Friday, 23 May 2014

#GWC14 - The games HR people should play

I was initially looking forward to this session because it’s got the word HR in the title.  But actually I didn’t learn that much about HR applications for gamification.  (Still, it was great to meet Isidro – ‘the HR gamer’).

However what I really took away from this session was a bit more, a new insight, actually a completely new insight into the connections between games and gamification (something which has once again been a little bit blurred here in Barcelona just as it was in Paris.)

If you’ve read my previous gamification posts you’ll have seen my suggestion for the gaming and gamification process shown above ie that we should start with a gamification process that may or may not end up with a game, and if appropriate with choosing and designing the type of game that’s going to be involved.

Isidro seems to see it differently.

I’ll explain:

For Isidro, gamification is an act of humility – as it’s difficult to be able to say product or service is not reaching its full potential.   Or that we need to increase engagement.

Gamification is useful as there’s a crisis of attention, engagement and meaning (this also applies to marketing and outside the organization)
Isidro plays Pizel Dungeon – where the monsters are more aggressive in the early morning.  This led him to think about whether you can apply the same sort of thinking to e-learning.

His work equivalent of this is Learning Dungeon – setting people challenges using higher level skills and higher requirements.

So the anser is yes, you can apply game mechanics to help engagement and learning.

However two types of obstacles which makes HR functions reluctant to apply gamification.  The first is budget and the second is risk – gamification changes people and the changes you achieve may clash with the corporate culture eg if you don’t really want to empower people.

However, what we really want to create are pervasive games / pervasive gamification which means there are certain features that allow players to go beyond the magic circle and apply the same ways of thinking to their real world.

The purpose of the game above was that Isidro wanted to use games to test the mechanics he wanted to apply in gamification.   They all involve simple mechanics – but how would he apply these mechanics in his own company? – in the business, not just in a game?

Take the Gift Trap game – a simple social empathy game. 

Isidro’s equivalent here is Gift Tasks – the opportunity to become a jedi using the mechanics of gifting.

But this type of mechanics can also be used to help people think about who might be the best person to support a particular customer, ie based upon supporting the drives of :

  • Relatedness – group knowledge
  • Competence – social certification
  • Autonomy - accountability

Or Timeline which is a skill competition game involving a set of cards and you have to order the cards in time order.  The mechanic here is hidden rules.

This translates to Fuzzy Line which is about how people make strategic decisions – whether they want to improve technology, cut the staff, invest in talent programme etc.  And you need to order cards in a prioritized manner.

This builds collaboration skills, the ability to clarify priorities, and develop meaning and information.

Also it makes the rules clear enough to use in communication with the rest of the company.  If a manager knows what activities are priorities, they become part of the decision making process.

Another simple example is example is What If based on the mechanic of the quest.

So the key is that gamification is not game based learning.  But you can test strategies and mechanics at a smaller scale (in a serious game) before scaling up (to the business).

These approaches work because they are based on pull strategies – letting people approach the management rather than pushing things to them; simple implementation; visible results and risk.  And because they build relatedness and competence, trigger more autonomy among players, and help provide meaning.

However two types of obstables which makes HR functions reluctant to apply gamification.  The first is budget and the second is risk – gamification changes people and the changes you achieve may clash with the corporate culture eg if you don’t really want to break down managers’ power and empower all of your people.  Are companies ready?

Apparently there is a database of 1500 games – so review this and choose the best game to apply for your situation.  Focus on the user (although I liked the previous day’s suggestion we call them the player rather than the user)

Ie, my process can be used two ways – from left to right as a way to identify the game (if appropriate) but also right to left, identifying opportunities for gamification based upon all of the possible games.

Neat.  And I wouldn’t knock it’s postential.  But I’d still suggest the more strategic approach based on understanding your people and business needs is going to be the best way forward most of the time.

It does suggest however that we’d benefit from a better appreciation of gaming than most HR practitioners currently have.

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