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Drawing on experience in education, e-learning, theatre, retail, training, startups, events & game industries, he has found that this one thing thrilled him the most: designing purposeful fun. When we play, we are pushing to be the best version of ourselves. Working should be more like playing.
His power lies in doing just that: using all the powerful elements found in games and use them in organizations to make work more fun, challenging & meaningful. (Which – by the way – often leads to great results).
He makes games. (company games, business games, team games, training games, kick-offs & ARG’s). He talks, inspires & advises about gamification. (at conferences, workshops & strategic sessions with companies). He also designs Escape Rooms. He helps companies enhance innovation and business performance using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® method.
Part of Michiel’s day is working on client projects and when there’s something to brainstorm they always come to him! He’s also designing some game for game-based learning, an escape room, delivering a training, a game or he might be talking about gamification.
His favorite FAIL (First Attempt In Learning) came some years ago when he was relatively starting with escape rooms, around a year ago. His client was an automobile company (which of course, we will not name!). He slightly adapted the escape room he had already tested before, only doing some tweaks, especially around the theme. The success rate of the escape room was around 68%, so around 32% didn’t manage to resolve the escape room within the allotted time. However, when he presented the escape room to leadership, none of them was able to make it (so 0% success rate.) So they asked to simplify the escape room, although he tried to convince them that this shouldn’t be the case, they insisted they wanted to “set their people up for success.” He warned that it was no longer going to be balanced. They actually escaped in 26 minutes! But the worst part was that they didn’t feel the urge to change! Looking back, he thinks that as a gamification designer he should have claimed more expertise and not let the clients tell them what to do!
His best experience with gamification was around 15 years ago, with a retail company when training staff in basic things. The training would be indoors, using humor and try to engage. At the end of the first day, there were many sleepy faces. One of those times he went to look for them after the first day and went to the bar, no one was there. They were playing Nintendo in one of the rooms! They were full of energy, completely engaged. This impacted Michiel. At the same time, the training company where he was at, also did market research using mystery shoppers retailresult.nl. So he decided to come up to his boss and said they should change the training for a game. The boss agreed as long as he found a client, which of course he did. The game consisted of using mystery shoppers who would give away special codes to employees, but only if they felt they were treated correctly. Since no one knew who these shoppers were or when they’d come around, if they wanted the code, they needed to treat all the customers well! This happened along five weeks. The results were amazing! Everyone visiting the store got great attention, was greeted, they realized that talking to customers was fun, and resulted in more sales! Of course, the company was really happy, the salespeople were engaged and happy, so we can certainly call it a success. Something I really liked about this solution is that it is low tech, low cost and relatively simple to implement, so think about how you can apply these lessons to your own life!
His process starts with asking a LOT of questions, that way he can find the real objective, a fundamental first step. After that, he likes to brainstorm about the possible types of solutions as well as the theme. After getting those together, he creates some raw sketches to get the approval of the corresponding stakeholders, works on the plan, tests and iterates until ready!
He is pretty excited about a supermarket app in the Netherlands: Appie van Albert Heijn. It is similar to a card collecting game, related to space and includes augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR). You also learn many things about space, space stations, since one of the ideas behind it was to make people more aware of the beauty of the planet and to have a better planet.
Michiel’s all-time favorite game is Myst. It was his very first graphic 3D adventure game. It was amazing! It was the best selling game from 1993 until the Sims came around.
He would like to listen to an interview in Willem-Jan Renger of the HKU Innovation Studio. He has this new concept of ‘ludodidactiek’ to provide learning experiences. He’s one of the speakers at the Learning Experience Design conference that will happen in the Netherlands in 2018.
Besides “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal, he would like to recommend Jesse Schell’s “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses” which can certainly be used to apply gamification to the classroom and education.
Michiel’s superpower in gamification is… asking questions! His final piece of advice is to start small but start and take it from there.