Ep 032 with Pete Jenkins and the 7 step gamification process

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Pete Jenkins is an international speaker, adviser and trainer in Gamification. Pete took the number one spot on the “Gamification Gurus Power 100” in February 2016. Pete founded his company GAMIFICATION+ LTD and has since advised and trained companies of all sizes, both in the UK and internationally, on the use of gamification. He is also Chair of GamFed (the International Gamification Confederation), where he helps spread the use of gamification best practices to benefit as many people and businesses as possible. He’s the founder and organizer of Gamification Europe! Pete has been Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Brighton for 9 years. As well as researching gamification for HR, he lectures on gamification and entrepreneurship at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Over the past 15 years, Pete has built and sold two businesses. Pete is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.

Pete started by saying he’s been the president of the GamFed for almost four years, and that those interested in rising up in the organization could certainly think that rising up in the ranks should take action soon! His life would like Pete to have a regular day, since it is quite irregular, for instance, he’s currently delivering a 5-day workshop of gamification to university students. That is THE class most of us wish we had! For him, it is fantastic to teach this because in a way it forces him to stay up-to-date thanks to the interest of the students. A day might be around speaking, running a training course, planning an event, mentoring clients and others, all around gamification!

His favorite failure is a “classic”, he didn’t follow his own advice. He did a project where he received the content and got excited about a game idea without really deeply understanding, going through the whole process and the client was upset that it ended up being a loss of time since it wasn’t what they wanted or needed! If you have a process, you need to follow it! Even if you fail you have something to come back to and improve, if not you will simply be upset because you didn’t do the right thing for you! Another learning from this would be to, as we’ve said many times before, make sure you understand your users and also the gatekeepers! In education, you could think of it as the students and the leadership team, whichever level of education you’re teaching in.

His favorite success story is pretty well covered by an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) but in essence, it is about a loyalty scheme. Typically you get signed up, get constant feedback about how many points you have but can’t use them in a pretty large amount of time. They turned this around, encouraging customers to spend the points as often as possible, this creates a positive association with the brand, constant connections, which is the opposite of traditional loyalty cards! He’s keen on finally getting permission to talk of this more in detail. A nice related example of this is the use of the Lingots in Duolingo, that you are encouraged to use constantly, for me it’s been working pretty well!

The process that Pete follows for his gamification design has seven steps. The first step is agreeing on the business objectives, which must be as few and clear as possible, and if there’s more than one they must be prioritized. After writing all of this down he sends them to the client to ensure that they both understand the same! It is also a great place to understand if what you need to solve your problem is gamification… or something else. The second step is “gathering intelligence”, it is about the organization’s development plan, to see what they will do in the future so the gamification solution is not overrun by their other launches, especially on the systems area. They also use this stage to see what they are currently measuring, because creating new measurements can be expensive and also helps compare the before and after to see if the gamification process was a success or not! The third step is defining the target behaviors of the users, this comes from Werbach’s process. At this point, they check how they can measure quantity and quality of these behaviors, all these things end up in a pretty long list, but he’s found that the longer the list the better the outcome tends to be! Step four is what he calls “player types strategy”, they look at the general demographics they might have access to, the player types (they use Andrzej Marczewski‘s Hexad of Player types) and then some user research of what rewards might motivate the different types of players. Then step five is to design a prototype! He likes to start with a theme for the project, this should spring out naturally now that you know your players, it would glue it all together. It helps move the ideas forward in most cases. Then you start to choose game mechanics, build the prototype, playtest and iterate on that! He’s found that after four or five runs, the rest is just fine-tuning. At this point they build a specification document to see who will build the system itself, most of the times Pete’s team doesn’t do the technical part most of the time, and he has found that the internal teams of his clients tend to do a particularly good job at this if they are motivated to it! Step six is the actual production, here is where project management is fundamental because otherwise, it will often take a different route, which might be a bad thing most often. The part of this step is to roll out the solution to a group of people and test it so you can do the final fine-tuning, this is true also for different countries, it might not even be a single roll-out but one per country or region. The final step is after the launch, which is watching out for the system to do necessary tweaks, this is particularly important to keep people engaged in the long term, because it is where you can create new content, updates, etc.

A best practice for Pete would be to get as many viewpoints involved as soon as possible. It is necessary to get other people’s input to get things rolled out well. His favorite game changes, but currently it’s a game that Vasilis introduced to him, called The Battle of Polytopia (on Android and iPhones), a strategy mobile game. He feels that is a game to learn a lot from as well.

Pete Jenkins would like to hear from a gamification skeptic in Professor Game, like one of the creators of Zombies, Run! called Adrian Hon. He felt, or feels perhaps, that gamification is a terrible game and that his app is a game and not gamification. He would recommend many books to read, the more you read the better, in particular, he would recommend SuperBetter.

His superpower in gamification would be to turn any problem into an opportunity for interaction or engagement with users, to understand the issues and come up with something better! The random question would be how to go from understanding the client, the problem, the users into creating the actual gamification. His answer is quite comprehensive and eye-opening so hit play to get it!

His final advice would be to avoid leaderboards and go for narratives and story every time it is possible. The former doesn’t need to be a full book, just interesting enough to engage the audience.

Regarding Gamification Europe, he’s very excited about the Masterclass! Then Gamification Europe, which will be in Amsterdam for two days, 26 and 27 of November, is already selling super early tickets! The speakers are not yet confirmed, so it is a call for adventurers! The first day is about practitioners and the second day is especially geared towards businesses that come to talk about what they’ve been doing. Pete is especially interested in the second, third, fourth-year edition of their projects to see how they’ve been evolving and tweaking it, to see what we can learn from that.

You can find information about the conference and the masterclass at gamification-europe.com and connect with Pete either on LinkedIn (let him know you heard of him through Professor Game for him to accept 🙂 ) or Twitter @PeteJenkins.

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