Like most Gen-Y’ers, I refuse to learn anything unless you present it to me in the form of a game and/or allow me to brag about my mad skillz on my Facebook wall. For example, Guitar Hero’s initiative to teach frat boys how to push buttons in time with Van Halen songs was a smashing success—and now, Office Labs decided to stick with this winning formula and bring the fun factor of following on-screen directions to the already riveting world of Microsoft Office. You heard me: this is Ribbon Hero.
Ribbon Hero is a free add-on for Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 that teaches you how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote like a pro. After installing Ribbon Hero, the Ribbon Hero button will appear in the ribbon of Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote and keep track of your score.
You get “Quick Points” for doing basic stuff, like copying and pasting, using the format painter or spell checking. But you can really rack up the points by completing challenges. Click the Ribbon Hero button to see your score and achievements and to take on challenges.
In terms of difficulty, challenges range from the pedestrian (like increasing the font size) to hardcore (adding a linear trend line to a bar graph). In order to keep you from getting rusty, Ribbon Hero rewards you additional points for coming back and completing challenges on a later date.
As sarcastic as I may have sounded in the opening paragraph, I really do think this is a pretty groovy way to learn the basic and advanced features of Microsoft Office. It sure beats the hell out of Clippy, may he rest in peace. The “gameplay” is simple and gratifying. When you select a challenge, it lays it out for you in a template with a few simple instructions. As you complete the tasks successfully, Ribbon Hero releases balloons and rings a bell in a celebration of your well-earned points that rivals my last three consecutive New Year’s Eves in terms of jubilation and fulfillment. If you get stumped, you can ask for a hint or read the relevant help article.
But the best, and possibly most hilarious, part of Ribbon Hero is that it integrates right into Facebook. That’s right, you can post your glorious achievements to your Facebook wall, check the leaderboard among your networks and compete with individual friends. Personally, I plan on pumping up my score to the max and then lording it over all those jerks from high school who used to mock me for not knowing how to add drop caps in Word. And you better believe that my Ribbon Hero high score is going to be featured prominently on my resume.
Do you doubt my supremacy as a Ribbon Hero master? Do you think you can take me and my knowledge of how to link to a paragraph in OneNote and auto-fit a table in Word? Bring it on, punk. I’m ready!