By Kira Downer / December 10, 2018

​Gamification Europe 2018 in Review

With Gamification Europe now over we thought it would be best to assemble ​a review of the event by one of the organisers. ​Speakers have supplied their slides, so you will find each presentation ​alongside the mini-review. Then, we've got some major thank-yous to hand out and finally you'll get a reflection peice from the author summing up an organisers perspective of the event.

But first we​'ve got some pretty awesome numbers we'd like to share with you from the event...

​◦ 184 attendees
◦ 34 countries
◦25% of attendees native to the Netherlands
​◦18 speakers
◦6 sponsors
◦2 discussion panels
◦all over 2 days...

​Monday 26th November

Marigo Raftopoulos

The warning signs...

  • ​Innovators and early adopters are dropping gamification
  • Satisfactions levels are declining
  • ​​Views are shifting, is 'gamification' just a buzzword that now has negative connotations after many companies have experiecned failure.

​Why this is the case...

  • Lack of leadership support
  • Gaification is ​not enough ​for those interested in the market so solve a business issue, in​​​vestment is being placed elsewhere e.g. UX and AI
  • ​Few to no jobs available as a 'Gamification Designer'

​Call to action:

  • Place greater emphasis on strategic gamification rather than ​tactical
  • ​Get serious and use validated research​​​
  • 'The map is not the territory': gamification exists within the real world but it is a frame of reference for when designing


​What gamification can learn from successful games:

  • ​It's difficult to design a successful game
  • The company behind Angry Birds made ​51 ​games before the massive success that was Angry Birds​​​
  • ​​By applying successful game design practice, we can make gamification design better

​Which design practices are we borrowing?

  • Itarive design - changes made on results of latest playtest
  • Prototyping - something made to answer specific questions
  • Playtesting -  testing new games for flaws/bugs before bringing to market


  • ​Know what questions you want answered by the prototype: ​do the players understand the leaderboards?  is it fun to play?
  • Create the quickest prototype that can answer your questions, this can be paper with rudimentary items
  • Don't be afraid to scrap ideas when they don't work

​An Coppens

​What to consider before your playtest:

  • Know your player (gender, age etc)
  • ​Collaborative vs competitive gameplay
  • ​Your inspiration


  • ​Does the game work?
  • Is it fit for purpose?
  • Is it balanced
  • Is it fun to play?

​Why playtesting is so important:

  • ​Shows you how quickly the players pick up the rules and if they pick it up quickly
  • Shows you which rules are useless and need to be removed
  • Enables you to talk about the game more confidently to your client since you've seen how different scenarios play out

​Melinda Jacobs

​Why UX is an essestial feature of good gamification design:

  • ​​Designing gamification accessibly can make it easier for the users to pick up
  • ​​Especially if it is designed based on theusers needs
  • ​​Designing gamification in a similar style to many games, with strong narrative can make gamification much more accessible

​Why stories can empower gamification:

  • ​Listening to stories means the user will relate the stories to the things they've experienced themselves, making new connections
  • ​This is a transfer emotions and thoughts to the end user
  • Designing gamification as a series of narrative experiences means you can design the emotional journey you would like you user to go on

​It's important to keep in mind:

  • The best way to see how your users interact with your system is to test on real users
  • You can only ever design the intended experience, you cannot own the users experience of the system, it is theirs

​Karen Sikkema

​How to design a time travel/cultural heritage game:

  • ​Case study from 2010 compared to the recent framework the team created where they found the was largely designed based on the same framework
  • Framework consists of story, epic meaning, engaging physical experiences, exploration, mystery and fun
  • Turning verbs into actions, is a major aspect of the design

​Designing a gamification solution for historic learning:

  • ​Knowingwhere is the transfer of knowledge happening?
  • ​Acklowedging the difference between your project as a work of art and something commercial that can go to market
  • Awareness of all the opportunities that can be found in towns and cities to emmerse locals in their history

​Manuel Pimenta

​WORTEN case study:

  • WORTEN leaders had already applied low level gamification
  • When Manuel's team went in undercover they found that the gamification was extrinsic, internl issues not fixed

​What Manuel's team did...

  • Co-created a gamifi​ed system with iterative changes ​every 2 months
  • Planned a 3 year roll out of the 'WINNERS' system
  • Deliverables consisted of 'Missions', store leaderboards


  • 6% increase in sales per employee compared to control group
  • 33% value raised compared to 2016
  • 87.8% of employees rating their jobs as better or far better


​What is the issue?

  • We create custom builds in gamification which can't be transfered from project to project, ​which is expensive
  • From prototype to full roll out is usually a price factor of 10
  • ​Leads to massive scalability issues

​Re-useable approach:

  • Use single time projects you have to create a simple template that ​you can apply to different projects
  • The users can apply their own circumstances to it
  • ​Leads to increased scalability + able to sell it to a much greater audience

​Bernardo Letayf

​Bernardo talks of his story of how he moved from ​Player to Professional...

  • ​​​Realised that in order to be a game designer he had to call himself one
  • Practiced daily to ensure his skills were up to date

​His 5 key learnings:

  • ​Clients can be unwilling to take your ideas onboard
  • ​Spare at least 10% of time for learning
  • Identify what motivates your audience
  • He was doing it wrong because, he was placing his ego over the players, when it should have been players> ego
  • ​Be ready for anything

​How YOU can become a gamification professional:

  • Reach out, and embrace the community
  • Make big choices - you have to ​love ​it and practice in some way everyday (even playing videogames!)​​​
  • Improve you skills
  • Try to change the wolrd (the world will notice)

​Michiel van Eunen

​"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." - Plato

  • ​"We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • ​As a designer you will begin to notice patterns emerging when​ watchingplayers use or engage with your gamification initiative
  • You can use these patterns to design better gamification in the future

​His method for analysing gameplay:

  • Game occurs
  • Michiel seeing certain behaviours which he recognises and categorises these
  • Allowing the players to look back at their experiences (the lense of reflection) and work out themselves how their gameplay might reflect on their attitudes at work (or other)
  • Sharing his feedback of the bahaviours he saw to the players, especially things they may not have recognised themselves

​Applying these beahaivours and mechanics elsewhere:

  • Once you have witnessed hundreds of hours of gameplay as a facilitator, you begin to get very good at establishing bahaivoural norms for a groups
  • Mechanics like sabotauge have to be applied uder very specific circumstances, which you will learn after watching how people react to it

​Tuesday 27th November

​Steve Bocska

The top problems with gamification today:

  • Points: overused as a reward mechanic, rewarding ​everything ​ to give players good feelings rather than to encourage specific actions​​​
  • Badges: meaningless and overused, it becomes hard for the designer to catch up with constantly producing new badges
  • Leaderboard: trust issues

​Steve's Net Engagement Score™ (SNES):

  • ​What is it?
    SNES = (Interesting choices x Consequences x Time Pressure)/ Raw Interactive Inputs
  • Examples?
    Clickbait < 1, multiple clicks to get to some useless peice of information
    ‣Google ~ 1, usually a single click to get your 'cute puppy' picture
    ‣Gamification 5-150
    , many different actions leading to many different rewards
    ‣Games 50+, voluntary leading to many different rewards

​Case studies:

  • Kotex + Mis Momentos
  • Canadian Space Agency + Mission: Astronaut
  • Adoptive Families Accociation + Aged Out
  • Ice Pilots + Air Hunt
  • Conservation Pays + Challenge

​Juliette Denny

​There are problems with current online learning:

  • 98% of compliance training fails to make any business impact
  • Only 15% of organisations are fully satisfied with their LMS
  • The forgetting curve: we forget 70% of everything we learned within 24 hours and 90% within a month

​Gamified e-learning

  • ​Game mechanics affect​ oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, cortisol
  • ​Gameplay stimulate hippocampal activity > area known for recall ability
  • Gameplay improves brain functions

​Mechanics used by Growth Engineering:

  • Typical: levels, badges, xp, leaderboards
  • 'Next gen': streaks, battles (vs), challenges, treasure hunts
  • Growth Engineering power mechanics: social learning, epic meaning

​Growth Engineering case studies:

  • L'Oreal's 'Beauty Club'
  • GAME's 'Learning Zone
  • EE's 'The Digital Academy'


​Zabra Case Study:

  • The brief, a new hire training program: standardise onboarding, up to date company information, working culture and practicies
  • The limitations:
    ‣required the use of old materials
    ‣limited budget meaning bigger ideas scrapped
    ‣rapid scope expansion meaning the project became much bigger than first anticipated
  • The solution: 'Zebra Island' a mission-based narrative, interlaced with onboarding essentials, used to drive players experience rather than relying on other extrinsic motivations. ​
  • Results: 95% of users rate the expereicne 4 or 5 stars out of 5

​Benefits of limitations:

  • ​​Maturity when you can accept that your ideas will be dropped if they are not good enough
  • ​Because 90% of your ideas are impossible already, you only have to focus on the 10% best of the 10% possible ideas

​Bart Hufen

​Bart shares the progress loop he designed to sontinually improve...

  • Publications - sharing: ideas via blogs, books, content
  • Presentations -  start for free, eventually you can start getting paid. This shows expertise and gives you an audience which you can later sell to
  • Projects - record your projects and publish everything that worked and didn't work. Sharing this in publications and presentations can lead to requests for this to be turned into a product
  • Products - taking all that you've learned from the above and creating ​something ​you can sell to others. Share this with the world​​​
  • Partners - sharing the workload of your new product development with a partner can double your workspeed

​Samantha Clarke

​Curiosity & Motivation

  • Curitosity is one of the 16 human motivators and is a human's first for knowledge
  • Different types of curiosity
    ‣Specific: desire for speicifc peice of information
    ‣Perceptual: novel experiences
    ‣Diversive: stimulation from any source (to avoid boredom)
    ‣Epistemic: desire for knowledge
  • Samantha sent her student's Mystery boxes from fake companies and engaged them to complete assignments by encouraging them to explore
  • Studnet responses:
    ‣"When we come out of university we want to go work in this field, we know what we're going to do when we get into a situation like this because we've had real data, a real athlete and a real expereicne."
    ‣"Adds an interesting element to the coursework."

​Pau Yanez

​Using research to power products

  • ​With 15 parters over 9 countries and a budget of €5.9M the Beaconing Project was piloted
  • ​Used in 15+ countries, with 2,000+ student testers and used by 500+ teachers, Context Aware Challenges Authoring Tool became a promoinent feature

​Went on to create the software ​PlayVisit ​by​​​

  • ​​​​Establishing game dynamics with chronological and discovery mechanics
  • Building in storytelling mechanics, and developing the aestetics of the game
  • Adding the core engagement loop of discovery, answering questions and sharing location-based knowledge


  • ​Of 65 users of the software, they have 11 paying customers proving ​there is a market​ ​​​
  • Finding the areas of the market that would be willing to pay for the product: cultural travel, cultural heratige & retail


​Foxy Bingo:

  • ​Lots of competitors in the industry, their original system was a 'crystal ball' which would reveal a 'You have won' message or 'Today you have not won' message
  • ​'Crystal ball' was built on old technology, was resource intensive, non-reuseable and heavily reliant on cash bonuses

​3radicals' solution: Voco

  • 3radical looked to build something that would 'cut throuh the nose' of traditional engagement marketing
  • So they: built a game mechanics librabry and a content authoring console under a web framework which would enable the designer to allocate flexible rewards
  • Solution: ​‣​players unlikely to in on day one, driving repeat engagement & website traffic ‣​​​allowed cash and non-cash prizes (such as extra actions on the Foxy Bingo website)
  • Results: ‣30% more active players ‣100% month on month retention (for the first two months)
  • At risk customers:
    ​‣Repeat engagement and longer dwell time allow responsible gaming messages to be presented to players at an appropriate time based on insight to divert players to lower risk games or alternative forms of engagement that to allow players to take an appropriate break.
    ​‣Example: Watch this video, complete quiz, visit another website

​Munch Lam

​As a tech startup, SelfDRVN had to develop a solution to a big problem...

  • ​Competing with Google, Facebook and Microsoft for the same tech talent
  • ​Their approach would be to ​design the best employee experience they could by making work fun
  • They designed a manual system which tracked engagement and eventually moved to a digital solution

​Their findings :

  • Over two years the workforce, productivity levels and quality index more than doubles. Customer satisfaction goes UP
  • ​Fewer sick days taken, increase in employee referal (50%)
  • Over 1000 employees gave feedback on 'What causes great work?' finding that recognition, self-motivation, inspriation and autonomy account for around 75% of employee ​motivation

​Why their vision is successful:

  • People-centered strategies, nuturing employee engagement
  • Self-paced learning, rewards & recognition, social collaboration & peer learning, peer feedback & goal setting, focus on employee wellness, findings from pulse surveys
  • ​Establishing core values, open culture, coaching, adoption, real recognition

​Michael Wu

​What AI can do now...

  • Presecritive soltutions (you should do this) which has evolved from predictive (this is going to happen next) which itself evolved from descirtive trends (this happened one time)
  • An example would be GPS, which has evolved to show you the ​fastest ​route​​​ rather than just the shortest

​AI preditions & it's interplay with Gamification

  • Deep predictive learning means that computers will be able to make decisions for humans
  • Gamification is massively data driven, and by applying AI to gamification, peices of software should begin to learn to learn which mechanics motivate certain players
  • We will have to model positive human behaivours so that the AI learns how to practice ​good ​gamification, like parents being good role models​​​

Friends of Gamification Europe

​We cannot thank all of our partners and friends who attended ​nearly ​enough for all their support over the past year or so.

But we thought it would be nice to try...

  • First, we would like to thank Michiel van Eunen for being our ​Master-of-Ceremony for the two days.
  • ​Many thanks to our sponsors
  • ​Many thanks to all of our speakers:
    ​Dr. Marigo Raftopoulos, Dr. Zac Fitz-Walter,  An Coppens, Melinda Jacobs, Karen Sikkema, Manuel Pimenta, Willem-Jan Renger, Bernardo Letayf, Michiel van Eunen, Steve Bocska, Juliette Denny, Andrzej Marczewski, Bart Hufen, Samantha Clarke, Pau Yanez, Will Stuart-Jones, Munch Lam and Dr. Michael Wu

  • ​Many thanks to everyone involved in the awards process:

Dr. Michael Wu for being the chief organiser; Sofia Usman from the Gamification Europe team for being the chief organiser on our side; Dan Atkins for designing and printing the awards; Alexis Blain for providing ChainCubed as the technology and the platform on which submission and voting took place and all of the winners from last year who took the time to vote of this years awards: ​Yu-kai Chou, An Coppens, Rachel Swann, Gustavo Tondello, Bernado Letayf, Juliette Denny and Michael Wu

  • ​Many thanks to the many other people involved in making Gamification Europe 2018 happen:

​The people at Boom Chicago for use of their venue; Richard Excell ( for designing the lanyards, name badges and programs; ​Vortical for filming the event and​ Jeroen Ruigrok, the cameraman.

  • ​Finally thanks to all of those who have released blog posts with their views on the event. It is wonderful to hear all the feedback that everyone has taken the time to produce. Please find the blog posts in question below

An Coppens: 'Reflections on Gamification Europe and the state of play in the industry'

​Albert van der Meer: 'Reflections on the Gamification Europe Conference 2018'

(Turkish) Eren Gökgür: 'GamificationEurope 2018'

Sander van der Moolen: 'Gamification and Knowledge Managment: Can they go together?'

Caroline Franiatte: (LinkedIn update)

​Reflections from an organiser

​Kira Downer

​"For me, Gamification Europe w​as the culmination of just over a year of time spent viewing the gamification industry from the outside.

​"Meeting so many professionals and practioners at the event was truly amazing and I have been given the confidence to truly aspire to a career in gamification.

​"From developing the theme, to conversing with the speakers and being the driving force behind the development of the Gamification Europe boardgame​ I have felt​ incredibly empowered by my team to take on greater decision making. (The badge was me too, but, I'm ​not bragging 😉 )

​"My reaction to this event ​culminates is massive admiration for the speakers, for building up my confidence in ​​starting ​deeper conversations about gamification. Importantly I have a great appreciation for my team (Pete, Vasilis and Sofia) for the introduction and friendships in an awesome field.

​"Finally, I am incredibly excited to take on a larger role in organising next years event. The feedback we have been given is incredibly helpful and we will release a blog/news post before the New Year where we will show all the changes we will make to make the event bigger and better than this years.

Many thanks to everyone who participated,


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