What’s been going on

There is something about spring that seems to impact our co-hosts getting together.  Between the demands of work schedules, conferences, and holidays with friends and family I would like to apologize for the infrequency of our podcast.  At one point in time we had planned on having a bunch of reserve episodes in backup that we could post, but that is not really fair to you, the listeners.  So for this week, I am going to write a quick post about some interesting things I’ve seen lately.

My schedule has been impacted by a bunch of customer visits and conferences lately, one of those conferences was RSA in San Fransisco.  RSA is one of the largest security conferences each year, and it was completely overwhelming.  You can go to my other blog for my daily quick reports on the conference over at Triangle App Show. There were two items at that conference that I think would have made great discussion topics on this podcast,  however, I will blog about them instead.

Bugcrowd and Cyber Patriot:

Bugcrowd – is a crowd sourcing platform which specializes in security testing of public applications.  It uses many of the traditional gamificafion techniques of leaderboards, non-traditional currencies (Kudos), and adds in real bug bounties for cash.  Companies will hire bugcrowd to get a group of testers who are unleashed on a site or app, and have to report bugs that they find.  While talking to the team at bugcrowd one of the original founders at topcoder came up and asked how they vet their participants.  This was a big issue for TopCoder when they looked at offering a similar service, and due to liability they decided not to offer it.  How do you stop a would be black hat from using the service to uncover bugs and not report them, only to then sell them on the gray market.  To me this was the part where bugcrowd didn’t understand the dynamics of the game.  Their basic premise is they only open up the call for participants on public sites or apps, so a real black hat wouldn’t join the game and just do their hacking independently.  I am not sure that this is true, since the black hat can see what exploits others are finding and sell them as short lived zero days.  I have been reading the book Future Crimes by Marc Goodman, and the value of zero days on social sites, even short lived, could easily be worth more on the gray market than the entire bounty of the bugcrowd game.  Setting up the right game mechanics could solve this, but could reduce the incentive for participants to build on the work of others.

Cyber Patriot
The Cyber Patriot program is a aimed at grade school kids to teach them about ethical hacking, security and privacy on the internet. At the RSA conference there was an area with an entire focus on cyber safety for kids. This area included many interesting companies (more on them over at my other blog – Triangle App Show. At the time of the show, the Cyber Patriot program had two competitions, one for Middle-school kids and one for High School kids. The structure of the contest allowed for state and regional competitions all leading to a national competition where the best of the best got a free trip for the team and their instructor. The national competition allows for students to compete head to head on identifying and solving a cyber security challenge. What I found interesting talking to the individual at the booth, was that they Cyber Patriot program recognized that waiting for Middle School was too late. As such they were about to launch in a few weeks (and they have by now) a program for younger kids – all the way down to Kindergarten. The younger children will get a much more “mario type” gaming mechanic as a way to help them learn and understand cyber safety and cyber security. I find this a great way of teaching kids the implications of our online lives.
A quick parallel to the last thought, as we’ve had more and more breaches of customer information in the news, healthcare systems, store credit cards, social networks, etc. the issue of identity theft is becoming more critical. Not just the identity of an adult, but that of our children. If a cyber criminal can get an identity tied to a young child, they can leverage that for 10+ years of fraud, ultimately ruining the future reputation of your children. Think about how you are protecting your children from this identity theft.

As we move forward with the podcast, I am sure we will be opening the aperture and extending our topics beyond just the gamification discussion. Having said that, please drop us a note if you have any ideas of what you’d like to hear more of. Thanks for all your support – and keep Playing Games!! AT WORK!

Expanding our Format

We are looking to expand the topics for the podcast, and would like your feedback. As a loyal listener, please drop us a note at our email address (or comment on this post, or hit us up on twitter, facebook, or tumblr.)

While there are a ton of good tech news podcasts and games podcasts, we are thinking that our love for general tech and games, could be included in this podcast, without requiring a tie to Gamification. What do you think?

Are there other topics you’d like us to expand too? We’d value and appretiate your feedback soon so we can get ready for next year. Happy Holiday! And Merry New Year!

Your Co-Host

Happy Thanksgiving to our US Listeners

Hi, host and co-founder Michael Rowe here, just a quick post to our listeners to explain our up coming two week absence. As you may know, we are all overloaded in our day jobs, to the point that getting all of four of us in a show this year has been near impossible. So given that we have year end work pressures and an opportunity to take some time off this week to be with friends and family, we have decided to take a quick break.

We look forward, to your tweets, emails and comments on the site, to come back charged with more great shows!

In the mean time, while you are enjoying feasts with families, check out this app that co-founder Michael Martine found: Dungeon Runner: Fitness Quest

Episode 99 – Free Beer Tomorrow


We celebrate episode 99 with three co-hosts talking about some really cool serious games. An episode so good it is SCAREY!!! Our games cover the gambit of history, geometry, leadership, and DNA. We begin with a game targeting high school students and let them understand what it was like to be a Czech citizen during some very turbulent times. The art style is very film noir. We spend some time on Chocolate Covered Broccoli, and commit a few Word Crimes. We also go back to the idea of, is it right to secretly teach things? Does it have to be a hidden when you teach kids things? Can you teach fluid dynamics with games?

While not quite a review episode, Phaedra takes us through a series of shot outs to a crop of cool, serious, games which are coming down the pipe!

As we come up on Episode 100 next, we want your feedback and ideas, hints, tips, and thoughts!!

Show Links:
Silent Hill 2
Czechoslovakia 38-89
The Prague Spring
Charles University – Prague
DragonBox Elements
The Secret to Chocolate covered Broccoli
Word Crimes Video by Weird Al
Triad Interactive Media’s – Far-Plane
Nanocrafter
Pee Monkey – Toilet TrainerVideo
Netflix and Chaos Monkey
Emotiv
Episode 29 – Simon Says
Spider Pig Video

Play

Is change in the air?

We have another week without a show. While each of us is sad to say this, we also are working to improve the show. Now that all four co-hosts are all in the same timezone and three out of four are actually within a 30 mile diameter. What do you think of a video podcast? We’ve been dealing with setting up a video channel on YouTube, but have not had much success to date on Google Hangouts.

Let us know what you think, and what would make Games At Work dot Biz more valuable to you. Thank you for all your support to date.

Games I am no longer Playing

As we’ve discussed on the show many times, we all play various games. Lately I’ve been re-evaluative some of the daily grind games I am playing. I tend to play the following games daily right now:

  • Simpson’s Tapped Out
  • Real Racing 3
  • Clumsy Ninja
  • Threes
  • Tiny Tycoon
  • Dungeon Keeper
  • World of Warcraft

Each of these games takes approximately 10-15 minutes out of my day, and as such can be a bit of a time sink. As such, I’ve decided to start cutting back. I have way too many things going on and can’t give-up that much time each day. On top of that I have to balance what the benefit I get from the game, verses the amount of time that it takes each day. So let’s take a look at which games are going to make the cut to keep consuming my days.

Simpsons Tapped Out – I really enjoy the show, and have been watching it since it first came out. The developers of the game have done a really good job of updating content and tying it back to the TV show. I find that the social aspects of connect to other friends’ Springfields to be cool. Everyone builds them with a different aesthetic in mind, or just to hit certain achievements. And while some of the content can only be achieved thru in app purchases, there is enough content that can be achieved without in app purchases. I’ve been playing this for a few years now.

Real Racing 3 – My day job includes working with the automotive industry and create connected vehicle platforms. The physics and the graphics on the iPad are incredible, and the choice of cars and tracks continues to open up while you play. Each race can take between 30 seconds (drag racing) and 8 minutes (long tracks). You can race in real time with a pickup race with random match ups, or virtually race with others, via time comparisons. There is a mechanism to upgrade your cars, and buy new cars, based on your winnings. Started playing this one over the Christmas holidays.

Clumsy Ninja – Leveling up a clumsy ninja requires that you use various devices to send him bouncing around, deflecting items, punching things, and jumping from great heights. The designers have used the cuteness factor along with great physics to make a very compelling experience. The grind is slow, and repetitive. You can fast past some of the grind by buying gems. I’ve been playing this one since the Christmas holidays.

Threes – Math and puzzles with a competitive bent, what could possibly be better than this? After hearing about this one, and seeing that Michael M. has been playing this one for a few weeks, I had to pick it up. Each game requires that match up multiples of three, and increase the numbers. However, you end up moving large parts of the board at a time, and when you can’t add up new multiples of three the games is over. A great feature is this games is a purchase game with NO in app purchases.

Tiny Tycoon – We’ve talked about this one for some time on the show. You basically use FourSquare information to buy properties, upgrade them, hire people to work at your locations, and then level up your own skill by doing various jobs at the locations. The game also requires you to use bucks to buy more properties or get more supplies. You can earn bucks over time, or use in app purchases to get more. I’ve been playing this game for a while.

Dungeon Keeper – A great PC game from the 90’s reimagined for the iPad. You get to play an evil builder of Dungeons and you get to build up various rooms, use your minions to build things, train up various evil creatures, raid other dungeons, and protect your own from invasion from others. This game has great sentimental value. You can speed up the game thru purchase of Gems, but you need to use gems for a lot of other activities. I’ve been playing this game for a month or so.

World of Warcraft – The mother of all good MMOs, I can’t believe it’s been around for 10 years. Blizzard keeps adding expansions, adding new races, more end game raids, and continuing the model of community for Guilds. Blizzard has recently made the game both a monthly purchase, and adding a store for in app purchases. I’ve been playing this game since 2005.

So, how many am I going to give up? I recently deleted Tiny Tycoon and Dungeon Keeper, and will probably delete Clumsy Ninja. The constant need push to get you to use in app purchases is a major distraction to any value or fun I might get from these games. I’ve also given up on the various Angry Birds games and Plants vs. Zombies. What are the games you are playing? Are you going to give up any of them and why?

Good news on a lost episode and intro to Tiny Tycoons

We have some good news for our podcast listeners — while there was not a recording this past Friday, an episode thought to be lost has been found! There needs to be some cleanup, and that will take place over the next few days. So in the meantime, let us remind you that we are interested in your feedback and are eager to hear your suggestions on topics that you would like us to cover.

In the meantime, there is one topic that we’ve been very interested here over at Games At Work, and that deals with location-based computing, coupled with games. The intersection of iBeacons (and other low energy Bluetooth) and gaming has been very promising for some time, and MacRumors posted an interesting story on the game Tiny Tycoons.

Tiny Tycoons is a cross between Foursquare, Monopoly City Streets and Ingress, where you can travel the world, both physically and virtually, to buy and trade properties. I’ve downloaded the game and will be giving it a whirl, and will look forward to sharing my insights on how this could be adapted for business purposes. I’m going to be the mayor, um, owner of a few new properties shortly!