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Like it or not, we humans are creatures of habit and familiarity frequently wins out over efficiency. At Office Labs, there’s a group of researchers committed to challenging the status quo and looking for better ways to stay productive. What’s especially great about this is how seriously they take the spirit of experimentation – and play.
Just over a year ago, Office Labs released its first casual game, Ribbon Hero, which was designed to teach people about some of the less obvious features in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Today, Office Labs continued that effort with the launch of Ribbon Hero 2. In the second installment, players help the much-maligned Clippy return home while discovering new features in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. You can earn points for trying new features, advance to the next level and challenge friends and co-workers to find out who has mastered their desktop productivity tools.
This notion of turning the learning process into a game is the equally maligned "gamification" (euggh) and it’s based on the premise that users are more likely to take part in the learning process and retain what they have learned when it’s couched in terms of a game or competition. Studies have shown it works and the response for the initial version of the game was quite positive. Office Labs expects the same to hold true with Ribbon Hero 2....and for what it’s worth, I think Clippy may have finally found his niche too.
[update] be sure to check out Doug Thomas's coverage and video at Office Casual