engaging. She explains that we need to bring game mechanics to how we
educate and motivate ourselves to learn and work. My favorite quote from the
book: Noel Coward said, "Work is more fun than fun."
The best games take players on an Epic Journey, and the best MMOGs are of an
The difference between ham radio and on-line contests is that our game is
played (for the most part) in the real world.
Ham radio has played a central role in my personal Epic Journey:
- By the time I'd graduated from high school, I'd talked to perhaps 30,000
people world-wide, and exchanged postcards with thousands of them, and
was knowledgeable and curious about the world's people.
- I knew of the invasion of Czechoslovakia hours before the news broke.
- I have operated from about 30 countries (and I leave Wednesday to work
ARRL CW from Costa Rica, a new one for me).
- After Papa Doc died, I made 7 trips into Haiti bringing in transcievers,
amps, and antennas to re-equip numerous hams, and I was part of the first
contest operation from Haiti in 22 years.
- While living in Japan, I relayed news of the Gorbachev Coup to Siberian
- During the Nicaraguan earthquake, I helped man a key station for a week
providing relief communications.
- Ham radio has even informed my career as a securities trader - digital
low-pass filters help us make thousands of trading decisions a day,
implemented through software that looks suspiciously like a contest logging
program, except that ticker symbols don't have numbers in them.
- Even the expense of winning a contest has been a positive, motivating me
to levels of career success I would not have otherwise achieved.
Some times I feel that many of us fail to see our lives as a Truly Epic
Journey, don't see how *awesome *our hobby is, and do not take full
advantage by allowing it to shape our lives (present company excluded).
We can learn a lot from gamers. And we can teach a lot too.
Would everyone please send me your ideas for my article, particular your own
Epic Journey stories.
On Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 2:15 PM, David Gilbert <email@example.com>wrote:
> With all due respect, Steve, I suspect that you have never actually
> played any modern online multiplayer games. It is a far richer
> experience than any ham radio contest, and I can't imagine any online
> gamer being persuaded to join us based upon some sort of legacy appeal.
> It would be like expecting an audiophile to spend any serious time (and
> serious dollars) to listen to old wire recordings.
> I really enjoy radiosport (in fact, it is probably the only operating
> aspect of ham radio that still has significant appeal for me), but I
> enjoy it because it has a history for me and it's a focused event ....
> kind of like seeing how many free throws I can make in a row on the
> basketball court.
> Online multiplayer gaming, though, can be incredibly complex with
> literally several dozens of different player types that each have
> strengths and weaknesses versus one another that sometimes change
> depending upon the environment. The permutations are truly staggering.
> It often takes years for most gamers to get proficient at these things,
> and it also takes lots of study ... there are several online wiki's that
> describe aspects of any particular game in great detail and also outline
> key player strategies. How do I know all this? My wife and son are
> both avid gamers, and I can tell you right now that anyone who claims
> today's youngsters are not drawn to ham radio "because they aren't
> willing to work for it" is ridiculously off base and simply kidding
> Consider also the impressive audio and video implementations in most
> online games, the ability for group voice interactivity via free
> applications like Ventrilo, the occasionally clever background game
> scenarios, and minimal hardware/software cost. The overall comparison
> to competitive ham radio is not favorable in the least. It is entirely
> possible to be eminently competitive in online gaming with a $500
> computer (which most people have anyway), a decent internet connection
> (which most people have anyway), and maybe $250 per year "operating
> cost" (online subscriptions, game upgrades, etc). That's cheaper than
> many folks pay for their cell phone hardware and service, and it's a
> heck of a lot cheaper than what I've invested to be a semi-competent
> Maybe someone can prove me wrong in a few isolated recruiting instances,
> but I'm pretty sure it won't be very many.
> Dave AB7E
> On 2/11/2011 6:30 AM, Steve Sacco NN4X wrote:
> > Having said that, has anyone considered that we, as radiosport
> > enthusiasts, should be trolling for new blood in the electronic gaming
> > world? I'm very serious! Consider that playing on a console in one
> > thing, but can't we lay claim to being the "Original electronic
> > gamers"? Surely there are some whose curiosity would be piqued!
> > 73,
> > Steve
> > NN4X
> > EL98jh
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