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In his best-selling learning book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction”, Professor Karl M. Kapp discusses the 12 game elements that make a game motivational, exciting, and sometimes irresistible. I remember the day we discussed these with our learning design team. Many of us had an opinion that these can be used most likely in hardcore video games that are developed using numerous resources and with high budgets.

Even though Karl suggested that these elements need to be used meaningfully, we usually tend to go with the ones that can be implemented without much effort. For example, time is the most widely used game element in gamification of learning today.  I come across many courses today where the regular screens such as assessments are accompanied by a timer on the top and hence, termed as gamified assessments. I really cannot comment on if just by adding a game element like time, these courses qualify to be called Gamified. Relevance also plays a major role in making the gamification attempt a meaningful one.

The second most misused game element is Rewards. In my blog post ‘Gamification Pitfalls – Meaningful Rewards or Nothing’, I talked about how rewards can also be demotivating if they’re not meaningful. For example, awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals in a training game for pharma reps doesn’t make a lot of sense. I know this idea comes from our traditional games like call of duty, but in that case, the players are soldiers in a game and soldiers and medals are a thing even in real life, which makes it meaningful.

To break all my assumptions about the interlink between resources and game elements, here comes a game that almost utilizes all the game elements from Karl’s list with minimum resources. Let’s try to understand how a small Indie team of three members from Ottawa, created a beautiful game that not only kept the players on the edge but also worked as a fun-filled communication exercise.

This is the second post in the series “Learning from Games – Games Beyond Stereotypes”. In the previous post, we discussed a video game that engaged the players with exploration and emotions as key driving factors. In case you missed it, please follow this link.

2. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the most original games I’ve played with a wonderful co-operative gaming experience.

What’s The Game About?

This game requires a minimum of two players. One of the players is trapped in a virtual room with a bomb that’s set to explode within a given time. The other player/s are the bomb defusal experts who will be instructing the player in the room on how to defuse the bomb, using a defusal manual (provided with the game). That sounds easy, right? Well, here’s the catch. The experts are not allowed to see the bomb and the defusal guy is not allowed to see the manual. So, you really have to rely on the communication between the players to beat the game.

Gameplay Trailer:


You might also like this cinematic trailer if you’re an MI fan:

What Makes It Special?

  1. The biggest asset of this indie game is the use of communication as a key element. You really need to focus on every word you say because if you say something wrong or miscommunicate anything, you’ll blow up yourself or the defusal guy if you’re the expert. You don’t want that do you? Even though the play time of each level is very less (approx. 5 minutes), there’s not one second you’re not communicating with your partner which makes it a lot more engaging than the regular games.                                          RQ50W.jpg
  2. It helps improve problem-solving skills through teamwork. There’s no way one can complete this game without having a proper communication with the team. It feels very rewarding for the entire team when they successfully defuse a bomb. Go Team!                                                                                                                                                 RQ59W.jpg
  3. Even though the game requires a minimum of two players, it is not necessary that you both share a couch. In fact, I recommend playing the game from different locations to make it more authentic and thrilling. Another interesting fact about the game is that the bomb expert need not have a PC or any system in order to play. You can take a print out of the manual and communicate with your friend who’s defusing the bomb over the phone. Isn’t that fun? Do you have any doubts about the efficiency of your resources working as a team remotely? Get them to play this game.                                                                                                                                984523
  4. Another key factor that makes this game engaging is the progressive challenges. It starts with a simple level where you’ll use basic wire-cutting methods and visual cues to defuse the bomb. But as you progress through the game, you get to handle a lot of complex scenarios using Morse code (not so easy over a phone), Venn diagrams, and much more. Look at the manual to understand how it feels like using one. If you have a team of more than 2 members, it’ll be fun dividing different modules in the manual among yourselves to defuse the bomb faster                                           keep-talking-and-nobody-explodes-ps4-us-screen-01-13oct16.jpgkeep-talking-and-nobody-explodes-ps4-us-screen-02-13oct16.jpg
  5. The game was originally designed to be played in Virtual Reality mode. This is one of the few VR games where the wearer of the headset and the ones watching the wearer are equally engaged. I’ve had a chance to play the game in Virtual Reality using Oculus Rift. It is super immersive in this mode and you feel like you’re really stuck in a room with a bomb and are ready to do whatever it takes to stop it from exploding.                   VR.png

Successfully Utilized Game Elements:

  • Cooperation (through communication)
  • Puzzles
  • Remote play
  • Progressive Challenges
  • Highly Immersive (Especially with virtual reality)

This game can very well be used as a communication/team-building exercise within your company. If you’re a parent or a teacher, use this game as a fun-filled problem-solving assignment to your kids. *Please note that VR equipment is not recommended for use with kids under 12.

For more on the game, visit the game website . Please share your views in the comments section below.

Coming up next, is a game series which has got a huge player base solely for its beautiful storytelling experience.