Wharton Business Magazine: Brandish My Gaming Badges


Wharton Business Magazine:

“One standout performance was by contributor Lisa Ellen Niver C89, whose latest blog tweet reached 4.1 million people.” (From Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Brodsky)

How Empire Avenue Taught Me to Brandish My Gaming Badges

wharton brand article empire avenueFor most of my life, I have not considered myself into games. I was never good at Pong, and was there ever anything simpler than moving that one paddle up and down the screen? I tuned out when people talked about single person shooters, HALO and their favorite thing to do on Xbox. But when a friend suggested Empire Avenue, a stock market simulation social network game, I was intrigued. I loved everything about it especially watching my ratings and getting badges. Then I read the book Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, and I began to realize how much I have participated in games before this.

I have used many educational websites in the classroom as a teacher, and I was thrilled when I heard a fifth-grade student say, “Class was so great today. All we did was play.” This was in reference to playing CellCraft, where students have to save a cell from a virus. I loved when students were shouting at one another, “Where are the AA (Amino Acids)? I need to fix my cell wall.” They learned so much as they were enjoying it and moving up levels. Their main concern was beating the game and watching the score, not noticing all the content they learned.

McGonigal states, “Computer and video games are fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy. Games are providing rewards that reality is not. They are teaching and inspiring and engaging us in ways that reality is not.”

Game-playing inspires “fiero,” the feeling of vanquishing the “dragons” of the 21st century in a virtual world—a reaction that McGonigal describes as “one of the most powerful neurochemical highs we can experience.”

Empire Avenue badges

Digital badges are appearing in many forums as a way to inspire engagement. At the YMCA in New York City, teenagers who used to do no physical activity are suddenly showing up three times a week and earning a basketball Credly badge. They know that if they make baskets, they will receive another badge. They can see the steps toward a goal. Before, they would not get off the bench to stop texting, but now they are actively engaged in improving their health and in getting to the top of the leaderboard with the most points. Not only are these teenagers losing weight, some of their winnings are exchangeable for physical goods. Teens are happily sharing their badges and weight loss on Facebook and social platforms, and they are growing their support community in the process.

In Dallas, the Museum of Art decided that its goal was for people to engage with the art exhibits. No longer are visitors observing; they are active participants attending lectures, receiving codes and gaining points with Credly digital badges.

There are many ways we can create levels in life that have more privileges or rewards after engagement. In The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work, authors Cheryl and Mark Burgess explain how “gamification can mean a variety of different things, from earning badges through social training programs to interactive approaches for raising brand awareness to getting employees involved in things like product launches.”

With our work lives, gaining badges will tell future employers all about us as a digital portfolio. High school students can display badges about volunteering and scholastic experiences for university admissions departments to see.

Companies want engaged followers and brand ambassadors, schools want students who run into rather than out of the classroom, and museums want patrons who love art and rave about it. Democracy needs life-long learners who are passionate about their beliefs.

Are you ready to play a game?

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. She sailed the seven seas by cruise ship for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one and a quarter million views (1,250,000) on her YouTube channel. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries, named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blogs and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and has over 160,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and also ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on her own site, We Said Go Travel. From 2017 to 2020 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won three times and been a finalist fourteen times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards. She was also a finalist for four other categories including online journalist of the year, digital story for activism journalism with Ms. Magazine, educational reporting for Wharton Magazine and a broadcast lifestyle feature for KTLA TV in Los Angeles.    Niver won a 2019 NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award for one of her KTLA TV segments and was a finalist for articles published in both Ms. Magazine and Wharton Magazine. In 2018,  she was a finalist for stories in Smithsonian, PopSugar Fitness and the Saturday Evening Post. Niver won a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal and was a finalist for travel reporting. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, TODAY, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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