Friday, June 1, 2007


Passively Multiplayer or PMOG

The PMOG Research paper

A while back I heard about Justin Hall's idea for a Passively Multiplayer Online Game that would track your web surfing and give you points. An idea based off of the leveling system used in MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).

It has occurred to me that much of what has been established as regular practice in e-learning could easily be tracked with such "myware" (spyware that consicoulsy tracks the data your computer generates for personal benefit) and later reported to the teacher in terms of stats and points.

Currently, PMOG only tracks the sites you frequent. Passively, you don't have to do anything to "play" but go about your normal online lives. However "quests" can be created so that you may actively choose to explore what others have. Further improvements to the game are in development, such as tracking how often/much you contribute to peer production sites like Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, etc...

Imagine being able to track a student's involvement in class by the number of "quests" they complete... quests that the educator, or better yet, the students create. These quests can be based on research, blogging, editing or gathering information, collaboration, or communication.

Also, a fictitious element has been added that divides players (by the data of course) into a certain archetype of internet personality. See pic at left for more info.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the way the system works (it doesn't actually track how often you blog, post picks, or edit wiki's at this time). But I see great potential here for:
  • engaging the student through competition in rank
  • identification of study habits (good or bad)
  • easily tracking what materials are most attractive vs. beneficial
  • and what Hall calls "Literacy for Personal Data Control" or actively tracking one's own digital paper trail
As the younger generation continues to dissolve the idea of "privacy", I see this type of software evolving into a 'paying' game, where players are gladly rewarded with currency for completing quests. Many online survey sites already pay (check out and even Google asks to track your web history while you are logged in. By the time we start actively using this in education, our students may already be "playing".

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