Platform Group run regular meetups on gamification in Brighton, and we got to go along to their latest talk, an app swap where speakers were discussing their favourite gamified apps and software.
It took place in their Co:Lab, a space designed to help their customers to workshop business challenges in a multi-zoned environment using both digital and analogue tools. The room was ideal for this kind of event and full of both cutting-edge technology and whiteboards to guide users through their own 5-step brainstorm process.
The first speaker was Shane Fumagall, the gamified marketer at Brighton company GAMIFICATION+. He spoke to us about Ecosia, a gamified search engine which plants a tree for every 11 seconds you spend searching. Ecosia aims to fight deforestation in Africa and other regions by making something you do several times every day worth something. With 5,557,274 trees planted at the time of writing (and going up every second!) it helps to make the user feel as if they are actually achieving something with their daily queries. Ecosia spend nothing on ads and rely on word of mouth to get the word out, but it seems to be working out. The ad revenue funds the tree planting. While aspects of the design are cute (which helps) Shane recognised that there is more that Ecosia can do to gamify their search engine – currently there isn’t a great visual representation of the trees being planted, which could help, especially in the case of kids using it. Regardless, gamification in this way is not only a great idea to help save the environment, but a clever method of attempting to fight the bigger search engines like Yahoo and Google.
The next speaker was Sabrina Bruehwiler speaking about eraseallkittens and why a strong narrative is a powerful tool for gamification. While most apps and websites only engage for a short while due to their lack of story and clear-cut goals, gamification helps users to feel more involved and as if they are actually building something. Eraseallkittens is a game that helps to teach kids code through a story built around rescuing kitten GIFs from boxes. It’s engaging, educational, and will help keep people involved as they enjoy forming an emotional attachment and feeling as if they are actually saving little kittens. Most importantly of all, it will familiarise kids (and adults) with coding in a fun setting. While the site currently only has one level, it has a Kickstarter to develop more and a ton of different outcomes to keep you playing over and over. At the end of the talk Sabrina asked us how many kittens had been ‘saved’ throughout the presentation before giving the winners a gift – proving her point through gamification.
Dan Atkins from JFDI Consulting spoke to the group about gamified onboarding and its potential to motivate employees to use Sharepoint through rewards and progress as they learned more about it. While this might motivate employees to learn Sharepoint more thoroughly, it doesn’t actually make it any more fun, and some members of the group questioned whether or not this actually counted as gamification. Rewards are a powerful motivator, but they don’t actually make the process any less dull.
Next Vasilis Gkogkidis, the gamification consultant for GAMIFICATION+, spoke to us about his app The Manager’s Path. Vasilis had already caught our attention earlier in the night with his gamified business card, which had snakes and ladders on the back and came with a dice. He told us that gamification needn’t be digital or expensive – that we can incorporate it in every area of business and life. The Manager’s Path, which GAMIFICATION+ are developing, is a training tool aimed at improving management skills. The Manager’s Path is only in its prototype stage, but it aims to be a cost-efficient and easy to access method of training – as UK businesses spend almost 3 billion pounds on external training a year. The app gives managers tasks, i.e. ask your staff about their hobbies, give them feedback, etc. The manager can unlock achievements and take steps along the manger’s path so they feel as if they are making genuine progress. This did raise some concerns around employees feeling as if they were being watched or as if their manager’s efforts were insincere, but these are things that can easily be worked on.
Finally, Max Eaglen, the director of Platform Group, spoke about the methods of gamification that they use in the business. Platform have a number of gamified apps that go alongside the 5 stages written on their whiteboards – from disruption through to mapping. The disruptor app is intended to make business think about the primary disruptors for their company, i.e. A.I., and the other steps are aimed at introspection and finding solutions to the disruptors. Their other apps include Newsdesk, a new way of finding news and sorting it by negative and positive sentiment.
The talks hosted by Platform group were particularly enlightening and helped us to see Gamification in a new way. It seems almost necessary to apply gamification elements to our own work during a time when people have so many options available to them and are so easily distracted. We look forward to potentially attending more of these meetups and talking to like-minded people – and perhaps even showcasing one of our own pieces of work one day!