top of page

Gamification: From Playful Beginnings to Practical Solutions

1 March 2024
Michal Blumenfeld Sagi
A group of men wearing masks and capes

Game or work – which do you prefer? Don't worry; the boss won't mind an honest answer 😊. It has been well-established that adults, just as children, also enjoy playing, and a good, enjoyable game can bring a smile to even the most serious and tough individuals. And more importantly- there's no need to choose. It's both possible and beneficial to integrate play into the work environment. When a game becomes part of the organizational setting, it gets a new name: Gamification 🎲🎲.

It's fascinating to observe how gamification has evolved. Nowadays it encompasses various methods of enhancing a positive experience by incorporating elements from the fictional world (=the game world) into the real world, and specifically, the work environment. This can involve integrating actual gameplay elements (such as rules, a defined beginning and end, winners and losers, etc.), or introducing partial game elements, like adding a smile or a wink 😜. For instance, this could mean incorporating a cartoon character on a website, portal, etc.

Beyond the promise of fun and enjoyment in the game, why should gamification be introduced into the organization?

Reflect on your experiences with games, whether it's a childhood favorite, playing basketball with friends, or tackling an escape room with your family. The joy, curiosity, adrenaline, competitiveness, and the spirit of nonsense and fun – all these elements can be harnessed for various organizational purposes.

When we craft a positive experience, complete with winks and smiles, it becomes easier to enhance knowledge sharing, foster unity among employees, and reinforce organizational values and a sense of belonging. But there's more to it...

Gamification helps dismantle barriers on issues crucial to promoting within the organization, that otherwise may raise resistance. For example, consider the challenge of implementing lessons learned. Sharing a bad experience with your colleagues and admitting suboptimal actions can be difficult to most of us. By incorporating gamification elements, we can associate positive experiences with lessons learned, making the process smoother. A good example from our workplace is the development of a digital escape room for one of the largest banks in Israel, based on a real case of lessons learned. I created characters that were inspired by well-known detectives, a gripping mystery narrative, and a ticking clock, all rooted in the bank's organizational culture, thus transformed the employees into heroes navigating the complexities of lessons learned in a positive, fun, and active manner.

Another value derived from gamification lies in making the utilization of knowledge management systems user-friendly and practical. Despite substantial efforts in setting up these systems, they may not always be inviting to users. Overcoming reluctance to adapt to a new system requires encouragement. Gamification tools come to the rescue by creating detective games or mysteries tailored to the organization. Clues and puzzles encrypted in the system encourage users to explore its features, turning what might be considered a dull training session into an empowering and exciting experience. Recently, we developed such a game for a client to practice using a neglected knowledge management system. The success of the game and the buzz it generated among employees led various unit managers to proactively ask the knowledge manager for practice sessions 🤷🏻♀️.

So, what do we mean when we talk about gamification?

Gamification takes on various forms and presents many faces 🙃:

  • We can craft elaborate and intricate activities, such as a physical or digital escape room.

  • Another avenue is building sophisticated knowledge quizzes.

  • Another option is integrating elements of gamification, like using names of heroes from movies or books in ongoing activities.

  • Alternatively, you can opt for a vibrant combination of different shades (without going overboard) and cute emojis.

  • Creating games based on a successful 📺 television format is within the realm of possibilities.

  • And countless other cool ideas are waiting to be explored.

It all hinges on your imagination, and inspiration can be found everywhere... ⭐

When should gamification be incorporated?

The question isn't just about how to do it, but also when and how to do it effectively.

Gamification brings a festive and enjoyable aspects, particularly fitting during peak activities such as training, workshops, team-building days, portal launches, or the implementation of a new system. However, gamification activities can seamlessly become part of the routine and ongoing work within an organization. For example, a rolling game featuring scavenger hunt puzzles planted on the portal each month can ensure that the portal continues to shine beyond its initial launch.

If we've crafted a form or a smart document (a lengthy document presented in a user-friendly manner), we can enhance it by incorporating colorful elements like icons and emojis along with cute and amusing sentences. These additions provide a playful touch, making the process of filling out the document an enjoyable experience. Such elements can also be integrated into e-learning, surveys, tutorials, etc. Consider creating a fictional and amusing character to accompany a serious process, adding another layer to the experience, thus bringing a smile to the user’s face.

So, when should you incorporate gamification? At every opportunity. And how? Through humor, winks, and ensuring the construction of a positive experience. Even if competitive elements are introduced, maintaining a successful experience for all participants is a must. In gamification, everyone wins.

Yes... but

Many organizations are enthusiastic about the advantages of integrating gamification into their operations, but the perceived "high cost" often becomes a deterrent due to resource constraints. And frankly? this is not far from the truth.

Coming from the world of screenwriting, where every line of dialogue undergoes numerous revisions, I initially attempted to create perfect gamification solutions. This involved a thorough exploration of needs, game nature, plot, characters, and even subtle visual nuances that would elevate each game to perfection. While I successfully crafted impressive and complex games, they were accessible only to clients with substantial budgets, bringing us back to the glitzy 🌠launch events – the initial point of gamification.

Taking a step back, we reassessed our approach. Today, when undertaking a gamification project, we work in reverse: first evaluating the available resources and then deciding what, how, and how much to invest – a cost-based design.

Here are some tips to help create gamification solutions that are cost-effective yet impactful:

  1. Utilize existing gamification solutions, adapting the content to the organization. Changing the plot and using dedicated images create a new game, tailored to the organization without reinventing the wheel.

  2. Opt for ready-made digital platforms instead of creating dedicated HTML files. Platforms like genially offer ready-made templates, significantly reducing costs.

  3. Instead of developing games from scratch, leverage ready-made game templates like Wordwall. Small games can be integrated into a larger “world”, with characters and plot, enhancing the experience and making it an ongoing, evolving matter, inspired by the approach of major studios like the creators of the Marvel Universe – albeit on a smaller scale.

With boundless creativity🎉, exciting gamification activities can be customized for any organization and need. The possibilities are limitless.

Ultimately, gamification is a sophisticated yet simple tool for creating positive associations, making knowledge accessible, and utilizing supporting systems. You just need to start, and once you do, you won't want to stop. Believe me.

bottom of page