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Gamification is the name of the game

1 September 2020
Michal Blumenfeld Sagi
ping pong paddel

Gamification is imbedded in our psyche in early childhood. Mankind has been playing games since prehistoric times. Gamification is a vital part of child development socially, cognitively, motorically, etc.

The dichotomy between the 'serious' world of adulthood and the childish world of gamification has crumbled away with the emergence of escape rooms. They began in Japan, China, and Hong Kong in 2007. They then became a worldwide phenomenon and a huge success. The success of escape rooms is solid proof that adults enjoy playing. Playing games has been shown to be a basic human need, regardless of age or creed. Recognizing this need has legitimized adults gathering for a common goal. This in turn paved the way for gamification, when circa 2010 it began being discussed in organizational contexts.


This past decade has seen gamification become a legitimate tool. Respectable organizations began using these tools, emphasizing the experiential aspect rather than solely the didactic. They have added gamification principles and components to activities and products. The fun 'kept locked' to be used on fun days became a means to attaining organizational objectives. Enjoyment, it seems, can be the key to conveying meaningful messages.


Gamification encourages using your imagination, creativity and 'out of the box' thinking. These skills have thus become increasingly valued in organization. Gamification can be used for learning new subjects, tutorials, implementing new systems, brain storming, etc. The motivation to learn new subjects increases when learned as part of an enjoyable game. Gamification elements can be of assistance when sharing knowledge in the organization and enhance cooperation among colleagues. Workers who share organizational tasks can suddenly be faced with 'saving the world'. This is obviously just 'playing pretend', but we can experience strong emotions even when we know what aroused them is fictional. Consider the last time you were scared or brought to tears by a movie. Despite being aware of its fictional nature, you nevertheless experienced an authentic emotion. These experiences generate meaning and increase workers engagement to the organization.


Fun and enjoyment, therefore, do not negate organizational goals- quite the opposite! And yet, gamification could enjoy wider implementation in organization. How? Creativity is the name of the game.

For example, a digital escape room can be set up to instruct/implement a certain subject. This sophisticated solution is easy to implement, especially in comparison to a physical escape room. It is also a solution especially appropriate for Covid19 days.


What are the essential properties and components of a digital escape room?

  • A dramatic story line or theme- usually a great danger threatening the organization, such as a virus which infiltrated into organization servers. The story can be presented via a simple video to start the game off.

  • Game time limit- a 'ticking clock' is an element taken from the world of cinema. It creates a clear timeframe in which the threat may be exacted. This component adds interest and suspense.

  • Transforming participants into the heroes- only can you save the day, it is all on you.

  • Basing the tasks on the knowledge/values you wish to instill- learning takes place via hints scattered around the room and assist in solving the riddles.

  • The plot advances as the game proceeds- solving the riddles reveals new plot details. Participants actively advance the plot and solving the riddles is an integral part of the story.

  • Designing different screens- it is best to design 3-4 different screens for each game to retain interest, surprise and satisfaction when shifting from one level to the next. Any solution will lead to the next riddle on the same screen. A meaningful task and plot advancement will lead to the next screen.

  • Humor- it is recommended to incorporate humor into the various elements.

  • Sharing and teamwork- teammates cooperate to solve the riddles. There is a competitive element between teams and a sense of pride within each group.

  • Concluding video- a virtual substitute to exiting the physical room. Describes the happy ending to the adventure and thanks the team for its excellent work.

  • Everyone wins- despite the competition between teams, anyone who 'exits' the room is a winner.


In conclusion, instead of receiving knowledge passively in top-down form, let us turn workers into active participants. They are those that advance the story, thus enhancing engagement. Digital escape rooms are an effective tool for instilling values and conveying knowledge. Other gamification tools can also be used to assist the organization in attaining its objectives. Moreover, this can be done with a sense of meaning and enjoyment.

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