Gaming at Work with Chris Slotboom | Episode 336

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Meet Chris, founder of Gaming@Work. His company integrates Game Derived Skills™️ and Game-based Learning for a dynamic workplace. With a background in International Hospitality and experience as a Partner Manager at Dell Technologies, specializing in Cloud and Gaming-as-a-Service, Chris brings expertise in various graphics/gaming workloads.

He provides a unique tech perspective on employee growth. Chris aims to help organizations achieve digital transformation goals, keeping employees skilled and motivated without investing in expensive software. Regularly sharing insights on gaming culture, esports, and tech trends, connect with Chris to explore the future at GamingAt.Work and his blog, TeamLocktree.com

 

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Full episode transcription (AI Generated)

Rob:
Engagers. And welcome to another episode of the Professor Game podcast. And we have Chris with us today. But Chris, we need to know, are you prepared to engage?

Chris:
I am ready, Rob. Let’s go.

Rob:
Let’s do this. Today we have Chris Slotboom, who throughout his life has been inspired to explore the potential and his passion for esports and gaming in the workspace. He founded Gaming at Work, a company that provides integration services for video gaming in the workplace. Hes been using a unique method to bring gamers and non gamers together, where gaming at work integrates applied skill gaming and games based learning, and his mission is to help organizations achieve their business goals while keeping employees skilled, engaged and motivated without the need to invest in expensive software. Before this, he was a partner manager at Dell Technologies and he focused on managed cloud services providers with liaison for gaming, including Alienware, his expertise in graphics gaming workloads, he was able to passionately discuss building sustainable cloud infrastructures and drive gaming solutions while promoting cybersecurity and protecting valuable data for organizations.

Rob:
And with his experience across multiple industries, he offers a unique perspective on technology solutions to help organizations grow and thrive in today’s fast paced digital world. And he’s always eager to connect with like minded individuals and professionals to share ideas, insights and excitement for what the future may bring next. And he usually posts about tech trends, innovation, space, gaming, culture, diversity and more@teamlocktree.com. So Chris, plenty of stuff you’re doing. Is there anything that we’re missing from that intro?

Chris:
Wow. I don’t think so.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. And Chris, before we had started with the interview, you asked me to share backgrounds so that I could see the room where you’re at. There’s a bunch of exciting things on your background. Quickly run us through what that looks like and how that perhaps integrates into your daily routines.

Rob:
What does a day look like with you? So where are you at and what do you do in that space?

Chris:
Well, picture the picturesque Amherst fort in the Netherlands. It’s a centuries old city, and I’m out in a standard home here in my home office. And it gives me the opportunity to customize, to tailor a bit more to my interests and my background. So from the left to right, there are five closets over there, five cabinets with books from my fantasy hobbies or my professional side, more in the hospitality industry or it development. And then crossing over into my video game history from the very first big box that I got from my parents that I was never able to play until the the four times speed CD ROM came into the pc, and then all the way through to the different board games, and then wrapping it up with a very large banner of my company.

Rob:
Fantastic. Amazing. And I’m guessing that room is not just a place where you’re at. I’m guessing that, you know, you do things with this and about this, given your background. And what is that?

Rob:
What would that look like if we were to be you for today or for this week? Whatever you want to go for. How would that look like? How would it feel?

Chris:
I have a very diverse week. I start off at one of our customers. Education. Occupation. An education.

Chris:
I’m not sure what to call that. In Dutch, it’s called the MBO. It’s the middle occupational school level here in Netherlands. We’ll have to cut that, I suppose. But Monday to Friday, I have a very diverse week.

Chris:
I start off at an educational facility where I have our access to our virtual solutions and our workshop spaces. And then I work with my colleague Stephen, where we develop new workshops, or we tailor our different reportings for our customers. And then I would go to different types of expos during your week, or having customer conversations live, or at the customer side, or in our digital workspace on a gather. And I wrap it up again at the educational office. It’s quite a roller coaster.

Rob:
Plenty of things going on in there, for sure. So, Chris, we know about your day. We know some of your background as well. Can you tell us a story about a time when you were using games based learning, applied games, as we’ve mentioned, any of these things and things just did not go your way. It’s sort of a fail or a first attempt at learning.

Rob:
We want to be there. We want to learn from your experience. We want to essentially live that experience through with you.

Chris:
I think the biggest challenge for me, as we’re pioneering this new applied skill but gaming solution, it’s trying to make people understand what the real digital skills are. And it took us about a year and a half to. To get through that first hurdle when we published our article about the benefits of recreational gaming. Because, in essence, that was the baseline, the starting point to talk about this subject effectively and with a strong fundamental that allows people to understand what the different skills that are, the different competencies that you can address with this. And I guess the most challenging part would be to cross over the different generations.

Chris:
Older generations tend to be more lenient to traditional activities rather than gaming. What can you do with gaming? And as we progress through the conversations, like over the years, our conversations have become more meaningful and more focused to value add instead of the. Gaming is a fun hobby that you can do.

Rob:
And given these difficulties you went through to get, I’m not sure if it was about putting the article out or actually realizing that it was an article. They. But, you know, would you have done something differently now that you know, or if you came across some challenge that is maybe similar, or you’re advising somebody who’s going through a similar challenge, what would you do differently? Like, how would you go about it? Perhaps like, what would that look like if you were to do this, for.

Chris:
The most part, is staying true to yourself throughout the years, finding that one unique thing that no one else has been doing and taking full grasp of that and polishing it, building it up, building a full proposition around it, it takes perseverance and tenacity. And when you find people that say, oh, that’s not something that’s going to work or it’s never going to fly, try and ignore those people and focus on your own success and your own happiness that this strain gives you.

Rob:
Absolutely, absolutely. That makes sense. Makes sense. And instead of going for a difficult time, how about we go for a story when actually things went well, something where you say, well, this is actually sort of a proud moment, something I’d like to talk about and showcase to others, because we want to be there. We want to see perhaps some of the factors of success this time.

Rob:
Can you take us there?

Chris:
I think I can address something that happened a week ago, but also a few months ago. I’ll start with a week ago. There was a large expo, an education expo on Edtech. At the very last minute, the expo okayed a project and that allowed for the association that I’m a member of to go forward with attending. And we had, I think, two days or less than 24 hours to finalize the stand and putting out the different activations for people to enjoy and also showcase how it affected people in their educational sense.

Chris:
So the power of, in this case, esports, the more performance side of gaming, if you will. And that for us at gaming at work, that’s the Holy Grail. Because if you’re able to leverage the power of esports and showcasing how gaming on a professional level or an athletical level adds benefits, then that also has an important value for the recreational side.

Rob:
Absolutely, absolutely. And how would you like, what allowed you to get there, so to speak? What would you say is, what allowed you together? And there could be sort of many different ways to approach this, whether it’s to come up with that in a very short period of time or how did that proposal manage to come in, or all of these combined? How did you get to be there in such a position where that was actually even possible for you?

Chris:
Well, the team at the association was really helpful. So the moment leading up to that final decision moment, we have done a lot of preparing and everything we wanted to do on that expo was very defined. But at the moment’s noticed when it was crunch time, that’s when it really shined.

Rob:
That makes sense. That makes a lot of sense. So I’m guessing that having building those. I don’t know if partnerships exactly, or something along those lines actually allowed you to be at the point where this happened for you, and it happened successfully. Right.

Rob:
The fact that you had already built these relationships is something that I’m guessing was crucial to be able to. To get that help from the association as you were moving forward.

Chris:
I feel so proud. It was just amazing to be in that. Not just at an expo, but just to show that this is a cultural trend that has been shaping up to become the next big thing. And people have been saying it for years. And now for really, really seeing it into action on a societal level and educational level, that really sparks a lot of joy.

Rob:
Absolutely. That makes sense. Totally love that. And Chris, when you’re working, when you’re doing these things that you do, is, I’m guessing that you have some form of a method, a strategy, some way of doing things or a process. What would that look like?

Rob:
If I were to ask you, like, can you teach this to somebody else? What would you tell them? What would be the steps? I don’t know. Can you guide us through it?

Chris:
Yeah, I’ll have to pull up my big mind map for that.

Rob:
Sure.

Chris:
We started off with. From multiple levels. We started just on a piece of paper, just writing down the ideas that we wanted to do. And it took us a while to get that, to fill in the gap that we both, me and my colleague, the co owner of gaming at work, then finding that missing link that the world needed through the passion that we both had, that’s where it started. And then we started using a plan board to work on different phases of the product development.

Chris:
So we started defining the market, the products, the specialisms that we would offer, the different phases we would go through, but also the customers that we are looking to add value to. So all the phases, from conversations to research, implementation and building it into a consistent service.

Rob:
Brilliant. Sounds fantastic. And can you perhaps dive a little bit deeper into what that service would look like?

Chris:
Sure. You’re happy to. From a baseline, we have applied skill gaming and game based learning. Those are the two foundational pillars of our offering. And the customers that we talk to have specific needs that could be increased productivity or focus on team members that have a bit lower self esteem, or you want to increase communication or team building, that sort of thing.

Chris:
And we can provide workshops that are solely focused on enforcing one skill or one competency. But we prefer to use the main method, called the game ready check. And that’s a full sized management reporting designed to support HR and facilities to bring gaming into the workspace in a very controlled level. It involves different things. It involves an aptitude test to get the personality traits.

Chris:
It involves a gamer Persona analysis for gamers and non gamers. That’s very important. And then it completes into the facilitating phase, where we do a scan for the accessibility and the different software that’s available within a company. And we also understand how the different square footage would result into being more or less effective for gamers or using gaming in the workspace. And then there’s more.

Chris:
I think the most. Yeah, the most awesome part here is that all of that data comes down to a rank, and that’s a rank from one to eight. And the rank one would be, everything is fine, right? All of the ranks are good. They’re amazing for companies that want to work with us.

Chris:
But rank one is more tailored towards companies that want to start integrating gaming. And rank eight would be esports level, where the esports is the actual profession of the employees. And that reporting showcases that, and it allows us to advise on specific applied skill gaming workshops or advice on ergonomics or physical facilities. All those different things, all tailored to either the company goals or the employee goals.

Rob:
That sounds amazing. That sounds amazing. Sounds like you have a handful in your hands, so to speak. So amazing. Good job.

Rob:
Lots of stuff going on in that terrain. Thank you for that explanation, Chris.

Chris:
So, Chris, was it long enough or short enough?

Rob:
Well, I don’t know. It depends on what you were looking to convey, but up to you. If there’s any other details that you want to provide, feel free. If not, we can certainly move on. Whatever you tell me.

Chris:
Well, for the most part, I think there’s a very nice distinction between game based learning, gamification, and applied gaming. And I hope that the listeners out there will come to have their interest piqued to check out how this applied skill gaming can work to their benefits.

Rob:
Absolutely. I am sure there’s plenty of stuff going on in this world, and a lot of interested people, as you’ve probably seen, like you’re doing this every day. So the interest is just growing in that sense. So I’m sure there are people in the audience who have either, either done it, thought about doing it, have sideways, done something along these lines, but I’m sure there is plenty of interest going around. And, Chris, would you say that there’s a best practice, something that if you include it when doing your project, it would make the project at least a little bit better?

Rob:
Again, not a silver bullet, but something that helps improve the quality of whatever it is you’re doing?

Chris:
Well, for the most part, if you are able to focus on analyzing and gathering all of the different needs that people have, instead of focusing on the business process, that does help. Focusing on defining or seeking clarification before moving on to the, I would say business oriented research, and then trying to find ways to visualize those outcomes before really planning and organizing the different implementations and then checking if it works, checking if it resonates.

Rob:
And how do you do that? Like that, checking that sort of side of it. How would you come about it?

Chris:
Well, the different outcomes have different checks, but for the most part, the different results are focused on, for instance, employee satisfaction, of course, or having different interviews with their. Different levels of the organization and just in a general sense, looking at people and seeing if they’re happy, analyzing their behavior into when they’re gaming? Basically, within reason.

Rob:
Absolutely. And within the limits of the possibilities that are established, I guess that makes sense, too. Yeah.

Chris:
There are a lot of cognitive skills that you can improve by gaming, and I think that’s, for the most part, like, if you’re very software heavy company and you have a lot of processes that need training, you can consider focusing on the underlying digital skills to enhance those, the receptiveness in general. Or you can focus on the different processes. And then if you have 40 processes, that means you need to do 40 trainings.

Rob:
Makes sense. Makes sense. Thanks for that, Chris. And now that you’ve heard these questions you’ve been around in the podcast, is there somebody that comes to your mind? You would say, oh, I’d be interested in hearing what this or that person has to say about these questions.

Rob:
A future guest for professor game. Anybody come to mind?

Chris:
I would love to hear from perhaps a professor. There’s a lot of research being done on the psychological effectiveness of gaming. I would love to hear more from a professor, associate professor that does research in this space. I have a few names for you. I’ll.

Rob:
Amazing. I’ll put some of them for you, and they agree on having those names in the show notes for sure. Chris, keeping up with the recommendations. Is there a book that you will recommend? The engagers?

Rob:
And why would it be that book?

Chris:
I think I really. I recently finished a book called a measure what matters by John Doerr, and the COVID says it has over a million copies sold. But I understand why. It really focuses on the objectives and key results as an approach for goal setting and then focusing on that passion and bringing everyone together on that passion instead of what the company wants, but just finding ways to make sure the company goals align with the interests of the employees and making sure that they’re all working together. Basically the startup mindset for a corporate vision.

Rob:
Hmm. That makes sense. Looks like a good book. And it’s the part of measurements I know, especially when I do workshops and people’s faces do not light up. We’re talking about objectives and measurements.

Rob:
That’s probably not part of what they were expecting when they saw that. It’s a workshop on gamification, but it is one of the first steps and it’s very, very important to be able to understand what you are aiming for and how you’re going to measure success in that arena. So it seems to be pretty well related to that as well. And I think it would be definitely worth a read. So thanks for that recommendation, Chris.

Rob:
And Chris, in your case, in this world of gaming in general, as you were discussing it, what would you say is your superpower, that thing that you do at least better than most other people?

Chris:
My superpower? Well, I always wanted to be invisible as a superpower. And over the years I’ve noticed that the more visible I am, the more energy I spark in others. And I think that in that sense, I’m extremely fortunate that I have a certain enthusiasm or, I don’t know, vibe around me that when you put me in a group and everyone wants to work together, that’s when my superpower pulls through totally.

Rob:
That makes sense. Makes sense. And Chris, maybe this question is coming out of left field, or it’s a difficult one for some people. I have to ask you now, what would you say is your favorite game?

Chris:
Wow. Asking an all round gamer what his favorite game is, that’s very. That’s a tough one. I think from an RTS standpoint, my favorite game would be either Dune 2000 or Starcraft two. But these days I’m so into things like satisfactory, like building and designing and creating these massive factories from a solo standpoint or from a rpg standpoint.

Chris:
I would say Horizon is a beautiful game by dutch design. And yeah, I think that wraps up my shortlist.

Rob:
So you gave us a shortlist with June 2000 Starcraft. Two satisfactory. And another one I didn’t catch. That’s four.

Chris:
Horizon. Horizon.

Rob:
Horizon. Horizon. Horizon. And that’s a series as well, right? Horizon, there’s zero dawn.

Rob:
And the other, I think two that come after that. That makes sense. Yeah.

Chris:
Forbidden west.

Rob:
Exactly. Yeah.

Chris:
And they’re Dutch by creation. Right? Did you know?

Rob:
So out of those four, is there a top two?

Chris:
Well, I would think Horizon and Starcraft.

Rob:
All right, all right. We narrowed it down to two this time. Leave it at that. So Chris, when we are discussing all these things, we love what you are doing. It seems like you have an interesting purpose to look forward to with gaming and including that in work and making people be excited about doing that at work essentially, which is not something that is very common, at least not nowadays.

Rob:
But Chris, our time is almost up for the interview. So this is the time where you have, if you have any call to actions, any final words you want to say, anything you want to add to what we’ve discussed at this point. Because after that, when we are everything said and done, we’re going to say that it’s game over.

Chris:
All right, well, in that last breath before falling in the pit while playing Mario, I would say try and introduce gaming in a structured sense and don’t offer it as a just a perk, having a console in your office or something, but really try and focus on strategizing it into your HR policy so that you can have a solid digital skill based foundation that everyone will benefit from.

Rob:
Brilliant. Thank you once again. And where can we find out more about you and your work? Chris?

Chris:
You can find out more at Gamingatwork nl and you mentioned it before all the way@startteamlogtree.com is my interest page where I gather news about gaming and business.

Rob:
Brilliant. Thank you so much once again for being here with us today. Chris, thank you engagers, for sticking around until the end of the interview, if you have, and even if you haven’t, just for checking this out. However, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over. Engagers, thank you for listening to the Professor Game podcast and if you want more interviews with incredible guests, please go to professorgame.com, subscribe and get started on our email list for free.

Rob:
We’ll be in contact. You’ll be the first to know of any of our opportunities that arise and that are or that are already existing and we will have them available just for you. Please remember before you go on to your next mission, before you click continue, remember to follow or subscribe whatever that looks like on your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of professor game. See you there.

End of transcription

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