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I was recently afforded the opportunity to go on the 2-day Gamification Masterclass organized by Gamification+, the very same people who organize the Gamification Europe Conference, which will be held in Amsterdam, in November of this year (2018). And I would like to just relate some the experiences, learning and reflections that I received from these 2 days.
The masterclass is/was a 2-day event designed to aid gamification practitioners and those in general who are interested in bringing gamification to their own businesses and sectors. As well as the opportunity to meet others in the field and any like-minded individuals, who want to expand the practice of gamification and the benefits it has to offer.
It was most certainly a packed a 2-days, each day was a full 8-hour session (with coffee and lunch breaks of course). But filled with valuable and applicable learning. Each day had two sessions running in parallel, which was unfortunate as I would have ideally loved to follow all of them. But one must make a choice, and my choices were the Gamification Design Sprint, by Marigo Raftopoulos, session for day one and the Narrative is Key, by Melinda Jacobs, session for day two.
The other two available sessions were firstly the Gamified Tools by Bernardo Letayf, which also sounded extremely interesting from a technical perspective. And secondly the Escape Room, by Michiel Van Eunen, which by the sound of those taking part on the day was incredibly fun and engaging, especially from a standpoint of immediate applicability for creating fast, fun experiences.
Day 1 was the Gamification Design Sprint, created, developed and delivered by Marigo Raftopoulos PhD. The design sprint sessions were designed and delivered with the agile design methodology in mind, and therefore is a fast-paced design sprint process, with high levels of creativity and intensity.
As Marigo mentions in her intro video on the Gamification Europe website, the end result of the day and the design sprint overall is to deliver a paper version of your MVD or Minimum Viable Design. And despite the varying heated discussions between myself and the rest of my group, I believe we achieved this within the breakneck pace of the 8-hour sessions. Naturally as with any design sprint, the idea is to then keep iterating and improving upon, but that would take more than the single day, unfortunately.
For the day itself, it was expected that the groups and individuals come prepared with their own idea for a design and their own business problem, be that social, governmental, the private sector, etc. And with that pitch these ideas to the table group and pick one that would interest everyone the most. From there the table groups would develop a solution using the design sprint methodology and also learn through the process of solving the problem.
The interaction and process offered a great many insights and realizations between the various participants and groups, as well all engaged with each other’s problems and collaborated as much as we could.
Overall the experience clearly had a very solid technical base in terms of research done for it and the usage of tried and proven game mechanics, archetypes and personas based on Jungian psychology, system’s thinking and engagement loops. It had everything you would expect, want and need to have the ability to create your own gamified solutions to business problems.
It was a beautifully well rounded, intense and highly engaging 1-day experience, that only taught gamification, but through Marigo’s delivery, allowed you to experience the best that gamification has to offer. As one participant said at the end of the day: “I’ve been to the Google Design Sprint, and this (Gamification Design Sprint) is better!”. Which I feel summed it up quite well for everyone involved in the day.
On Day 2, I attended the Narrative is a Key session by Melinda Jacobs, which was all about narrative creation methodologies and processes, the user’s journey, and narrative flow to engage your users. Which is and was a lot to cover in a single day session but was done very well by Melinda.
What I felt it gave me, especially as soon as we started, was a change in mindset on how narrative can be used and its varying meanings. By this I mean that it changed my perspective from the fictional narratives I would use for the experiences I create for my users and move it to the contemplating and reflecting upon the narrative experience that my users have in the real world and how to aid and engage them through this narrative.
In essence, it was an exercise of placing yourself in the shoes of your end user and discovering and then designing a narrative for them as the individual first and then as the participant in your experience. And as Melinda’s description from the Gamification Europe website states, it also heavily involves determining the bartering between you and the user, the give-need relationship between the two of you. What are you able to give the user and what do they need from you. As a fellow participant of mine said during the session; it is a conceptualization of how a narrative can help you determine the benefit of altruism in your relationship with your user, client.
With the conceptualization, we were able to create a more holistic user journey, that allowed for a more engaging state of flow to be crafted for our users. Basically, it gave a formal yet creative structure for creating a stronger narrative base that engaged the user on the basis of the own real-world/-life narrative and persona.
By the end of the, we may have all come across somewhat dazed, but from own it was due to a great many moments of epiphany that I had when truly discussing and reflecting upon the usage of the user’s journey and discovering what the “real” users journey was that I was creating and designing for.
What I will take-away from these two intense but amazing days and two very solid, and well-researched development methodologies, that will both strengthen and possibly change my own methods for the better.
I can only highly recommend to anyone working in gamification, or have an interest in, even if it is a fleeting one, to try and do one of the above-mentioned masterclasses if they return in the future. If not, then do try to join the Conference in November. I found them to be very informative and educational.
I do realise that the overall reflective piece may across a bit broad, but beyond my personal impressions, I do not wish to take away any of what made either session unique and interesting. I can only say, that you should experience it for yourself.
And finally, I wish to say that I am grateful to have had the opportunity for the participant and meet all the interesting people on the masterclass, both the amazing facilitators and my fellow participants. And I am already looking forward to the next opportunity!
I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.
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