Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Melinda Jacobs

1) When and how did you first hear about gamification?

My journey into this topic began in academia in 2008. At the time I was researching games, and how they can be used to change or affect behavior, when the behavior of customers of an eCommerce site caught my eye. This site was using artificial rules and structure – a concept at the very heart of games – in the design of the experience of purchasing, and making available, products on its site during special sale periods. What was so interesting was that this design appeared to be influencing customers to purchase more items than normal during this period, even items the customer was not inherently interested in. This sparked my interest in looking at how we can use similar approaches and considerations we find in game design, in more than just games, but also in business or non-fictional narratives. I continued and published my research, eventually founding an agency specializing in this approach. It wasn’t until a while later than I encountered the term, and was excited to see more mainstream acceptance of these principles and observations.

2) Why and when did you decide that you want to use gamification?

I strongly believe in the power of narratives and play to create behavior change. As I had already found games and engagement interesting in my academic research, it felt natural to take it one step forward and get into practical application and design!

3) What is the main takeaway someone will take after attending your session at Gamification Europe?

What I hope people will take away from my session is that “gamification” is not a set of individual pieces you can insert at will into the experience you are designing to “add” or “create” engagement. Great and engaging design is a BIG picture. It’s design that takes into consideration all elements in the experience, and the emotional, psychological, and behavioral effects these elements produce. It acknowledges that experiences are negotiations between the environment, narrative, and participant, and uses this dialogue to bring the participant as close to the narrative as possible.

4) What other session of Gamification Europe are you excited about and want to attend?

Honestly, I’m looking forward to the wide range of speakers presenting. I’m definitely going to attend as many as I can! What I love about events like this, is the combination of people from so many different backgrounds, industries, and experience levels. It’s a great opportunity to be exposed to new ideas, and new inspiration, and I’ve found many of my favorite talks at past conferences, were from people or topics I might not have known going in.

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