Gamification: learning and changing while you just get on with your work


Calling prospects isn’t my favourite activity. I always used to put it off for as long as possible. Well, I did until I could found I could earn points for it – and even win a cup as a reward! I’ve now got the cup and I’ve also got a lot better at doing sales. How? Through Gamification. But let’s first get a few misunderstandings out of the way. Gamification is not lounging around playing games on your mobile phone. It’s also not the same thing as serious gaming, which is a method whereby – for instance – pilots can learn to fly a plane in a safe, yet realistic gaming environment.

What Gamification actually is

Gamification consists of introducing gaming elements into the workplace to challenge the people working there. In other words, it becomes a part of your normal working day. The gaming elements encourage you to do different things, or to do things differently. This means that you can acquire new knowledge, gain new skills and learn new behaviour as you go about your work, simply by carrying out certain actions.

The great thing about this is that Gamification aligns perfectly with the way that people actually learn. According to Charles Jennings, co-founder of the 70:20:10 Institute, you only learn 10% of your knowledge and skills from training sessions and courses, compared with 20% from interacting with other people. But you learn the most – the remaining 70% – by coming across challenges and solving them. Through Gamification, you can challenge people to adopt new behaviour and to do so in the place where they can learn most effectively. In the place where they actually put this into practice. In the workplace itself.

Gamification teaches consultants to sell

The main way in which you learn to sell is simply by doing it. That’s why I joined my colleagues in taking part in a Performance Cup last year. I allowed myself to be challenged to get better at updating my CMS, and above all to actually pick up the phone and call potential clients. During this game, I discovered the Killer within me. I just had to win, and therefore put everyt into doing so. What’s more, I wanted to reach the top spot during every mission and carry out the closing pitch so well that we would manage to capture the cup. And it worked! We won the cup. And yes, I did learn to sell better too.

Gamification teaches bicycle repairers to tidy up

Another recent example of the opportunities that Gamification offers was an experience I had when working with bicycle repairers. It’s important for them to keep their workshops tidy. Having a clean workplace where everything is in its place makes it easier to get on with your work. It’s also safer. But who really feels like clearing the place up properly at the end of a long day’s work?

That’s why the bike repairers needed a challenge. They had to be triggered in some way. That’s why we turned clearing up into a game. The bike repairers taking part could earn points if they left their workshop clean and tidy. How? By uploading a photo of their beautifully tidy workshop to a specially developed gaming environment. Even just uploading the photo earned them points. The bike repairers could also earn extra points and badges by judging each other’s photos. They did so by ‘Tindering’. If they thought a workshop photo was inspiring, they swiped to the right. If not, they swiped to the left.

Bit by bit, you could see that the participants found it more and more fun to get involved in this. They were inspiring one another with their photos and ideas. And without really noticing, it became a habit for them clear up their workshops properly.

What can we conclude from this? Well, Gamification is not only effective; it’s also a very efficient way of learning new behaviour. That’s because you learn things while simply getting on with your work. And that’s why it works. Even for me.

If you’d like to know more about improving workplace performance and stimulating desired behaviour through Gamification, contact me to discuss further!

Tuesday evenings are when our group of friends always goes off to play squash. We enjoy each other’s company, but I was in a bit of a bad mood at the end of one particular game. What was the problem? Well, I had just lost my undefeated status that I’d built up in the previous year. Even worse, I’d lost it to Erik. I was pretty annoyed. But our friend Bob didn’t understand why on earth I was so upset.  For Bob, Tuesday evenings are mainly about enjoying one another’s company. He doesn’t particularly care who wins or loses. But then, each of us clearly needs something different in order to enjoy a game and continue to play it. I want to win, tick off challenges on my list and keep improving my game, whereas Bob just wants to have a fun game followed by a good chat over a beer. At House of Performance, we understand how to bear these differences in mind when it comes to Gamification.


The 4 types of players, according to Bartle

When developing a game for a client, we therefore think up motivational gaming elements suitable for different types of players. This way, each player is challenged and rewarded in a way that suits them personally, thereby encouraging them to want to continue playing the game. We use the model developed by the professor and video game researcher Richard Bartle. This model is based on 4 types of players: the Explorer, Socialiser, Achiever and Killer. And although it’s true that each individual probably demonstrates characteristics from several different types of players in real life, do recognise at least one of my squash friends in each type of player. Like to meet them?

  • Explorer: Susan is an intrepid Explorer. For her, an evening playing squash is only successful if she manages to try out two new moves, such as a different type of serve. For her, we build in extra features that you only discover if you do new and unexpected things.
  • Socialiser: Bob is an excellent Socialiser. He enjoys having a fun game on the court followed by a drink or two afterwards in the bar. So we build a message function into our games and make sure that the teams can see all the results, especially for players like Bob.
  • Killer: A Killer such as Erik always has to win. To be better than others. And he will be only too happy to show you who’s the best. That’s why we use a ranking system – a leader board – especially for him. This way, everyone can see how successful he is.
  • Achiever: I’m a true Achiever. I also play to win, but I do so mainly for myself. That’s why I think it’s cool to collect all the badges in a game. Each badge that I can get hold of gives me the feeling that I’m getting better and better.


Like to brainstorm about Gamification?

Are you thinking of deploying Gamification within your organisation, for example to enhance your teams’ ability to work autonomously or to increase your company’s turnover? If so, it’s time to discover how playing a game can contribute towards achieving your organisational goals. You can download our white paper about gamification here. Or if you’d rather discuss things over a cup of coffee, just send me a message!

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We ensure that people, teams and organisations are able to excel. Within the Netherlands as well as beyond its borders, we do that by advising and supporting them where possible and by confronting them where necessary.

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