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Training Device Management Begins With Awareness April 21, 2019 17:45

Advertising Strategies Used By Game Makers

Introducing students to the following strategies used by game makers to lure them into a game and keep them there will help students see how the game is manipulating them. This knowledge will help develop their online critical thinking skills. The goal is to empower users to control the device instead of the device controlling them.
I recommend playing the games with your children and challenging them to see who can find the most examples of the following strategies in the game. 
  • FREE is the most powerful word game makers use. They attract players because it is free. Once players are hooked, they use different methods for coaxing players to purchase internet currency. Players are often offered ways to buy passes or clues, so they can achieve new goals in the game. The first thing I noticed in several games I explored was an offer to purchase online currency. Most games' goals are to get the users to purchase this currency or to watch ads posted by companies that sponsor the games. Ads are placed strategically throughout the games. There are also ads offering players the option to play Ad Free for a small purchase of $.99 a month. Multiply .99 by 10 million users and the game maker is doing quite well. Once they get their game user addicted to the game, they have guaranteed income. 

 

  • Educational is a key word that give parents a false sense of game value. It can make one feel the game will do no harm if the children are learning something. Many children, 10 million or more, are playing a popular social media centered game for FREE that advertises itself as educational.
When students were asked to share what was educational about it, one eight year old girl stated, “It teaches you how to make choices. Today, I had to choose between a donut and a bagel in my game.” When asked what she chose and how it was educational, she said, “I chose the donut. It was educational because I had to make a choice.” I asked if she was told the donut was unhealthy. She replied, “No, it just gave it to me.” The choice came with a price. I discovered that the cost of the donut was more than the cost of the bagel. There wasn't even an economic's lesson in this game. She couldn’t identify the lesson she learned, other than she was asked to make a choice. One child said, “Sometimes they ask me to do a math problem in class. They had me add 3 to 100. Then a friend in the game told me I could buy a pass, so I didn’t have to take the test.” Savvy players can use money to avoid doing any aspect of the game that is educational. 

     

    • “Your Friends Can Play” is a lure to satisfy our brain's innate desire to interact with others. It is just another way game makers' activate the pleasure center of our brains.
    When I signed on as an eight year old to play the game my third graders were playing, no one in the game knew I was a 69 year old teacher. Children say they are playing with friends because the players are nice to them, but they have no way of knowing if the person they are playing is 8 or an adult who entered the game to eventually manipulate them to purchase items.
    When I began playing the game for the first time, I found how to text and made friends with other players. One person who was nice to me and offered to help me play. She showed me where to find the things I could buy. It wasn't long before I witnessed the first signs of bullying. The screen shot below shows the name calling that a normal eight year old would not know how to deal with or how to respond to.
    When I asked my students about this situation, several of them shared stories when they were bullied. One third grader shared she had a panic attack one night and couldn’t sleep because of something that happened in the game. A friend who had been nice to her for a year, but who she did not know personally, started making fun of her clothing and that said she looked poor. After repeated bullying incidents, my student felt the need to stop the bullying by purchasing clothes to change her identity. She finally caved in and used a gift card to pay for the new clothes, which caused her to feel anxious.
    Many people would be judging her mother after reading this, but her mother had taken her Ipad away so she couldn't play, but gave her a Chrome book to type her stories. Her mother did not know she was going through the bullying situation, because she had no idea her daughter could access the games from her Chrome book.
    • Free Daily Bonus is another strategy used in marketing. It gets the users to come back everyday for the FREEBIES.
    When asked why they would go back everyday to play, the girls shared that they didn't want to miss the FREE prizes the game offered just for playing each day. The Free things aren’t so free. The free choices are limited. The most enticing items cost internet currency that a player can purchase with a gift card or credit card.
  • Pre-order and Save is one strategy game makers use to see if their games are where they want them to be before they go into full scale marketing.
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  • In-Game Advertising is designed to let you play for free, but you have to be willing to be interrupted by advertisements.
  • Your click response is quickly analyzed and more products that interest the player are sent their way. The goal is to get the player to buy the “no advertisement version of the game.” Advertisers know the best place to market items is to children. Children of today have more purchasing power than in any generation. Advertisers know if they target children, the children will convince their parents to purchase items they see advertised. Many in-game strategies have name brand products built int
  • o the game itself, thus subliminally targeting children. 
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    • Cereal Box Offers are a common advertising method to grab children’s attention. Once they go to the website to play the free games, they are a captured audience. Players tend to spend an average of 27 minutes on the cereal sites, which is enough time to grab their attention about new products.
    • Hook Loops are designed to get users to go back to their game because users are notified when someone liked their entry or outscored them in a game.
    • Loot Boxes are mysterious boxes that can be purchased with real money or internet currency. Purchasers don’t know if they are getting an ordinary item or a rare one. They have to make the purchase to find out.
    • Behavior Modification works by offering rewards or incentives to keep the user playing.
    • Attention testing is used to track the user's pattern. Then, an algorithm is created to increase the user's engagement. If a player usually plays for 30 minutes, the game will be programed to make an offer of a free item at 29 minutes. This is designed to  keep the player engaged and extend the normal playing time. A banner may appear that says, “You are almost there. You only need fifty points to make it to the next level.”  

    As students begin seeing these strategies in their games, they will become critical about what they view. This will be a necessary life skill for motivating them to control their use. They need this skill because technology is and will continue to be a part of their future. 

    References:

    I recommend the following videos for more insight into the impact of video games on all of us. 

    https://www.cnn.com/ampstories/health/glued-to-our-screens-and-trying-to-get-unstuck 


      To Guarantee a Successful Year-Start at the End! August 18, 2017 07:17

      It’s a new school year and an opportunity for students to get a fresh start. Now is the time to decide what they want to accomplish this year. 

      The best way to have a good year is to start at the end. This may sound odd, but I am a firm believer in creating a clear picture of what one wants to accomplish and the specific reasons as to why. 

      I ask students to write what they would like to see on their report cards at the end of the semester. Some of the comments might be, “Susan was an active participant in the class,” or “Jane never gave up and when things got hard, she eagerly asked for support.” I focus on the behaviors they might exhibit rather than on grades.

      If students initially focus on the grade, I ask them to define the behaviors or actions to demonstrate in order to achieve the desired grade. It is helpful to coach students with some of the following statements:

      To get an “A” I will need to:

      1. Listen intently in class.
      2. Pay attention to what the teacher writes on the board.
      3. Remember to ask for material I miss when I am ill or out of class.
      4. Preview chapters and form questions about what I think I will learn.
      5. Read the questions first on all assignments before reading the material and before the concept is being taught. This will allow me to focus better on the things I need to learn.
      6. Read written work aloud several times to both proofread and check that it makes sense.
      7. Ask for clarification to be sure I understand the teacher’s instructions. 
      8. Make note cards to use for studying and review material regularly.
      9. Ask questions when I am unsure of what the teacher is explaining.
      10. Pay attention to homework assignments when I enter the classroom, so I know what I am expected to complete after school. Plan to get started during recess, if I have a lot to do after school. 
      11. Pre-read homework assignments to see what I do not know and ask questions before I leave class. 
      12. Do nightly homework and turn on time.
      13. Check over graded work and find out why I missed problems.
      14. Have someone quiz me before tests, so I am sure I understand the material.
      15. Use only positive comments when thinking or speaking about my abilities.
      16. When I do not do as well as I expect, I immediately make an appointment with the teacher to ask for strategies to improve. 
      17. Write reasons I made mistakes on my corrected work.
      18. Review all tests for information to check to see if there were possibly errors in correction and to find out what I didn’t know.
      19. {Made a separate item.} When studying for a semester or year exam, I will make sure to determine the correct answers and make note cards for review.
      20. Use the teacher’s office hours to discuss my progress.
      21. Keep a running record of my grades so I know where I stand at all times. 

      I ask students to visualize themselves opening their report card at the end of the semester and reading all the wonderful comments and seeing the desired grades. I want them to tap into the wonderful feeling they get when they achieve what they have planned. Tapping into that feeling is a crucial step towards insuring they stay on task. 

      Then they are to type up a copy of their goals to review each morning when they are brushing their teeth. It can be posted on the bathroom mirror as a constant reminder of the things they need to do daily to achieve their goals. 

      All students can benefit from using the list provided above, however, high school and college students often have to take classes they don’t want to take to meet a school requirement. There has to be a reward in it for them in order to create the desire to make it through the class. I ask them to list three reasons they are taking the class and three ways it benefits them.

      Examples:

      I am taking counseling in order to get a clearer picture of what I want to do for a career. Then I will know what classes to take, and understand the way I learn, and school will be easier for me.

      I am taking photography to learn new skills because I love taking pictures. It will give me personal satisfaction, and I can learn about career options related to photography. 

      I am taking anthropology because I need to improve my grade, and taking it again give me a better chance of getting into a four-year college.

      It will also allow me to try out my new study strategies, because I think they will help to improve my grade.

      With an image of the end of the semester clearly in their minds, students will find it much easier to achieve their goals. 


      Know-It-Alls With Comprehension Problems August 27, 2015 05:54


      Since we can all learn from each other, I would like to share questions a parent posed about her son recently at one of my trainings and my answer. I hope this helps other parents struggling with the same thing.

      Questions: She shared that she is concerned about her first grade Know-It-All son who struggles with reading comprehension.  He is going to be in a first grade accelerated class in the fall. What should I do?

      This is my answer to her:

      It is hard for parents to know exactly how much to push their children and when to back off. I have the advantage of having seen children grow and develop over the years. Firstly, the know-it-all child doesn't always grow into the know-it-all adult. If your fear is that he will become that adult that no one can stand, I can assure you that he will quickly be leveled by his teachers, peers, and the reality of the real world.

      "Know-it-alls" tend to be more insecure and that is how they cope. It can be a coverup for knowing he isn't as smart as everything thinks he is. Young children coverup not knowing how to do something by saying it is boring or they already know it. If he begins avoiding work and doesn't do assignments because they are "boring," he will be sending the message that he is struggling. In the minds of bright children, it isn't okay to struggle. They don't realize that even bright people struggle. Helping him identify that he is labeling hard things boring and offering strategies to solve the challenge will help him more in the long run. Reassure him that hard is okay for even bright children. 

      Since he is going to be in an acceleratd class, I encourage you to watch his reactions to those things that are challenging.

      If he is a strong math student, he may not be great at writing. He may be a good reader, but his comprehension skills do not match his oral reading fluency. This is not uncommon for young readers. They are so focused on reading the words, which is what they are learning to do at that age, that they haven't yet develped the ability to retain what they have read.

      I can read a whole chapter to my class, have them engaged because I am reading with feeling, but I won't remember the next day if I read that chapter.

      Reading words and retaining the meaning are two separate skills created in two separate parts of the brain. The left brain is reading and the right brain is forming images to retain the meaning. They don't often come together, especially for boys, until later. For this reason, your son may not remember what he has read. If someone pressures him, he will feel inadequate and resort to being a know-it-all. It's all a coverup. I would recommend having him stop after each sentence and see if he can picture what he read in his mind. Then have hime retell the story. That is training for real comprehension. 

      Watch my video on the brain. It will explain what will happen to him when someone asks him questions about what he read that puts him into stress mode. He will not remember his name if he is stressed enough. 

      One more point: Most early readers skil the important skill of learning the rules of phonics. They make the connections between letters and sound, but because they come in with reading, they are skipped into a program that doesn't teach phonics. As a result, when they are older and the words become more difficult, they don't always know how to break them apart. If you see that happen, I would alert the teacher about his never being taught phonics and that he might need some training in the rules of syllabicaiton and irregular sounds.