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.

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/melinda-jacobs/

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Ahmed Hossam

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

I heard about Gamification for the first time in a TEDXAUC speech in Cairo, back then I was a Services Developer in Hewlett-Packard, it gave us a quick introduction about the topic, and it was so interesting because I found that it’s similar to what I used to be applying back in 2006-2009. I was trying to enhance student’s engagement through a game like experience and story. Since 2011 I have been following The Gamification industry.

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

The first time I decided that I want to use Gamification was in Hewlett Packard for an internal employee engagement project, and it was an impressive case study, later on I joined a start up specialized in Education, the founder was highly interested in Gamification for learning, and together we created a lot of great case studies, and I decided to spread the word and knowledge about Gamification for the Middle East region.

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

The Main points in my session will be highlighting some key case studies from some of the projects I worked on either in fortune companies or startups, I will highlight to one of the most important lessons learned I experienced through my Gamification designs, and our latest innovation product HireHunt.com which is a gamified platform based on Gamification & Artificial Intelligence, how we integrated both to increase user engagement.

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

Well almost all of them, we have a lot of experience from the other Gamification Gurus, and I am sure it will be very useful to learn from their experience.

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/ahmed-hossam/

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Roberto Alvarez Bucholska

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

Must have been in early 2014, when looking at a project at IE Business School for an interactive learning material. One of the authors of the material explicitly mentioned gamification in the proposal. I quickly read a couple of things on the Internet about the term and became instantly excited about implementing gamification. The academic authors of the material we created knew quite a bit about it, so I got up to speed as quickly as possible within one of my responsibilities in the project designing the learning experience. Haven’t looked back since! Must thank the authors and what was then the Learning Innovation department at IE Business School for being in the right place at the right time.

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

I’d say I probably decided this when I was around 9 years old, sitting next to my NES reading the Nintendo Magazine. I kept on dreaming about how amazing it would be to have a job where you play at least half of the time and spend the other half writing about how amazing (or not) are the games you’ve been playing! Later on, a lot later on, I realized I’m way better at designing learning experiences than at gaming and that I can enjoy it as much if not even more. I’ve seen how gamification has a great potential to make education a place where students want to be, not where they need to be, and this can change the world for a lot better. I’d say these previous lines are the why part of this question.
When did I decide I wanted to use gamification itself, well this goes back to the previous answer, I’d have to say that the more I’ve learned of gamification, especially for education and learning, the more I want to do of it. It was love at first sight, but that’s grown and strengthened with time. I’ve had my ups and downs (which you can learn more about in my session), which makes or breaks your relationship with it. To this date, it has only grown stronger and has led me to create an interview-based podcast focused on gamification for education, called Professor Game.

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

My talk is titled “Death by badges: how superficial gamification turned my project into something else“. As you might guess, I’ll lead the attendees through a part of my journey in gamification and how the design of the experience can and should be iterated on, improved and tested. We’re human and have biases, these can be useful at times but also lead us to commit mistakes. The key in gamification is to understand that this can happen and how to come back from them with the support of a team. We all start somewhere, the question is what can we do to improve ourselves and this nascent industry to make the world a place with engaged students, employees and humans.

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

Well, the first thing I must say is that the only thing I’m not happy about this conference is that I’ll have to go to some talks and not others! Haha, the thing is that all the talks look marvelous and picking one over another is going to be a hard job, but will surely be compensated by the great quality of speakers and talks we will get. I think it was Vasilis that commented that he really looks forward to all the sessions, I do as well. I hope we get recordings so we can listen to those we missed!
Having said this, I must also say that storytelling is something I’m currently curious about, love to admire and deeply believe in its power to change behavior, even history itself. A good, compelling story that is told well can do marvels for engagement and behavior change. I know many of the sessions are talking about storytelling, hero’s journey and related. If forced to pick one session I might say after a glance at the roster that Jeff Gomez‘ seems to be very appealing in this sense.

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Vasilis Gkogkidis

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

I first heard about gamification in 2016 when I was doing my masters at the University of Brighton. It was a masters on Business Management and for the last semester we had to choose two electives from a list of different courses. I chose to do “Gamification for business”, an elective run by Pete Jenkins. Pete was really good at selling me the course and of course that proved to be one of the best decisions of my professional life! It was a great course that turned into a full-time job in the gamification industry. Here I am organising this conference and travelling the world speaking about gamification.

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

I think that some of the ideas of what we call gamification I was already interested in but as sparse design elements that I saw as playful on buildings or public spaces, websites etc. I think the moment of revelation was when during the first session of the “Gamification for business” elective Pete showed us the Piano Stairs video. That’s when I said, ok this makes so much sense, this is right. When we got to the assignment part of the course I designed a gamified experience for super markets which also made a lot of sense to me. Of course, more knowledge came after I started working for Pete full time.

I am not sure I can explain the why. I think it’s something in me that always thought the world is a little more serious than it should and for no good reason. If I wear a Batman t-shirt while teaching at a university does that make a worse teacher than someone who is more “properly” dressed while teaching? I always thought that the world needs a bit more fun and playfulness.

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

Our session with Sabrina Bruehwiler will be a workshop that we have delivered a couple of times before in different parts of the world and one of the takeaways is always the process, the steps that we suggest people take when designing a gamification project and of course new ideas. They get to collaborate, meet people and work on something that will give them more insight on the process and hopefully inspire them to go back home and start designing their own projects to solve problems.

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

All of them! If anyone knows how I can do that please let me know! We have designed this schedule very carefully and we know all the speakers are good and will bring something valuable to the conversation. This is what we do too, speaking and training people in gamification so I honestly thing there is something to be learned from every session.

If I have to pick something though, I will say I want to see Jeff Gomez speak as storytelling is something I am very interested in and Pete told me Jeff is an excellent speaker. I am also very excited for Sabrina’s talk on diversity and the panel that will follow that presentation!

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/vasilis-gkogkidis/

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Andrzej Marczewski

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

Gamification was not a term I had heard officially until around 2011. I was blogging about social media, writing about games and talking to lots of people about innovation. At some point someone said that I would probably be really interested in this thing called gamification. A few weeks later I met Gabe Zichermann at a talk and the rest is history!

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

Well, that’s a two-part story! After I discovered what gamification actually was, I realised two things. One, I wanted to get properly involved in it. The second, was that I had been using game thinking and the like in my solution design since I first started working in 2000 – if not before! Games have always been a huge part of my life. In fact, I’d say they were in my DNA and had always informed how I approached things! I believed that games were incredibly powerful and that the lessons we could learn from them were important, even if I didn’t quite understand how.

Once I knew that there was a burgeoning industry that was focused around these ways of thinking and solution building, I was determined to be part of it. I started to research, to talk to the existing experts, speak about, write about it and to get involved in every way I could. Eventually, I was able to get involved in projects in my own time and at work. That finally lead (after a few years) to me working in the industry full time. I guess I just wanted to help prove that games could help solve problems big and small!

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

I hope to take people on a journey with me through things that I have experienced and what I have learned along the way. With luck, they will be able to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

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

I am very excited to hear Marigo talk, I absolutely love her research and approach to gamification. I also always look forward to hearing An speak. To be honest, I am just excited to see people that I consider friends and family in what is a small, close knit industry. It is always interesting, educational and fun 😊

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/andrzej-marczewski/

 

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Adam Pusztai

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

I think I first came across with gamification in a blog post around 2010-2011. I wasn’t really into it, because we didn’t have any projects that we could use it for (such a bad thought as I see it now), and in Hungary it was – and still is – a rarely known area.

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

In the last few years I founded more knowledge organizations like a local Toastmasters club, a TEDx event, and a training company with 4 of my friends. The members of these groups love to learn and teach as well, and partly because of these desires many people join us. However I was afraid many of the members will drop out later. I started to search ways for better engagement and I quickly turned my attention to gamification.

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

I will bring a small case study from home. I will argue about the necessity of fun in education for students AND for teachers as well, and how we could do that with zero budget.

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

I’m a big fan of the Octalysis framework, so Joris Beerda’s talk is a must-hear one. Because of the educational focus, I’m really curious about Sylvester Arnab’s talk as well, but I’m planning to learn as much ideas during the conference as I can.

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/adam-pusztai/

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Michiel van Eunen

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

In 2011 I saw Jane McGonigal’s TED talk ‘Gaming can make a better world’ for the first time. As a games researcher and game designer she made a great case showing how ‘reality is broken’, pointing out the big (and rapidly growing) gap between engagement & motivation we experience in games versus motivation and engagement in real life (work, education): We can improve ‘life’ by applying ‘ingredients from games’ to it.

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

The first project where I applied game elements to trigger desired behaviour, boost engagement and results was ‘The Hunt’, an ARG that I played with a retail chain of 1000 employees. That was back in 2003. I saw that what we were using so far – regular skill-based training for the retail staff – did not have a big impact. Instead I proposed to play a stealthy game with the whole company for 5 weeks. Fortunately, one of our best clients dared to take the risk of letting me carry out this crazy idea, and it became a great success.
In 2003 I hadn’t heard of the term ‘gamification’. When I first did in 2011, I realised that it was what I had been doing since 2003. I actually made it my business.

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

Well, that’s not up to me 😊. I surely hope they will have had a nice experience (in the ‘Escape Room’), understand why I design Escape Rooms for companies & what the effects are and inspire them to play more in their own organisation.

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

I hope I will be able to attend all sessions, but I’m really looking forward to talks that reflect on how gamification was applied, where and how it failed, and what we can learn from that.

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/michiel-van-eunen/

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Michael Wu

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

Unlike most gamification practitioners, my background was in big data, statistics, and machine learning. I was doing data science work during my graduate studies before data scientists existed. I basically stumble upon gamification accidentally through my data analysis.

Most of the data science I do focus on human behaviors because that is a subject that has always fascinated me. I want to analyze social media data to understand human behavior, and understand them well enough so I can build models to predict their behaviors. However, we often see a divergence between the predicted behavior trajectories and the desirable ones.

That is when I asked myself a question, “if we know certain users’ behaviors are going to diverge from the ideal behaviour trajectory, can we nudge them back to the right track?” That is when I started to research about technologies that influences behaviors and drives behavior changes. And that is when I learned about persuasive technologies in 2009 and gamification in 2010.

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

I don’t think I ever get to decide to use gamification. When I join Lithium in 2008, the Lithium community platform was already filled with game elements (e.g. points, leaderboards, ranks, etc). However, gamification wasn’t even a word back in 2008. This was no surprise, because Lithium was founded in 2001 by a group of pro gamers who intuitively knows the game elements, tactics, and strategies that can drive engagement and increase the stickiness of our community platform for the end users.

I simply learned about these game elements, tactics and strategy, etc. and analysed their efficacy through my data science work. And it wasn’t until late 2009 and early 2010 that I found out that they were really just some forms of gamification. So I never actually decided that I want to use gamification. It was already used in Lithium’s community platform.

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

The theoretical concept of gamification is very simple. It is almost too simple. Anyone, even those without any gaming, design, or behaviour science background, could easily make sense of this subject and understand why and how gamification works theoretically. However, implementing gamification in the real world is very complex. Even Gartner (who has identified gamification as an emerging technology in their 2011 Hype Cycle Report) states that 80% of the gamification application will fail.

The complexity of gamification arises from the fact that we are dealing with human being with very different motivation, behavior history and psychological background. Moreover, human beings learn, adapt and change, so a strategy that once work, may no longer work anymore. So there are many situations where the theory and practice of gamification diverge.

The main takeaways for the attendees of my session will be the knowledge to distinguish the pretty theory of gamification from it practice, which is typically much messier. The attendees will also get a set of gamification success tenets with hands on experiences that could guide them towards successful implementation of the theory in this ever-changing world.

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

As with any emerging fields that matured over time, people become more and more specialized. This is starting to happen with gamification. Although gamification is just one word, it’s actually many different specialized discipline.

For example, gamification that drive engagement with a marketing campaign may be very different from gamification that drives loyalty to a brand or a company. Likewise, internal gamification for employees who need to both compete and collaborate may use very different tactics from external gamification for customers who may never ever meet each other. Gamification that drive culture change that need to last a long time will again be very different from those that drives short term changes.

Gamification Europe has so many experts from so many different domains of gamification that I am super excited to learn from them. Since my background is so different from most of the gamification practitioners, I really wish I can attend all the sessions and hear everyone’s unique perspective and learn about the nuance of implementing gamification in their specialized domain.

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/dr-michael-wu/

 

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Marigo Raftopoulos

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

I was already working with game based learning, serious games and playful design in my strategy work and starting blogging about it in 2008. I was looking into the designs of social games when I came across Bret Terrill’s coverage of the Social Gaming Summit in that same year, when he had mentioned his ideas on “gameification” (as it was then spelt).

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

Gamification appealed to me for two reasons. The first was because it had low barriers to entry – all the game based strategies that preceded gamification had very high entry cost barriers. The second reason is that gamification had come closer to the “game thinking” aspect of games that was of particular interest to me from a strategic point of view. If you think about corporate systems in game design terms you can redesign systems inside out rather than just tinker on the surface and not produce any real or systemic change. This came close to my systems thinking work (systems thinking has been using business games and management simulators for a long time) the only difference was that gamification was using a more accessible language.

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

We need to start introducing rigour to the three key elements of a successful gamification project – design, technology and management – for it to be an effective tool for social, business and economic change.

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

I don’t have favourites as there are important things we can learn from everyone – we each have a key piece of the gamification puzzle!

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/dr-marigo-raftopoulos/

Interview with Gamification Europe Speaker Sabrina Bruehwiler

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

I studied Scientific Visualisation as my first degree and was involved with making STEM related topics visually more engaging and easier to understand, the way we did things was very traditional though and I was on a mission to make my designs more “immersive” and interactive. I played around with a lot of different mediums from Oil to Photography and Digital Design, but something was still missing. It was until travelling to South Africa to work in an advertising agency until I got in touch with Web Design and UX/UI. I was fascinated about the strategies around motivating people to do a desired action by changing the visual design. I loved being able to not just tell my stories but to make people interact with them. It always comes back to the best invention ever – Choose Your Own Adventure Books, where you make the decisions around how the story develops – but it was until starting to code that I realised the potential of it. After I started to code, a whole new world opened up to me. Suddenly started started to make more sense – people, technology, art, everything was combined. But there was still one piece missing, and it had more to do with my childhood adventures than I would have thought. The first company I worked for as a Web Designer was a learning technology startup in Cape Town and I mainly worked on the UI side of the project. At one point, I was really frustrated about my work because I felt that everything looked prettier but I had one big problem – It wasn’t fun! That was the time when I started researching around best practices in UX and how to get from easy to use to fun. It was like a revelation when I came across the term “Gamification”… This was the last missing puzzle piece I was searching for so long.

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

When I first came across the term Gamification, I knew that I was destined to use it in my work… No, joke aside. I unconsciously already used Gamification before I even knew what it was, so as soon as I discovered the term and did some research, I knew this was what I wanted to do for living. I started feeding everything related to Gamification that was around at that time, and I never stopped. Highly driven by Core Drive 1 – Epic Meaning and Calling, I want to make people’s lives more exciting and FUN, I want to make the world a better place using Gamification. My goal is to see people getting  up in the morning with a sense of excitement instead of anxiety, looking forward for the next challenge.

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

While my workshop with Vasilis Gkogkidis will be a hands on ideation and prototyping workshop, my talk about Designing for Superwomen, will transfer you into the deep space of our unconscious mind. I want to open an honest and real discussion related to Gender and Diversity in Gamification and how it impacts our organisations. We will explore how to empower females in our designs and its relevance in improving our products and experiences by analysing it through the Octalysis Lens.

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

I am very excited to see my colleague Joris Beerda’s talk about how to empower sales teams with Octalysis Gamification. His in depth knowledge and experience on Sales in Gamification improved my overall understanding of Motivation and Behaviour and made me a more confident speaker and consultant.

I’m also looking forward to attend Melinda Jacobs’ and Jeff Gomez’ talk about narratives, especially because storytelling is one of my favourite topics to discuss and dive into when designing Experiences. It can never get old…

Speaker profile: https://gamification-europe.com/speaker/sabrina-bruehwiler/