So I haven’t written a post in awhile! First the new semester started and then I was honored to have the chance to present at the Future of Ed Tech Confernce (FETC) on my Game Inspired Design concepts. The conference was great and I highly recommend it. A side benefit is that it is held in Orlando, FL which just happens to be where Disney World is located. So after the conference my family and I took in the Magic Kingdom festivities. 

Going to the happiest place on Earth after presenting on gamified structures is an interesting experience. My eye was primed to notice gamified elements that might otherwise slip past me. Learning about gamification ruined mobile gaming for me. Once I learned how Candy Crush and Mobile Strike were manipulating me it was literally game over. But at Disney World I had the opposite feeling. The game elements are so organic and add to the experience that I was in awe and inspired. I started thinking about what I came to think of as Disney’s ABCs.

  • Always
  • Be
  • Creating

That’s it. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Disney World 3 times over the last decade. The amazing part of Disney World is that it is never the same park. The leadership is constantly changing the rides, scenery, and even whole lands. On my first trip, a section of the park was boarded off so that the park could create a Circus-themed area. The walls had inspirational Walt Disney Quotes and artistic projections of what the new land would look like-very tastefully done. It was a promise to the park attendees that they were always creating new attractions or improving old ones. When we came back a few years later the new land was open and it was fantastic. The only problem wa S that the Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for repair. When we came back this year that ride was open and there were whole new animatronics of Jack Sparrow that were far superior to the older models still in use. But now the Stich Great Escape ride was closed… I wonder what’s coming? The important thing is that the park doesn’t close down to make these changes. The are innovating without stopping the daily enjoyment of the park goer.

I think this is a good gamification lesson. It’s easy to implement some of the basic elements like PBLs or XP grading. But the power of gamified systems comes in the creative delivery and innovations that are opened up by treating students as players. 

  • Deeply 
  • Embedded
  • Fantasy

Another element of Disney that I am always impressed by is the level of commitment to the aesthetic of the parks region. As my family waited (for 75 minutes) in the new Frozen Ever After ride I was amazed by the details that were embedded in the line queu. At one point there was a bulletin board with fake newspaper articles from the Frozen universe tacked on it. Since we had the time I read the article which was all about Prince Hans’ punishment and ‘weird weather’ that was following him. Later we went through Wandering Oaken’s store complete with Lutafish, carrots, and a Sauna (where the storekeeper would occasionally wipe steam off the window and say hello). These little touches are what make the magic. How often do we include these little pieces of aesthetic in our classrooms?

The trip was a blast and I’ve had so many thoughts on this but for now I will leave it hear… More thoughts on Disney gamification and design to come.

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