Reflections on Gamification Europe

Taking a few days out to mingle within your own industry and share ideas is a challenge from a time perspective, but equally from an energy perspective. You tend to fit work around the talks, at least that is if you are committed to supporting the organisers and feel it is important to share. Then you also tend to end up talking to lots of people at after chats, breakfast, dinners, etc. So I have to say today, I am feeling the accumulation of a few days of lack of enough rest and sleep. I also still feel very happy about my Outstanding Gamification Agency Award and satisfied I made the time to listen and learn from others.

In an emerging industry, with lots of people still trying to find their space, their voice and their income stream, I think we need to be mindful and inclusive. I saw it in the coaching field years ago and now in the gamification industry, most of us want to industry to grow and do well. Some thought leaders will invest time and energy and share abundantly, others will just waltz in perform their best “wow look at me, I am so great” speech and then waltz back out. I have never been one of the latter, but I am always bemused by them and then they are surprised when nobody will support them if they are in trouble. Karma is a hard teacher I guess :-).

Anyway, probably sharing too many personal thoughts, but I was told you like reading them.

My lessons from the Gamification Europe conference were varied and interesting. I believe the enthusiasm for gamification and improving our practise by practitioners is alive and well, which is fabulous to see. I thoroughly enjoyed the dispelling of the heroes journey by Jeff Gomez. The whole idea that we are effectively all in several versions of a multi player online role playing game with all of our social media persona’s is quite a fun analogy. He also mentioned the whole concept of collaboration in a journey for the greater good of the community, where one winner is no longer the be and end all, but exponentially better if the community also benefits. It is those very points that Marigo Raftopoulos questioned us to think about when defining project success or failure. Our industry by the very nature of what we work with has the opportunity to nudge behaviour for the greater good or bad, it depends on the viewpoint you take.

A key point was made by several speakers around how gamification needs to fit into the processes we are trying to improve and not create additional friction or steps. I think the danger sometimes lies in getting over-excited as a designer and creating game play that may not necessarily support the core objective of the individual end-user. Unfortunately we also saw an example of that presented.

On day one, it looked for a while I was going to be the only one (at least in the track I was following) speaking about lessons learned from failure, which was the theme of the conference. Thankfully the speaker right ahead of me saved the day a little with sharing theirs. Day two, definitely brought a whole bunch more war stories and lessons.

Karen Cham was a breath of fresh air coming with an academic and practical perspective and putting gamification right back into its place. I agree that it is indeed an amalgamation of concepts and schools of thought that we use to deliver designs that matter for our clients. Great ladies seemed to be the order of the day, first Marigo and then Karen, the panel on women in gamification brought some more surprises. As a panel member I was as honest as usual I guess, but I was also very surprised that a lady I look up to quite a bit, Melinda Jacobs, actually experienced the same very silly situations where our design were rejected and a male colleague presents the exact same and they were accepted without any questions asked. It seriously rattled some of the guys in the audience, who had never experienced it and believed it didn’t quite happen in our industry. I think it also gave some good debate, just like the cultural diversity panel gave some good food for thought, even if slightly less provocative.

At the after party, I really enjoyed learning a new collaborative game called “Forbidden Islands” where you really have to work together to make sure the tokens are all saved. It just seemed a perfect close, to Jeff Gomez’ opening thoughts around community journeys as opposed to heroes journeys whether they are superman or superwoman it always includes winners, subs and losers, whereas collaborative makes it better for more people.

For those of you who enjoyed my talk and have been asking for the slides, the slides can be found on the link below.






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