Showing posts from April, 2012

Gamification by Design

Gamification by Design co-authored by Gabe Zichermann and Christopher Cunningham is the first book I have read on the subject. Until now, the most entertaining thing I had read about gamification was an article by Ian Bogost. Zichermann and Cunningham do a great job of introducing the reader to gamification. The clarification on what it is not comes in the Introduction - it will not help move bad or poor products. They use the metaphor of cake and icing to describe what gamification can and cannot do for you. A great icing job will entice someone to bite into the cake but it will not make them bite twice if the cake is not up to par. Gamification is icing on the cake. The authors cite examples of success and failure with gamification through out the book to illustrate specific concepts. Each of them offer fascinating insights into human motivation. In the context of gaming in education, they argue putting education ahead of fun makes it less effective and actually impedes the process o…

Stymied by Empathy

I found out this morning that my friend's husband had suffered a heart attack over the weekend. They are a young couple with a five year old boy. It took me a while to absorb the shock and collect myself enough to give her a call.  S is one of those women who make the combination of gentleness and strength look effortless. She was supremely calm and talked about the positives in the situation - if they had delayed taking him to the hospital, he may not have survived. She was proceeding methodically, taking care of things she needed to and without anxiety. I on the other had broke down when she described how frightened her little boy was when he saw his father connected to wires and tubes, laid on a gurney and being wheeled away.  I have played for hours with this child - in many ways, he fills my need for another child - a dream I may have to let go off at this point in my life. Imagining him scared and crying in a hospital as they tried to save his father was more than I could bear…

Tween Think

For a while now, J has been consumed by a certain game on her iPod Touch. I have seen such things come and go in her life and have been waiting as patiently as I am able for this rather irritating one to pass.  Deliverance came about in an unexpected way. For two weeks now J has been on a reading spree. The books in question are several sets of quartets that can be read as independent stories or as a mega-epic. Any time she has to herself she is reading one of these things. Used to be any time she had, she played that nonsensical game that drove me nuts.  It turns out that a buddy of J's had told her about a hack for said game. It allowed the game to play in an endless loop without user interaction and scored a theoretically infinite number of points on their behalf. I was intrigued by this whole arrangement that J seemed to find extremely satisfactory. I thought the point of playing the game was to engage with it and win. J explained that it was scoring the points that really matter…

Middle Ground

DB is the master in the fine art of relaxing and unwinding. Enjoying downtime does not come to me easily and I over-stuff my schedule just as I do my bags when I travel. Needless to say, DB will always have plenty of room in his and is befuddled by how I pack. The happy medium in our household would require us both of negotiate out of our comfort zones and meet somewhere in between. It would be the place where I learn to relax and take more time off to pursue my happiness and DB can find the mundane routines of domesticity a little less irksome and limiting of his personal freedom. While such compromise may appear the natural and indeed happy outcome of the marriage of DB and I, in reality, middle ground is harder to come by. To that extent, DB will try to put some of his domestic responsibilities into a clockwork routine so he does them without being conscious of the effort. For my part, I will include downtime in my calendar so I always get around to it.  So in theory, we are each meet…


Arriving at Four Corners,
the fragrance of her bursts
like an April shower.
The top notes of passion,
and longing in the middle
overlay base notes of
surrender. In the quietness
of the night, her bouquet
turns a blooming jasmine.

Autonomous Time

J has been learning classical Indian dance and from really loving it she has gone to being ever so slightly jaded. Learning any art form is a process with very little immediate or even short term gratification. If there is not enough raw passion to fuel the long, arduous years of learning with no payoff in sight, it is all too easy to quit. And I say this from experience. 

I used to learn Hindustani vocal music as a child and was supposed to have talent as well. However, the monotony of riyaz was not something I could do past the third year of music school - it was easier to give up and that's what I did. The exhortations of the music teacher and my parents to hone my skills certainly did not help. That said, I am only too aware of the perils of being a nagging parent. Yet, I constantly remind J to practice dance and get irritated with her when she slacks and her movements turn rusty - its takes so much work to achieve grace and so unfairly easy to lose it.  Lately I have been thinki…

Together and Apart

Reading this Slate article reminded me of Rabindranath Tagore's Shesher Kobita. The idea of living apart from the beloved to keep the romance alive was an idea, the protagonist, Amit Ray was fond of. To that end, he and his love interest Labanya end up marrying other partners and not each other - the idea being that marriage will in the end taint the purity of romance. Interesting to see an idea from a hundred years ago make a comeback with every appearance of being ahead of its time. The Fannie Hurst quote on marriage being “sordid endurance tests, overgrown with the fungi of familiarity and contempt,” is an interesting one. My marriage is relatively new so we are yet to be overgrown with the fungi if familiarity and contempt. There is a lot both DB and I have to learn and discover about each other. There are endurance tests but I would argue that is true for any relationship between two individuals. We endure the the attitude and tantrums of our kids, the outrageous demands of ou…