Ep 004 Gamification of self with An Coppens

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An Coppens is a leading expert in gamification for employee and learner engagement, with over 15 years of experience in creating behavior change through creative and innovative solutions. She has been among the top gamification gurus worldwide since 2012. She is an award-winning Speaker, L&D professional, business and executive coach and author. As the founder and Chief Game Changer of Gamification Nation, An offers gamification design services, a gamification membership community and online learning programs. An has worked with global brands in media, finance, education and fast-moving consumer goods markets, advised 100’s of business owners and inspired 1000’s of individuals to level up their game.

An has three blog posts a week, does a lot of research (playing games) to discover new game mechanics, gamification design, interacting with clients and finding new clients! Sounds like a pretty hectic day, but she has an internal CRM to get rewards for reaching her own goals. She gamifies everything she does and likes to thank her parents for getting that started with grapes.

The worst experience she had was a multi-party project. They didn’t really know what the project was about, if you don’t know what you’re creating, it’s pretty hard to create something useful. But it also had a very restricted period of time. So the partners didn’t deliver, though they said they were, and An was really angry… For the live date, there was not really something working, at best it had a progress bar and an interactive video. The integration was really odd, point tracking system wasn’t functioning, badges and leaderboards were requested by the client, but the storyline wasn’t implemented. Of course, it didn’t drive behavior and couldn’t hit the targets. An learned many things: when decisions are taken by a committee, they take a lot longer, and now if the objectives are not clear from the start, it is a no-go for An’s company.

The biggest challenge that An has solved using gamification was her own career shift. She used to be a successful business coach in Ireland until the recession hit in 2008. Coaching, at the time, was a “luxury”, so it was one of the first things to be cut. She had to lay off the staff and close everything. She decided on a goal to reach on a specific date, so if she didn’t reach it that would mean game over. Then she made a resource inventory of her skills, to match to her network and possible jobs out there. She “lost a life” and had to start over, it was the only way to get over it, gain confidence and get financials back in order. Now she enjoys everything she does every single day.

When applying gamification her steps are: defining business objectives, understand users and make as much user research as possible (these first two are non-negotiable to begin a process), design thinking together with the client and finally go into actual gamification design. She takes a combination from the greatest, like Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis, Andrzej Marczewski’s player types, Mario Herger, Gabe Zichermann, Jane McGonigal and diverse online courses. A final step in this process is to actually stick around and see how things are going and make sure they hit the targets, including iterations.

A best practice for gamification is to understand users as much as possible. An really enjoys many games, a couple of them are currently Pokemon Go! and Blossom Blast Saga, her all-time favorite is Sim City.

She would really like to listen to Jane McGonigal in Professor Game.

A book would be “Even Ninja Monkeys like to Play” by Andrzej Marczewski and “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal.

One of An’s books out there is “Gamification in Business“.

If you’re starting with gamification, start little by little. The first thing could be to build a quest which is a great first step.

The problem that An solves in the random challenge is related to the prisoner’s dilemma in game theory. Listen to her answer around minute 30!

You can find An on twitter @GamificationNat or her web page gamificationnation.com. Her final piece of advice is always to aim for fun. If your job isn’t fun look for something else!

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