I got to bug test our next game, Lunch Crunch, this afternoon. This is going to be a great game! I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peek of the game as well as a little peek inside the Playnormous files. The picture on the left is the prototype game, Lunch Lady, which was created well over a year ago. Look at it today. The image to the right is Lunch Crunch as you will soon play on the Playnormous site. Quite a difference, huh?
Back in February of 2008, the President of Playnormous, Jerald, approached me and said we were going to have a blog on the Playnormous site. And I was going to write it. I must admit, I was skeptical. All the blogs I’d ever read were basically girls ranting about guys. Not professional in my mind. But then the real conversation started.
Me: So, I’m in charge of the blog. What should I write about?
Jerald: What do you want to write about? [sits back in chair in anticipation of a long conversation]
Me: I was thinking something like…the latest nutrition research.
Jerald: Will that appeal to our audience?
Me: Well, who’s our target audience?
Jerald: Who do you want your target audience to be? [gives the Jerald-half-smile ...patent still pending]
Me: It’s a website for kids so probably kids. Well, I don’t know. Wouldn’t kids just want to play the games? I’m thinking parents. Yeah, parents probably. But kids might look at it too I guess.
Jerald: You’ll need to develop a voice that appeals to a lot of people then.
Me: What do you mean? You mean the topics I write about? What kind of voice should it be?
Jerald: Whatever you want. What kind of voice do you want it to be?
Me: Well, ok. Voice I can play around with. How about the look and feel? Do I add pictures or just text or what?
Jerald: What do you want it to look like? This is your thing, Melanie. Make it what you want it to be. [does the Jerald shrug] Just tell Ramsey what you want and he’ll do it for you.
Me: Ok…but I don’t even know what to call the blog.
Jerald: What do you want to call it? [does the Jerald half-smile/chuckle combo ...patent also pending]
Me: Ummm…I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it…. I really don’t know what I’m doing. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I make a mistake? What if I need to correct a mistake?
Jerald: I think you’re making too big of a deal out of this Melanie. It’s just a blog.
A bit exaggerated, but I was given so much freedom that I felt completely lost! So, in true researcher form, I made myself feel better by researching blogging. I created three bookmark folders in Safari: (1) Blog Content–sites that discussed topics I wanted to write about; (2) Example Blogs–blogs that had a good look/feel, good voice, used humor well, were informative, etc; (3) Blog Tips–blogs about…blogging!
The third bookmark folder contained the most helpful information. These were the folks that taught me how to blog, and how to do it well. (1) Problogger, (2) Copyblogger, (3) Pro Blog Design, (4) Lip-Sticking, and (5) Diva Marketing Blog. Needless to say, without these individuals, Monster’s Blog probably would have never grown past a sprout.
This month, Toby Bloomberg, author of the Diva Marketing Blog, has been running a series on blogger relations. Toby wanted to know how people really felt–bloggers, agencies, and brands–about this new form of networking / marketing called social media and blogging. Toby asked several questions, including which companies and consultants are doing it right. What companies have developed successful marketing relations via blogging and social networking?
Guess who made the list…yup, you guessed it, PLAYNORMOUS!! Considering Playnormous was listed amongst blogging experts like Darran Rouse (that’s Problogger) and Brian Clark (that’s Copyblogger) as well as hot shot companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Nokia, needless to say, I couldn’t be more thrilled. THRILLED!
Check out Diva Marketing Blog’s post “Blogger Relations Series: A Successful Blogger Relations Strategy to see Playnormous up in lights. Well, not in lights. In a very pretty pink box.
I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, Tara Parker-Pope on Health, and ran into her post “New Reasons to Avoid Mixing Juice and Medicine.” More juice controversy! I’ve heard many times that grapefruit juice and prescription drugs don’t mix well. Now researchers are saying that orange juice and apple juice may also block the effects of some drugs. In essence, drinking these juices may render some prescription drugs useless including: a specific anticancer drug, some high blood pressure pills, and certain antibiotics. Very interesting.
To read more about drugs that are affected by juice (grapefruit in this particular case) check out this info from the Harvard Medical School. To learn more about juice–the healthy, the unhealthy, and the sort of healthy–try playing our feature game Juice Jumble.
It took me a little longer than I would have liked to finish off this series. I was encouraged to do so after one of our friends, Amy Jussel, Executive Director and Founder of Shaping Youth, said she found it useful.
Now, for the finale! So what does all this game evaluation stuff mean to you? Well, it means that we know what kids liked, what they understood, and what we can change to make Playnormous games better. After our research partner, Dr. Cynthia Phelps of The University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, finished her formative and summative evaluations, she learned several things.
The most significant change in knowledge involved foods in the “slow” category, i.e. foods that are kind of healthy and have some fat and sugar. After playing Food Fury, a scientifically significant number of kids learned the correct category for these foods:
The goal of our game testing is to be able to answer three questions:
Evaluation doesn’t stop there. Dr. Phelps hopes to continue testing Food Fury and discover even more about how it benefits kids.
Well, that concludes my series on how game evaluations work from a research perspective. Any questions?
Back in May of this year, I posted a bit about the Games for Health Conference in Baltimore, MD. We met a lot of people there, including the folks at iConecto. We met them over some good ‘ole New England crabcakes and discussed their idea for Gaming4Health.com, the first online social network for healthy games. A few months later, and we’re a part of their new Healthy Online Arcade!
They also have a section of health game reviews which I think is a great idea. I’d planned on doing this on Monster’s Blog, but it just hasn’t happened. I’m glad they decided to do it. Unfortunately, Gaming4Health.com’s taste is completely different from mine, and the games they rate as high quality games (fun, educational, good graphics, good health content) are not what I would pick. To each his own, though. I think I’ve been playing too many health games…well, health games, commercial games, advergames, social games, educational games, virtual world mini games… At any rate, an interesting section to visit.
Gaming4Health.com also has a section on gaming conferences. A marketing cheat sheet for me! Haha! I’m looking forward to seeing what other games pop up on this site.