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This post was written by Efficyers

Why should you stop working and start playing instead?

Discover here below the speech Dominique Mangiatordi, Marketing Director at Efficy, gave at the TEDx Liège event. He revealed why employees should stop working in the office… and start playing instead!

Gamification is everywhere

Without realizing it you’re already involved in the world of games…

You learn more about an office colleague by playing a game with them, whatever that game may be (ideally a board game or a sport), than you learn in an hour spent working alongside them (when not interrupted by meetings and breaks at the coffee machine).

Games are a great test of personality – perhaps the best there is. What can emerge, when we play, is something very instinctive. Tell me what you play, and I will tell you who you are.

Show me what gets you enthusiastic and what kind of personal gratification you hope to get from a game, and I will rapidly draw parallels between your gaming life and your life as an employee, employer, entrepreneur, etc.

The parallels become obvious. We are all game players. I am using the term game in a very wide sense here, namely in the sense that we all have a propensity to play games and that propensity is both natural and instinctive.

For example, how many of you have played a game on a smartphone in the last 24 hours? OK. From what I can see, that’s about 20% of you. Now, how many of you have visited Facebook in the last 24 hours?

This time it’s closer to around 80-90%. I have news for you: Facebook is a form of social game playing. What you find on Facebook can also be found in games. For example, on Facebook, you have a scoring system.

It may not go by that name, but when you publish something on the site and then wait for whatever it is to receive likes, this is a form of scoring just like in a game, with good, average or very bad scores all possible.

On Facebook, you get a sense of achieving a particular level just like you get in many games. When you reach the point where you have 5,000 friends, as some of the people in this room have, you find you cannot just stop there. You need to progress to level two and get yourself an artist, star or celebrity page etc. In the world of video games, this is known as ‘leveling up’. It’s the same thing in both cases.

We are all game players… our children even more so

We are all game players: children, adults, older people, men, women, manual workers, white collar employees, managers. Unfortunately – or fortunately in our case – we still have a tendency to too often think of game playing as an activity for young adults or children.

This is great however, and suits me fine, because I love taking the example of children and their behaviour and applying it to activities adults have in their professional lives.

Children are natural, uninhibited game players. They play very professionally: it’s their main activity. Today in our developed countries, a ten year old will play more than fifteen different games in a single day, each and every day.

Games are part of the very fabric of their daily routine and their lives in general. In today’s world, this is something that probably makes the rest of a given child’s activities more difficult than they would otherwise be.

In the time I’m not playing the day’s fifteen games, I have to go to school; and at 6:30 pm, my mum gave me Brussels sprouts to eat, which I don’t like. My day is initially broken up into activities which are not fun.

This is what we call gamification, which is the application of game playing techniques in an environment which is not fun and not interesting enough to be stimulating. Let me use another example: Julie is learning to brush her teeth.

For any of you in the room who are parents, try getting your children to brush their teeth properly. It’s more than just a challenge: it’s a triple challenge. They need to brush their teeth regularly (one, two or three times per day) and they need to brush them for two whole minutes – good luck with that!

And once you’ve got them to do those two things (which is no small accomplishment), you still need to ensure they are brushing their teeth properly, reaching every last part of the mouth and every single tooth.

This is something Julie doesn’t enjoy at all. Her motivation is extrinsic: if she doesn’t do it, there will be negative consequences – she’ll get told off, etc. Motivation should instead be intrinsic.

I’ll give you an example of applying gamification to the act of brushing one’s teeth:

In this example demonstrating the application of gamification to a routine daily activity, Julie has forgotten that she is actually brushing her teeth: she is instead playing and trying to achieve a score, etc. Her motivation thus becomes intrinsic and she plays in order to participate in the game and brushes her teeth for the same reason.

This small startup (which is going to get bigger) is called Kolibree and is based in Paris. They are excellent.

Gamification in schools…

Everyday life is what we are dealing with here, the every day life of children that is, which is largely dominated by school. This is especially an area in which there is much gamification work to do, namely in learning and education, or in other words, schools, both those for children and those for adults.

Today, when you attend a lecture, it still tends to go something like this: “Good morning and welcome to nuclear physics xx5:43 1. ”

I am there; I am alone in front of the class; I dispense my knowledge; I expand on my topic, and you sit there passively, listening to me. Fantastic! Even though I can try my best, I doubt I’ll be able to keep you riveted for two or three hours.

And children have to spend the whole day like this. Gamification is therefore ideal for the world of learning and education; or to put it another way: playing games is the best way to learn.

It’s the best technique. We have all learned things through playing games; animals learn through playing games: they repeat various behaviours that constitute game playing in order to learn to be adults.

Why does learning through game playing work?

It’s because when you’re playing a game, the feedback is immediate. If you make progress in the game, you are informed about it straight away; value is attached to your achievement, which means you remain conscious of how much progress you are making.

On my GPS in my car, I would love to have a screen that could display encouraging messages from the police: “It’s now three years since you last had a speeding ticket! ” (It will come in the future).

This kind of progression indicator is one of the key driving factors and one of the main advantages games have to offer. To play a game is to make visible progress.

And unfortunately – or fortunately in our case, as this is what we do – in companies and organisations, the progress you make does not have value attached to it in real-time and nor do you receive feedback about your progression in real-time; or not enough feedback, nowhere near enough in fact.

There is a lot of work to be done in this area.

The rules: the basic foundation of a good game!

The second main advantage games have to offer, and which I want to share with you all today, is the fact they involve rules. These days, the operative world is rebellion, but when it comes to a well-made game, the first thing to do is establish a rule.

For a game to work well and to keep the players motivated and focused, there has to be rules: they’re reassuring, they’re stimulating, they’re motivating, they’re very fair, and they’re transparent.

We aren’t lucky enough to have this in real life, unfortunately, as we either don’t know the rules or they simply do not exist. Or when they do actually exist, they are complicated, subject to change or not respected. Imagine somebody teaching you a game and then that person being the first to cheat.

I think any player would stop playing immediately. In real life, unfortunately, we are always required to submit our tax returns, despite the fact that the chancellor of the exchequer … and so on.

Player profiles

When playing a game, we become a different version of ourselves, or even a better version. I’ve deliberately chosen the extreme example of World of Warcraft – it’s one of the most popular online role playing games out there.

I’ll give you a simpler example: imagine you leave the office at 5:00 pm to go and play tennis with friends. From the moment you put on your tennis clothes, you become a tennis player.

And your tennis playing history, your playing level, your last score and what you are hoping to achieve all come to the surface at this point. You’re still yourself, but now it’s you as a tennis player.

In businesses and organisations, unfortunately, it’s often “you, you, you” and always that same “you”. The managers of tomorrow, therefore, will be required to invent scenarios that will allow you to envisage yourself performing differently and changing functions, with different and changing motivations, etc., and sometimes having to become different characters.

If you were to be sent to represent the company at a meeting in Poland, you would be the company’s ambassador for the day – as it would be the first time you’d be doing that, you would have a new role to try.

There are today six million players paying 15 $ per month to play World of Warcraft to get the chance to become somebody else. This is the game with the most no-lifers (individuals who, unfortunately, abandon their real lives to immerse themselves completely in the game).

These kinds of games are becoming ever more nuanced and detailed, because not only can you customise the characters, but you can also modify a lot of their psychological aspects.

With all the chat modules and interactions between players that are involved, it’s essentially a bit of myself, of my own personality, that I can bring to the game. And often, the result is less far-fetched and less impressive than the person I would have liked to have been in real life.

I mention World of Warcraft to you because it’s a game that is used by gamification experts in defining what works in businesses and organisations, and the reason for this is that it’s one of the rare games in which all four player profile types – I’ll describe these to you shortly – can blossom and develop.

Each of the four different player profile types is free to progress as far as they choose in the game.

Richard Bartle’s four player profile types

Before talking to you about the four profile types, I’m going to ask you to consider a question devised by Richard Bartle. Imagine a situation where you go running every Sunday with friends in a small group of five or six people; as amateur athletes who run five kilometres at a time, your level is not especially high.

On one particularly fine day, one of your friends says: “How about if we did the Barcelona marathon in September (in four months’ time)? ” Everyone is in good spirits so all respond: “Yes, let’s do it. ”

Imagine yourself in that situation. What, in your opinion, will motivate you more than anything else? Will it be the possibility of beating all the other members of the group?You want to be the one who has performed the best out of the five members of the group at the end of the marathon?

Alternatively, you may have a particular time in mind that you would like to finish the marathon in, 3 hours 29 minutes for example.
Or maybe what motivates you is the prospect of the four months of training that you will be doing alongside your friends, the adventure you will all be experiencing together. In which case the training in itself is the motivation.

Or as a final choice, perhaps what motivates you is the trip to Barcelona: the chance to experience a marathon(which you’ve never done) and explore a city that you’ve never visited?

– Those who choose the first option (namely beat the other members of the group), please raise your hands! It’s a difficult thing to admit to isn’t it? Ten percent of the population are supposed to raise their hands at his point.

– Second possibility: what you are interested in is achieving a particular time. You want to progress from your current xx12:34 level and achieve a specific score.

– Third possibility: you are going to get to spend four stimulating months with your friends and really train hard, which is fantastic.

– Final possibility: explore Barcelona and experience the world of marathon running.

A killer, in a game, is someone motivated by ranking: they want to outperform others – they are thus well named. If I’m in a group of five and that group of five is of a mediocre standard, I still want to be the best: the intrinsic quality of what I and the other players are doing is of little or no interest to me. As a killer, I am very focused on the ranking; it’s what really counts for me.

The second profile (the achiever) is interested in the progress they can make in terms of their own ability/know-how. Achievers want to make progress in their particular discipline or acquire expertise in several different disciplines: I want my first-aid certificate, my helicopter pilot’s licence, my HGV licence, etc. I want to become good at Spanish and fluent within two years. They are very focused on the idea of achieving a particular level and may be happy with the idea of ranking systems, as long as those systems provide a clear indication of progress made or the quality of the performance.

The third profile type (that of socialiser), which accounts for the majority of the population, is applicable to people who, in video games as in real life, are primarily interested in the interactions between players. What counts is my role in the team, what I’m going to be able to do both for and with the other members. In World of Warcraft, a socialiser is likely to want to join a guild (the name for a group in the game) and will wait for the guild leader to assign them a role.

And the final profile type, which is also the rarest found, is that of explorer: someone with a thirst for adventure and who wants to discover new places and new and as yet unknown powers, etc. – someone who is filled with curiosity. In businesses and organisations, this would be the kind of person who is drawn to innovation: someone who will challenge accepted wisdom and try to suggest different ways of doing things.

This type of player is very useful – in fact all four profile types are, even the killers among you. Studies tell us that a team made up of just one profile type will be insufficient. What is really required is a carefully considered blend of different types. If all you have is killers, you have a catastrophe.

If all you have is people who socialize, this can sometimes lead to the notion of the business or organisation’s performance, the actual objective in other words, being left by the wayside. These four profile types form the basis of all the work we do, and it’s amazing just to what extent you can identify and recognize them at work in the everyday life of the office.

My message to you today, therefore – this has simply been an introduction – is that it is still a rebellious act to speak in these terms at the moment, because gamification in businesses and organisations is still in its infancy.

As things currently stand, if you want to motivate your team and are looking to begin with a game, a genuine and properly targeted game, I have to say that I have come across very very few. We are willing to wager that this is going to change.

Here’s an example of how Belfius Banque has used Peak Me Up to motivate its sales staff

If you are in a position of responsibility in your organisation and have a team to manage, I invite and encourage you to get ahead of the game by thinking differently and starting to give consideration to the idea of introducing a game system so you can verify the results for yourself, because we verify them every day.

Try Peak Me Up, the first ever application to use gamification to motivate sales staff!

Discover Peak Me Up. How it can be used? and What for?

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