People Matter Blog

People Matter Blog

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Game on!

According to Foreign Policy Magazine (, document CONOP 8888 of April 30 2011, describes what military action will be taken in case zombies descend upon to “preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population”. The plan involves various levels of threat, including one regarding ‘Chicken Zombies’ which are described as “the only proven class of zombies that actually exist” when aged hens are incompletely euthanized and dig their way out of their graves.....

That’s a relief. I am sure many of us have been lying awake at night thinking about the gaping hole in our defence strategy around this matter.
It is not true of course, although it sort of, kind of is. The plan was actually put together as a training scenario. Realising “the potential political fallout that occurs if the general public mistakenly believes that a fictional training scenario is a real plan”, they elected to use a completely impossible scenario.  Let’s put aside whether there might be people around who would not necessarily agree that a zombie attack is completely impossible, the concept itself is interesting and (intentionally or unintentionally) quite en vogue...

Take a look at gamification of learning...

The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using game elements in learning environments. According to Wikipedia, “the goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning”.
Gamification can be applied in different ways, for instance by changing the language that is used to describe tasks or by creating an overall narrative to set the scene. Making a course presentation might be referred to as "embarking on a quest," and creating a prototype might be classed as "completing a mission."  A narrative might involve an impending zombie attack which can be fended off (there they are again!)  , or a murder mystery which can be solved through the process of learning.
In essence, humans are fairly simple creatures. Give us a challenge, appeal to our competitive streak, our imagination and provide rewards if we do well and we don’t even realise that we are learning.

There is, of course, a danger in this. Last week the BBC reported a story about how Advergames ‘target children with unhealthy products . Advergames present branding to children using games as a vehicle. There are virtual worlds, avatars, extra points and lives to gain by playing the game and sharing it with friends and without realising it, product messaging gets across. In a study that was done at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, children that played advergames which promoted unhealthy snacks, ate more of the unhealthy snacks that were given afterwards and less of the healthy snacks. But this also proves that used to our advantage, gamification can be a powerful medium.

Steven Johnson in his book “Everything Bad is Good For You” suggests that over the past decade IQs have risen as a result of games and online activities, because of the complexity people deal with. “You can’t progress far in a game if you simply deal with the puzzles you stumble across; you have to coordinate them with the ultimate objectives on the horizon. Talented gamers have mastered the ability to keep all these varied objectives alive in their heads simultaneously”. The study also shows that even non-gamers demonstrate the same increased abilities after just a week of playing games.

Apply these principles to the modern learning organisation and it is not surprising that gamification is a hot topic. Research firm Mind Commerce projects gamification growth to reach $3.6 billion by 2017, and that by the same year, 80 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have gamified applications and/or processes.
Our workforce increasingly consists of Generation Y (and Z and beyond) who thrive in multimedia environments. They will also have had (much more than previous generations) experience of these environments being used to deliver learning. Most schools and universities have blended learning curriculums and as a result, they will also have increased expectation to have an engaging, entertaining and digital learning experience at work – anywhere, anytime!
So the big questions that remain are: Is your current learning offering effective for all generations within your workforce? Are your learning function, processes and systems ready to support a more digital learning experience? What elements of gamification could you apply regardless?

About the author

Barbara vanderHeijden
Barbara vanderHeijden
Barbara van der Heijden is an experienced Human Resources, Transformation, HRIS and Change Management consultant. She developed her expertise during her consultancy career of 10+ years in London, The Netherlands and Australia. She is currently responsible for Capgemini UK’s Employee Transformation practice.
1 Comment Leave a comment
Really interesting blog barbara -wasn't sure from the strapline exactly what I was getting but gamification is truly taking off. I am interested to know how you think HR should prepare themselves for managing with a rise in gamification e.g. through L&D teams to how gamification can work for HR?

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