Gamification & Turkey

Insights from Gamification World Congress 2015

As Gamification Designer at Performance Solutions I recently spoke at #GWC15,  The Gamification World Congress in Barcelona. During the 4 day congress, top speakers from all over the world shared best and bad practices, current state of the industry, and the future of gamification.


Although it’s a growing multibillion dollar industry, a lot of people still have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the term ‘Gamification’. Or they do have – some – idea, cooked up by reverse engineering: ‘It has something to do with using games in your business, right?’, often followed by a cynical opinion or some argument to make clear that Gamification wouldn’t work in their organization. You might be one of them.


It’s something I come across quite often; people – especially those who grew up in the pre-(computer)gaming era – are full of prejudices about playing games: It’s just for fun, It’s for kids, It’s what you do when you don’t work. It’s counterproductive.

All of these are explicitly not true. In fact it’s the opposite. Games are often hard, are played by everyone (the largest cohort of gamers are women between 40-50), people love to play because they are not challenged enough in their daily lives & work, and – when applied right – can be an enormous boost for productivity. It might also have side effects like getting an engaged workforce, higher service levels, and loyal customers. When applied right.


The people and companies that attended Gamification World Congress are a step ahead. Or they were amongst the first to use gamification in their organization  – and were happy to share their experiences – , or they were curious and open to learn from others about Gamification.


We played with Lego Serious Play (using Lego during training and brainstorm sessions to handle complex ideas), we were pirates in a Quest from Monica Cornetti  (who turns every training into an adventure using gameplay and narrative), we learned how gamification helped African tribes to learn more from each other, how an Insurance company let their clients ‘play their future’ (to become more aware of life after their retirement), and why Andrzej Marczewski still buys his Christmas Turkey at Graham Turner


The last one may sound odd, but it was a great point in Andrzej’s talk about loyalty. Gamification is notoriously known for its simplified application in loyalty programs; gathering airmiles or freebees – a game principle used in a non-game context – is used to attract an bind customers to your brand. Andrzej tried to figure out the real reasons why he would drive 4 kilometers to his butcher Graham Turner, while there’s another butcher just around the corner of his house, as well as a Co-op and Tesco store.

It wasn’t convenience, and it sure wasn’t the price. Quality and service made up for that, but couldn’t explain his preference for the mid-town butcher. In a great comparison he summed up all the factors companies would use to attract him, to come to the conclusion that there was only one differentiating element: ME! ‘I am going to Graham Turner because of me. He greets me when I walk in, knows my name, and is happy and proud of it that I come all the way to his little midtown butchery to get the best Christmas Turkey’.




This great point echoed in almost every talk at Gamification World Congress: Gamification in not a quick and dirty solution. It is nog about slamming some points, badges and leaderboard into your work processes and expect it to work. It is not about luring in customers with discounts, points or cards and expect them to be loyal.

Gamification is Human Centered Design. It is about people. Or as Andrzej quoted ‘True loyalty is like true love. It’s irrational, hard to find & needs constant effort’. 

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