I am preparing an article for QST entitled: Ham Radio Contests - The
Original MMOG" (MMOG=Massively Multi-Player Online Game)
and I am looking for stories to include in it.
I will be discussing radio contests as a modern game developer might. See
the description of the project below (repeated from a prior post you might
Most really good video games take the player through an Epic Journey.
Has ham radio (and contesting in particular) played a part in your own Life
Journey? Are you the person you are today because of your hobby? Have you
done a Truly Amazing Thing?
Don't worry about writing fancy prose - just tell me a short version of the
story and I'll interview you for the details.
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.
CQ-Contest mailing list