Juan Valera Mariscal is gamification and a gazillion other things | Episode 089

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Juan Valera Mariscal graduated from Universidad de Salamanca as a Social and Work Psychologist, is a collaborator of the project Assessment Game Delphos 3D and also the creator of the ComuniCRACK Method for communications training. He is the author of the gamification book Gamificación en la Empresa and co-author of “Conversaciones para Triunfar.” Juan is also a member of the GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), was responsible for institutional relations of the Asociación Nacional de Gamificación (ANAGAM) in Spain and a co-organizer of the Gamification Spain Meetup Madrid 2014. He is now also a professor of a masters degree in gamification, a consultant and a designer who manages development teams for gamified IT projects, usually focused in HR.

He is a fan of tech, writer, illustrator and amateur musician.

Juan’s regular day can be quite crazy because he is a fan of order but doesn’t enjoy routine and likes to change what he is doing each day. A normal day might involve speaking with customers regarding projects, working on his current projects as well as researching and reading information but likes to break it up with cooking, drawing or playing his guitar.

One of Juan’s favorite fails came from an experiment for a game inside gamification training, they made a roleplaying game around negotiation and had a group organize a kidnapping. It was very interesting as they had 3 roles (police, kidnappers and the negotiators) and in some groups, they became a bit too passionate and almost violent, Juan had to control that. They learned that when working with a group of people its important to have real emotions to teach but it needs to be controlled. This time only a chair was broken so they had to modify this behavior they did not want.

A big challenge Juan faces is when he has to make a social attitude change because people, in general, think from an engineering side where an input has a clear output but in psychology, it is not an exact science. At times it can be hard to reach the level of success that the customer expects, for example when working with one company they wanted their employees to share ideas more openly rather than just at the coffee machine to an individual. This was hard at the beginning because the manager was very skeptical about gamification but after showing the metrics of the results it was a big success. The initiative even won an innovation award! The solution was to create an internal use, kind of similar to Twitter, an application that was also mobile where they were even controlling when the users were accessing. At the end of the year, they could put together all of the ideas that came through.

The first step in Juan’s process is to understand the objective and the main goal from the side of the customer as well as the goal of the user and try to bring them closer. He has to put behind his preferences and focus on the goals of the user and the customer. Once he understands this he can start to look into particular elements of gamification and make the path easier for the user through gamification. Juan will try to focus on the most collaborative and social strategy that he can. For him, too many people focus on an individual user rather than the social aspect and culture inside the game/company. He has to make sure the culture inside the game is the same as inside the company.

A best practice for Juan is to read, research other projects and not to be selfish in the field of gamification, to leave your ego outside and learn from others. Juan uses a lot of behavior changing techniques from psychology and finds it is relatable to gamification in many ways. He takes a lot of inspiration and ideas from social psychology experiments as well as other gamification projects. Juan’s favorite games are games that help people to think, he likes the relationship between players and teams/strategy these are the aspects for him that are fun but at the same time, the social psychology is fun and always has been.

Juan would recommend Carlos G. Tardón to be on the podcast, a psychologist who has had good experience with gamification classes in university settings. Because he likes to speak to him regularly, he feels he can give different ideas with a personal view. He would recommend a book by Elliot Aronson, ‘Social Animal‘ that he read in his university years. It was very important for him as it helps to understand how people behave in social environments. Juan’s superpower is that he likes to mix multiple elements of his life into each other and not specialize too much.

His final advice is to be curious, absorb as much information as you can, through reading and listening. We can find Juan on Twitter @ValeraMariscal, on his web www.valera-mariscal.com and on LinkedIn as Juan J. F. Valera Mariscal


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