GWC16, the sunrise of a gamification community?

I have read several reviews of the conference (like Andrzej Marczewski’s at and Manuel Pimenta from Novabase), and one thing we seem to agree on is the sense of community that is starting to breed around gamification. It’s been several years since the industry was “formally” started, and lots of things have happened since, one of them that the hype around gamification seems to have at least started to fall. This can be great news, less talking and more doing, if we manage to survive. As Kevin Werbach said during his keynote speech, it is time to get this industry serious (I’m probably paraphrasing). Which does not mean that fun or games must be taken out of the equation, it is seen by many of us as a call to get serious about becoming a community that helps this industry thrive and move in the right direction.

Kevin Werbach

Kevin Werbach (and super Kevin Werbach)

Melinda Jacobs from Subatomic

Melinda Jacobs from Subatomic

On the community building, and especially on the side of sharing knowledge and more specific know how, I’d like to highlight the talks of Flavio Scrivano about the Gamification Model Canvas framework 3.0 (which they intend to make open source soon, some info at, and specifically here), Sylvester Arnab from the Beaconing project, and Manuel Pimenta when he shared his experience at Novabase Gameshifters: Gamified Ideation, on Steroids (web in Portuguese I’m afraid), and the calling of Kevin Werbach for the information exchange between practitioners and researchers. This was also a main topic in most of the informal conversations I held during the breaks at the event.

Manuel Pimenta, Bernardo Letayf and Rob Alvarez at GWC16

Manuel Pimenta, Bernardo Letayf and Rob Alvarez!

It’s time that communities are not only formed, but also nurtured and become a place to share ideas, success and also failure. At we will focus our efforts precisely on that, the sharing of ideas through a regular podcast where we will have many of today’s (and tomorrow’s) practitioners, researchers, experts and gurus to share the best (and the worst) of their experiences.

Let’s join forces for the benefit of us all, GAME ON!

P.S. Last but not least, CONGRATULATIONS again to all the nominees of the Gamification Guru 2016, and to the winner Andrzej Marczewski!

Andrzej Marczewski Gamification Guru 2016

Andrzej Marczewski Gamification Guru 2016


I recently bought a premium subscription to the #ProductGamificationSummit when I saw the speakers, and realized I want to hear from most of them. I saw the free option and it sounded tempting, but then saw also the pricing and thought it would be worth the buck, since I could watch all the talks on my schedule, along with a few goodies. So first of all, Vaida Jasiuleviciene (had to copy that last name from your twitter @VaidaYes, but can hardly complain, Bucholska is not an easy one), thanks for putting this out to the world.

Since I got premium and lifetime access, I was also lucky enough to get a headstart on the talks, and have already seen three: Nir Eyal, Ami Jo Kim and Michael Wu. Have to say they were all I expected plus one, and I’ll comment on some highlights I found from them, especially from the point of view of (higher) education and learning.

Let’s start with Nir Eyal, who with his hooked model talks about forming habits for the products. What happens when the product is education? This is the first thing that came to my mind, and was able to fit what he was saying into my own context. Education, all of it, uses a bit of this, but we could certainly profit a lot more. He very clearly explained how the trigger, that motivates an action which has a reward and, very important as he was adamant in highlighting, then comes an investment from the user (in our case a learner) that makes them feel more attached, invested, and hence more inclined to positively reacting to the next trigger cycle. He also mentioned how these triggers could be extrinsic or intrinsic, and that every time they go through the cycle we want to make these triggers more intrinsic, to make the activity, learning for us, a habit! Very powerful.

Then I spent a while with Ami Jo Kim’s talk, were among many other things she says that successful products make customers more awesome. I’m sure we can safely say that education is meant to increase students’ awesomeness, but are we showing them this fact enough? Here we can even extend it beyond education to learning in general, isn’t learning awesome? Well it is, but many more things can be done to progress in this direction. Amy Jo Kim defined Game Thinking as the intersection of Game Design, Agile and Lean UX, Design Thinking and Systems Thinking. All these disciplines have much to show us about how we can improve learning so students can, well, be more awesome.

My last one for now was Michael Wu, whose talk revolved around the state of flow (very spoken of in the game industry), and the Gamification Spectrum (which he has patented). That brought me to the point that, if learning can and should be engaging, how do we place the learners in the state of flow, and at least keep them around that state? As research has shown, in this state we tend to forgo other needs and situations around us, which can be beneficial for learning as it helps students laser focus on learning, if we take them there. He also expanded around short versus long term objectives with gamification. Of many things he mentioned, I wanted to highlight the distinction he makes between competitive, that he associates with short term, and cooperative gamification, that he associates with long term engagement. So as I’ve heard others say, sometimes we need to get started and that’s certainly short term, so perhaps we do need to put in place some competition, which tends to spark the flame quickly. But if we want to build a fire that lasts, we have to get to work on how to introduce cooperation so the “hook” to learning stays there in the long run.

This is it for now, but grab at least your free ticket while you can! Simply go here and register, certainly worth a look!

Professor Game at Gamified UK!

This was originally posted in Gamified UK, find the original here.

Guest Post: Game Thinking in Business Education

Another guest post, this time from Roberto Alvarez Bucholska. Leave feedback and show your appreciation – I am sure he would be happy to answer any questions!

Business education may sound very formal and boring to many, but there’s no reason why studying an MBA can’t have engaging and fun learning materials. And that’s what I do at IE Business School Publishing. As a project manager, it is my task to take the learning objectives and make materials that are interactive, engaging, and even fun if possible. The department has created around 300 interactive materials in over 10 years of experience.

With the development of these materials, and also thanks to the feedback from students and professors, there are many things that have become a common practice in the creative process, and it’s thanks to these that I have encountered what the author of this blog has coined as Game Thinking. In my experience with business students, there is one thing that stands out: Competition. Many things have been said with regards to making use of competition as a motivator, and the fact that there is a large portion of players who are not very moved by it. Nonetheless, within business education, we have found this to be a very compelling and generalized motivator.

INTED 2015

There are two materials that we regularly use with students that I’d like to highlight to talk about competition, in one of them, teams of students represent different companies that share a resource. Even though within the objective, to maximize profits, competition is not even mentioned, teams assume there is a competition between them, and end up sacrificing profitability due to their competitive attitude. This is of course designed to work this way, and is very useful to achieve the learning objectives of the material, as the facilitator of the simulation explains after the end. The other one is a simulation where teams represent different members of a productive process. The competitive mindset of the teams might end up increasing the costs of the end product, which of course will be bought by fewer customers, and thus end up reducing profitability. If teams were to cooperate in order to reduce costs of the whole process, they’d all end up in the best of situations.

Thanks for the read. If you wish to stay in contact, I am currently working on a podcast to interview successful practitioners of games, gamification and game thinking who will bring the best of their experiences to get ideas, insights and inspiration that help us in the process of getting students or trainees to learn what we teach. To participate in its shaping, community or just stay up-to-date, subscribe at

Rob Alvarez Bucholska