Photo of Pete Jenkins for QAL Podcast

How To Gamify Anything (with Pete Jenkins from GAMIFICATION+)

Jonathon covers gamification, its uses across industries and applications, and important considerations when implementing the tactic with guest Pete Jenkins.

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Audio Transcription:

Jonathon Wright

Hey, and welcome to TheQALead.com. Today, I’m joined by a very good friend, Pete Jenkins, a founder of Gamification UK and the Gamification Awards. He’s a lecturer on gamification at the University of Brighton and he has literally changed my world. So if you’ve not heard of gamification or even don’t think it’s relevant, you know, it will this session will be perfect to give you the understanding of why you’ve got to think about gamifying some of your experiences, especially if you’re doing user experience and also how to promote innovation and culture within your organization. So I’m going to hand over to my good friend Pete, who’s literally got me hooked. I’m going to his gamification guild every Friday, and it has changed my world. 

Intro

In the digital reality, evolution over revolution prevails. The QA approaches and techniques that worked yesterday will fail you tomorrow. So free your mind. The automation cyborg has been sent back in time. Ted Speaker Jonathan Wright’s mission is to help you save the future from bad software. 

Jonathon Wright

Great session and welcome to the show, Pete. 

Pete Jenkins

I’m Pete Jenkins, I run a gamification consultancy, that’s the thing I’ve done for the last eight years. Before that the previous 12, I ran a technology company. So and I made some classic mistakes at the beginning, which is like just say yes to any technology question and try and solve it so you learn fast don’t you, doing it that way. So basically we did a little bit of security software as a reseller. To begin with, but Website sold accounting software. Even did some networking, cabling, went physical with it, the works, building service, all sorts of things. You soon learn, learn from that, what has a high margin, what doesn’t, and what makes your money or not. Got more exciting when I got into telecoms and broadband to support VoIP phone calls must have been a while back. I got into that because I sold that business eight years ago. So fairly early adopter of technology, I like technology. I like seeing trends in it and adopting not the super early adopter, but when it’s light, there’s enough money to be made. There’s enough business to be there throughout the whole of the experience, always with CRM customer relationship management databases. So for the first 12 years, we imported some from different parts of the world and then eight years ago we started importing game refined ones and into one of my many businesses is I have a joint venture with another Microsoft Gold Partner where we’ve built a semi-gamified CRM that sits inside Microsoft teams, which was good timing at the beginning of this year, turned out. As has been a big growth spurt on that in terms of the gamification stuff, which is what I live and breathe 100 percent of the time, I teach it part-time at three different universities, mainly my local one, Brighton, but also King’s College, London, and ESCP Europe, a French business school. And in terms of consulting work, I was quite lucky because I saw the previous business, telecoms business, firms that got into this, I’ve been able to pick and choose what to work on in terms of projects. So there’s no great theme like a particular industry niche. But whatever catches my interest tends to win out. So. At the moment was busy, and these times it is health-related projects and gamification, such as what we’ve been looking at and also quite a lot of gaming, five apps. So everyone’s realizing that you need to interact with people wherever they are working from home, whatever. And how do we get people to change their behaviors in those apps? Those are the two biggest bits. The only thing I get a lot of requests for is gamifying e-learning and learning. And I don’t always take those depends on the project. How interesting it was. 

Jonathon Wright

It’s a fascinating, niche area. And I think that’s what I know a lot of people probably who listening. I kind of when they think of gamification, they think of the game. Right. Which is not really the case. And how would you kind of best explain to those listeners, you know, what gamification is? 

Pete Jenkins

So the easiest way is to say, like, we steal the best bits of games, the stuff that’s really engaging, the stuff that really draws your attention, and then we see what of that we might be able to use in the real world to change people’s behaviors. OK, that’s like a practical way of looking at it. I quite like gamification. I think works and is a big industry because it’s a way of practically applying motivational theories and psychological theories that exist quite easily. You know, so whether it’s self-determination, theory or flow, things like that, there’s a game, a set of game mechanics that really relate closely to it. 

Pete Jenkins

That means you can easily apply it. One of my very first customers was actually the professor, the professor of psychology at university. And I was like, I don’t know why I’m teaching you this stuff, you know it. And he said, Yeah, but I didn’t know how to use it. And I think that’s the key thing is you can understand the theory and then you got to work out how to actually use it and apply it day to day. What is gamification? So it’s the process of taking things where there are people involved making it more engaging, generally, some, getting more involvement is probably a good way of looking at it. So someone is more into the task. Therefore, they’re more likely to do the result you want, whether that use less water increased by more from you, that sort of thing, whatever, whatever the objective is. 

Jonathon Wright

So I guess with that in mind, and again, it’s probably another misconception for probably some of our listeners as well, will be things like game theory, right. So the idea of we mentioned the word players for a second and, you know, the idea with game theory is players, moves, event outcome. So you’re kind of changing the flow of those and to the desired result. 

Pete Jenkins

Well, game theory is nice and confusing for gamification and game design and stuff because it’s just a psychological theory about how we interact with each other as opposed to anything else, whereas the game elements are more. How you put them together and the situations you build, the game worlds, you design, the esthetic you put across, that then encourages different behaviors. Whatever they might be. 

Jonathon Wright

So with that, I guess kind of game mechanics is kind of one of the things that always comes to my mind with these kinds of things, and I think I mentioned to you at the Gamification Guild that, you know, I’ve been playing this Disney game. And it was really interesting because two weeks ago they changed the game mechanics and there were so many people that complained online and there was just so much kind of, you know, I’m not gonna say brand damage, but, you know, kind of the associated fallout by just changing a component of the game mechanics without really validating. That’s the way to get that kind of result outwards. So how do you advise organizations to kind of protect the integrity of what they’re doing and how important that is to their customers. 

Pete Jenkins

Was a few big questions there. You were right. That’s going to be some tricky ones. I mean, people don’t like change generally. I mean, one of the other types of project we get quite a lot is a culture change programs. So how do we gamify those? And there’s a lot to it. But I would say the simplest answer is around co-creation. So getting people on board. The beauty of games is that nearly everyone who works for you plays games, yeah, and the number is growing all the time. So around you in your organization, they’re game players. So those are the ones you can go to immediately and get them on board with the project. Yeah, and although I call it co-creation, it’s just like the more of those people who are involved in the game and the gamification, the more likely they’ll spread the positive word about it, other people to adopt it, particularly as if we partly created it. And then we take more ownership of it. And what your game, the Disney game didn’t do was ask the audience. Yeah, they probably did some testing that said actually in general, people prefer this new game mechanic, but then they fail to think about how to roll it out and get adoption. 

Jonathon Wright

Is really interesting because I’m kind of using it as a bit of an experiment in the back of my mind for an upcoming conference, and part of that was, you know, it was interesting, the response. They kind of said, well, it’s a freemium game, it’s free. So you have you know, the developers are free to make changes. And then, you know, it’s interesting because, in the states, the obvious go-to was a whole stack of players started creating lawsuits saying, well, actually, you know, I want access to I’ve paid real money for these characters. And, you know, they’re obviously very passionate about it. And to the point that, you know, they’re going to go down a legal channel now, I think that is extreme. And but I do think it’s really interesting because people change applications. And like you said, people don’t always embrace change. And so something that could sound like a feature to one person, you know, could mean something completely different to the other end. One of the things I was fascinated by when going through some of your material was around the player types and, you know, obviously different player types are going to be interested or more excited about one feature or less interested in another. You know, for the listeners, what kind of player types typically are they? 

Pete Jenkins

OK, so these are the theories of Andrzej Marczewski, who likes to use it as a way of describing the type of players we have, and it boils down to six, four of which relate neatly to things like self-determination, theory, and other motivational theories. So these are philanthropists, people who like doing things for the greater good, explorers or free spirits, who like a bit more autonomy or choice in what they’re doing. And there are achievers who are basically very much into mastering new skills, getting better at stuff than there are players who are particularly into just using the system to get rewards, shall we say. Then there’s a couple of others, disruptors are my personal favorite. There’s not many of them, but they’re the most innovative, but also the most likely to cause trouble if they’re not looked after and channeled in the right way. And right now, I’ve just forgotten the sixth form. That’s good, isn’t it? I teach you all the time,. 

Jonathon Wright

But I think that is it’s fascinating because I think most people you’ve got to this. 

Pete Jenkins

If we all like doing stuff together with other people, I think of it as a power for the others. 

Pete Jenkins

So in terms of across the world, who are the players and what types of player types are. There are many, I, 30 or 40000 people who have taken a survey asking various questions about how they play games and interact with life. And we can see that in developed economies because it does change in different parts of the world. Almost 50 percent of people are made up of these free spirits and philanthropists. So these are people who want to do things for the greater good, but also want a lot of choice and autonomy in what they do, which is great. But what you see with most games and gamification is that it’s actually built for achievers and players. I give you points, badges, and leader boards, and that doesn’t even equate to like twenty to twenty-five percent of our potential player base. So it’s not enough. Yeah. So generally speaking, when you’re building that you’re not including enough of the audience, it happens because they’re the easiest bits to build. 

Jonathon Wright

Or maybe even the most exciting and fun bits to build as well, and you know, one of my things which I’ve always had a real challenge with. I know we talked about this a little bit where you’ve been helping out with the work that we’d be doing at MIT, which just cultural differences, the differences between one country to another, like you just mentioned, and that split and also this kind of I think I brought it on the TED talk, this kind of one app to rule them all in the sense if you create an app with certain app journeys that are all pretty much we’re all going through the same flows. And it doesn’t feel like those days when we were kind of promised this mass personalization of, you know, maybe the color changes or, you know, your learned your kind of your flow and it changes. It’s got more of a responsive design. And, you know, the way that we do it is everyone goes through the same onboarding process. Everyone goes through the same settings and has the same options. And it feels like most organizations, like every organization there and everyone that’s on the App Store, maybe they haven’t really even thought about gamification and the importance of this to their brand. And, you know, you see so many apps that fail, they fail. They may be beautifully designed, great game games, or great apps, but they just don’t have the legs because they don’t think about that engagement with the end-user or player. Do you think this is a missed opportunity or maybe it’s something that’s not part of design and solution thinking and it should be? 

Pete Jenkins

I do, yeah. One of the other tools we use in combination with the player types is the player journey. This is thinking about the whole journey for each person and I would tend to design the player journey for each player team so there’d be at least six. Hopefully, you can find some stuff that works for more than one player type at the same time just to make things a bit cheaper. But basically, you want to think about the emotional journey. 

Pete Jenkins

You’re taking each of those individuals on from before they discover your app. Yeah, how do they discover it? What mood or emotion are you sitting in their mind when they first see an advert or a flyer or a blog post about it? Then what’s the onboarding experience like, which is what you were talking about, and even at that point, I feel like it should be personalized. Some people will want to go through things in a different order. You’ve got people who like to dive in. They don’t want to look at the instructions, to begin with. So you’ve got to give them that option potentially or do you, you know, go test out. Other people want to be, you know, scaffolded through, help them have their hands held. Try some stuff out in a safe sandbox first. But all the time you want people to be experiencing the positive, supposed to be engaged in it. You have to feel like they’re actually progressing even in the onboarding process. So how does that go? And not only then after you’ve done all that. Are you actually then getting them to do the day to day thing that you hope is for you, the habit-building or scaffolding phase? Then the other thing is quite often missed in these experiences is what do you do with someone who gets really good at it? Maybe finishes all the content fast? Yeah, and there’s a bunch of things you can do, but you have to plan that. And it’s often missed out because people often a designer doesn’t necessarily start both. Our company doesn’t think necessarily think anyone is ever going to complete these things. I don’t know why, but it’s not the case. We built. Last year, the year before, the year before, from a conference, we had a game flight app to use in the run-up to the conference. Lots of different game mechanics to use to encourage attendees before they even attended the event, to learn about the sponsors, learn about all the speakers, do some tasks and connect to people on social media, all sorts of different things. And we built lots, you know, it was probably three or four hundred challenges in there. So you think we got two months. So the conference, a few people might progress quite fast. One person finished everything in less than twenty-four hours. And you’re like, OK, so that happened, and so you get to think about the fact that some people will get excited and do that, and then what do you do for that person? They’re like, so excited, but now they’ve got nothing left to do. So you need to channel them in some way to take the other part of your point about personalization. 

Pete Jenkins

This is something I think we should steal from the games industry because all the latest games, you might have a million, two million players and they’re all experiencing it slightly differently and just a little bit of machine learning, a little bit of AI, however, you want to put it about learning what I like in a game and then giving me more of those challenges or that I quite like the fact that some of the games now, if you obviously like the story elements, it’s going to put more of the narrative in front of you. If you’re obviously like the fighting is just going to put more encounters in front of you, you know, and but keeping the flow and doing some other bit. So this is a few algorithms you can put into play, but mostly everyone has a completely different experience now when they play a modern game. I don’t feel like that happens in apps yet or in our work so far. 

Jonathon Wright

Absolutely, and I think going back to what I love, what you say about the pre and post experiences and feelings as well, you know, part of what what we, unfortunately, classed as user experience, design, UX design and the things about this kind of personalities and also this kind of policies, you couldn’t have negative interactions. And, you know, I think it’s really interesting because, to me, a lot of it is pre and post of the application. I don’t feel that the engagement once you’re there, you’re there, you’re there, and you’re going to engage for a certain amount of time. And I’ve not talked about this use case, but we’re doing a paramount we’re thinking about having a theme park in London, which seems like a logistical challenge all the way over to be the mosh kind of moshes. See getting people into London and out. Right. And we were talking about the pre and post-experience a lot about this kind of well, you know, you come off the train at St Pancras, you know, maybe you see a banner with the new theme park. And for a certain age group, they may want help getting the mobile app on ROI. They might not just want to scan a QR scan and just do it themselves. Other ones may, you know, get pushed that based on, you know, that GPS location entering a location. And, you know, maybe they’re the weather. It tells you it can be a nice day. It’s perfect. You know, it gives you a real-time discounted ticket. And then there’s the post-experience as well. In the sense of you’ve been to that event, you’ve used the app, you’ve done something. And then how does it interact with the infrastructure? How does it tell you the best way to get back to hotels or, you know, linking experiences together? So even though a Hilton or a or a Marriott might be, you know, a different application, it can interact into that experience to give you that kind of concierge unique experience from you driving your car to get on the train to be an open kind of dynamic. Whether you want to go to West End or you want to go to the theme park, you know, bring all that kind of stuff together. And we at the time we looked at running theme park as a service, which everyone wraps this great as a service idea on it. And we were going to use video analytics to kind of look at people’s responses. Right. So they come on the ride, they smiling or the screaming or what can get desired responses, you know, and you continuously monitoring that. And obviously, people like Disney have done this with the Disney brand. You know, they’ve even used that IoT Analytics to kind of say these Toll booths are broken, you know, because of people avoiding a particular one. It’s all this kind of information which it feels like, you know, the app is just, you know, maybe an unnecessary front end in a way that actually with, like you said, AI. And what we’re seeing with this kind of digital transformation is that these experiences should be more chained together and they should be more personalized and made more unique to you. Whereas at the moment we’ve got a lot of noise and, you know, people pushing stuff that potentially we don’t want. So, you know, in this new reality, you know what your kind of advice to people who are going through these pain points of building a mobile app and maybe waiting until they launch it on day one to validate that their experiences are what they were expecting or how users adopt them. 

Pete Jenkins

That’s the I mean, that’s quite interesting, I was chatting to someone about this the other day on your budget, there are a few different approaches, but that at least budget you have, then the more modeling you should do, thinking about what will happen in terms of, the game mechanics, how fast people can win points or progress through the system, and what that might look like. Yeah, so you can spot a few generally with a bit of modeling, you can spot some outliers where it’s going to go wrong and tweak it. Yeah, but the most important thing, the thing that happens with most games is lots of playtesting and it’s very simple. Even if you just roll play between the team, the experience by weeding out the actual words, you’re going to use things like that. You’ll soon find out what’s fun and what’s not fun. What’s not working. Yeah. Or a particular turn of phrase that actually turns everybody off and quite often is down to the wording. Yeah, we build lots of Checks, but actually, sometimes it’s all down to the wording or the way something looks that just takes them out of this flow, this journey. And takes the magic away. So I’m protesting it doesn’t have to be big and complex. Yeah, you can get a really long way with mockups and talk work through roleplaying, that sort of thing before you actually have to do physical testing. Of an actual product. 

Jonathon Wright

No, I completely agree and it’s interesting because it kind of reminds me of a friend, Mike Anderson, he was there used to be the M.D. of News International, and he ended up starting a boutique development company called Chelsea Factory. And part of what he whatever I was there is always really cool to be. You know, the wall was there. There were all the journeys that went through. They’d sit down, they’d rapidly prototype, you know, they’d get it in front of the customer. You know, they use an infusion or whatever else to kind of give them that interaction where they’ve not written any code, but they can decide on the flow and how it goes the user journey should be. And I always thought it was it was fascinating. And, you know, part of this digital landscape was this ability to kind of create a hypothesis or an idea and then change it. You know, and I remember one of the examples he gave me was Jaguar Land Rover. And they had this leasing scheme that allowed you to swap your cars out depending on the weather. So, you know, you could have a nice F Type for the summer and then, you know, things are starting to get a bit misty and horrible. And you then change to a Land Rover and, you know, it gives you this kind of flexibility, but it gave you a certain type of user. It gave you this kind of ability to customize and be, you know, not tied down to a particular contract. And this is this kind of new area of, you know, smart contracts and all this technology to give people more flexibility and allow them more freedom. And I think this also comes at a cost. Right. And I’m going to kind of go to the dark side a little bit in the sense of now, I know you kind of gave us your Jedi wisdom on on on on the importance of gamification. But I’m going to go one of the things I know you were talking about before was kind of the social dilemmas of what’s just being come out on Netflix. Right. And, you know, part of that ends with this kind of idea of humane software developer development, the idea that we’re building software for the people. Right. And last week I was I watched a keynote from Steve Wozniak who kind of said, you know, about the fact that you know when the Internet was born, everyone was really excited about this opportunity to create great ideas, you know, do things for good, you know, online publications, you know, e-books, you know, all this kind of fantastic kind of feel-good kind of projects. And then now it seems to be shaking a little bit at the that the kind of how humane software development is done, how our data is used, you know, how certain companies are using our data. Right. And I guess this comes back to the Great Hack in the sense of another Netflix series which talked about having those twenty thousand data points for each person. And then even more recently, in the last couple of weeks, the biggest data breach data leak of Trump’s data campaign data for one hundred million politically exposed people within the US. Right. And the data that they had to profile every single individual. Now, obviously, that’s not gamification. But, you know, one of the things that we’re always talking about from this kind of privacy by design approach is, you know, taking just enough information that you need to be able to impact the experience. But, you know, how important do you think it is to kind of think about these mechanics as we’re doing, you know, even gamification aspects? 

Pete Jenkins

Well, I do anyway, because when we thinking about the player’s journey, we think about the emotions we want to create in people at every stage of that. So, for instance, by the time you finish the player journey, you don’t want people not trusting your brand, instance, which is why you’re potentially talking about here is the outcome of abusing the data. So, and the nice thing about games is that they only work if people volunteer to play. OK, so even when we put a gamification system into a big culprit, we basically tell people, hey, it would be great if you played this, but you don’t have to. Yeah, sometimes we’ll track all the data just because you want it. We want a control group to a certain extent so you can see how effective things are, but a good game encourages the people in it to encourage everyone else to play. Yeah, as soon as you’re forced to play, you’re not going to enjoy it. Therefore, it loses its effect. So I think at heart for long-term gamification is very difficult to do it unethically. And I mean, it’s perfectly possible to do it in the short term. Yeah, because you don’t have to worry about the long term effects. In that plan, but for long term gamification to work, you know, if I’m going to find a sales force, I don’t want to get in and find them for two months. I think to gamify them for the next 10 years to stay engaged. So I can’t abuse the data they’ve got to volunteer to play. 

Pete Jenkins

So that’s why I think gamification makes a nice framework for this, and I don’t think it gets a bad rap because it’s been abused in the short term environments. I think about Disney. There was a Disney one where they created a game for monitoring the cleaners in the Disney hotels. And the way they actually implemented it was the mistake. OK, so eventually the staff called it the electronic whip. This is not a good name for your game, but basically, they thought they had to skip breaks and things in order to achieve and not lose their jobs, which was not the aim of the game, but it was how it was perceived, actually. Well, then anything else? So they got that one wrong for that reason. I mean, actually, that’s an interesting point for my students at the university this last two weeks, I have been generating a lot of data from them in order to put them into teams. Normally, the students choose their own teams or maybe you select what they’re going to do. Instead, I go on to make a game of hiding psychometric assessments so they play a game for 10 to 15 minutes. That game generates twenty twenty-five thousand data points about each of those students. Now I’ve got 50 students who’ve taken this. I then get a massive amount of data about their strengths, their weaknesses, how fast they might work, their attention to detail, their accuracy, how analytical their minds are, things like that. And I’m using that data to form them into teams that should work really well as a team of like four people, each with different strengths, a key strength in there. And then I was thinking about the fact that I really want to believe in this. So traditionally as a university, you would not share the individual’s data. With the whole rest of the class, yeah, or even the other team members, but I compromised and I sent out a summary so that they’ve got actual evidence in front of them of why it’s going to be a high performing team so they can see a few strengths and weaknesses. They’ve not got all twenty-five thousand data points, just six summary figures for each of the strength areas. And I had to think about that quite a lot because you don’t necessarily want to share that data, but I also thought if it makes them more effective as a team, then it’s going to be worth it. 

Jonathon Wright

Yeah. 

Pete Jenkins

And we’re waiting for push back on that one. 

Jonathon Wright

Yeah, no, I think it’s a really good idea, actually. It’s somebody just messaged me today who’s another CEO of a startup company to build AI platforms. And it was really interesting because of the kind of went through various different forms of the software developer lifestyle. So the company’s been established for many years. So, you know, they’ve been doing the traditional waterfall model kind of approach. And then more recently, they kind of went digital and started doing agile. And then, you know, they were able to do kind of great things as far as kind of minimum viable product, which we won’t get into. But you know, our concerns around that. And then they started this kind of lean startup kind of approach where there was less focus on the development of the technology, but more focus on the kind of quick feedback from the customer. You know, would these kinds of concepts be something that you’d be interested in? Right. And it was funny because I sat down with Ben and he’s the CEO and he kind of said to me, said, I’ll get rid of all my stuff. And I thought it was a joke at the time. And it did. And he just removed them all. They said from now on, I want to do I want to build teams based on no longer job titles, but actually, in exactly what you said and the kind of skills that complement or align with the kind of the values the organization had and, you know, too many chefs and, you know, that kind of thought processes, they would what they do is they hired a whole stack of scientists with a view of creating a data science capability, and then they thought this isn’t the right way of doing it. Right. Know, part of it is we want these certain types. You don’t have to be a data scientist or from academia, that they can purely be from any walk of life who show these critical thinking, problem-solving domain kind of skills. And they complement each other. And I’ve seen this a number of times where you get very strong characters within the organization and then you lose some of the quality of those people who maybe are introverts, you know, and being able to profile them. Yes, I’m not saying it’s my heart breaks, but some of the kind of scale of digital cognitive skills is something which I think we’re kind of not seeing. And I was really disappointed this week with the UK government, where they sent out a whole stack of banners with different people who had jobs, ballerina’s, et cetera, saying your next job is going to be cyber. And I was kind of thinking back to Tim Robertson and killing creativity. You know, part of it is that we’re not encouraging that kind of those skills that the arts and and and creativity and thought and challenging. And, you know, the next generation of leaders, we’re kind of boxing people into one kind of category. You’re a developer or you’re a tester or you’re a project manager. And that kind of limits our exposure or our ability to challenge certain things that may be outside of our, you know, our tiny siloed. 

Pete Jenkins

And I think when I worked with a data science company a couple of years back and they had some amazing data scientists and their issue was the scientists could answer any question from the data that you liked. But getting them to come up with original questions was a different mindset, so they had to build teams of data scientists and data analysts, which was another bit, and then questioned creators. There was this other role that needed to happen, which is like. I just want something answered. And what’s that going to be, and it needs to be not siloed, not in a box, it has to come from outside their world. To get anything innovative out of that data. Yeah, I mean, it’s not quite as clear cut there, but that was the thing they were failing at, was raising questions, asking the right questions, asking interesting questions, and asking some really bad ones as well, because you need the full Next you do. 

Jonathon Wright

I think we’ve seen this trend happen before with big data. Ten years ago, everything was going to be big data and it was all about data is the new oil. And they were capturing all this information and nobody really had the questions, the questions of what to ask for the data that we moved on. Now we’ve got machine learning and actually, we’re in the same kind of position. Right. We have we don’t know what the questions are to ask. And I think this is where things change on. Get put on the head. And, you know, I think it’s really interesting because you’ve had some roles. You know, you’ve got the title of export champion and you’ve also got the, you know, part of your lecturing. You also do entrepreneurship right now. Do you feel that that kind of skill set, that kind of lean startup, that kind of, you know, lean thinking and questioning and, you know, is that something that may be missing? 

Pete Jenkins

Well, there’s lots of stuff online about what they call it. Generalists. Yeah. You need a little knowledge and a lot of areas to come up with interesting mixes and synthesizers, which. That’s definitely my bag. That’s why I like doing so. I love business and I love games. And the mix of the two makes me reasonably unique in my sector. There’s a lot of academics and there’s a lot of business people and there’s the mix. But you also need specialists as well to actually help you implement what you come up with. So you still need to mix. But I definitely think you need the synthesizing. I think there’s some research that says most of the latest innovations have only come about as a result of mixing people from completely different sectors on issues, you know, whether within science or outside science. Because there’s so much knowledge out there that once you’re very select, it wasn’t very niche, it’s difficult to create new without pulling something in from somewhere else. The same is true in the games industry as well. Yeah, it’s such a big sector now that you need a range of people, you need an expert to build something, but you need someone else to pull and be inspired by lots of different parts of pop culture. Of game mechanics, of what the game engines are capable of, and then coming up with a thing that’s going to be a new, nice, customized, personalized experience with someone. 

Jonathon Wright

It’s fascinating and, you know, I think we’re not even touching the kind of the edge of this iceberg. Right. You know, I think a lot of organizations are using maybe standard methodologies which they’ve used in the past, like design thinking and applying those and hoping to get a different outcome. Right. I think it is probably not going to work, you know, going forward. And I think this is a brave new world. And part of it is, you know, maybe that when we sandbox people like chief digital officers or chief gamification officers, you know, we could make any C, C, CI kind of C-Suite role to fit in here. But part of it even like a C, a chief data officer, our chief security officer ends up being limited by what they’re doing. Right. Well, you know, that’s a small area and they’ve got so many things that they’re dealing with, whether that’s compliance or regulatory, which is this is not really a regular regulated kind of industry as yet. 

Jonathon Wright

I think this was one of the big challenges that came out of the Great Hack was, you know, how do we allow people to own their own data? And on the information that’s thought about them, whether that be the algorithms that you’re running to generate hypothesizes on your students to, you know, what Facebook uses to identify politically exposed people. Right. So I think part of it , there are so many scales. And I would say that we Jason, from who was Google, he was kind of saying, you know, they had the anti-evil team. Right. Which would go around, sit, sit down with the team, and kind of go, you know, are these you know, how are you using the data? What what’s the purpose? What’s what is the value given to the customer and what are we to it and what should we be captured? And he kind of said, yeah, you know, part of it was when he left and he’s obviously quite recently been in the UK legislation around whistleblowers right around. You know, if you’re seeing something ethically or incorrectly doing, whether that’s using production data, whether that be trading something with some kind of bias which should not exist, you know, you should be protected to be able to bring that to light. 

Jonathon Wright

And I think, you know, this it has a big challenge now and a lot of media coverage around this. And also part of, I think, neurodiversity also playing into this is this, you know, how can we be responsible for, you know, people’s emotional state? You know, part of it is there is an emotional state which you’re doing, which is giving them happiness, you know, you know, how do you be responsible for that? Right. And, you know, they say that you know, the famous quote of the only other industry that has the term users is the drug industry. Right. And, you know, part of our goal is to engage more. But maybe we shouldn’t be doing we should be doing a high-quality level of engagement and less often. And, you know, maybe that is the digital interaction that we’re doing for is the still the get the enjoyment and, you know and do more with the time that we’re doing, you know, what’s kind of happened with technology as we’ve gone along, if we’ve gone from, you know, copying files from an MP3 player and then plug it into your car to you just say to Alexa in your car, you know, play this track, you know, the complexity is being reduced. We’re still getting the same outcome. But maybe we need to work out how to best regulate that. As far as you know, should you be pushing people notification? Should you be giving that kind of social anxiety of, you know, the badge, the badge on, you know, how many messages you’ve got on your LinkedIn or something? And people literally will go into the app to clear down their messages. And, you know, maybe we need to we know they work. We know these approaches work, but maybe we need to be more humane and responsible for our interactions and allow people more freedom. 

Pete Jenkins

I actually completely agree. But I also think this is one of the places where gamification has an advantage over games, which is that generally speaking, people are only playing because they want a particular outcome, something more perfect. You know, one of the key motivational theories is around purpose. If if we think what we’re working towards is of more benefit to the world or for a meaningful personal purpose, then we’re more engaged in it and we have to make sure we include that in the criteria for what we’re building. Yeah, but you can tell it’s difficult at the moment. I know you’ve got Merial, the author who wrote. Great stuff around how to build these habits and trigger these things, whose latest book is in, which is about how to protect yourself from gamification and these sort of things. So that obviously is a balance and it’s not quite right at the moment. But I think ethically, for long term effects of gamification, you can aim for the purpose motive as one of the key drivers. Then you’re going to end up with people not worrying about it also. There’s something about designing for how much interaction with your app you want. 

Pete Jenkins

There’s a great example of getting this right, which you see now more incorporates, which is they like to build a game of phone app, but they also naturally don’t want to draw their staff away from their other jobs. So I saw a game for Santander Bank in Poland for their counter staff. So right from the start, they knew they wanted their staff to be at the counter as much as possible. So the game was limited to 10 minutes of gameplay every other day. And if you achieve your sales KPIs, you get an extra five minutes of gameplay. Quite a simple thing, but that limiting thing actually worked to our benefit anyway because it made it more of an exclusive resource, make people more excited to play. And they were expecting, you know, they were aiming for 60 percent take-up of this game across fourteen hundred counter staff. And after a year they had ninety-nine percent take-up. And this is an audience of over average age, about forty-eight, fifty, eighty-eight percent women. They did not expect them to be gamers. And I think a lot of it was down to the fact that it was just 10 to 15 minutes every other day. And you only got an extra five minutes if you were achieving your business KPIs. As well, so it directly impacted their results, they enjoyed the game experience, which is a bit like Sims, but you were working in teams to build a little village and to compete against other branches. So. What you see with these apps where they’re going to many notifications is people eventually feel negative about it and get rid of the app, which is what you want is someone to be a customer forever. So you’ve got to find that balance and maybe a bit of artificial. Now you’ve got to weigh it works. Well, I quite like things like eye candy crush and stuff, once you’re out of life, you’ve got to wait for them to build back up. They don’t make you wait long enough. But they’re on the right track. 

Jonathon Wright

Well, I think you know this, so many of those are out there and, you know, I have to say, I love the gamification aspect and it’s been without too much of a game-changer for me in the sense of the way that we’ve done with the guys at MIT and changing the onboarding experience. It’s opened my mind completely to a whole stack of possibilities I didn’t even think about before, which is because it’s applying a whole new discipline. Maybe the title needs to be slightly different, like social responsibility or some kind of thing, the gamification. But it is going to change the way that interactions are with human-computer interactions going forward. Right. And digital interactions. And you know, what I’m most excited about is, is this for right. In the same as I figured, you know, aspect is like you’re starting where we finished is kind of the team’s example. You gave Claudie, my friend works at Microsoft on the Teams team. Can’t say that too many times. And, you know, she sent me this link, which was around their inside platform about what the planning to bring in for twenty twenty-one around helping provide support for, you know, going back to neurodiversity for people who aren’t maybe engaging, they’re not sharing the screen, know the camera. You know, there are lots of little bits of information, whether that be the sentiment analysis of how they’re interacting with the team. Maybe it’s the responses that they seem to be a bit down and they need some support within the team and really apply these kinds of gamification things to kind of happiness and just general wellbeing. And, you know, of one of the outcomes that we did for a conference last week was this kind of concept of a healthy organization, a digitally healthy organization where your staff is healthy, mentally healthy, you know, all the stuff we’ve got with mindfulness. But like, it’s a different world. You know, there are people having a lot more challenges. You know, I remember walking around the physical offices and there you see these little stop signs where you green, amber, red and you could go. It was to avoid, you know, when people would want to be engaged with and we don’t have that now. We’ve got this always-on approach. People constantly sending and receiving messages around the globe 24 hours a day and the day Snowden said at the conference that we’re about to hear a massive, you know, pandemic around mental illness come in February kind of next year around people realizing that the new norm and these challenges, which they’re getting of working in isolation, is actually going to be quite detrimental for society. And I think, you know, we’ve got to be able to work out how to do that, whether that’s just a feature within Teams that says, you know, I want to talk with somebody or I want to have more interactions that we’re on about, you know, the team stand up or something like that. And Wozniak kind of. 

Pete Jenkins

There needs to be a social element as well as the work element. I see what quite a few experiments going on in this, particularly at the university. There’s a couple of lecturers who are really keen to support the mental health of people because we’re used to we used to bump into each other in the canteen and have a coffee and a bit of a chat or a moan or whatever. So now there’s a virtual watercooler. There’s a great article on the conversation about virtual watercoolers and the rise of that sort of thing by one of those Alexas, Paul Levy, which I highly recommend reading, actually, because people are thinking about this and they’re trying to make things happen. Some people I feel are natural. Happier in its virtual world, I know a lot of very happy introverts at the moment who are able to control their life and have as much or as little social interaction as they want. 

Pete Jenkins

And, you know, the longer we were in lockdown, the more I’m going. Becoming more introverted myself, which is it’s interesting to watch it happen to someone who is normally a conference speaker and traveling and doing a lot of in-person interaction, that there will come a day when I don’t want to leave the house, I’ve got my screens, I’m here. I got distracted myself there. But we need to do something. I think there are things that can be done. I think games have a part to play because there’s a lot of in the beginning, a lockdown, you saw a lot of people having Zoom calls with their friends to catch up and they were drinking and doing other stuff. Okay. Now I hear people saying is we had a Zoom call and we played an online board game. Yeah. And we felt interactive around that. For me, my online hobby to begin within lockdown was online poker and I was Zoom call going with my usual poker buddies, but we could playing poker online, we weren’t even necessarily in the same game after a short while. Once you lost your money and had to go into a new one but had a social experience while still playing, and it just adds this other social dimension to it because if you think about how interactive we get, we’re going to playing a game. Yeah. Depending on the type of people that could be swearing, that could be upset. That could be a lot, Joy. There are quite a few ball games out there now called games like Cards Against Humanity, things like that, where you’re getting quite intense and personal. But actually, it’s laying out some of the stuff that normally you would only do in these in-person social interactions. So maybe there should be more research on which ones work best. Of these gangs for different demographics of people, but there’s room out there for this. 

Jonathon Wright

No, absolutely. I mean, you know, we have talked about this during the pandemic really around, you know, even just how you do the different types of games you can do, like the asynchronous ones or, you know, the different types of engagement models that still give you that level of connectivity. And, you know, partly, you know, one of the kinds of the statements, I would just say, well, that kind of mentioned about what was the difference between Apple back in the 70s, 80s compared to now is, you know, he said they had this freedom. Right. You have the freedom to, you know, think about stuff, think about how to bring stuff together, you know, have this time to actually think about great things. And, you know, we’ve heard the rumors of Google will give you one day a week to think about innovation. But, you know, absolutely no part of it is that this kind of real question of, you know, is there enough flex? If you think about, you know, moving around pieces, you know, you need to have that flexibility. 

Jonathon Wright

And I think, you know, being able to have those social breaks, be able to have those levels of interactions, introducing gamification to the workplace as well as the apps that you design is a game-changing approach, which I think will have higher engagement levels. It will be you have that digital health which we’re looking for, you know, but it’ll also change your mind, your thought processes of how you design more ethical, social, humane, more applications, which I think is more important than ever now. And, you know, I think people who are listening to need to reach out to, you know, check out. You’ve got so many great resources. But, you know, how would you recommend for them to reach out to you and get in touch? 

Pete Jenkins

Oh, Crikey, I mean, right now, a great way would be to just come along to a conference in 30 something days time online. And because there are five days and each day’s focus on a different sector. So there’d be something really interesting. And obviously, I’ll be hanging out there the whole time, facilitating and doing other things. So be easy for me to be there. Whether you’re into gamification of health or learning or marketing or employee engagement or actually managing communities is a new day this year which are quite excited about otherwise. Just email me, connect me on LinkedIn

Pete Jenkins

Tell me why you’re connecting and then we’ll have a chat about what your hopes are, what you’re trying to achieve, whether gamification is a good fit, it’s not always the right fit. And so what we can do is change the world. 

Jonathon Wright

Change the world. That sounds like a great place to start. Thanks so much. We’re going to have to get you back on again and you know. 

Pete Jenkins

Thanks, Jon. It’s been great being here with you. Thanks for the invite. 

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