Hi! I’m Jennifer Michelstein, a Program Manager and casual games enthusiast in Office Labs. My current project is Ribbon Hero, which works on Vista and Windows 7, and in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word 2007 and 2010.
I think that Office has a lot of powerful features that can save users a lot of time and help them do some really cool things. When I meet Office users, I often hear them say things like, “I want to be more productive, but I don’t want to take the time to learn new features.” Then, I’ll watch them do something in 10 steps that could really take just 1 or 2. I love watching people’s reactions when I point out a quicker way of doing things. People often react by saying “Wow! I had no idea I could do that,” and that’s exactly where the Ribbon Hero idea came from.
Games for learning is an increasingly popular field that’s quickly gaining ground. When we started this project, we wondered if there was a place for games in Office. We set out to understand whether elements of game play (things like scoring points, competing with friends, and earning achievements) could motivate people to explore more of the app, learn new features, and ultimately become more productive. Could we do it in a way that fit well into the regular Office workflow, without being too much of a distraction? By playing Ribbon Hero, would people feel like they’d increased their Office skill level?
Ribbon Hero watches what features you do and don’t use, and then it recommends challenges for you to play, to hopefully expose you to new features. The first time you complete a challenge, you’ll earn points. But then we want you to use those same features in the app (on another day) to prove you’ve mastered those features! You can max out a feature by using it twice, on two separate days – and only one of those times can you get points from playing the challenge.
After you’ve connected with Facebook, Ribbon Hero will also let you compare your score to the average score of all of your friends, the average score of all Ribbon Hero users, and the average score in your primary network. Better catch up and get ahead of the curve!
When you hit various milestones, Ribbon Hero will ask you if you want to publish those milestones to your newsfeed. This happens every 100 points you earn per app, every time you get a perfect score in one of the categories, and when you get a perfect score overall. There is one limitation of the application for Office 2007 users: you can't get a perfect score, because there are new features on Office 2010 where you can earn more points. To get that perfect score, you can try out the Office 2010 beta, which is available as a free download here.