Jessica Creane with an Expansive Mind in Gamification | Episode 157

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Jessica is a multi-hyphenate creator of games and immersive experiences. Her company, IKantKoan, uses agency and storytelling to make sense of complex ideas playful and accessible.

Jessica is an immersive experience designer dedicated to crafting playful, transformative experiences that bring people together. She is the founder of IKantKoan LLC, a production company focused on playfully exploring complex subject matter like climate change, ethics, chaos, and love. Jessica is a Professor of Game Design at Drexel University, a climate change game designer with The National Parks Service, a 2020 Arctic Circle Artist-in-Residence, a Rachael Carson Center Climate Change and Grief team member, a Tribe12 Fellow, and she recently gave a TEDx talk about embracing uncertainty through play. She is a graduate of The Pig Iron School of Advanced Performance Training and her work has been presented at The World Economic Forum, PAX East, PAX Unplugged, The Franklin Institute, IndieCade, Bandwi/d/th International, Tanween Creativity Festival in Ithra, Saudi Arabia, HERE Arts, FringeNYC, BostonFIG, and on KQED San Fransisco. Her New York Times recommended show, CHAOS THEORY, recently won the Best Social Immersion Award from Immersion Nation and is currently running at Caveat Theater, NYC.


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Full episode transcription

Rob (5s):
Welcome to Professor Game Podcast, where we interview successful practitioners of games, gamification and game thinking who bring us the best of their experiences to get ideas, insights, and inspiration, to help us in the process of getting the students to learn what we teach. And I’m Rob Alvarez. I teach and work at IE Business School in Madrid, where we create interactive and engaging learning materials. Want to know more? Go to, start on our email list and ask me anything! Engagers welcome to another episode of Professor Game Podcast. And we have Jessica with us today. David Jessica, before we kick-off, are you prepared to engage?

Jessica (49s):
I am so prepared.

Rob (52s):
Let’s do this because she is a multihyphenate creator of games and immersive experiences. Her company, IKantKoan. I hope that I got that pronunciation. Well, it uses agency and storytelling to make sense of complex ideas, playful and accessible. She is an immersive experience designer dedicated to crafting playful, transformative experiences that bring people together. And as the founder of the company mentioned a production company focusing on playful, exploring complex subject matter, like climate change, ethics, chaos, and love. She is a professor as well of game design at Drexel University climate change game designer with the national park service, a 2020 Arctic circle artist in residence at Rachel Carson center, climate change and grief team member, a Tribe 12 fellow.

Rob (1m 38s):
And she recently gave a TEDx talk about embracing uncertainty through play. She graduated from the pig iron school of advanced performance training and her work has been presented in the World Economic Forum, PAX East, Pax unplugged, the Franklin Institute Indiecade, bandwidth international, Tanween creativity festival in Ithra, Saudi Arabia here arts, Fringe NYC, Boston fig, fig, I don’t know. I’ve never ever seen that before and on KQED San Francisco and her New York times were commended show, the chaos theory, recently won the best social immersion award from immersion nation and is currently running at caveat theater, New York.

Rob (2m 20s):
So a lot of things going on in your life, Jessica, are we missing anything?

Jessica (2m 23s):
Oh my God. I really need to shorten my bio. Don’t I, yeah, I’d say that covers about a quarter of my work.

Rob (2m 31s):
Absolutely. It makes a lot of sense. So thank you very much for that introduction and all those things that you’re doing. And we are going to start getting into that, but before we sort of delve directly into the topic, Jessica, in these times, of COVID and coronavirus and all these things, what are your days look like? What are you doing in days? Like now?

Jessica (2m 48s):
Great question. My days are different every day, which is one of the things that I love about being alive right now and being an artist is that day’s always looked different. And so I think that helps during times of COVID because the days were really blabbing together there for a while, but I w I’m an early riser. I tend to wake up around somewhere between four 30 and 6:00 AM and I will usually get up and meditate and check the news and sort of seeing what’s going on with the world. And then I try and cut myself off from the news,

Rob (3m 17s):
Meditate and check the news. It sounds almost contradictory, right?

Jessica (3m 21s):
Yeah. I meditate first so that I can be in a Headspace to check the news without losing my mind. And then I just, I really cut myself off once I see what’s going on for the day. I try not to check until after I’m done with work, because otherwise I know that I will news spiral like a fiend, but I have a really amazing morning routine. And I’m usually just up and ready for work by 9:00 AM settled in with a pot of tea, usually the first of like three or four for the day. And then I’m in meetings and classes for most of the day. It’s a lot of social time between the hours of nine and five or six. And after that, it’s still some more work time. So usually I try and get all the social work done during the day. And then in the evenings, I can focus on big picture planning and class planning and thinking about what the company needs and putting in any work that is needed there.

Jessica (4m 8s):
And then I tend to wrap up pretty late, depending upon what my team is. Like. Sometimes I’m working with teammates in California, so we’re in production calls still midnight. If I’m lucky, that’s not the case. And I can be in bed by 10:00 PM, which is my very happy space considering at heart. I’m an octagenarian.

Rob (4m 23s):
Absolutely. So you’re, you’re trying to go to bed at ten thirty, wake up at four 30. That’s still pretty tight, right?

Jessica (4m 28s):
Yeah. It’s still doesn’t make any sense to me how I could possibly wake up energized at four 30 in the morning, but it happens

Rob (4m 35s):
Good. Good for you. So you wake up, you know, energized, you do all these things every day and, and you’re doing amazing work as well, but we want to go first into a story of what we’d like to call our favorite fail or first attempt in learning one of those failures that you had in your career and things related to, you know, games, game, design, playful attitude, and all these things where, of course, you learned some sort of lesson we want to be there with you. We want to be immersed and experience it with you and learn, learn alongside your, your experience.

Jessica (5m 7s):
Yeah. This is also such a great question. I tend to live by the mantra, fail faster, which is one of my favorite things about game design is that it’s so rich in this tradition of fail fast and getting your work out before you’re really ready to show it to anyone. So when you’re still terrified and that’s how I try to put work out into the world before it’s ready. When I know it’s not ready because I’m a perfectionist. And so if I sit around and wait, I’ll wait forever. So I’ve been training myself over the years to try and fail as quickly as possible, but the failures are so painful, especially when I first started doing this. So I was working on a show last year, actually, and it was called know thyself, and it was a gamified look at the museum of philosophy.

Jessica (5m 50s):
And so I looked at a bunch of philosophers who were not particularly well represented in the cannon. So a lot of women and people of color and non-gender-conforming philosophers, and I designed philosophy games based on each of these philosophers so that people could come through this experience. And instead of reading a plaque or seeing a painting of a philosopher to learn about their life, they would play through the games that ask them the players to, to sort of understanding the mechanics of the philosophies. And they would get a chance to test them out for themselves. Is this a philosophy that they could reasonably make choices based on? So they would play games based on these philosophers. And when I first started working on this, I asked a handful of my friends over to test out some of these games. And there was no framework around it.

Jessica (6m 31s):
No, it wasn’t even a museum theme yet. It was just these random philosophy games. And so I tried them out on my friends and I warned them that they were incredibly rough and it was going to be like, really, really, this is really early in the process. I need to know which things to build on. So we’re not going to like shoot everything down, just help me see what the seeds of beauty are that could grow into something amazing. And so I thought I did an amazing job of talking about where I was in the process, but I was so incredibly wrong about that. My friends played the game. I could see it in their eyes that they were either bored or sad, or they were just so confused. They didn’t know what was going on. They were terrible. And so I’m sitting there trying to keep up a brave face and we get to the end of this playtest and I’m listening.

Jessica (7m 17s):
I turned to them and I was like, okay. So first thing, I would just love to know what your overarching thoughts are like. Does anyone want to share your overwhelming feelings about any of these games? And it was just silence. No one had that, anything to say, which is so much worse than critique. It was just, there wasn’t even anything worth commenting on. And I was devastated and I thought, Oh God, I’ve failed. I failed before I’ve even begun. This is a real permanent failure, not a temporary failure. Um, fortunately, I had a teammate there to say, no, this too is a temporary failure. And let’s just take that silence and learn from that silence. And so that’s what we did. Fortunately, I was able to ask them a few more pointed questions before letting them out into the world.

Jessica (8m 0s):
And what I really learned was that playtests need frameworks even early on. I could have given them something to hold onto. And I also learned not to quit too soon, not to quit before I got started because I had to keep going with this project because we were already slated to open the show. And so it had to happen. And that really my friends came back to see the whole production because they’re very good friends. So even after going through this experience, they still came to the show and afterward, every single person who had been at that playtest stopped me to say that they were not only completely awed by the production that it had turned into and that they had had an amazing time at the show, but also that it was made even more meaningful from seeing what a s**t show it had been a month before.

Jessica (8m 43s):
And then, in fact, it was inspiring them to go forth and do the things that they were going to quit because they had seen how much could change in the course of a month and how something could have been a total disaster could actually become a thing of beauty. And so that is something that is just really living in my bones. Now that things are going to be absolutely, abjectly awful for some period of time and that that’s not the end, that’s the beginning.

Rob (9m 7s):
Wow. Super inspiring. And it’s something that we’ll always like to talk about, you know, how at the start, some things might look a certain way, but you know, that’s where you have, you’re able to take it from there into something else. And I, there’s one thing that I also wanted to sort of delve deeper. You mentioned that, that, you know, for playtesting and frameworks, what do you mean by that? Can you give us a quick overview?

Jessica (9m 27s):
Yeah, I think I feel, I know, I feel really tempted doing early playtests to say, okay, I don’t even want to test out any narrative elements of this. I just want to see if the mechanics work. I want to know that this thing can run on its own without the story or the tension or all the beautiful things that make us love to like live in an environment or a world for a little while that we usually step into with the game. And what I have found is that mechanics by themselves are just boring. They need something, they just need something to hold them in their shape. And for me, I’m a narrative storyteller. I put a story on everything. And so instead of just putting forth the mechanics, when I know that story is integral to the game, I’ll put forth the theory on the narrative.

Jessica (10m 7s):
Also, even if I don’t know what it is. So if I’m playtesting, if I was playtesting philosophy games now, even if I didn’t know that I wanted to set them in a museum setting, I would put them somewhere, you know, I would let the players know what their role was in this playtest. So you are coming here as a tourist to this experience. So just keep that in mind, I’ll try and let them know who they are as well as what I’m looking for in the playtest. And that has been really, really helpful in playtests for the last year.

Rob (10m 36s):
It makes sense because what you’re testing for is what eventually will come, will become a game that has a narrative. So subtracting a full element, like the narrative that you’ll have there, it makes it a lot more difficult to get feedback. Right?

Jessica (10m 49s):
Exactly. And just because I trust that the narrative will be there, that does not mean that the players trust that why would they, they haven’t seen it before and they’re not in my head. So I’ve got to give them the confidence to be able to engage deeply with the material, even when it’s messy. And so the story is a way to do that. Just the same in playtesting as it is in any sort of final product. Yeah,

Rob (11m 8s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, the thing is precisely in those playtests to, to get the people, to see the things you’re not seeing, because they’re not in your head that that is a fantastic comment as well. We’ve gone from this difficult moment, this learning lesson we saw as well, how you came out of it and that it eventually became a success. And that’s very inspiring as well. So now we’d like to go for a story, which was, again, it could be from the start or not from the start, but that actually was a success. Something that you sort of can be proud of. And you want to tell the story of how that went well, can you, can you tell us such a story?

Jessica (11m 40s):
Yeah, absolutely. I would say there are, there are two that I would love to touch on. One is actually the same project, this “know thyself” project on, on philosophy games, because it was all about ethics, those games. And so to make something like Hannah Arendt philosophies on banal, evils, you know, Hannah Arendt was writing during world war II, she survived world war two and was talking about what it looks like to have evil in the world. And so when you’re making games about a, you know, a system, a philosophical system that started off as a response to Nazis and has grown into a way to look at the ways in which everyday evils and cruelties creep into our life, it’s not something that we inherently think fun or game for those things.

Jessica (12m 20s):
And so trying to make a gaming experience where we could explore this kind of depth of what makes each of us capable of evil in a way that is not going to turn people off or scare them, but in fact, engage them in the process because games are all about agency and inspiring agency and empowering people. So I would never want to create something that would put people down. And so to try and find that balance, to create an empowering game about seeing the evil in ourselves was really challenging. And so trying to do that with all of those philosophies was probably one of the biggest gaming challenges of my life. And I grew so much as a gamer doing that. I probably made 60 games in the process of getting to a 20 or 30, that, that ended up making it into the experience.

Jessica (13m 2s):
And the other one that I would touch on is I gamified. I started gamifying my own productivity in 2018, which I think probably a lot of your listeners have done also, but I really set up a pretty crazy system for myself. I just got curious about new year’s resolutions on January 1st. And so I looked it up and the internet, of course, it’s like, don’t do this, do not set new year’s resolutions, nobody follows through, you’ll never do it. And so as soon as I read that, I was like, okay, all right, I hear that. I hear that challenge accepted. And then I set myself probably 200 new year’s resolutions and provided myself a gamified framework for achieving those things. And I know myself well enough to know that I have to trick myself into committing to things.

Jessica (13m 44s):
So the idea of doing something for a year was too daunting for me to do something every day for a year, felt terrifying to have a full year to get something done felt amorphous. And so I set up this system for myself where every month my goals would rotate. And so I could switch them out at any point, but it had to be on the first of the month. So I was already going to be locked into a structure, but there were checkpoints. So I would only really have to commit to something for 30 or 31 days. And that is a way more reasonable commitment than a full year. And so I set up a bunch of like little gamifications within that system. And that changed the whole way that I work. It’s still had ripple effects in my days. That year really changed me.

Jessica (14m 24s):
That process of gamification made me capable of buckling down and like really getting into the gritty work of game design.

Rob (14m 32s):
Wow. And do you still use it?

Jessica (14m 34s):
I use a modified system. I haven’t had daily tasks for the duration of the pandemic, because I’ve been trying to just let myself exist on another rhythm and see how that goes. But it’s all an experiment. It’s all in the same vein of like research and development and fail faster. Let’s see what happens to my life if I don’t have a system for six months. And so now I’m putting a system back in place for November, which I’m really excited about.

Rob (14m 57s):
Nice, nice. Very interesting. And you’ve been talking, we’ve mentioned some of the things in the introduction, you’ve talked about one of your failures, which ended up being one of the successes, which you talked about right now as well, and then this other success, which was in sort of a personal gamification situation. When you’re approaching a problem, you know, you have a problem to solve and you’re going to solve it using games, gamification, game design. Do you have some thought process, some structures and systems when you’re going to do that, a series of steps, how do you, how do you approach one of these problems? What do you do when, when you’re, you’re, you’re setting yourself to, to solve these things?

Jessica (15m 32s):
I usually start with some free writing or the most basic possible thing I can do just to think through a concept or a challenge. I’m a writer. And so usually I’ll just start writing and see what happens, or if I’m going out for a walk, I’ll just set my phone to voice record and just do some stream of consciousness thinking, I call it, getting my squiggles out, just to see what kind of like basic things my brain can come up with that I will no doubt find insufficient later. And what kind of weirdnesses crop up that once I get to a place where I can I start putting a box around whatever the problem is to help really define what it is. I can still have something to turn back to say, all right, when I was thinking really expansively, how weird was I getting?

Jessica (16m 16s):
Or what direction was I thinking in? That way If I start to get cramped or constrained in my thoughts later, I have something to return to, to help me see the really big picture. And then I tend to follow the fun. What’s engaging about this? Where’s the heat? what am I actually drawn to? Because chances are, if I’m drawn to this thing, others will be also, and this is the thing that I’ll be able to execute at the highest level because my brain wants this challenge. It’s really excited about this challenge. And so usually I’ll go for that and then just follow that line of thinking and creation as long as I can. And if it starts to feel bad, I’ll just check in with myself as this feeling terrible because I’ve been sitting in with it too long and I need a break or is it feeling terrible because I’ve really hit a wall here and this is a dead-end and I want to turn myself around and try another route.

Jessica (17m 1s):
So I do really well when I have multiple projects or questions going on. So I like to be able to hop from project to project so that I don’t get myself too deep in the weeds, or like micromanaging myself about an idea. So that tends to be the way in which I work. I’ll follow the fun as long as possible. And when it stops being fun, I take a break and go focus on something else. But if I ever get really stuck, I try to return to the core concept. What are we actually trying to do with this gamification? What’s the real goal? Is this goal, the right goal? Is it just about getting people to do something or is it about getting them to really think deeply about what this something we’re asking them to do is? And just try and do check-ins constantly to make sure that the project is on the right track and that I can still be as expansive as I want to be.

Jessica (17m 43s):
And I love having a deadline and coworking. That kind of stuff is really helpful to me. I need like a little bit of an audience and a bit of a, have something to look forward to in order to get me to make decisions. I’m a Libra I’m indecisive by nature. So I’ve got to fake those constraints for myself.

Rob (17m 57s):
So you’re looking for constraints. I’ve heard, I’ve heard that one before people who thrive with constraints as well. So that sounds amazing. It sounds like very, very much of a, a free flow in any, in, in many ways, which is, which is fantastic. It works for many, many people, and it seems to be working very well for you. Just a quick break before we continue, are you enjoying this podcast? If you’re listening through a podcasting app, please subscribe and rate us on the app. This will be of great help to reach more Engagers so we can change the world together through gamification. So Jessica, is there something that when you’re creating these projects and you’ve, you’ve had these experiences, would you say there’s sort of some sort of best practice in this space?

Jessica (18m 41s):
Oh gosh. Yeah. I think probably a best practice is this is also a plan, a little free-flowing here, but I think the best practice for a lot of this is to trust, for game designers, to trust their instincts and to create things that they would want to experience. I’m working with one of my classes right now on gamifications and I’m having them design gamifications for their own lives around a particular challenge of theirs. And so what I’ve started to hear back from them is that very few of them are having fun doing this project, very few of them, but they are feeling deeply satisfied. And so I think there are ways in which it is the best practice to follow the fun of a project, even if that fun is really small or light because it will lead to other really valuable emotions like satisfaction.

Jessica (19m 28s):
And so I think allowing that process to unfold is really great, sort of taking the time with gamification and for game designers to go through it themselves as much as they possibly can because it’s really easy from the outside to say, Oh, this is a fun thing. This will improve upon the thing that was before or what it would be like to explore this work without gamification. But then if you actually go through it, you really start to feel those sand traps of where it’s actually not fun or would be alienating enough to send people in another direction. And so I think really going through the process is a best practice and providing a really solid framework for anyone who’s going through the experience. Did they know who they are in this experience or why they’re going through it, or what’s going to be expected of them as much as their brain space, we can free up from wondering what the process is going to be like?

Jessica (20m 16s):
I think so much the better because then they can really use that mental energy to engage deeply with the gamification. And so I think that’s really huge just giving your players as much security as you can offer them at the offset so that you can provide them some bigger questions and things to contend with as they actually go through the experience that and laughter.

Rob (20m 37s):
So two, two best practices there.

Jessica (20m 39s):
Can I add one more Rob?

Rob (20m 41s):
Yes. The third one,

Jessica (20m 42s):
The third one is humor. I think laughter has a really important role in gamification and asking people to do new things or to engage in a process in a way that is scary or unexpected. I think just making sure that people have a chance to laugh and relax and to really understand that the stakes are not necessarily life and death unless of course, they are, you know, you can definitely gamify life and death, but for the most part, it just really helps people to lean into an unusual experience. And that can go a really long way with gamification

Rob (21m 12s):
And, and even if the situation is life and death, one of the things that tend to happen is that you’re simulating or showing what are the things in a place that, where it is not life and death. So you can see that before it actually happens. Right?

Jessica (21m 26s):
Exactly. Yeah. They’re training grounds, that’s all training grounds and you know, they’re kind of like adult playgrounds or they can be kid playgrounds too, safe playgrounds. Exactly. Yeah. But like we never expect solutions. You know, the whole reason we go through processes of problem-solving is because we don’t have the solutions at the outset. So we have to know that the unexpected things are, are a part of this process and it helps to be able to lean into those things if it’s joyful in some way.

Rob (21m 50s):
Makes sense. So what would you say Jessica, if after hearing these questions, the whole vibe of the podcast, I know you’ve listened to a few episodes as well. Is there somebody that comes to your mind, you’d say, well, I really like to listen to this person interviewed on Professor Game? A future guest.

Jessica (22m 5s):
Yeah. Elizabeth Hargrave came to mind pretty immediately. She’s the designer of wingspan, which is such a playful game that is like, so mainstream now. And it’s about birds and it’s about, you know, like identifying birds.

Rob (22m 19s):
Wow. I had never heard of that. In fact, wingspan is, has to do with a project I’m working on, with a company that is in India. So, it probably has absolutely nothing to do with that, that person that you’re mentioning. I’m sure. But I had never heard of the person or that project that, that, that game either. And keeping up with the recommendations, is there a book that you will recommend to this audience, these people who are interested in games, gamification game design, is there something that you would ask us to read that we haven’t?

Jessica (22m 50s):
Yeah. I’d say the book that put words to a total squiggly mess of my brain was the finite and infinite games by James P Carse. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s it reads like a philosophy book, but it’s so guessed to the heart of games for me. And this idea that we play games because we love to play, not just because we like to win or lose things. And so it really takes a very broad global look about the role of play and how play is about forever. It is a mindset. It is about being playful in the world, not just about being playful within a gaming experience or trying to win a game. And I just, it just speaks to my soul, that book.

Rob (23m 31s):
Wow. It sounds like an amazing book. I haven’t read it. It’s going to be added to the long queue that I have of reading books. So again, within this recommendation’s space, this is probably one of the most difficult questions in this podcast. I would like to know. And the audience would definitely like to know, what would you say is your favorite game? Jessica Creane?

Jessica (23m 51s):
My favorite game is called pancakes or waffles. I have no idea who made it. I can’t check it down for my life. I have checked it down as far as a secret website on the Middlebury College campus in Vermont, where it is password protected. And that is the closest I have come to find any information out about the origins of this game, but I love it. I’ve loved it for probably a decade. Now

Rob (24m 17s):
Can, can you find it like, is it sold or how does it work? Like how could we find it?

Jessica (24m 22s):
It is not sold to the best of my knowledge, but I can tell you how it’s played. It’s very much a party game, but it is a, it is a bleak party game. I will warn you. It’s called pancakes or waffles. And if we were to be playing, Rob is best experienced with a sort of a large group or a mid-sized group. But if we’re playing together, then I will just ask you “pancakes or waffles?”. And you have to tell me which one you like better.

Rob (24m 43s):
Let’s say pancakes for the sake of it.

Jessica (24m 44s):
Great. So waffles are gone from the universe. They are completely and totally gone. No more waffles. So now you’re going to ask me a question and you’re going to pose this question as pancakes or something you like better than pancakes. And you’re going to ask me to choose between those two things.

Rob (24m 59s):
Hmm. Pancakes or pizza.

Jessica (25m 2s):
Great. So I will choose pizza, which means that pancakes are gone from the universe. So there are no more pancakes and there are no more waffles. And that’s the whole game. You just keep going in this same vein, getting rid of things from the universe that is less valuable to the group than other things. And I, it just takes, it takes the group to a very bonded and very strange place. And I really got bad. Yeah.

Rob (25m 32s):
It’s something that for sure. Yeah.

Jessica (25m 34s):
It’s also such an accessible game. There are no components. You can play it anywhere. I just love it.

Rob (25m 39s):
Yeah. You don’t need anything. You just start playing. Yeah, absolutely. And in this realm of games and creating games and game design and gamification design, what would you say is, is your superpower, what is Jessica doing? Probably better than most other people.

Jessica (25m 54s):
This is such a, I had not about this in a while. And then a friend of mine on Friday said he was, he was giving me a theory of why a book plays out a certain way. And my response was like, well, there’s no real reason. It could be bad. It could be this or this, or this could be the case or this thing could be happening over here. We just don’t know. And so he said, you know, Jessica, you have a really annoying habit of being a really incredibly expansive thinker. And I was like, yeah, sorry about that. He’s like, no, I mean, I love that about you too. And I was like, yeah, you know, that, I think that’s my superpower is that if given a challenge, any kind of creative challenge at all, I’m going to be intense as hell about finding all the possible ways it could play out. I love, I love thinking expansively and that’s just where creativity lives is like at the fringe, the fringes of our thoughts.

Jessica (26m 39s):
And so getting to that space is a really fun journey for me. And I think that if anything that is my superpower,

Rob (26m 45s):
It’s a yes. And a mentality. Right?

Jessica (26m 47s):
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rob (26m 50s):
So, Jessica, we have a couple of minutes left still. So I want to make this, the random question from the audience that we do, you know, when we have sufficient time left for, from the audience and okay, so I’m going to pick at random from this list. And I got this one. Okay. This is from a fellow professor. Well, I’m not sure if she’s a professor now she’s from IESE, another business school here in Spain. So she says, in my opinion, gamification usually takes some investment in the development. The more budget you have, the better for creating amazing personalized environments. So how can we create impact with a minimum investment in software development?

Jessica (27m 28s):
What a great question. I would say it’s about figuring out what your tools can do for you. We tend to think of resources or at least I think of resources too often as just being financial, rather than being a full breadth of what’s available. To me, it is possible that I can do graphic design for my own work. Is it going to be terrible? Absolutely. It is. But is it okay as a first-round? Yeah, it really is. And so I think there’s, there’s that there’s calling on friends. There’s the fact that we have things in our world that, you know, can serve as other things. And so really recognizing the affordances of what’s around us, I think can go a long way towards this. I recently, I usually perform a show when it’s not pandemic time.

Jessica (28m 11s):
I perform a show live called chaos theory, and it’s all about helping folks to contend with the chaos of their lives, through the lens of the math and science of chaos theory. And so it’s gamification, the whole piece is gamification, but then once the pandemic hit, we had to go online. And so for me, it was just like, okay, let’s, let’s turn zoom on and see what this thing can do. And then realizing that some of the games that we play live can actually be translated one to one into zoom, just by checking out what those affordances are, what can these things do? And so I’d say that’s probably the first start is just making a list of what your resources are. What do you actually have available to you? Who do you know that can help you out with things who you could owe a favor to later, or who owes you a favor now, are you willing to cash in on that?

Jessica (28m 55s):
Do you have time? Do you have space? What’s available to you? Because we tend to have a great deal of abundance, even when we don’t see it. And it takes that process of really thinking it through to realize those things are there for us.

Rob (29m 6s):
Absolutely. So Emma, Emma Alvarez, that’s the name of the person who was making the question there. you have a very, very good answer making stock of what you actually have and you have available already and making the best that you can out of it. So, Jessica, I don’t want to let you go without a final sort of opportunity of you saying, you know, any final piece of guidance or any final words you want to have. Of course, let us know where we can find more about you about IKantKoan. Where are we can find more of you in the world, probably on the internet before we say that it’s game over for today?

Jessica (29m 38s):
Absolutely. This is the, I’ll be a broken record here, but my, the best advice I can give is to fail as fast as you can and to really learn to love that process of learning through things going wrong, every wrong thing is a gift and not just to you and your own growth process, but to those around you. Because every time we do things that end up going really poorly, everyone around us can learn from those. So it really is. It’s such a generous offer to be able to do, do any certain form of failing faster. And I highly highly recommend that for other game designers and game lovers out there. And you can connect with me on pretty much any version of social media I can be found at IKantKoan, which is I K A N T K O A N.

Jessica (30m 21s):
I feel like I should apologize for the deep cut philosophy pun. That is our company name, but it makes me giggle.

Rob (30m 28s):
Absolutely. So thank you again very much, Jessica, for being with us today for spreading all of this experience and knowledge that you’ve gathered in your time, doing all these things, however, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over. Hey engagers, thank you for listening to the professor game podcast. And if you want more interviews with great, incredible guests like Jessica, then go to and get started into our email list. That way we can be in contact and you will be the first to know of any opportunities that Professor Game might have for you. And before you go onto your next mission, please remember to subscribe.

Rob (31m 9s):
If you haven’t, using your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of Professor Game, see you there.

End of transcription

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