How Games Work: Super Mario Bros Level 1-1


Software On Boarding

Today I want to talk about what we can learn from games about how to help people use software that they are not familiar with.

My first real full time job after I graduated from university was teaching computer science and business management. I was preparing students for what is called A-Levels in the UK and the US. Keeping in mind this was in Greece, there was not a lot of educational technology involved as the educational system is pretty old fashioned. Things were pretty straight forward. I didn't have to learn any new tools or software.

Fast forward to June 2016 when I joined Gamification+. Since day one I had to become accustomed with software and online tools that I had never used and learn what I can do with them in the least time possible. As the weeks went by I realised that the list of tools that Pete was using to run Gamification+ was quite big and if I wanted to really help him run the business I needed to learn faster.

What gamification companies have tried to do is help people learn how to use an online tool or software faster. Make the learning curve not seem as threatening. Gamification+ has done this with for example as CRMs can be big scary to use for the first time .

"It's a-me, Mario!"

With "How Games Work" I am trying to study games and learn what could be efficiently brought into the gamification world. And that's where Super Mario Bros Level 1-1 comes in.

Super Mario Bros Level 1-1 is one of the best on-boarding examples in game history. The game was released in 1985 and is still studied by game designers as a great on boarding example. The player learns all the necessary skills and game mechanics in order to be able to progress to the next levels.

To better understand what I am talking about, watch this episode of Design Club from the great people of Youtube channel Extra Credits

The first time I watched the video my mind was blown at one particular element of this level.

I had never realised that you actually can not escape the mushroom that makes you bigger. This specific design element really blew me away as it doesn't take the players autonomy away, as some text appearing on the screen saying "get the mushroom" would do, but it doesn't give him any other option either.

Now just try and imagine if we embedded on boarding as effective as Super Mario Bros Level 1-1 to complicated software.

One of the most recent projects we worked on was to help JFDI consulting implement a gamification on boarding system for SharePoint

The reason this project was exciting was that we could explore the possibilities of a good gamified on boarding system and if it will actually help new users get used to the system easier.

I strongly believe that education and learning are areas that gamification can help people achieve their goals. Today employees in organisations will never stop learning as long as they work for an organisation that strives to go along with the times. I believe that learning in corporate environments is something that we have to keep working on.

 If you liked this post give me a tweet saying so at v_gkogkidis​

P. S.

If you want to know some more facts about Super Mario Bros Level 1-1 you can also check out this video

About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

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