Ep 018 Manuel Pimenta talks about gamifying your career into gamification

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Manuel is a Lead Gamification Designer at Fractal Mind, and his background is mostly in software development and analysis.

For the past 6 years, he’s been one of the main voices of gamification in Portugal and has had the luck of spreading the fun in domains like eLearning, employee engagement, sales teams and ideation since then, with some of the top banking and retail companies in Portugal.

Manuel is also a Design Thinking and Gamification Design coach and has co-organized 2 editions of Novabase Gameshifters, Portugal’s biggest gamified ideathon.

Last but not least, he’s a Gamer, a Scout leader, an aspiring blogger/writer, a musician in denial and can hit a low C in the morning.

Manuel is a bit of a habit nerd, so he’s all about routines but hasn’t managed to get them into his life, yet. He might be doing proposals, overseeing the development team, on brainstorming sessions, tinkering with the tools of their gamification framework or doing high-level technical design.

A failure that had him learn a lot, doing a mobile app for ideation and used gamification for it. In a way, it was a way of crowdsourcing ideas from a 3,000 employee company. However, the team had only developers. This managed to get them really excited about the technology but they somehow skipped the pilots and communication stages. The main learning he had was to fail early and cheap! As soon as you have an idea it is important to playtest and check with your users. Test, iterate! Get your team to be as cognitively diverse as possible (not developers only team like Manuel!)

A big challenge during his career was when he discovered he didn’t want to be a developer forever and at the same time discovered gamification. So he figured that he might as well use gamification to build a career in gamification and went to his boss, and the boss of his boss to get the approvals necessary to open that path within the company. It was almost like a quest he was on and grinded his way to create a space for gamification as a product for the company.

Another interesting challenge he solved using gamification was his last project before changing from his previous job. It was about change management within his own company (this project was presented by Pedro Crespo at Gamification Europe, see the video here). They wanted to change the employee experience for tons of different job descriptions. The pilot lasted for a year with 30 employees, but people were really engaged and provided a lot of feedback. The project continues to this day, the pilot is now growing to over 100 employees.

The process at Fractal Mind is user-centered but the first step is to have a meeting with the key stakeholders to understand the main goals of the project, even breaking down the goals. Next is what they call a divergence ideation workshop for a day with some of the users, where they involve them in the process of designing the solution, it includes teaching them what gamification is about. After that, they do a convergence workshop, to get the ideas together and validate the user journey, figure out the game mechanics to use in these steps. Finally, they consolidate the information to create the clear vision of the project and reach the first gate where they meet with the stakeholders to decide if the project moves forward to go to “the trenches” where its time to put together the game economy, the mechanics and the prototypes with wireframes. They are firm believers of co-creation so the first win-state of the users is when they see that the design is being rolled out because they know they’ve been a part of it. Imagine how this co-creation process could happen for your classes! Your users are the students, if they’re part of the creation process it improves engagement and of course the design itself because you can quickly test with them.

The best practice that Manuel finds is fundamental is to understand the user types and your users, which is where the whole design itself starts. Humor is also something they use extensively, quoting Manuel “you can never go wrong with humor.”

His favorite game is Football Manager. Manuel would love to hear from his colleague Rui Cordeiro, as he has a 20 year background in companies like Blizzard Entertainment and Gameloft, now he’s doing gamification! Aim for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars, so Manuel also proposed Tim Ferriss as a guest for the show. If he has a handle on anything, what does he think of gamification?

The books he would recommend to the Engagers are Yu-kai’s “Actionable Gamification“, also the books by Gabe Zichermann, but a fundamental one would be “Drive” of Daniel Pink.

His final advice is to simply try it! It might look like a lot but once you get started you’ll realize the mountain is not so steep!

Manuel’s superpower is his enthusiasm for gamification! Regarding a website, he doesn’t have a personal one (yet!), but the company’s page is www.fractalmind.pt – it’s in Portuguese though! On social media, Manuel is mostly on Facebook but can be reached also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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