Ep 041 Eliza Hochman starts gamification with what you want the players to be able to do

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Eliza Hochman is the Chief Game Changer and co-founder of World of Insights, where they create engaging corporate learning games to increase the impact of learning and engagement at work. She has spent the past 20 years working with international organizations to create company-specific learning programs for its top executives. Eliza is a serial entrepreneur, a thought leader in learning innovation and an expert in highly participative learning experiences.

On a regular working day, as CEO of her startup, there’s a lot around the product (games) development and business development, as well as some client delivery. She might also be traveling somewhere around Europe, where she might be at a business school convincing professors of moving away from traditional Powerpoint classes! She might find some who are too comfortable but also others who find a gap that they want to cover.

Her FAIL (First Attempt in Learning) story spins around one of the first games they developed as a company. It was around powerful questions. She feels learning is about questions and not answers, so it was quite dear to her. The idea is that many people arrive at positions of leadership by giving very quick answers but with this fast moving world it is more about making the right questions at the right times. They wanted to create very good game mechanics and contacted a game designer. They spent a lot of time coming up with great game mechanics, however, most of the things that came up were very complex, the games were great but… how could they fit into a learning experience quickly for the corporate setting? It was very frustrating because they kept going back to very simple mechanics, like turning a card, drawing and similar. It ended up as a board game. Her biggest learning was that simple is always best. Also, she realized, especially with serious corporates, it should not be called a game but a tool or gamified solution. It seems like having something to hold in your hand it is easier to create dialogue when looking at the board instead of to someone else’s eyes! It is really important to really understand the users and what does play mean for them in the context you find them, it is not the same to play with your children at home than at school than with your boss! What is safe, what could be boring in this setting and what is too far off, these are things to consider, not only the player but the context. Engagers, also remember it’s not only technology-based and digital, you can have cards, board games, dice and others!

Eliza shared the experience of a game they created for a professor in the energy sector. It is about this new legislation called the Winter Package, since EU is changing the regulations that include also the new players in the industry. It was a big challenge but they are quite proud of the game they created with a board and some cards! They had experts to work into the content, which is quite technical in the legal aspects. Now what they have achieved is having successful and engaging workshops throughout Europe, that generate new collaboration and ideas that go into practice and are changing the sector. At the heart of this was how it started, the professor said that the objective was to generate empathy between the players and that is what has ended in this game with such results.

Eliza starts projects asking what you want your players to be able to do after the training and this guides everything that comes after that. This is where most of the time and the effort goes because what comes next is almost natural when you really understand this. Then it is time to look for what will enable the learners to that, the learning objectives. They use the Bloom Taxonomy. It is very much like most learning processes in many ways, but the first step and the final outcome (a game) change the results! The game design comes only at the end.

A best practice would be to start with the user, like in design thinking/user experience, always get into the shoes of the user, their vocabulary, their frustrations, who they have to consider, etc. In corporate settings, the main difference for Eliza is that it has to be very fast so the stakeholders can get the value very quick so they actually stick with it and not feel they are losing their time!

Her favorite game at the moment is Forbidden Island. It is a collaborative game, so everybody wins or looses together. You need to gather treasures and leave the island before it sinks, it is common to fail! She has been very inspired by what she says is the first learning game she approached: Monopoly!

She would like to hear in Professor Game more from organizations that have corporate universities how have they created engagement through games and gamification, not only for particular sessions but for their whole learning experience. I’d say we can go back to episodes like those with An Coppens, Monica Cornetti and Juliette Deny. A great place to get some of these experiences will surely be GamiCon in Chicago! Hope to see some of the Engagers there. The book that Eliza would recommend would be Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, not directly related to gamification but very, very inspirational. Another one, not too recent, would be The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. It is about creating learning organizations. For her learning and playing are very close to each other, they are best when together.

The superpower of Eliza would be to smash boredom! It can also be translated into disengagement but boredom sounds a lot more fun. In the random question, she got a pretty broad one, which we decided to brief into how is it possible to learn about gamification and she does a great job in answering! Her final advice would be to just play! So go for it Engagers!

If you want to reach Eliza you can find her on the company’s website worldofinsights.co, there you can find most of her contact information. Her email is also eliza[at]worldofinsights.co, and we can find her both on Twitter @HochmanEliza and on her LinkedIn.

There are many ways to get in touch with us, you can go to my Twitter @RobAlvarezB, you can go to our Facebook Page, subscribe to our email list and even ask a question to future guests!

Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,


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