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Ethnogamification 4 – The epic journey continues April 12, 2019

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.
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Ethnogamification2019bOnce again I’ve been talking with people about games and gamification at a major missions conference, and once again people have been intrigued and interested

…but for the most part still not quite sure where to go with the ideas.

I’m learning to start small.

Play the “Google Ethnogamification” game? You don’t have to follow the links unless they look interesting enough, just know they exist!
Warning: Anyone can use the word so if you mention Ethnogamification on the web you might show up in the search too.

Most of the articles on ethnogamification contain interesting links such as the one about https://yukaichou.com/ and Octalysis. Meanwhile the MOOC that inspired me to explore the concept of Gamification is just starting up again at
coursera.org/learn/gamification . It’s online free to participate, about 29 hours long with flexible deadlines, and teaches you about psychology, marketing, game design and gamification.

Technology, games and endangered languages February 4, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification, Language revitalisation.
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Darrick Baxter wanted his daughter to know the language of her grandmother, so he built an iPad app and from there his adventure really started…

Here the rest of the story in his TED talk “How technology is saving Native Tribal Languages”.

For those who haven’t watched the video yet, Darrick tells the story of, and the impact of his app as a tool for helping a new generation connect with their historic language. He made the code for the app available free to others and it now forms the basis of over 60 language apps.

AppGallery at ogokilearning.com

Native American Language Apps created for various tribes and First Nations in Canada and the United States. Find out more at http://www.ogokilearning.com

Some languages die of ‘natural causes’, some are killed. Some ‘dying’ and ‘dead’ languages are being revived and revitalized. Apps alone won’t revive a language but are tools in reviving interest and helping learn some basics.

There are an increasing number of apps and games for both endangered and thriving minority languages, increasing produced within the communities themselves. Ogokilearning provided a technology and game workshop in which 10-15 year olds built their own apps.

Bigger games take big budget and lots of time and talent but as


Sinclair Programs Sept, 1983

someone who got into computing building my own games on 16k ZX81 and 48K Spectrum I’m encouraged to see what can be produced these days with a little enthusiasm and encouragement.

More on apps and games for language development, and scripture engagement in the Ethnogamification tab and in future posts.

Best advice on buying luxury gaming chairs: don’t January 26, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.
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The X-Rocker Pedestal Gaming Chair


“For the typical person who plays the occasional video game, a standard chair is fine whether it be a recliner or an office chair. But hardcore gamers know the difference in comfort and usage; after ten hours, a typical office chair has put some serious dents in the enjoyment of the game”

For a gamers review of the X-Rocker and other chairs see Pure Gaming’s “Best Gaming Chairs 2016

But as all none hardcore gamers know, if your sofa, office chair, or budget gaming chair is making your back ache after 5-10 hours…  move!

I do play the occasional video game and my back is old enough to know the value of not spending hours on the wrong chair. I’m also oddly enough delving into the intersection of theology and games. (I’m currently preparing to lead four days of training on creating games for Scripture engagement and have a few posts exploring the idea of ethnogamification.)

padded pew

The more traditional Christians could learn a thing or two from the design of gaming chairs. Some have already ditched the pews in favor of more comfortable seating, so I’m sure there is a market for “Bible reading” chairs, or luxury kneelers. Some could also learn to have a bit more fun.

Games are good (some of them), and some Christians are serious hardcore gamers. You can interact with some (between games) at gamechurch.com


Their post on  2015 Games Jesus Loves starts:

“The whole Gamechurch operation works under the belief that Jesus is totally cool with games and that maybe, given the opportunity to play them, he would actually enjoy them. “

I think Jesus is cool with a lot of games. I’m less convinced he’s cool with how much priority some people give them.

Jesus mixed with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, and social outcasts. He’s certainly not going to reject anyone for playing video games (although I doubt he’d join in on all of them) He went to parties and it’s safe to assume he drank wine as well as supplied it on occasion. He kind of upset the religious types with his attitudes and behaviour. crossBut he also called people to radical lifestyle changes that had more of a call to carrying our cross than it does to sit comfortably.

I can imagine him telling a few people to relax a little more.

I can imagine him telling some to lighten up and have fun.

But if he were to tell a parable of a rich man and a luxury gaming chair…?

…well how do you think that might end?

Jesus and a Squirrel: What does success look like? May 14, 2015

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.
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Jesus and NicodemusJourney of Jesus is a facebook game that has been played by two million people and counting. It’s a different way of telling the story and not the first or last game to try and do so. But do it’s numbers mean it’s a success?

I’m interested in the idea of games as tools to aid both discipleship and in promoting and sustaining minority languages, and was encouraged recently to meet a few other people exploring similar ideas.

Like books and films, games often have serious agendas behind the fun, exploring ideas and promoting changes in attitude and behavior. I could cite many examples but will throw in one from my own childhood. In the early 1970’s, before Darth Vader got into road safety campaigns in the UK, we used to get road safety messages from a small red squirrel and his friends.*

Tufty Flufftail 1953-????

Tufty the squirrel was extremely effective at instilling messages about road safety. At it’s peak an estimated 2 million children were members of the Tufty Club. I don’t think my sister and I were but we did see all the public information films and we did play the board game. I mentioned to my wife that the Green Cross man had reappeared on British TV screen last year. She said, “and what about Tufty?”. His message endures.

Back to Journey of Jesus let’s focus on the story first not the game. In the illustration shown how did that one-to-one encounter between Jesus an Nicodemus turn out? What did they each expect from it? And what was John’s purpose in telling us about it?

Success isn’t always about numbers. Jesus often preached to thousands at a time but many stories John chose for his gospel focus on one to one encounters. It’s not clear in the first recorded meeting whether Nicodemus had come to truly learn from Jesus or trap him in clever debate. If the latter Nicodemus failed and gained much more in losing (it appears from later in the gospel that he probably became a follower). John’s gospel has definitely been a success but that shouldn’t be judged by how many people have read it but about whether it achieves the purpose it was written out for.

John’s purpose in telling the story? Well you could explore the story for yourself and see what you think. The purpose of his whole gospel is spelled out in one verse fairly near the end. I could tell you if you don’t know it …but what would be the fun in that. The adventure is in finding some of these things as you journey through the game, the film, or even the book.

It’s a purpose that lies behind a new blog I’m working on. But more on that later.

No really, there is a good reason for having Jesus, the Green Cross Man and Tufty in the same image*For those that didn’t already know – the actor who played Star Wars villain Darth Vader was Dave Prowse, a British actor from Bristol who also played the part of the Green Cross man, a superhero who used to tell children that he wouldn’t be there when they crossed the road.

Ahead of the curve, or simply round the bend? December 4, 2014

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification, wycliffe.
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Sometimes I get a little overexcited about the possibilities offered by an idea that hasn’t quite caught on yet.

I was an early advocate of online forums, blogs, the possibilities and challenges offered by YouTube, Facebook, wikis, android apps etc.

Lately I’ve been enthusing to greater and lesser extents about:

Some of these things are already happening, some may never gain much attention. (Some of the links will tell you quite a bit and others will tell you a bit less.)

Getting excited by new ideas and possibilities offered by new tech isn’t new.

22 years ago I was part of a multimedia show celebrating 200 years of the Baptist Missionary Society. (multimedia meant we acted, involved the audience and used a video projector the size of a large suitcase).WilliamCarey I played the part of William Carey who dared to suggest that people should go to far off places and tell them about Jesus. He was branded an ‘Enthusiast’ and told to sit down. “If God want’s to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without you or I”.

Carey disagreed and laid out his views in “An Enquiry into the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathens: In which the religious state of the different nations of the world, the success of former undertakings, and the practicability of further undertakings, are considered.” (catchy title huh?)

The full text is available to download for you Kindle or online. He was writing in 1792 so a few items and attitudes might seem dated but it’s worth a reading to see how far ahead he was of his time.

I particularly like how excited he got about the latest technological advances of his day. In addressing “the impediments in the way of carrying the gospel” he states.

“As to their distance from us, whatever objections might have been made on that MarinersCompassaccount before the invention of the mariner’s compass, nothing can be alleged for it, with any colour of plausibility in the present age. Men can now sail with as much certainty through the Great South Sea, as they can through the Mediterranean, or any lesser Sea”

18thcentury technology offered new possibilities. 21st tech offers a few more.

Modern technology is great.

God is greater.

Ethnogamification #2 : The games, gamification and ethnogamification quiz February 20, 2014

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.

 20 points if you already read Adventures in Ethnogamification: Level 1

More points to be earned for reading, remembering stuff, thinking, and posting comments!

Games, gamification, and ethnogamification are three different yet overlapping terms. Stop for a moment and think how you would define them. Your answers may be different from what is below and the words for game and play may carry different ranges of meaning in different languages and cultures.

In Kevin Werbach’s  Gamification course Games would often be seen as including rules, overcoming challenges, there are choices, sometimes an element of chance, a sense of progression and acheivement, many games have winners (and losers), some are competitive, some are collaborative. An overarching theme of games is that there is a strong element of fun. People choose to play games because they enjoy playing games.

Gamification is a new term that has exploding in the business world and even amongst the non-profit world seizing the opportunity to engage audiences by making activities more gamelike. Not turning everything into a game just using elements of games to increase involvement.

Ethnogamification is a very new term taking gamification into the world of cross cultural mission, encouraging the study and use of both games and gamification in a way that takes indigenous cultures seriously.

So on with this quiz…

Q1. Have you played a game this week?

Whether it was on your phone, or with a ball, or involved other people score 10 points for each game you’ve played. Stop counting if you’ve played more than 10 different games.

Q2. Has a website you’ve been on involved game like elements without actually being a game?

Score 50 points if you understood the question and 10 points for each example you can think of.

Q3. Did you take the Bwanda Fusa Challenge?

Wycliffe UK developed a number of simulation games (later adapted by Wycliffe US and others and still in use). The Bwanda Fusa Challenge was one of the first to be turned into an online game. Simulation games are valuable in exploring ideas and increasing engagement. This is different to gamification in that these are full games.

20 points if you played a Wycliffe game and learned something or did something. 30 Bonus points if you comment on it below.

Q4. Were you in WYnet? Did you play?

The Wycliffe Youth Network was another UK initiative drawing young people together (including MKs) for mutual support and encouragement. Networks also formed in the US, Canada, Jamaica, and Argentina. In addition to face to face meetings the networks were the pioneers of online forums that eventually paved the way for wikis and social media. 50 points if you were part of a Wycliffe Youth Network and say something about how the fun community and relationships developed have helped you.

Q5. How many jewels did you get in Awana?

Awana is a kids Bible club in which the memorisation of scripture is awarded by earning jewels that are worn on the Awana vest. This is a real world example of what happens in many online games (YouVersion Bible app now offers badges for completing Bible readings).

20 points if you or your kids have been motivated to read or memorise scripture by this or a similar method. 30 points if you can talk about whether that has (or might work) in a language community you relate to.

 Q6. Did you ever move from being a cub to a scout?

Awana wasn’t the first to award with badges. The boy scouts has been doing so for generations. In addition to badges there is also a sense of progression as children move on in the organisation. 20 points if you were part of a youth organisation that motivated people through similar badges and progression.

 Q7. How many frequent flyer points have you got?

Adults earn points too? Many airlines award with frequent flyer points. Getting to the next level may give you access to upgrades, better offers, and a shiny gold or platinum card. 50 points off if you have a platinum card. I’m jealous of your leg room but also think you should fly less.

Q8. Have you heard of the missionary in the Philippines who tried to teach the village how to play croquet?

Croquet, (often called wickets in USA). Not to be confused with croquette

They were horrified at the idea of knocking their opponents ball out of the way, and the game continued until the last player made it through all the hoops at which point the entire village declared “We won”.

50 points if you can tell a similar story of how one group plays by different set of cultural rules to others.

Round 2 coming soon (Once an undisclosed number of people have played round 1).
Don’t forget to post or tweet your score at #EthnogamificationQuiz

Adventures in Ethnogamification – Level 1 February 16, 2014

Posted by P, J, or J in Ethnogamification.
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Congratulations you have just begun a journey into the uncharted world of Ethnogamification.

Games are already being used in various aspects of Scripture Engagement, MLE and other aspects of Language Development.  Little has been written on how games are being used or on how the groups we work alongside traditionally use and view games. Do you know of any research or data? Do you want to? Will you join the journey?

19th Century Indian Snakes and Ladders Board

19th Century Indian Snakes and Ladders Board

Games have been around forever “gamification” is a fairly new term that has been around since 2010. It now appears 1.39 million times on Google and once on Insite. The basic idea is that gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts. Not creating games but making things more game like.

Congratulations! By reading this far you have just earned your “Inquirer” badge.

Earning a virtual badge will seem strange to a few of you but it is increasingly becoming normal for many and not just kids. YouVersion is now awarding badges for completing 21 days of regular Bible reading – not too dissimilar from incentives offered to Sunday school kids for a few generations but aimed at adults.

“Ethnogamification” is a term that appears only twice on Google and hasn’t caught on yet but it seems to me that it will be defined and taught alongside ethnomusicology and ethnoarts before the decade is out. I was looking on SIL.org and our intranet for research on how the different groups we work with use and value games as part of their cultures – there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there.

As new generations embrace the new technology that is coming into their reach are they adopting more of the games culture of the larger communities? It is almost as easy to translate foreign games as it is foreign songs but is there value in encouraging production of indigenous applications? What high and low tech games will incorporate or address some of the traditional values and issues?

In corporate speak this and other posts, together with a corresponding wiki space might contribute to a community of practice (or maybe a “community of think” if we’re not doing much yet), encouraging people to learn, grow and share ideas in community.

In game speak this would be a new world to explore, a realm of adventure and discovery in which you can progress through many different levels, meet friends, and change the world. Have fun.

Congratulations! You have reached the end of level 1.

Coming soon…

New rooms to explore!

  • The Ethnogamification Quiz
  • Games for Recruitment
  • Games and training
  • SE Games and Gamification
  • MLE now and in a world to come
  • Scrabble in a 1000 languages
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