Interview with our Gamification Europe 2017 speaker - Jeff Gomez

To prepare for Gamification Europe 2017, we asked all our speakers 4 questions about gamification. These are Jeff's answers! 

When and how did you first hear about gamification?

I try to devote at least a day a month to teaching and try to keep up on developments in education. In 2008, I learned that game designer Katie Salen had become the Executive Director of the Institute of Play, which promoted games as a learning tool. At the time, they were integrating something they called gamification into some projects in a school in my neighbourhood in Manhattan called Quest to Learn. I got to see it in action and appreciated how effective it was, but I didn’t realize gamification would catch on across different industry spaces the way it would.

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

While working on the Halo videogame franchise for 343 Studios at Microsoft, part of Starlight Runner’s job was to help the publisher get fans excited about the storylines and lore of the Halo universe. We wanted them to seek out the novels and comics, and to become more involved with characters like Master Chief and Cortana. We noticed that Halo players loved earning “trophies” for various achievements in multiplayer, and started wondering whether similar incentives could be used to get players to start digging through the lore. In essence, we started recommending ways for 343 to gamify players into becoming fans of the story world. Some of those ways were integrated into Halo Waypoint, a hub for Halo players on Xbox Live, and it worked!

3) What is the main takeaway someone will take after attending your session The Hero’s Journey is No Longer Serving Us at Gamification Europe?

Gamification goes hand in hand with story, but right now across the world the nature of story is changing. We are no longer as interested in going through the motions of the standard hero’s journey. Story has become porous, interactive. We have more of a say in how story unfolds. We are more interested in what role we play in the story and how we can share our thoughts and experiences with it.

That really changes everything, and we’re seeing the results in how consumers are impacting brands, even how whole populations are impacting social and political issues. By understanding this new modality of narrative, which I call Collective Journey, we can super-energize our gamification programs, making them more dynamic and shareable. Gamification is capable of moulding behaviour, but story makes it permanent.

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

I’m going to check out Game Mechanics SUCK Without Narrative by Melinda Jacobs on Tuesday, November 28, because I think that’s a pretty bold statement and I want to see how she defends it. And I’ll be attending Designing a Superwoman’s Journey by Sabrina Bruehwiler, because issues around gender and diversity are a growing concern for young people around the world.