The real world is a mess. Is it any wonder that games offering a cause-and-effect relationship between tasks and achievement are popular? (Washington, D.C., June 10, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of a request from Delaware to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow Delaware to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Delaware’s SNAP participation is more than 119,000 individuals, more than 58,000 households, and totals $178 million annually in federal benefits. Wall Street Reporter, the trusted name in financial news since 1843, has published reports on the latest from leaders at Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM), Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK), Teladoc Health, Inc (TDOC) and NexTech AR Solutions (NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR). Wall Street Reporter highlights tech
Tom Nook ropes you into taking out a loan on an expansion for your home. You give in. You love new things. He (politely) demands that you help find materials for the community’s new shop. Sure, why not? While you’re having an afternoon chat, he casually mentions that he needs you to build a bridge. You oblige. Every. Single. Time.
In late 2019, The Atlantic published a piece titled Don’t Play the Goose Game, by game designer and critic Ian Bogost. Discussing “Untitled Goose Game’s” success as a meme, Bogost pessimistically concluded that the trendy indie title found favor online because partaking in the meme culture around the game was genuinely more fun than actually playing it. The game itself, despite its goofy trappings and casual appeal, shared a characteristic with all games: It was work. “The job of a goose turns out to be the same as the job of a person: to carry out a set of tasks, recorded for you on a to-do list, by any means possible,” wrote Bogost. “Whether made from guns or geese, games will always be imbricated with work, stuck in a celebration or a burlesque of labor.”
And yet, even those players who acknowledge games’ work-like attributes excitedly boot up titles like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” every day, submitting to the whims of the cute, bossy raccoon and other in-game avatars that achieve the same purpose. Life and “work and school are not often designed to be as maximally motivating as games,” says Jamie Madigan, a psychology Ph.D. and author of the upcoming book “The Engagement Game: Why Your Workplace Culture Should Look More Like a Video Game.” Where real-life work fails — lack of timely feedback, insurmountable challenge and interpersonal conflict — games shine.
At its extreme, work in games is tedious and a grind. But done well, task-oriented gameplay satisfies core human desires. The reason players gravitate toward virtual assignments (sometimes self-imposed) is because they each offer some things not readily available in the real world: proficiency, a sense of control, a feeling of fairness and a means to escape.
Opportunities for agency
The real world is a mess. For many, and younger generations especially, the recurring motifs of 21st century living are “bull—- jobs” (according to writer and anthropologist David Graeber) and crushing debt. Wages have stagnated for the vast majority of workers. Homeownership — the stereotype of the verdant lawn and white picket fence — is now widely acknowledged to be an unattainable goal. In fact, most Americans who rent don’t view saving for a home as a top priority. Neat and tidy task-oriented gameplay is likely to be incredibly appealing to the 30-something trawling Zillow listings for a peek at what-could-never-be because it satiates a need for control.
So is it any wonder that clear progression and a cause-and-effect relationship between tasks and achievement are popular? Task-oriented gameplay enables players to become great at something. Madigan explains that gameplay that requires work from the player delivers a sense of progression and mastery. There’s an opportunity to improve and hone your skills in ways that are often difficult to replicate in the real world. At its core, task-based gameplay turns the ability to progress into something wholly possible — and even easy.
It’s also seldom unjust. Real life is rife with injustices, from nepotism in the workplace to racial inequities to the gender wage gap (to name but a few). But unlike bureaucratic entities and hierarchical corporate structures, game developers and designers toil to deliver accessible, pleasant virtual experiences that are, with perhaps a few exceptions, fair. There are rules, consequences, and rewards — but they’re usually not arbitrary or ambiguous. In this context, players can iterate on their work and improve, pursuant to rules and systems that are often engineered to tilt the board in their favor.
In 2017, Jennifer Scheurle, a lead game designer at ArenaNet, solicited examples from other developers of mechanics that helped the player in unseen ways. Examples included supposedly random figures being only semi-random in ways that leaned in favor of players, and health bars that become more forgiving as they shrank. Zach Gage, an indie developer and the creator of Really Bad Chess, a game that plays like chess, but with the starting positions of the pieces randomized at the top of the match, explained that players would only ever receive a limited number of pawns; there was no such cap on the opposing AI. “Playing with tons of pawns is boring, but against is neat,” wrote Gage.
Game designers, says Scheurle, work to “create opportunities for players to feel agency in games.”
Lasse Liljedahl, the CEO and game director at Iceflake Studios, developed “Surviving the Aftermath.” The game, currently in early access, gives players the monumental task of ensuring humanity’s survival. Liljedahl points out in an email to The Post that in many games “failing to accomplish a task rarely leads to a ‘game over’ but rather, leads to more challenges for you to overcome.” It’s a welcome reprieve from real life, where setbacks — debt, injury, illness — can be wholly life-altering.
The point of play
“Work” conjures up a lot of disparate images and ideas without a concrete definition — “right to work,” menial labor, parents working out back in the garden or in the shed — and Bogost’s comparison between the mischievous goose and the 9-to-5 ran afoul for some readers. “Games are work” is not necessarily an idea with broad purchase. One person’s “work” is another’s “play.” Ask someone playing a battle royale how their work is going and you’re likely to get a confused response, at best. Is it “work” to unlock a 100-tier battlepass full of rewards with hours of gameplay?
A crucial distinction between work and play, and one of the reasons they may at times look identical despite achieving drastically different results, is the motivation driving the action. “Two people might be doing the same thing — maybe pounding nails with a hammer — and one might be playing while the other is not,” wrote psychologist Peter Gray in a Psychology Today article titled Evolutionary Functions of Play.
In an interview with the Journal of Play, Gray pointed to Karl Groos, a German philosopher and the author of “The Play of Man,” as an important theorist on the subject of play. “Play, according to Groos, is essentially an instinct to practice other instincts,” said Gray. “Hunter-gatherer children play at hunting, tracking, digging up tubers, building huts, and the like; children in farming cultures play at planting, harvesting, and tending animals; children in industrial cultures play at mechanics; and (going beyond Groos’s time) children in our culture today play at computers.” Today, absent a chance to meaningfully practice skills and attain advancement at a place of employment, playing work fills that role.
Tyler Wood, a museum guide at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal and a gamer, sees task-oriented gameplay as an opportunity to feel proficient, and pursue challenging yet achievable tasks. “As much as I love my job,” says Wood, “there are days where I think, ‘Oh, I’m going to go home and I’m going to add that third floor and get the cardiology unit [in the game “Project Hospital”] going.’ And I think that will be … such an accomplishment.”
The least in-control person in the room
For some, task-based gameplay also offers up a comfortable, meditative escape from the difficulties of reality. There are no life-size curveballs thrown a player’s way. Task-oriented games are comforting because they’re simpler and less demanding than the real world. Scheurle suggests that “knowing what to expect and what kind of stimuli you get out of a certain game that you play for the next hour or two or longer, it’s cozy and safe and comfortable.” The sense of comfort gleaned from task-oriented gameplay is notably appealing at a moment when covid-19 is dominating the news.
“One of the things that bothers me in life is when unexpected things happen,” says Wood. “There’s something nice about a world where the rules and confines are knowable.”
“I’ve spent most of my adult life being a freelance artist and every day I was the least in-control person in the room,” says Andrew Craig, an Image Specialist at RED Digital Cinema. “My schedule was always dictated by the needs of clients who all had their own lives and agendas driving them and so you never quite know what you’re stepping into. A game with clearly defined tasks and goals gives me a sense of control that I don’t get in my day-to-day.” Craig likens the feeling of fulfilling a game’s objectives to sensation of completing a household chore, like cleaning the kitchen.
Think for a moment about all the games you’ve played across your lifetime. Each one likely involves work of some kind. Whether it’s work that you yourself invented — collecting for the sake of collecting — or something that the game explicitly asked you to do — find object X to level up — those assignments, big and small, are appealing because they satisfy profound human needs. Feelings of accomplishment by way of achievable mastery. Fairness, which is often elusive in reality. A sense of control, because what are we without some measure of free will? And finally safety and security in the form of a digital refuge.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer based in Montreal. She is perennially curious about the impact games have on people and how they interact with and within virtual worlds. Follow her on Twitter at @seestephrunmtl.
Author: By Steph Coelho
Balancing Online Study with Work and Other Commitments – Charlie
When you begin your studies online, there are many factors that change the way in which you structure your day, week and year. Online education is flexible and there is always help available. One of the more difficult aspects about studying online is balancing these studies with work and other commitments. These other commitments could be family time, sporting activities, or even time for yourself like that meditation session in the morning.
Your work can be structured or unstructured and this can be the same with your other commitments. The balancing of these tasks can come natural to some students’ whilst it can be quite the challenge for others. Here are some tips you can use that will help identify ways for you to balance your online study with work and other commitments.
The first step is to identify what time you have available.
By doing this you will be able to see when you can slot in your other activities throughout the day. This can help you relax and stay on top of your studies. By identifying your current demands you will be able to utilise the time you have more efficiently. When this has been established, you can now draw up a timetable and slot in all the hours that you are occupied and identify the time that you have as ‘free’ time. This free time will let you see when you can utilise it for studying and other activities.
As online students you are extremely lucky for the flexibility that comes along with this style of education.
The only downfall is that it can impact your way of balancing online study with work and other commitments. There is also the possibility that procrastination might arise. Once you have all your tasks organised into a set routine, your next objective is to overcome any potential pitfalls. How do you do this? To avoid procrastination always break down study into smaller manageable sections.
Once this is down pat and is part of your routine, you will then be able to increase the time you spend on your studying sessions. Furthermore, study in a location where you don’t have any distracts nearby. So avoid studying in front of the tv if you are in the middle of an exciting tv series. Chances are there won’t be much studying done.
Lastly, the number one thing to avoid is social media. It is a huge time killer when you are trying to study and makes studying seem a lot longer than it would be otherwise.
Balancing your time will be difficult at first but once you start your routine you will eventually feel more relaxed and energetic when it comes to balancing online study with your other commitments. If you do need additional academic help, Charles Sturt University is here to help, check out Academic Skills here.
Good luck balancing your time!
Author: Author: Sarah Littlechild
USDA Approves Delaware to Accept SNAP Benefits Online
(Washington, D.C., June 10, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced approval of a request from Delaware to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow Delaware to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Delaware’s SNAP participation is more than 119,000 individuals, more than 58,000 households, and totals $178 million annually in federal benefits. This announcement further demonstrates President Trump’s whole of America approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring those affected are fed.
SNAP online purchasing is currently operational in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The authorized retailers working with all states are Amazon and Walmart. TheFreshGrocer is working with New Jersey and Pennsylvania; ShopRite is working with Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; and Wrights Market is working with Alabama. USDA previously announced New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Wyoming would also be implementing online purchasing in the near future. With these states, more than 90% of all households receiving SNAP will have access to online purchasing.
Multiple stakeholders – notably, state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers that wish to participate – must work together to implement online purchasing using SNAP benefits. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states that want to operate online purchasing and provided guidance to interested retailers, which is available online.
USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to all interested stakeholders to ensure implementation plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted to avoid compromising the state’s entire benefit system. Each state, EBT processor, and retailer presents their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.
Until States are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends utilizing other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the growing concerns around social distancing.
During these challenging times, FNS is working hand-in-hand with state program leadership, to provide support and guidance to adapt to the challenges of this public health emergency. FNS is granting states significant program flexibilities and contingencies to best serve program participants across our 15 nutrition assistance programs. For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
Post-COVID Mega Trends: CEO’s of ZM, TDOC, WORK, NEXCF Discuss Future of Virtual Meetings, Healthcare, and Remote Work
NEW YORK, June 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wall Street Reporter, the trusted name in financial news since 1843, has published reports on the latest from leaders at Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM), Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK), Teladoc Health, Inc (TDOC) and NexTech AR Solutions (NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR).
While coronavirus will fade – “the genie has left the bottle” and tech mega trends are here to stay. Wall Street Reporter highlights tech leaders’ recent comments and outlook for the New “Virtual” Paradigm which will shape the next decade’s post-COVID crisis.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (ZM) CEO Eric Yuan: “Video is the New Voice”
On a recent earnings call, Zoom Video CEO Eric Yuan sees a bright future in video, stating: “Video is the new voice…The way for us to work, live and play is completely changed.”
“We had an approximately twentyfold increase in our metric of annualized meeting minutes run rate, which jumped from 100 billion at the end of January 2020 to over 2 trillion meeting minutes based on April 2020’s run rate…”
Zoom Video conference call highlights available at:
NexTech AR Solutions (NEXCF) CEO Evan Gappelberg: “NEXCF’s Virtual conferences, E-commerce, AR ad network are positioned to thrive in new post-COVID paradigm”
In a recent presentation at Wall Street Reporter’s “NEXT SUPER STOCK” investor conference, CEO Evan Gappleberg gave a live demo of the company’s newly acquired InfernoAR virtual meeting technology and its accelerating revenue growth with global blue chip clients including Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Dell Computer, and other global brands.
“Cancellation of trade shows (and uncertainty about future large gatherings) have left businesses scrambling for platforms like InfernoAR. The difference between us and everybody else (like Zoom) is that we’re a virtual events platform plus AR. Nobody else has AR built into their platform, and it gives us a very unique advantage when it comes to winning new business.”
“There is an enormous amount of money flowing into augmented reality and virtual conferences… we are just a month into our new business and we are landing major contracts, and we expect to see many millions of dollars in new contracts signed over the next 12 months.”
CEO Evan Gappelberg showcased examples of how government agencies and universities using InfernoAR’s augmented reality/virtual meeting technology, and the rapidly accelerating pipeline of new business and revenues expected over the next 12 months.
NexTech AR Solutions (NEXCF) (CSE:NTAR) is one of the most talked-about companies in the emerging $120 billion Augmented Reality market. In this video presentation, CEO Evan Gappelberg updates investors on the company’s rapidly growing revenues, and multiple AR initiatives which target multi-billion dollar market opportunities, including:
— Newly launched 3D ad network
— “V-commerce” technology for bricks and mortar retailers
— AR capture app for smart phones.
— ARitize(TM) For eCommerce: “Try it on” technology for online apparel, 3D and 360-degree product views, and ‘one click buy’.
— Record revenue growth
— And more
The video presentation is available for free access at:
Teladoc Health, Inc (TDOC) CEO Jason Gorevic: “Virtual healthcare is becoming mainstream.”
“Requests from new potential clients are increasing as the outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted the value of access to a comprehensive virtual healthcare solution. During the first quarter alone, we onboarded over 6 million new paid members in the U.S. across government and commercial populations.”
“This new user growth will have a lasting effect on utilization, since member satisfaction levels are extremely strong and our experience shows that when members use our service once they are much more likely to use it again….This significant increase in activation is particularly important to us as it feeds into the flywheel dynamic that is at the core of our member engagement efforts. Once an individual actively registers with us, it creates opportunities for our engagement team to reach that member and build a relationship. These engagement opportunities serve as the growth engine that drives visit growth and utilization within our populations.”
“We expect volumes to settle in the second half of the year at a permanently higher level of utilization than pre-COVID levels as we benefit from increased consumer awareness and the impact of our engagement engine applied to newly activated and onboarded members.”
Slack Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: WORK) CEO Stewart Butterfield: “Impact of COVID is of generational magnitude – remote work will be much bigger part of the working world moving forward.”
“The all at once shift to work from home concentrated multiple quarters of Slack adoption into a few weeks. Tens of thousands of new organizations and millions of new users adopted Slack, most of them trying Slack for the first time on our free plan.”
“As I talk to other CEOs, talk to our customers, review survey data and just follow the news, it’s clear to me that remote work will be a much bigger part of the working world moving forward. Business leaders everywhere are beginning to realize the potential, financial, talent and employee well-being benefits of offering a more fluid work environment, lending offices and remote work.”
“Q1 was historic in its impact, both for Slack and for the world. We believe very strongly the impacts that the COVID crisis will have on the way we work are of generational magnitude and are just beginning to be felt. It’s too soon to understand the impact with any precision, but it reinforces our conviction around this business and our long-term trajectory.”
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