Podcast 24: Inclusive by design series – inclusion is an attitude

Welcome to this week’s question of gamification.

This week I want to start a bit of a series around inclusion and design. In fact, I want to name it inclusive by design, because it’s scenario that we basically focus on quite a bit. And actually I as a woman in the gamification space specifically wanted to join the gamification space to make it more inclusive, because when I looked at the industry of gamification back in the mid 2000s, I saw a lot of young white men and the odd Asian man and they didn’t necessarily relate to me. They didn’t necessarily speak my language. And some of the designs that I saw also didn’t quite appeal to me. At first I said, “Oh, this is maybe just me personally. Maybe it’s just not my thing.” But then I asked around.

I also went looking for research and actually found that a lot of the time it was very one track focused, very much focused on their experience of life, their experience of the world and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not 100% inclusive because you’re only coming with one worldview. Just like if I design something just by myself, it would only have my own worldview in it. So that was not an indication of their masculinity or anything else.

But I also felt that we were missing a trick. And actually I was really quite passionate about it. We were missing a trick in a sense that gamification was becoming this big buzzword, especially in the corporate learning space, and it wasn’t actually working. And I could see clearly why because it wasn’t appealing. It was a lot of the time, very competitive. It was a lot of the time, very superficial. And I went, “No, there’s more to this.” I knew from my work up to that point where I had been using games, gamification and game elements for all sorts of things throughout change management, throughout leadership throughout training, I knew it worked and I said, “No, no, there has to be another way. There has to be a way that we can be inclusive by design, but we need to change our approach.” So basically I wanted to bring that voice and bring that perspective of let’s be inclusive by design.

Now, just recently I gave a keynote speech at an event, pretty much focused around people in the academic world. And I have to say I was personally challenged a little bit from a confidence perspective I think as well to say that, “Look, I’m not a scientist. I’m a field worker. I’m a practitioner. I work with my clients to the best of my ability.” I read a lot of research and I do my best to integrate what people find in it insofar that I can understand it because I also admit some of the scientific papers out there on games, gamification, diversity, inclusion, differences between age, culture, gender, abilities, some of them are seriously hard to make sense of if they’re written for scientific purposes. So anything I can read, I will and anything I can’t read, I will have to [inaudible 00:02:58] just purely out of practical reasons.

What occurred to me is that when we talk about inclusion and diversity or inclusion by design better, it is in fact a conscious action. It is first and foremost an attitude because we all have our preferences. We all have maybe things we get a bit fearful about that make us feel threatened. Just like the academics made me feel threatened like, “Oh gosh, what can I possibly offer? I’m merely a mere mortal living in the world of the corporate sector doing my business the best I can.” But you know what? I haven’t written a paper about it. I haven’t actually proven my theory left right and center. If somebody wants to take on my theory and prove it, absolutely love it. Do talk to me.

That bias in my head even was preventing me from delivering the best possible talk. So from an inclusive by design perspective, I also needed to make sure that I could not only engage to myself to the best of my ability, but also deliver something that was, I suppose, interesting enough for the group to take something away from. As a speaker, I always adapt my talks to the audience. Not everybody in our field does that. And I would be a little bit critical of that. I mean we’re not one track ponies or we shouldn’t be.

If you have a framework, great. But it’s like a hammer is not the solution to every single problem. And sometimes your framework is not 100% most fitting one. And maybe a mashup of two frameworks works better in situations. So being open to that and being open to more than one worldview is important.

Actually somebody that caught me messaging something on Twitter that made me reflect, “Yeah, you’re absolutely right.” One of the things he used was a hashtag, “It takes all kinds.” And thank you for that by the way. You know who you are. I actually said to myself, “Yeah, you’re intimidated by all the facts, figures, science.” Because I was listening to another keynote speaker at the conference and this man probably had great science, but I couldn’t make any sense of anything he said, nor his slides. I picked up maybe two or three words that I could relate to, but in an hour long session that’s not enough. And to be fair, when I looked around the room, most people had disconnected.

So if you want to be inclusive by design, it’s also about the language we use. It’s about the interaction we use with people. You won’t always get everybody along, but it should at least be an attempt to bring the majority along in an inclusive approach at least. If you want to be excluding and sit in your own little portal, that’s also fine. But that’s your choice then. But it’s not mine though.

In this series, what I want to do is focus on what are the elements of inclusion. How can we design for it? A bit of my thinking about it, some of my frameworks that I sort of work with. And then what practically can you do to encourage inclusion by design.

My first big topic that I want to broach on this is inclusion is actually first an attitude. People say, “Oh yeah, we’re all for diversity. We’re all for inclusion.” But does your behavior reflect the same thing? Does your behavior actually actively encourage that? Because there may be subtle ways in which you are not being equal, in which you’re not being accepting.

So to me, if you look at conversation … So at the same event I spoke about the topic of inclusion as part of my presentation. And somebody came up to me afterwards. One of the examples I gave was something we worked on where we used a female lead … a black colored middle manager and white colors workers, both male and female. Now, I probably hadn’t given the whole perspective and the whole picture, but the person came up to me and said, “Well look, actually by putting a female lead in that situation and then manipulating people to believe that there is actually a role model for them, they felt that that was very feminist and very wrong.”

Now, when I then explained the full picture, I said, “Well, actually you’re the player. You could be from any of those backgrounds. We wanted to be inclusive in the reality of that particular world there are female leaders, there are black middle managers, there are white middle managers, white male, white female. There were also white lead commanders. So there’s white leaders.”

In some ways we were trying to be as inclusive as possible. And during the testing phase we did get feedback from a variety of groups. And the feedback loops are ongoing, the research on that is ongoing so it’s not a concluded finished product or item. But I found it fascinating because it also reflected on their personal bias, their perspective. And I think when you’re trying to come to a level of acceptance … And I have to say anytime I speak about inclusion, even if I don’t focus on just gender, I’m called a feminist whether I like it or not, it’s one of those things.

But it did show to me that actually was the person really behaving with an open mind or were they just trying to prove their worldview. Was that actually the full picture that they got? Because once they did get the full picture, they did actually say, “Oh yeah, okay, that’s fine.” And if it was just purely an exercise … If for example, my example was an exercise in tokenism, just use a token woman, a token colored person, a token disabled person. If that was the case, then obviously we would be alienating people and it wouldn’t hit and feel right to the target audience. But you have got to start somewhere when you want to be inclusive in the real world. And inclusive will take time. And sometimes out of merit, you may not be able to pick a fully team with elements of all of these various segments of society. Sometimes they’re just not available to you.

So there are reality constraints in any given world, in any given job. But when you want to be inclusion, be mindful of your perspective, so your own bias, because we all have one. Me, just like the next person. And also focus on your actions as opposed to what you say. And then when you come and say something, be respectful and respectfully patient. Sometimes silence is golden. Even if you think that, “Gosh, this is a whole load of … I’m struggling with this,” maybe silence sometimes is the better option. And if you really don’t think it is the better option, be respectful of the person and approach it from the perspective of, ‘Well, actually maybe we all have something to contribute,” because I actually believe we do.

I can learn from everyone around and you know, I hope they can learn a little bit from me even if it’s just a little bit even if it’s just to realize, well actually what she does is not what I do. And that’s okay. You know, they don’t have to like me. I would love it if they did, but you know, at least getting them somewhere along the track is important. Actually in the presentation I gave, I was looking for some good graphics too to present to the audience and one that I came, around with a signpost of rattlesnakes and the signpost reads, rattlesnakes may be found in this area. Give them distance and respect. And sometimes that’s exactly how you need to be in order to not let your personal buyers get the better of you when you’re dealing with a situation that you may or may not 100% agree with.

So I think respect is something really important. We don’t know where the other person is coming from. We don’t know their picture. We have not walked in their shoes. So we shouldn’t really be judging because they may have very valid reasons for why they say what they said. Uh, why they are thinking that this is an important topic. I think, you know, in the backdrop of today’s, world politics, you know, this message really is so, so important. What are we afraid of too? You know, when something is different, what are we afraid of? And you know, I’m afraid of snakes. So that rattlesnake scenario is like, yeah, I will give them distance. I will also respect that they are dangerous. So therefore we and me and them are not going to go be whole jolly together. So, you know, that’s a, that’s a given.

But when it comes to exploring different cultures, exploring what different age groups are, like exploring what people and how people experience the world when they’re different to me that I am open to. And sometimes, you know, I will, I will admit I’m not perfect. I sometimes may get it wrong and I sometimes may get totted and make it told off. That may actually by my very question, you know, I have put my two feet in or something, you know, so, so it’s a, it’s a very difficult topic to get 100% right. I think it should be a, you know, from an attitude perspective, a continuous work in progress in, in our company we are trying to be as inclusive as possible and you know, which is why my first hire was a male to balance out, my femaleness. And then we also have someone that’s of Asian origin.

I’m from, a female Belgian origin. We also have a refugee and the team is also European. And you know, I’m actively looking to bring new people in and you know, ideally I would like to find a new team member that’s a lady for that very reason. Now, you know, that would create a 50, 50 splits, in our team. And you know, it would then sort of confirm that we’re trying to do inclusive by design. It is, however, also driven by merit. They need to be able to do what we need to do and what we need them for. So it’s not just about anyone, any old lady can go in and get job over a guy. No, it’s more a case of, you know, let’s find the best suitable person. But I do have a very specific idea about balancing gender in the company for optimum results because that’s also, proven that actually a, a 50, 50 split is better for productivity.

So, you know, for me, the starting point for everything to do around inclusion, is that inclusion is first and foremost an attitude. And the attitude comes through in, in your open-mindedness, in your actions, in your biases, in your respect for others, and your respectfulness of differences, in your patience, with different level of abilities, with different levels of, worldviews with, you know, your own patience around, you know, why do I not understand this? Why do I not get this? And you know, it also is an attitude and an exercise in self esteem because I think a lot of what we see on a world scale at this stage is people being fearful of people that are in any form or shape different. And you know, it’s different. And then there’s a power fight. Who’s better, who’s bigger, who knows more, who can do this the best.

And for a lot of people that’s really important. And then for quite a whole bunch of others on the other side, that’s so totally a contest that we don’t want to be part of. So, you know, let’s keep it real and sort of say, well, actually, if you want to be inclusive by design, we look at our attitudes internally first and then when you’re encountering the other attitudes, then you know, let’s work with that. Let’s look at it as feedback and see, is there maybe another way to get to the solution? Is there another way to get to your destination because I actually believe there’s more than one way to do everything. And Yeah, you know, and, and maybe in the science world, that’s exactly what you don’t want to hear because you want that one scientific black and white piece of proof, that it has to be a certain way.

And you know, in business we often have to work around and sort of make do with the constraints that we have. And I think in the academic world too, you know, they have smaller budgets and most of us, will never even dream of getting, you know, so keep it real. So my top five things to be mindful of are respect, patience, your open-mindedness, and your actions and looking for the full picture. So those are my top five attitude tips to get into the picture when you are trying to be inclusive by design. I hope you will enjoy these short snippets around inclusion by design. I will be developing more on the same theme and share with you what you can do, and how any gamification setting that’s important and how in a workplace setting. In fact we probably as a global workplace need to be super mindful of that because quite frankly a lot of our politicians are not doing it right now.

So we might as business people maybe need to set the tone and change the direction and maybe as citizens of our countries the same thing because it is one thing to see it happening and tolerating it. And often toleration and not taking any action or not even stepping into a situation is that silence approval or that silence i gnorance and you know, I’m not advocating everybody should go out on the street and you know, demonstrate on every single thing, but where have you in the last number of months or I think months is probably enough of a time frame. Have you tolerated exclusion? Where have you tolerated active disrespect to somebody that look different was maybe a different age, different gender, a different culture, a different ability? Have you laughed at them? Have you not said anything, but so that injustices were taking place? I mean, that to me is also an attitude. How tolerant are you of people not being treated as equals or human beings with the same right to exist as others? So yeah, it may be naive. It may be a dream. It may be Utopian that we could all include everyone all of the time. But I think if we don’t, as an attitude, strive to take action towards it, I think we could end up in a very scary place. So I hope you enjoy the question of gamification. Do like us and, leave your comments and I look forward to sharing the next session.

Inclusive by design


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Podcast 23: How will VR/AR/MR work with gamification in HR and learning?

Welcome to this week’s A Question of Gamification. My name is An Coppens. I’m the chief Gamechanger at Gamification Nation, and this week’s question is a good one. How will VR, AR, MR, and what on earth is the difference between all those, and Gamification play nice? It’s a question that comes up from time to time. Because in learning, and in HR, we find that a lot of people have no idea what all the buzz words and all of the… they have an idea, but maybe not a full understanding of what the buzz words stands for and how they can all work together or where they’re all separate beasts that you should be treating differently. So, the purpose of today’s podcast is to answer the questions of what are these different reality things? Does that combine well with Gamification? Does it not? Should you just do one and not engage with the other? Or, how do you best integrate it into your suite of learning related solutions for your workers, or HR related solutions for your workers? Or whichever way you see fit on using a mix of these things in the workplace.

First things first, let’s start with the terminology. VR, or virtual reality, is where you typically today need a headset like an oculus rift or a google cardboard or any variety of quality devices in between or above. Basically, what that allows you do to is to escape into a virtual world. Now, in a virtual world, or in virtual reality today, most of the time we need to exclude what is going on around us and we step completely into that virtual space. Which is a great tool for, for example, when you need to simulate environments that people might not be use to. For example, flight simulators are an experience that we could call virtual reality today. Although, we could argue that you could actually play all of it as a mixed reality play because if the person is sitting in the middle of it and touching real equipment but the visuals are displayed on a screen, you’re combining virtual reality with reality and giving a lifelike experience even though it’s not for real. Simulations, for years have been, in a space in my view, where you find virtual and reality kind of blending together and giving feedback to each other.

Virtual reality was designed, originally, with the idea of games. A lot of games, like escape rooms, can be played in virtual reality, but some of the cool games today are completely virtual reality based. If you are not sure what to test or what to try out there’s two I would recommend trying. First of all any roller coaster experience, if you’re not too afraid of roller coasters that is. And the other one is the play saber where you basically do a massive drum kind of set up and you’re trying to keep up with the beat in virtual reality, which is pretty awesome. Or an escape room, of course, where you’re in a virtual reality playroom and you need to unlock clues in order to get out. Virtual reality is typically, still today, with headsets which blank out reality.

Augmented reality, most of us will have at some point heard of Pokemon Go or at least… you know, maybe not played but at least heard of Pokemon Go the game. Which, basically, brought augmented reality into our everyday, mass presence as such. It’s where you combine the camera use of your smart phone with, lets say, fictional characters like Pokemon. And you combine real life and whatever is on your screen together to take some funny pictures, to catch them where they are, where you could be.

Further than that, augmented reality is developing and some of the really cool type of material that’s coming out is where it is much more seamless so that you don’t even need a smart phone anymore. Which you might have holographic screens popping up. You may have heard of HoloLens, where actual human beings are holograms and you can pop up wherever your hologram needs to be for that time. It’s basically combining reality with some form of digital augmentation. A digital improvement to make your experience better. Whether that’s a statistical kind of feedback board. Whether that’s actual creatures that you catch in wild. Or whether that allows you to engage in the real world with an app or that gives you further clues. So augmented reality, by the very, I suppose nature of it, is mixed in nature. It increases the experience you have, based on what you see around you with other digital elements, and makes you experience it from a different angles. And you could add, you could say, it adds a dimension that we didn’t have before. Creatures popping up, before you would have to have a physical creature to pop up. So you’d have to plant all these Pokemon’s in forests that you’re walking in to find them and catch them. Same general idea of a treasure hunt but a different use case.

Mixed reality is typically where we say we combine either virtual reality or augmented reality with what we already know today, which is what’s all around us. Whether that is real life, whether that is online experiences that are 2D. And 2D meaning that it’s just you and the screen, you and the book. Just a simple interaction, not 3D where you have the potential to view it from multiple angles. Well it can be 3D actually, thinking about it. You know, you basically combining an experience. So that you’re pushing a bit of virtual, a bit of augmented, a bit of reality, a bit of online, a bit of offline. It’s basically creating an experience that goes into, what I call, a multi model effect. That’s including sound. That’s including visuals. That’s including texts. That’s including whatever you can find around you that you can physically touch, and smell, and feel. As there’s a mixed reality experience so there’s a lot of things that you can combine together.

How do they play nice with Gamification or does Gamification work for it, and vise versa? In reality both virtual reality, augmented reality have been used originally to create games and to creates engaging experiences, let’s say. By the very nature, from the very start up, it is built to work well as a game. Which then means it can work really well in a gamified experience.

What I would say, and where it becomes a bit of self control limits, or self control oriented, is that you have to think about, “What is it that I’m trying to achieve? Will adding virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality play enhance the experience for my user?” As in, make it better for the end user to understand something, to experience something. Simulations on an expensive equipment like airplanes, submarines, boats, obviously there is a great use case for that and has been for years. Which is why, those industries, it’s actually normal practice. The same with oil and gas. A lot of the risks involved in exploring and even the risk manoeuvres and emergency procedures can be played out quite well on virtual reality. The same with emergency procedures for any kind of transportation. They work really well and they enhance the experience for the end user who has to manage people in an emergency scenario. It lets them experience how they react, because our brain doesn’t differentiate whether it’s real or virtual. What we see in virtual reality and what we see in reality is no different. The experience from the personal perspective is the same.

More and more tools are coming out on the market, and are also becoming more and more mainstream, in terms of pricing so that it don’t need to break the bank anymore in order to make them realistic. Where you can build virtual experiences without having to think of the budget of a blockbuster game or a blockbuster movie to say that. And those tools are also entering more and more in the E-learning space but also in the onboarding space. In onboarding, I think, there’s a clear example. The first day in work you know nothing. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know where to pitch up, what to do. Having a virtual tour, if that’s augmented, if that’s virtual reality, could enhance the situation for the new recruit. Give them the feeling of, “Okay, I know where I’m going”. And you need to make the visuals, obviously, as life like and as real as possible.

The same with virtual learning experiences where people can actually interact with a number of people in a variety of locations. For example, in the world of medicine what we’re seeing is that some operations are being streamed into a virtual space so people can have a look in and a lot of nurses and doctors who may not be familiar with the specific, very specialist operation, can see how other experts, other doctors, are doing it. What can also then happen is you can give real time feedback, or answer real time questions, or help a person in this situation.

Augmented reality has found it’s way, quite neatly, into engineering and manufacturing maintenance. Why? Because with the help of let’s say, an augmented reality headset or through a smartphone, you can connect with what you’re looking at as a maintenance engineer and experience okay… or show somebody at base, who may have more access to a data base, a knowledge base, a question bank. Or you need a second opinion and say, “Look, I’m thinking this is the right approach. What do you think? Do you confirm?” Or “I’m stuck here, I really don’t know how to get out of this situation, can you help me fix it?” From a very practical perspective it saves time.

In the past, what you would’ve had to do in that situation is document the current set up. Go back to the office. Go look it up. Go back in. Whereas now you can actually stream this to somebody and they can give you help on the phone, in real time. So that’s a major cost saving and saving trips in transport, trips in time generally speaking. Again, from a cost saving and from a risk perspective, a lot less risky than let’s say letting somebody try it and hope for the best. That’s a definite good example of a use case of where augmented reality, with instant feed back and I would maybe say, not necessarily game mechanics but instant feedback as to why are you doing this at this moment, ask questions, make people reflect back. But also, feedback as, “okay, I See also this. Have you considered that?” To make sure that the person can do the best possible job, in the moment, for your organisation.

It will, you know… in the onboarding use case, of course, it’s about making sure that the person feels comfortable going into your organisation, finds their way quickly to where they need to be, and can already familiarise themselves with an environment. Where this is, again, very applicable is where you have local doctors, local nurses, who come in and only do a couple of days of work in several places. They may be temporary staff. They may be agency staff. You just need to get them up to speed as quick as possible. For that augmented reality and virtual reality can give you a quick orientation of where people need to show up, what do they need to do, where’s the nurses station, where’s the doctors room, how do I find all the various parts that make my job easier and make me productive much quicker?

From a productivity prospective and a cost perspective there is good uses in learning. Good uses in onboarding. And then, also good uses in actual productivity. I would see those three as key use cases for all the Rs, or all the different mixes of reality. Virtual, augmented and mixed. And yes Gamification.

I would say, use it sparingly so… in these virtual environments the tendency is just because you can, you add it in. Now, my thinking is that it’s only relevant in some situations. The engineer example, where the engineer is looking at a problem. Effectively he needs the problem fixed as soon as possible. Putting in game mechanics that ask more questions, that make it harder for him to unlock the solution, that’s not going to help him. But, lets say a feed back loop where somebody else in the office green lights, for example, how he’s thinking of proceeding. A quick check list that he can call up, where he can basically say, “Yep. Tick, tick, tick. Done.” And then he gets a high five score or something like that. That’s doable. That’s useful. And that gives the person confidence that, “Okay, I’m doing the right things. I’m following the right kind of procedure.” That type of thing is useful, but always think of it from the perspective of, “Will this game mechanic, whichever one you choose, enhance the experience or stop the flow of what the person is doing?”

A lot of the time because you can doesn’t mean you should. And that’s what we see more and more with Gamification, is that a lot of game mechanics just get sprinkled in just because, “Yeah, the system can do this so we should show it off and we should do it.” And I usually say, “Well, maybe take this one out. Take that one out.”

What works well is if it enhances the confidence of the person. If it enhances the experience or knowledge of the person. You could have knowledge based questions. You could have feedback loops, which are typical good scenarios to run when you’re looking at learning, when you’re looking at onboarding and for productivity is the confidence building, the making sure that the person is actually gradually getting better. And the reflection afterwards is something I would build in and I think that’s where, I suppose, self refection and self improvement comes from, can be Gamified, and can be a very useful tool to make sure that the person remembers to do the same thing the next time. Or they reflect back on, “Well, actually, I handled that part of the situation really well in virtual reality. But on this I got so scared or so emotional or so confused, that I didn’t know what to do.” Again that’s feedback. It needs to be talked through, and in most companies, when they use simulations quite often, you do have a debrief. You do have a session where all the team sits together and talks it through.

The same in medicine. What often happens when people look at operations together is that there is a debrief. That there is even somebody, away from the operation in that virtual space maybe, talking things through to the people with the headsets. But not necessarily audible for the team that is working through the operation.

There are many good solutions that can combine virtual reality, augmented reality, and Gamification quite neatly. To then have an absolutely amazing experience for your end users.

I already hear some people thinking, “Oh, but what kind of budget do we need for this?” What it really depends on how far you want to go and how detailed the experience needs to be. I know platforms that you can start building virtual reality experiences on that can start from only 1,000 pounds onwards. But then you do need a person, in the team, that can build it for you. That is very savvy. That is good with graphics, good with physics, etc.

The two most common used systems for most virtual reality are Unity and Unreal, where you can build game experiences out of the box. More and more bespoke platforms have started coming up. Sinespace offers virtual worlds. LearnBrite offers training worlds and training experiences. It’s one that we’re working with. There is ways of creating worlds with avatars. Another one, if you’re in the education space, Edorable, very useful tool that lets you create live experiences which have a virtual component.

In terms of augmented reality some of the tools out there are Zappar, which give you a nice studio to build good experiences. Again, even that one, last time I checked their pricing it was around 50 pounds per month, per person to have a license not prohibitive in my view. Again, you need some people in your team that can create some great graphics, that can make it work and understand these tools. There is a bit of a learning curve. The other one that I like quite a bit is Metaverse, which is free to use, which allows you to build augmented reality experiences and they allow you to duplicate and clone some of the experiences out of the box.

When it comes to putting virtual reality or augmented reality on your learning management system, I can hear most of the virtual reality purist cringe and say, “No. You should never even contemplate that. It should always be an application or it should always be a stand alone experience.” And whilst that’s great, as long as that then feeds your statistics and analytics absolutely go with.

Some of the solutions on the market that are more tailored towards work place and use cases already have the analytics built in, but also the use case built to work exactly for the purpose that you’re trying to design it for. Explore the market.

If you’re looking for advise on what to do or are trying to explore opportunities where you’re mixing different realities by all means, talk to us. We looked at new technology quite a bit. We may not know the ins and out of every single tool on the market, but we do keep a close eye on what’s developing. If you want us to design an augmented reality experience, we have done some. From treasure hunts to little quizzes that have an augmented reality component. We did a launch campaign for someone where you had to, in a very Pokemon Go style way, find different items through scanning different elements.

We have worked on a project that hasn’t seen the end of their production time. Where we wanted to, basically, created a virtual reality experience of health and safety training and equipment training in a care environment. Where you put the actual carer into the shoes of the patient. That’s quite impactful, where you have to actually sit in a sling or be transported from a bed to bath. And you learn to experience from different angles. We were playing with the ability to distort reality, based on the responses that a person with specific ailments may have. It’s the type of thing that we’d love to get more involved in. So, if you have those types of projects in mind let us know. Those are more time intensive because they do take us, to understand what you have, to quite a deep extent. But also, every part and parcel of the design is bespoke. All the graphics, all the interactions, all the physics, etc.

That wouldn’t have been the cheapest. If you’re looking at the cheaper end of the market, look at the existing tools and try to adapt them to suite your situation and look for what fits best. It’s always a question of budget. A question of skills in your team and how long you have to deploy it. Because timeframes for any virtual reality project aren’t typically longer than, let’s say an augmented reality project. You’re talking six weeks minimum to six months and nine months. If you are really looking for a experience that mimics reality, in a virtual space, you are talking multiple providers working together to make that happen. That’s when you are entering the realm of the bigger budgets, so think six figures, as opposed to, a few quid.

I hope this answers the question, “How will virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and Gamification work together?” And I hope it also demystifies the terminology around it.

If you like our podcast, by all means, share it forward on the social channel that you’re listening to it and give us a good rating. We do get ranked better on different providers of channels by new rate as well. If you have a question that you would like me to answer. By all means, send it in and we’ll discuss it in a future episode.

Thank you for listening.

The post Podcast 23: How will VR/AR/MR work with gamification in HR and learning? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Consistent and yet not getting the result you wanted?

Consistency is often the basis for success and results in most fields. Training regularly and consistently makes you a better athlete, doing a little practice every day will eventually lead you to master a language, to name a few examples. A lot of gamification focusses on creating a habit of consistent effort and reinforcing it with rewards or shout outs. We were no different with our approach to content sharing, regular consistent output of good content is what I have been aiming to do for years. I even worked a 3 posts per week schedule for a number of years and then all of a sudden it stopped working. In gamification design, you will also find that what worked initially may stop working over time. Typically it is a gradual trend and not always a sudden instant hit in results.

When consistency no longer works

When I speak to trainers and coaches and most highly focused individuals at some point the original gains of  consistent effort on one specific exercise start to wane in net impact. In health and fitness, often variety of training methods and focus of attention on various groups of muscles will try to cover this. Occassionally it is also the system aka your body telling you that you need a break. When it comes to this sudden decrease in effectiveness, it is always good to explore why you hit a plateau or a decrease of returns.

In our case when all of a sudden we went from highly ranked on SEO (search engine optimisation) to complete oblivion, I immediately consulted a bunch of experts. I still have them working for us today. First thing we noticed that our new look had been bad for SEO, some of the older legacy reputation seemed to have vanished. So we went looking at those. Then we also found that the latest algorithm changes from Google penalised us quite heavily, we are still working on getting those items right. It is a investigative work in progress and all of the team at Gamification Nation is working on some parts of the solution.

Personally I had also hit a road block of inspiration, adding to that a few major projects limiting my available time. The combination of lack of inspiration and not an abundance of time is a definite bad recipe for creating good content, I can assure you. I took a similar approach to the SEO conundrum and looked for expert mentors who are rocking it on social media and with content. One just kept saying, just post more and produce more and it will come right. To me this sounded like mission impossible, I was running out of inspiration and time so how on earth could I produce even more?

Another mentor had a more strategic view on content creation and suggested to bunch work a number of pieces per month on a variety of channels such as podcasting, video and articles. He also had some ideas on getting the right content out to our audience, which is why I am launching a bit of a survey to those who read my content to let me know what content you enjoy and what you would like more of. I would be really grateful if you could take a few minutes to help me by completing our survey, that way I can work on incorporating this into my sharing.

How can we keep it fresh?

In gamification design we talk about refreshing your strategy and your design to keep it interesting for your players. In most games we have new levels with new exciting things to uncover. When it comes to learning you typically progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced. At any given time the content for all level of players will be available still. But what appeals will change over time.

I am an avid consumer of written content, I always have been and probably always will be. It is therefore no surprise to see that as my preferred method of sharing. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I also speak regularly and that is why we have put more focus on adding audio content in the shape of podcasts. I personally find it easier to record items on podcast than to record for video. I guess as a female I am less critical of my voice than of my looks on camera, which is strange coming from someone that used to work on television. Either way my intention is to break through this barrier too and to give a bigger variety in content.

Keys to getting it right consistently

The first key to get it right is to start and to measure your progress. Whether it is a simple habit tracker or aiming for an ubroken activity streak, starting with a goal and tracking it is the base. The second then is to spot significant changes in effectiveness. In our case the website numbers were very clear. If your weight starts to nudge upwards despite your activity, if your energy levels continue to dwindle despite good eating and exercise habit again it will tell you it is time to launch an investigation. I look for experts who are getting results and not just family and friends. I know they will have my best interest at heart too but they don’t have the expertise of having gone there before. Then consider your actions, whether that is implementing new ideas or adding another layer of researching like I am doing here with the survey of readers. Your target audience is a group to include in your research in a business setting. You need to explore your own thoughts and feelings when you are central to the goal delivery, just like I am in creating content for my company. Then select your new approach and continue to fine tune it. If you hit a new plateau, just rinse and repeat the same process.

In summary hitting consistent results and the remedy if consistency no longer pays off, looks a bit like this in my book:

  1. Start and measure progress
  2. Notice the change in trend
  3. Launch an investigation
  4. Consult experts
  5. Consult your target audience and key delivery people
  6. Choose a new approach
  7. Measure
  8. Fine-tune consistently

Give us your input

To make a long story shorter, I stopped working the untenable 3 times per week writing schedule and started playing with less frequency and more diverse methods of communicating and re-packaging a few of the things we already have. To make it most relevant to you though, I am asking you to take a few minutes to give us your input into what you find valuable.

Give input in the survey, now!

The post Consistent and yet not getting the result you wanted? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Podcast 22: What can we learn from our environment for gamification design?

Welcome to this week’s Question of Gamification. My name is An Coppens. I am the Chief Game Changer at Gamification Nation, and this week’s question of gamification is one I have. I suppose it’s in light of all the global politics that are going on everywhere. It made me question, are we just all part of one large strategy game by a certain amount of players? Before I go into that, I want to draw analogies to strategy games, and what’s happening around this, both in the world of politics and the world of business, because that’s how, A, I see business but also, B, I think there’s a lot we can learn from it. It also encourages you, and that’s my hope that I can inspire you to think critically.

Okay, if you were in charge of that game, how would you play it? What cards would you play, and what would winning mean? What’s the win condition? Is there a win condition, or are we just heading for a zero sum game where there are no winners, only losers?

I guess it’s probably out of I would say frustration or desperation. I don’t know. It’s a blend maybe of the two. As you know, I’m a European working a business in the UK, and with Brexit looming we have a workforce that’s all spread over the world. For me, being a global business was always the way I wanted to play the game. I never thought of my business as being just a British company. I actually always felt it was a company playing on a global scale, but now currently the strategy of the politicians is potentially pushing a major, I suppose, spanner in the works, let’s just say. It’s making me adjust my strategies in order to still continue to play the game I wanted to play.

Then I also wonder if I’m only part of the larger playing field. I mean, we’re a tiny company in comparison to some of the big names in industry, but in the end of the day we all have a role to play in the strategy game whether we’re a low-end small business or a high-end major player like an Apple, an Amazon, an IBM, a Google, whatever. We all have a role to play, but also politicians have a role to play because their sense of government’s lack of or insights and wrongdoings can have major impacts. I mean, trying to grow any business in war-based countries is no mean feat. Trying to do business when your company or country is at war with other countries is not so simple.

Very realistically, I’ve had one client refused a platform I advised to use because of the company or the country they were from. They said, “Well we can’t possibly, as a Muslim nation, do business with a company from that particular nation.” It’s real, and I would say an oversight by maybe or maybe not politicians in the UK is that EU companies will choose an EU company to do business with as opposed to a British company unless the British company is the cheapest one on the market and offering lower values, which if you think about, I suppose the EU as a governing body, it has a lot of good to offer. It offered the whole continent of Europe peace for nearly 50 years. It brought about lots of rules that are actually good for business, good for humans, and good for the planet.

Do we like them all of the time? Of course not. That’s the nature of rules. Just like in any game, we don’t like having to stick to rules and having some ways they may impede us from doing how we wanted to do certain things. Yeah. I mean, in a strategy game you will always pivot and choose a different strategy based on the feedback you get from the market, the feedback you get from the game, the choices that are left to you. In the current political climate, I’m having to make choices, and the first choice I made was to wait and see. Now with an impending leaving the EU or Britain leaving the EU after all, unless a general election comes up, which is also still a possibility, it may mean having to set up the group entity, increasing the cost space by having to do double accounting and double offices and double everything.

It’s a realistic choice, and until we have to, we won’t action it, but it is something we are researching. It is something that we are looking into. Why? Because I wouldn’t trust the UK government to get it right. Especially in the last three years, they haven’t got much right. It would need a drastic change for my mind to be changed on it. Hey, that’s me, just one person.

If we think about politics as a strategy game, then the question is who are the winners, and who are the losers, and at what level or how much dissatisfaction do you need to raise in order for the top to change their minds and adapt their strategy? I have a place I’m going with that.

If you look at the situation in Hong Kong, that’s one scenario. People are very unhappy and protesting consistently to change rules that they don’t like. Government so far hasn’t changed their minds. The question is how much dissatisfaction does there need to be before governments change their minds? If you look at the UK, the people are split on leave, remain, and anything in between. Some people are much more leave oriented than they ever were. Some people are much more remained than they ever were. Some people have switched sides, and it’s nearly like there is no such thing as a middle ground anymore. It’s like you’re either one side or the other side, and it’s effectively very polarizing. If you see what’s happening in the US, similar boats.

You know the leadership is very polarizing, and when we look at it from a strategic perspective, who are they playing with, and are they playing for personal gain, or are they playing for game and must, must win? Because right now it looks like politics is an ego game where there can only be ever one winner, and maybe that was where we made the rules, and we’ve made them wrong. It could be politics were politics way back in the day, and they’ve always been there, so there’s always been some influence or other that was good, some influence or other that was bad.

I would say having a think about, “Okay if you were playing politics…” One of my favourite games was Sim City. I played it a lot in college where you have to become the mayor and build up a city. Now, one of the things in the game, and it’s a resource management game so you have to manage the various resources from trade to natural resources to people, and if you didn’t do and build certain things, then your people would get unhappy and would actually start riots and would be damaging to your particular city.

I think in society we see the same thing happen, but a lot of people have lost, I suppose, the spirit of fight because nothing has changed for quite some time. Politicians for the world over haven’t proven that much that we need to believe in what they say, for one. For two, we still question if they’re in it for the greater good of all of us or rather for the greater good of themselves. I suppose that’s the fundamental question. Is politics just an ego game or is politics something that we need in order to manage companies, in order to manage countries, in order to manage the world? Have we maybe become, as part of globalization, maybe national governments are obsolete? Maybe it is a different construct that’s needed, but by having a different construct, we may have even less people in power, even more ego tripping.

Maybe there is a fundamental, I suppose, question we can’t answer, but it does raise the question at the same time. Where am I going with this? What does it have to do with gamification? Well, actually a lot and a little on both sides. Personally for us, see, or for me as a business owner, it has a lot of implications. For gamification design, I’m looking at this and sort of seeing, “Okay, so what game are politicians playing?” If I look at the Boris Johnsons and all his friends in cabinet right now, I see a whole bunch of self-serving and often not fair players in the game. If I look at the opposing party like a labour, I see player that haven’t really got a strategy. If I look at then maybe some of the green shoots that are popping out, you have extreme strategies. On one side, you have a Farage on the other side or Brexit party better. On the other side you have a Liberal Democrats who are very clear that they are a remain party.

You have I suppose some political parties have been forced to take a stance, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Then it’s up to us as people to choose, “Okay, who do we want to elect for us to be representative of our own ideology?” Now our own ideology, if you think about it, is always based on limited inputs, limited information. Just like in any strategy game and just like in business, you make the best decisions with what you know at any given time. You look for as many inputs as possible, but you’re not going to make the best choices all of the time. You will have some mistakes. You will have some wrong choices, but if I look at that in a leadership context, having a clear strategy in my view, and that’s my personal view, is probably better than to have no strategy at all.

If I look at the game Johnson played is, he had two strategies before going into either campaign. He could have gone remain. He could have gone leave. He went leave, and now he’s used it to self-promote, and he ran a very successful strategy. You have to give him that.

Is he going to make it? I’m not convinced because unless he makes it for the greater good of everyone including the EU, then I think he’s on a losing streak. But, hey. That’s only history will tell us that, and that’s not up to me to decide. I think there’s so many factors at play that I couldn’t possibly figure that one out.

But, if you look at it from a strategy play, he hedged his bets. He had two cards, and he chose one, and then he completely stuck with that strategy and went for it. You have businesses that do the same. They pick a strategy, they stick with it, and they execute.

I think where the previous government went wrong, they didn’t execute. One way of another, any maybe they didn’t have enough of a tactical plan to back up the strategy. Because in the end of the day, strategy on paper is only idealism in any case. But, strategy and execution and tactics, that’s where the games are played in a strategy game unless you take your team to battle and you actually battle.

The best theory is always on the sidelines, same with any soccer game, with any tennis game, with any card game. Unless you play the cards, you’re not in the game. So, we have to keep playing. We have to keep adapting and pivoting in order to stay in the game, and I think that’s only natural. It’s, I think, how it works.

But, yeah, in the gamification design perspective, a long-winded way of getting there, I often have to ask many strategic questions in order to crystallize why do people want gamification. Why do they want to use a game? What is the benefit in it for them, but also the benefit in it for the people? What does it enable? Do we do some gamification designs for marketing?

I always have to keep asking the question, what’s in it for the customer? Why would they want that? Does it help them, or does it impede them? Most organizations actually do genuinely want to have their customers feel that they’re being helped, that they’re getting places, that their goals are being met. Most companies are not ripping off people on purpose. And I say most companies. There are always outliers, just like in politics. You always have outliers who are in it for themselves and not for the greater good.

I think, as gamification designers, we do have an ethical obligation to ask those questions. We signed up to a code of ethics, which I’m very thankful for that Andrzej Marczewski put together. The code of ethics is to always be as inclusive as possible and to have good ethical thinking behind that.

Now, some companies drive that further than we do, or they refuse business of certain industry segments, et cetera. We take a commercial approach to most things, but at the same time, we wouldn’t do something to harm people. But we won’t also refuse companies unless they don’t pay us, for example.

So, there’s different strategic choices you always have to make. You can change your minds, of course, on most things. Maybe not as often as some of the politicians in the U.K. have done in the past three years. But, it’s interesting.

And I guess, from a corporate gamification design perspective, imagine your company setting a vote for a particular benefit or a particular rule or a particular practice that you want to introduce. You need to have a cut off point. Is it the 50-50 or 51% votes in favour? Do you take if 50, or should it be a 60-40 for it to be a clearer majority?

In university in Belgium, you passed at 40, but you got honours only from 60 onward. So, there is different grades, different rules. In some schools, you only pass with 50%. In some schools, it’s 60. So, you set the rules. We’ve worked on gamification designs where the pass rate was 70% because of the highly critical nature of what people were having to do in the role if they were pushing a job.

So, although politics is a bad analogy or maybe something, as a business owner, I shouldn’t engage it. But, if you follow me on social, you know where I am on that. So, I guess there’s no place to hide.

But I did want to draw it out to showcase, actually think about it. If politics is a game, then who are the winners and who are the losers and who are they winning for? What are the rules? Are they sticking to the rules? Are they just making the rules suit them some of the time and not some of the time?

So, if you think about it, the U.K. as an example, they were actually quite instrumental in drafting up a lot of the rules that the EU currently lives by. A lot of the great legislation has actually come from the U.K. as well. So, to then turn around and say, “Oh, we hate the EU because they have bad rules.” Well, that was quite a percentage that you proposed, and they accepted.

If you take away all of EU legislation out of the U.K. law system, you end up back in feudal days, so that’s quite a roll back. Do you really want that? Equally, if you take away the joint of nature of performing like a block of nations, in no game do I see a collaboration of 28 nations being less strong than one nation on its own.

Any gamer would tell you that. If you collaborate with a bunch of people, surely the sum total of everything gives you better buying power. It gives you better deals around. You also have more clout against certain individuals who want to rip off your society anyway. So, yeah, it baffles me that this is not seen. But, hey. That’s just me thinking out loud, I guess.

From a small company’s perspective, I join up with associations like [Ayuki 00:06:50] and Atiga because they represent our industry as in the wider gaming and digital enterprise industry and stand our ground in front of politics. Why is that important to me? Well, actually I don’t have a voice as one individual, but if I group together with all of the other small businesses in my space, we can hire someone that then represents the whole lot of us, and that, I do value, and I would encourage all of you to make sure that the associations that you’re a part of know what you want globally. And if there is an association that represents your industry but doesn’t actually lobby at governmental level, then question what they are doing for you because it’s usually much more of a self-serving scenario. So, question it.

So, from a strategy design perspective, politics is teaching us a lot right now. I would say look at it, think about it, learn from it, and then decide, okay, for my business, for my company, for my people, what would I want? If I’m doing a vote, should it be a 50-50 split, or should there be a bigger majority? If it is binding or not binding as a vote, is it just an opinion poll because opinions can be sought at any given time in employee engagement.

It’s one of the most favourite tools. People get asked the employee survey once a year or maybe more often. In some of the employee engagement tools, you get asked every five minutes. Mood analysis is a thing. So, I sure wish politicians would use that more rather than self-serving interests, but hey. Maybe they are using it. What do I know? I’m not a politician.

So, what I’m trying to say is we live in a very interesting time. I hope that as governments go and as businesses go, that we don’t turn back the clock so far in time that we end up in that horrible situation where we become worn torn nations battling because the generals of our societies have decided that that was a good idea. And for those countries already living in these conditions, speak to anybody that comes from there, and they will tell you the story.

I would say in the last number of weeks, I’ve had the honour, I would say, to sit in cars with people from nations where war is basically a fact of life, and people say, “Well, actually, there was no point. There was no future.” Is that what you want? Most of us actually don’t want that for our people. We want to give them a future. We want to give them a step up.

In our business, we have one gentleman who is a former refugee who escaped, but his family is still in danger. So, it makes you think. It makes you really appreciate what you do have, and yeah. I would wish for all gamification designers, game designers, and people in business and politics, to always think about the greater good of all of us as opposed to the greater good of me.

We all have ego talks at some point. We all do things that probably are more self-serving than self-serving for the greater good, but is that the right thing? And maybe it isn’t, and maybe that’s where we then need to pivot back and strategize for the majority as opposed to for a small minority, and in some cases, even a minority of one.

So, a bit of a reflective question of gamification. It was my question in the first place. I hope that you can appreciate where I’m coming from. I’m not aiming to transform your visions or your thoughts on which side of politics you should take. I’m just merely saying observe politics and observe what’s going on around you, and think of it, and I suppose take the higher level view. And so, okay, okay, if this was a strategy game and I was a player in it, would I play the same way or would I not? And because you’re actually impacting real consequences for real people, and if you’re a manager deciding to spend budget on gamification, this should be on your agenda too.

Then, consider deeply, who are you serving? What is in it for the people you are serving? Can you lift them up to their next level of greatness? In which case, great. If you can’t, then you need to question, is this the right step forward? Is this the right thing to do, or am I just sticking to a strategy because I chose to polarize, or I chose to go down one route and one route only because it suits me and my objectives?

So, I leave you with that thought. I hope you can enjoy the spirit in which it was said, and I hope to talk to you, probably a bit more business-focused next time. And I thank you for listening to A Question of Gamification.




The post Podcast 22: What can we learn from our environment for gamification design? appeared first on Gamification Nation.

Podcast 21: What are kids learning from games?

Welcome to this week’s question of gamification. On this question, I get asked a lot by parents, “What are my kids learning on video games, on computer games, on mobile games?” “Should I limit their time on it,” is typically the second question. “I am worried about my kids playing too much.” It’s a very frequently asked question by managers in many organisations with children at home. They see that their children are playing and playing a lot, and I suppose with the World Health Organisation, you’re marking gaming as a disorder as well. There’s a need to explain why and what the case may be with games and what it brings or doesn’t bring to your children or young people that you know.

The first thing I will say is as a person growing up, my parents were quite protective and we were not allowed games at all in the house. So when I was growing up, I was always borrowing somebody else’s games in school in order to play. In fact, I think at one stage my dad thought that Pong was going to blow up the television. And if you don’t know Pong, look it up, it’s a very basic game with two balls knocked to the side of the screen and you have to sort of play table tennis on the TV screen. So my uncles had to uninstall it quite quickly after it had launched.

What we did do, however, is we had a lot of board games. We had a lot of card games. We were all involved in sports. Although computer things were banned, we still got to play. Actually all of my children’s parties were sets of games. Most of them I dreamt up. I was lucky to be born in June, and often then the weather in Belgium was quite nice and quite fun. We typically had really fun things in the garden, in our house.

The little puddle pool was used as the hinderness that you had to overcome or the obstacle that you had to overcome rather than the hindrance, which is nice Flemish word for that … it’s an obstacle. One group of the party people had to defend the obstacle and either make you go through it, which gave you immunity, or you had to be cunning enough to distract them and run past them super fast and get to the other side. Things like Tug of War, you name it, we did it.

For my confirmation we had this massive life-sized board where you had to roll the dice and you move forward, and based on where you landed you had to go find the clue in the woods and perform whatever task was related to that clue. If the person that was minding that clue thought you had passed you, you were allowed to continue back to the board and the dice. Things you had to do in order to get over a clue were things like dress up and take a photo, solve a riddle. Sometimes you had to find things. There were always fun, cool stuff that happened.

So although I never actually got to own a console of any denomination of sorts, I did love to play and my parents did definitely encourage that. Even though when I asked about a career in gaming, my dad was very adamant that there was no money in games. I guess it was a good … I would have been seven, so a good couple of decades ago. Let’s just say that.

Today’s kids I think have a bit more of a privilege or access ability, I think. And maybe that’s also my worldview of a relatively well to do middle class background, because gaming, let’s not forget, this is not cheap. So a lot of kids from the lower end of the market families may still not be able to access any game consoles or just purely because of costs. And if they do, they might have to work really hard to earn access to it. So I think if your kids are gaming, you’re already in a nice place and you probably have enough money to help them do certain things. So that’s one thing.

But what are they learning? So think about it this way. If your children are playing as a team with other kids in their class, in their neighborhood, but even with other kids online that they have never met, like is the case in the large games like World of Warcraft where a whole tribe comes together, forms a team effectively, they learn how to work in a virtual team with remote coworkers following instructions. In some cases the 12 year old or the 14 year old or the 16 year old is the leader of the tribe. So they’re leading people, they’re giving instructions, they’re giving feedback. If you think about it in the workplace, essential skills, right? So if they’re engaged in that sort of play and they are really good at it I would say encourage them.

What I would also say if they do that to the detriment of having any friends in real life, then yes, pay attention to that. That’s when it is potentially an option. So anything in moderation is relatively good. But if for example, the friends online are much more important than their friends in real life, then the question needs to be raised, are they going down the line of ruling everything else out in favor of play. And that’s when you’re entering the realm of addictive behavior.

Now, most games come and go. So you’ll have children go through phases of today, Fortnite is the big thing. Fortnite has become mainstream. I saw it on the news yesterday that there’s the Fortnite world championships coming on. There’s world championships in most games. My partner plays in European championships and world championships in Othello, a board game, I used to play when I was a kid.

There’s world sports and world games for pretty much anything, and maybe not enough in management. Maybe there should be such a thing for the workplace. Maybe there should be games to prove who’s the best manager based on resources. And maybe in some way we do that because we do measure companies based on their performance. If, let’s say, the stock exchange is how management teams are rated, then you have leader boards and you have indicators of resource management because whatever money you have left, whatever money you have in the bank is at play in the world of business success.

There’s a number of things that you could draw analogies with. What else are kids learning when they’re playing games? They’re learning to solve problems. They’re learning to overcome obstacles, and they’re learning that winning is not always a guarantee. And in today’s society I think that that above all other things is an essential skill. Resilience is something all of us that have made anything with our lives have had to learn the hard way. We’ve had to probably come through some knock-backs, some setbacks in order to make it to where we are today.

I see failure. I see losing a game as feedback. Yes, not nice in the moment, but very essential for us to grow and to become a bigger and better person and to do better next time. Winning first time round and winning all of the time is for only a lucky few the way things work.

If you look at any major sports person, whether it’s a Venus Williams or a Federer, a Messi, a Hazar, whoever you interview, these guys and girls have had to train hard, they’ve had to take failure and they’ve had to be resilient in order to keep moving forward. Yes, they may have come with a talent, but unless they nurture that talent and focused in on it and became better at it with coaching, with training, with probably researching how they could get better, with analyzing how they could improve, they would never have made it to the top. And I would argue that the gamers of today, the kids that are rocking it on Twitch, the kids that are rocking it in e-sports, have actually got very similar traits. They are learning the hard way to take hits to take knocks. They practice a lot and they are also applying analysis on strategy and often have coaches to get them to play at top levels.

A few years ago I spoke at South by Southwest in Texas together with two of my fellow gamification ladies. I went to a seminar on e-sports, and about the team and how team managements are structured, how the progression is, I found it fascinating. So at age 12 that’s when you enter professional e-sports or e-sports that are going places. By Age 14 to 16 you’re at your peak. By age 18 to 21 you’re actually losing the flexibility in your muscle responses. Your responses become slower and that’s when these kids become coaches.

Now a pro-team that’s at the top of their game in e-sports, plays probably eight hours a day. The rest of the day they do exercise, very specific exercise to keep the body going but also exercise that helps them to enhance their reflexes in a game. They also have to look after nutrition, sleep, etc. So it’s not just a very one track sport. It has to be seen as the global person.

They know from research unless you are physically fit and switched on that you wouldn’t necessarily make the top level in e-sports. Which I found fascinating as well, because a lot of the thinking about parents who have this fat kid sitting up in the dark room playing video games until the night is over basically, a lot of parents have this really negative image of what gaming is and what gaming can be. And actually I think there is a lot of very good things happening as well.

Yesterday on the news they showed the first female gamer with disabilities doing well. The fact that she can play in a level playing field because of an adapted system I think is amazing. She doesn’t play in a different league. She plays in a regular league against the boys, just purely because her disability didn’t matter anymore. Her console is adapted to her playing to the best of her abilities. And she’s rocking it. And I thought, “You know what? Kudos to the gaming industry because that is also something that it provides. That is something that us in the workplace have not cracked yet.”

So I think there is a definite case for inclusion and a definite case for showing up as who you choose to be and being the best you can be in that role, that’s coming through kids in gaming. I guess I’m slightly passionate. I’m also slightly biased and you could say that.

But I suppose the things to watch out for when is it an addiction? When is it not an addiction? Well, it’s an addiction if a kid doesn’t play with their own friends anymore. It’s an addiction when actually the game becomes more important than everything else in life. Just like comparing it to alcohol or drugs or anything, if the fix becomes bigger than living, than everything else, than people, than looking after yourself, then it’s time to probably look out, “Okay, let’s tone this down. Let’s have a conversation, seek professional help and look into it.”

But the reality is for a lot of kids, the game of the month will be a different game next month or three months from now. For most kids, it’s part of growing up. It’s part of learning. It’s part of just socializing. So if you can afford it, let them engage, let them play. If you can’t afford them, let them go to the friends that have the games and they can play and see what you can do. I think games today are becoming more economically viable for most of us, so it doesn’t need to be exclusive. Even though e-sports may still be for the privileged few, just like elite sports on any level in any game is probably much more for the elite few than for the masses.

But games, they have rules. Kids learn to behave according to rules. Strategy games and multiplayer games encourage them to learn about teams, sometimes even teach them to manage teams. In all games there’s communication. In all games there is learning from losing, learning from winning, thinking of, “Okay, how can I do better next time.” And focused attention for long periods of time is what we say young kids don’t have anymore until they sit down at a computer game. They show that they actually do have it. So pushing them in other areas in work to engage in really good engaged work is also parts of the realms of possibility. A good book can do the same, a good movie can do the same.

Kids haven’t lost that ability. We just have lost the ability to encourage them to do it. And maybe that’s our fault as adults to not engage at the right level with the right bits of feedback. The one thing that games do do is give instant feedback. Learn in the moment. So learning is becoming much more rapid in a game, then for example, three or four months down the line or weeks down the line, you get feedback on the work you did two weeks ago. So there is something to be said for that.

Being a manager myself, it’s not always easy when you’re juggling many tasks on your to-do list, but also many tasks for your team and many priorities for your business, for your work, etc. And as a parent that’s no difference. So where can you use games and gamification to make their lives better is what I would say. But then I have a vested interest in that.

What can your children learn from games a lot? So let them play. Play with them, because for some kids that’s the only interaction they have with you. If you’re attached to your smart device, attach to their smart device. Learn their game, or at least engage in a game that you have in common, because they may not appreciate if you’re totally bad at Fortnite, don’t go playing Fortnite with them because they’ll only laugh at you and consider you a nuisance. But there may be other games.

We always had board games in our family and we still do. There’s nothing wrong with that. I used to always be delighted if we could play a little game and weren’t told to go play by ourselves. So engage, engage at their level and find the common game that’s yours and that makes it family time so that you can engage.

So yeah, will people learn? Yes, absolutely. Do Kids today need games? Totally. Just like we did. We’re no different in the end of the day. Motivations have actually not drastically changed over time. We all still want to be loved, respected, and appreciated for the talents that we bring, and encouraged when those talents don’t reach far enough or we got it wrong. We need second chances.

Either way I would say don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. What did you learn when you were young? What did you play with when you were young? And yeah, if the symptoms are not drastic and not in any way negative than just let them play. Let them learn. Ask them on a regular basis, what are they learning? Who are they playing with? What are they playing? What’s the best game on the market today? And look it up. There’s always kids doing live streams of the games they play. So that you understand what they’re dealing with. So that you understand how the game works and what potentially they could learn from this game. I would say, yeah, let it be, let them play and play with them. Join them. If you can’t win, join them.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s question of gamification, and I hope to have you back on the podcast very soon and talk to you in a couple of days. I love it if you would give us some positive feedback. So if you like our podcast, absolutely give us a good rating. If you don’t like it, let me know. I’d prefer if you let me know personally as opposed to publicly. And also if you have a question that you would like us to answer, by all means send it my way. Thank you for listening.


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