This year, we’re taking OpenStudy in a new direction; we are transforming from ‘studying social network’ to a true peer-learning MMO. First up in our arsenal, we’re introducing a new system to distinguish those who have excelled at helping their fellow OpenStudy peers. We want experts and excellent teachers to be recognized in the area of their expertise. We want to give distinguished OpenStudiers a variety of attractive options to show off both their braininess, work ethic, and commitment to their fellow students. We also want people in need of assistance to know who is the top users are for each field, ensuring that everyone can connect with a reputable source when they need serious study aid.
We hope you will enjoy these new changes,described more fully below by the game designer. As always, tell us what you think.
-Preetha Ram, CEO
First, We are turning our Study Groups into more complete environments. In a university you have all sorts of characters, ranging from the ‘cool’ professors who eat lunch with the students, the creative writing / poetry experts, the TAs who everyone loves more than the professor, the grad students who teach English 101, the sophomore math aficionado who helps seniors with their GMATs, and the students who are just struggling to get by. Each person adds some value to the ecosystem and each person often offers a specific area of style of help that will appeal to a specific type of student.
Often times, people will change their role and we see that every day in OpenStudy’s rooms. The student who desperately needed help will learn the material from a generous expert – and that same student will then become a teacher himself, helping 5 other people with similar issues. After a few months, that student who was asking all of the questions and needing help everyday will be the one dispensing help, often raking in 20 or 30 medals a day for his brilliant responses. We want this student to stand out and be able to broadcast to everyone that he excels as a peer helper. In the real world, your unique achievements make you stand out and make people gravitate towards you. Your reputation and appearance to others changes on a day to day basis as a result of what you have been doing. As OpenStudy evolves and becomes a peer-learning MMO, we will create the same environment. You will be able to have infinitely more control over how you market and portray yourself to others, while others will be able to tell a lot more information and make qualitative judgments about you from observing what you have chosen to do with these new options.
How do we plan on doing this, you may ask? With SmartCents and Titles!
When you answer questions inside of our Study Groups and receive a medal when a user feels you gave them a superb answer, you will now receive an equivalent number of SmartCents. 1 medal = 1 SmartCent. As you build up medals in a Study Group, you’ll be able to unlock several “Titles” and other goodies by trading in your SmartCents. You can then display your intellectual triumphs right by your name and on your profile. These titles, the first of which are up for grabs as we speak, are going to speak volumes about your expertise and achievements here on OpenStudy. Check them out!
People will be more inclined to listen to you and seek out your calculus help if you are “Owlfred Smith, Olympic Mathlete” than if you are just Owlfred Smith. But hold your horses; because these titles speak to your intelligence and character, you will have to prove yourself worthy first. You will need to qualify for these titles by gathering enough SmartCents to purchase the title, as well as enough medals in the relevant room. For example, to obtain a Biology title, you will have to have earned those medals in the Biology room.
We will offer three levels of titles. Let’s start with the Math room and take a look at the three titles in Math. The easiest is the green level, The Human Calculator. You can qualify for this title, if you have just 50 medals in Math. Once you have qualified, you buy the title with your SmartCents. Alternatively if you don’t want the title, you can hang onto your SmartCents and spend them elsewhere. When you unlock this title, 50 SmartCents will be subtracted from your account. The medals will stay with you. You will never lose your medals.
The next level, Olympic Mathlete, will require 500 medals in Math to qualify and 500 SmartCents to unlock. Last of all, the rarest acclaim, the Honorary Professor of Mathematics, is reserved for those who have racked up at least 3000 medals in that study group and 3000 SmartCents! We don’t expect many to achieve this exalted level of swag; this is for those who dream of unlimited e-respect and have the brainpower to back it up!
How do you get one of these for yourself? Go to your User Profile. You will now see a new Trophy Room icon. If you have earned medals in a StudyGroup, you will see the titles for that group there.
Click on Unlock Titles. You’ll see a list of Groups and titles, some of which you may be able to unlock! Go ahead and try it!
Your new titles will show up next to your name and when people visit your profile page, they will be able to see your Trophy Room, which will house all of your various distinctions.
And yes, some titles are hard to get, and some almost impossible. Show me what you got! This is, after all, only the beginning. New titles will be frequently added, meaning that if a room does not have titles released yet, your medals for that room will come in handy later.
Oh, and here’s a little secret. We are working on a way to allow top tier OpenStudy users to make money on the site (once again, we transforming from a studying social network to a full-blown MMO environment that reflects the real world) so I highly recommend the entrepreneurial OpenStudiers reading this to get a head start on accruing medals by answering questions and helping others!
——– by Nikhil Ram, Game Designer
About Nikhil. Nikhil is a hardened gamer, driving his parents to distraction since the age of 14. He claims to have aced his World History courses through Age of Empires and has applied strategies gleaned from World of Warcraft to college courses. He works at a Bay area games startup and is a free lance game designer. If you appreciate the wicked wit of the titles, you can tip your hat at this product of Emory English education.