Day 1 started off with seeing and greeting quite a few familiar faces, it was lovely coming back to this conference, now in its third year. And the voice (and face) of Professor Game, Rob Alvarez, opened and welcomed every new and old to the conference.
The first speaker was Betty Adamou, she gave her keynote on her book Games and Gamification in Market Research. It started off with a good introduction to what gamification is and how it can work within market research. And it progressed into an interesting insight into the variety and flexibility with which Betty creates and uses the different types of methods of data-gathering within market research, such as the simple survey.
I found it quite an enlightening talk on how to develop and use survey’s, within my own work. And found it so compelling that I bought her book as well, with the hope that I may learn more from the research and work that she has done.
The next speaker was Xavier Bellekens, a cyber-security expert. His talk was particularly interesting in how he uses the aspects of games and gamification to create virtual environments that essentially produce realistic simulacra to catch hackers. I feel I shouldn’t go too deep into it, firstly becomes it is somewhat outside my field of specialism, but also not to give the game away as it were. If you have an interest in cyber-security then I can recommend having a look at Xavier’s work.
One of the standouts of the day however, was Will Jackson from Playphysio. His talk on its own was already a great example of how to use narrative and engagement mechanics to keep the audience enthralled. In his talk, he discussed his journey of how he developed a gamified app that improved the physio-requirements for those with cystic fibrosis. The improvements in health and quality of life that his app gave those with the condition were awe-inspiring and I think everyone was left with a well of emotions and motivations to help improve the world. I believe Will is looking to collaborate and expand on his vision, so do have a look at his work.
After Will was Bart Hufen. A tough act to follow, but he followed in the theme of helping others. Bart gave an interesting case-study talk on the game that he and colleagues designed to help people combat ‘burning-out’ at work. The concept was a combination of Lost and Robinson Crusoe or Cast Away for the modern individual. The experience took place on a deserted island and individuals would be assessed on how they interacted with objects and areas on the island. It was an elegant gamified experience, with simple and straightforward gameplay that clearly worked very effectively.
The final session I’d like to highlight for Day 1 was the ‘workshop’ with Tania Vercoelen and her collaborative business board game Project Ninjas. And to be honest, it was a lot of fun. It was very engaging, incredibly collaborative, it certainly promoted communication and working together equally very well. I may be slightly biased, as I was on the winning team, having finished the game in 45 minutes (probably a record somewhere). But beyond that, I can certainly recommend it to any business who wishes to try out board games with a clear business/project management theme.
The evening ended with a dinner sponsored by Bart and his company Brand New Game and Gamification Academy. It was a lovely evening, catching up with some old friends, making new friends and ending it with some very enjoyable games.