By Vasilis Gkogkidis / October 29, 2017

Interview with our Gamification Europe 2017 speaker - Roberto Alvarez Bucholska

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

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.


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