The Blend Podcast EP004 – The Future Of Gamification

Tom Payani  00:23

So last week we we spoke about gamification didn’t we. And we spoke about its history and how it’s developed. And I think we wanted to continue this conversation. So this week, we’re going to talk about the future of gamification and where it’s going.

Brendan Cox  00:49

Yes. And the technologies that are coming out and the way people are using them. There’s lots of interesting stuff going on.

Tom Payani  00:57

This connects very closely with what we’re doing, which we explained last week. Also, from a technological point of view, immersive technologies are going to come into play. We’re trying to get involved with AR and VR in that aspect, as well. AR and VR, I think are going to really come to the forefront in the next few years. And I think they’re sort of connected with gamification. I don’t know what you think about that.

Brendan Cox  01:24

Yeah, I think that, like with everything with COVID, and everyone suddenly having to work remotely. It’s like an accelerant to getting these technologies more visibility. And people actually go and watch it. Let’s probably sit down and think about what are the advantages of this. So interest off people. So that’s cool, because the more people are interested in things, the more it gets developed, the more money gets invested in it. And it sort of accelerates from there. But in terms of interactivity, yeah, definitely. There’s a lot of a lot of things going on with that.

Tom Payani  01:56

From the research we’ve done, at least, it seems to be that people have been waiting for the technologies to get to a point where you could use them and implement them in terms of gamification in projects in marketing, and elearning, and stuff like that. And we’re sort of getting to the point where we’re seeing some breakthroughs. 

We’re seeing companies like Adobe bring up project Aero, we’re seeing AR being used for companies like IKEA, or, you know, Mango, I think, is where you can try and close using AR instead of going to the shop. So you started to see a breakthrough a bit more into the mainstream.

Brendan Cox  02:33

Whenever anything new comes out, it starts off as a technology. So there’s a bell curve of people taking it like using it and exploring it. And they’re sort of at the frontier of trying things out. And then as things like IKEA comes out where anyone can use it. And it’s really intuitive. And you basically just put bits of furniture in your flat, using your phone. 

Through their native app, more people get on board. So as the tools become more universal, and  less of a boundary to use, there are more and more people will take it on board, like project Aero, for example, from Adobe, lets you take something in Photoshop, which is used by a very wide range of people for a lots of different things, and basically separate layers in Photoshop, and basically place them backwards through 3d like space. 

So like an old school or public theatre, you place it back in 3d space, and then you can literally import it into your arrow, and you can run it through your iPad or whatever. It only works on an Apple operating system at the moment, but it means that we don’t have to even have to learn VR or AR, it’s actually just a creative tool to just stick something in 3d space, and explore it that way. 

I think once the tools become more available to everybody, they don’t have to have that technical background. That’s when it’s gonna start accelerating. And so yeah – Project Aero. You’ve got IKEA, making everyone realise when it’s used really elegantly in the for the right solution. It works really, really well.

Tom Payani  04:10

I think from a gamification point of view, that the next sort of step with that, in my opinion, is you start seeing gamification platforms come in, employee gamification platforms come in, where a company has, instead of a learning management system that you’d associate with elearning, you have a gamification platform that employees use as part of their company software –  integrates gamification elements into their daily routine. 

So for tasks they need to do, every time they complete a task in the office, they get a reward, or there’s like social proof compared to other people in the office and you see how other people are getting on. You can see that someone who is good at a certain skill, who is good at performing certain tasks, you see that they’ve built up certain points or, or things like that. 

And you can go to them for help with a particular task, because you see it through this gamification, platform. Performance Management can be tied into gamification. So maybe the employee has goals that have been set by their superior than the other that’s tied into performance data. And the employees can reach those goals with through gamification elements through many tasks, they have to do with gamification elements. 

So I think the sort of mundane typical administrative HR office tasks, you’re gonna start seeing those integrated into into gamification platforms. And some big companies are already starting to roll this out, actually.

Brendan Cox  05:43

And it opens up a lot more things because you can have decentralised teams working on this, like in the same kind of competition, you can have basically be in touch with everybody at different time zones, like scaling, it is much, much easier, because you’re not having to go in all different directions. It’s all just connected.

Tom Payani  06:02

And I think I think sort of the trend we’re seeing is that in the future, gamification is going to be used more as a strategic management. So rather than gamifying a task I know, I know, obviously, you know, part of the employee, the employee gamification, platforms I’m talking about is gamifying tasks. But I think you’re gonna start to see it used in a sort of a broader sense in a more strategic sense, seeing how people are doing in your business, seeing how they’re progressing, stuff like that.

Brendan Cox  06:34

On a side note, but it’s definitely something that I’ve personally noticed is that when you’re on when you’re commuting, and you’re on the train, and remember, everyone  is quite addicted to Candy Crush Saga; you see loads of people on public transport on their way to their job, or on their way back from their job who’ve had maybe a hard day, they get this sort of small hit, like we were talking about before – almost like it’s the chemistry of it.

Tom Payani  07:03

They are getting a hit of dopamine, aren’t they?

Brendan Cox  07:04

Exactly. And so the thing is that if you can get that many people addicted, that you can make it a multi multi million dollar company, just by putting shapes and colours in lines, and then rewarding them with a little verbal pat on the head. Imagine what you can do if you actually have them doing their job, but making them feel that rewarded by it?

Tom Payani  07:26

You’re coming back to what gamification elements consist of, isn’t it? Social proof, you’ve got rewards, you’ve got stuff like that. And, and the next step is, instead of having it in Candy Crush, you know, in a traditional game, you’re having it in your in your working day. I think that’s the point. 

I think this is where those platforms are coming from, I think I think the next step from that is, you know, from an eLearning point of view, or from an educational point of view, is there’s been a lot of talk of, you know, VR classrooms. And again, this is integrating gamification with with new types of technology. But if you can have a subject, whether it’s history or something like that, where the students have got VR headsets, and they’re going into almost, a different world, and they’ve got to complete tasks or learn certain topics in this VR world. 

That is something that’s been spoken about a lot, obviously, it needs to be scalable, it’s very expensive to try and fit a school to be able to do that right now. But there’s always plenty of talk in the industry, about the sort of open game worlds that will become, they’ll be able to monitor learner progress and set goals. 

You’ve had certain equivalents of this, like Second Life, I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, where you have your avatar in another world. You have to try and make friends and do tasks, and you get rewarded for that. But I think trying to implement that into the educational system, where you can have students enter a world where they can explore and they can connect with other students within that world and compete and achieve with other students in that world.

 That’s something that I think people are going to be looking more towards again, it’s like with most tech, like with all technology, you know, you’ve got to be able to, to scale up to a point where the availability is there, on mass.

Brendan Cox  09:09

For example, you see these things for historical rebuilds of the city or showing, we saw one for Paris, basically, from 200 years ago. And you actually get to see what the buildings were like and can walk around it in VR, or look around it in VR. 

There’s all of these all of these different uses of it that are kind of standalone at the most. So you’ve got like look at your house when it’s been redecorated, or look around, look around the building as it was 200 years ago or explore this bit of technology and open it I’ve been in 3d space.

Where at the moment, they’re all on their own doing their thing, and building up the research getting improving their product, but there’s no big overlap for all of them at the same time. If you know I mean, so there’s not a platform where you can explore all of them

Tom Payani  10:03


Brendan Cox  10:05

Simultaneously. So it’s a bit like, you’d go into a game. And you’d basically all sign into a game platform. For example, I can play my friends from my phone, from the Nintendo Switch or from the computer. And they can be on a PlayStation or something like that. 

So they’re starting to build forums where you can play games, like normal video games cross platform. And the thing is, once that starts to happen with E learning and VR experience, an AR experience stuff like a, like a sandbox for developers to be able to work in, where it can be used by anybody, then I think you’re going to get a really a really big sort of influx of people creating, and that’s when it’s sort of like you kind of get over that bell curve. 

And suddenly, it becomes a thing that’s in a mainstream thing where everyone’s creating it. And it’s, it’s constantly growing.

Tom Payani  10:54

Yeah, one extra point I want to make is gamification. At the moment, the majority of it is, it doesn’t matter who the user is, if me and you are on Duolingo, we will get the same personalization. To an extent. I mean, I know if we make mistakes, then we might, because it’s because it uses spaced repetition, we’ll get questions that are associated with the mistakes we make. 

But I’m not talking about personalization. From the learning point of view, I’m talking about from the gamification point of view, we’ll get the same amount of rewards. No matter what questions we answer, we just need to complete the level, we just need to answer a certain amount of questions, and we need to go to the next stage. And everyone gets the same amount of points, regardless of the types of questions they answer. So what I’m getting at is, I think the next stage of gamification is the personalization of gamification. 

So your your game will be different, depending on how you answer certain questions or how you behave on the app on the platform in the world. And I think that is that’s gonna be the next sort of breakthrough for me in terms of how we use gamification, because you have it a lot in apps like Duolingo, or whatever. 

But the rewards are still the same for everyone. If there could be some if there could be some sort of amalgamation between gamification and personalization of learning, and put those two things together and make them work intuitively with each other. I think that’s gonna be a step forward. Because you know, right now, gamified software doesn’t, doesn’t learn which stimuli each user responds to.

Brendan Cox  12:32

You’ve got lots of people developing AI, in terms  of machine learning about people’s decisions they did, obviously, Google translates a massive one where they’ve got to a point where language recognition and language learning about what it is you’re trying to say.

It will put in prompts and stuff like that. It basically is just an algorithm gets better, it gets smarter and smarter, the more data you put in it. So I think something like that, where you can, you can adapt the scenario, depending on the person’s response, can when will work really well, once you get to a point where like you said, you have a big enough platform where enough people are using it, suddenly, the data can be used to personalise everyone’s, everyone’s kind of experience.

Tom Payani  13:21

Yes. We need to know how to use machine learning to train, gamification software to get to know each person.

Brendan Cox  13:31

Because the thing is at the moment, basically, you see in video games and things like that, you have to have a huge team of people with a lot of resources, to manually structure and build out the framework of multiple branching scenarios and things.

 I mean, like with our projects, where we even something as simple as the First Aider where you, depending on how many things you get right, you get one of three levels at the end for your character, for gold, silver, and bronze. Like that took a lot more work just doing just separating out that way. 

And so when it comes to eLearning, often the budgets aren’t there for something when it’s just a single client or something like that. Having the resources to build a huge scenario that can be completely personalised and feel personalised, at least is very resource heavy. 

And so yeah, I think at the moment, you’ve kind of got to do what you got to do manually. But hopefully, yeah, I think in the future, it’s going to be machine learning is going to play a big role to play in that.

Tom Payani  14:31

I mean, we’ve already we’ve already started to see, as we’re recording this podcast, big companies using gamification in new ways. Netflix is an example, isn’t it? You they have their interactive TV programmes like bandersnatch from from Black Mirror, and they’ve got a few others over there.

Brendan Cox  14:50

They found that with bandersnatch. When it came out and everyone was a bit like what? Because you basically had a quite a dark narrative where you could make really almost trivial decisions into it. And so it kind of starts playing the video. And then you get to decide whether he eats Frosties or cornflakes for breakfast to kind of ease you in. 

And then by the end, you’re deciding whether or not you even go to work, you’re deciding whether or not to let someone die or let someone live and all these kind of things. And what was interesting was that I think the thing in real life is that when you have to make a decision, and it is life or death, most people will pick the right choice. 

It depends who it is, obviously. But the but the the idea that if you allow humans to make mistakes and explore their options, without consequences, you can add lots more entertaining elements and let people they perceive they personalise the experience for themselves by being a bit cheeky and making choices that they wouldn’t normally make. 

So like, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is a comedy, you’re able to do all sorts of stupid things that basically get people like injured, get people arrested, you basically get to do all the fun things like a like the devil and the angel on your shoulder, you get to deal with the devil things as well. And then you get no consequences at all. And you can come straight back to the beginning and start again. 

So it makes it makes it a whole other level of fun. And the good thing is with eLearning, if you give people multiple choices, and let them explore those options,  there’s a really strong draw to being able to go back and see what the other options are as well. So you know what the right answer was probably going to be, but there’s something really appealing about veering off the path a little bit and playing with the kind of the different branches and stuff and I think that’s something fun that can be done.

Tom Payani  16:48

There’s no real life consequences to that. We wanted to talk about the the newest way. Netflix are using interactive content and are sort of gamifying their content, because Bear Grylls has got a new show coming out hasn’t he?

Brendan Cox  17:06

The idea is that you can go along with him on one of his adventures, and decide what he does or doesn’t do, obviously things like wanting to make him drink his own pee, or like, I don’t know he a scorpion, or go for something that probably is getting killed, apparently, but without obviously killing him. And so  it’s learning quite quickly what to appeal to that sort of that mischievous side to people to give another level of engagement.

Tom Payani  17:40

We are always trying try and use this type of thing in our in our stuff, don’t we? I mean, I think probably the best example we’ve got, in terms of gamification, that’s not just a more typical rewards based system is content detectives. Yeah, I know, you mentioned first aid. 

We have alternate endings, depending on your score and stuff like that. But I think with the content detectives, we showed quite a bit of gamification in terms of the character selection, whether you choose me or you, it’s more of an open ended game, because you’re just exploring a scene. 

Rather than going through a linear process, you know, a linear branching system, you can find the clues to try and solve the mystery in any order. It’s more of related back to these point and click adventures we used to do, coming back to the points we mentioned before, it’s this open ended learning where the player feels like – you see it in the top video games all the time now, assassin’s creed or, or Red Dead Redemption and stuff like this, there’s not one way to complete the game.

You want to see this sort of video game mentality go into eLearning and interactive content and stuff like that. Because at the end of the day, the video games, the top bracket people who do this yeah, they’re the best examples of of how to use this sort of open ended style learning, but there’s no reason why elements of that can’t be used in it. Like I said, eLearning interactive marketing.

Brendan Cox  19:13

For example, we have a gaming night that I do regularly with my friends, the goal of whatever it is we’re playing is normally to win. So it’s to beat the opposition. But the way that we do it can be completely different depending on who it is is playing because it appeals to our personalities. 

It appeals to our skill sets, it appeals to our morality in some cases. So for example, I love picking I love picking everything up off the floor. One of my favourite games is Luigi’s Haunted Mansion because I can move basically the game is involved as hoovering things up. And so if you approach it is that you choose the same goal at the end of a video game.

To get him from this point in the story to that point in the story, but you can either be stealthy or you can be someone running in guns blazing, or you can be someone that talks their way through it. Or you can be someone that’s like a sneaky thief, and kind of sneaks all the way through, you can still get to that you can still take that same point, but they’ve had a completely different experience. 

Iif your goal is to teach someone something, that’s the most important thing. Are they able to do the thing you want them to do by the end of it? The reality is, is that some people might learn in a completely different way. So if you’ve got a branched scenario where they learn it through activities, and then another one is they learn it through listening to and having conversations with another character, as long as everybody by the end of it is hitting the goal and doing exactly what he was you set out to do with the learning is cool, take them in a different journey, take them through in a way where it engages that person.

Tom Payani  20:55

Anyone can can use gamification, you don’t have to be an interactive content creation studio, like us, you can be a boss, or self employed or whatever, there’s, there’s lots of ways you can implement gamification into your business or into your working environment.

Brendan Cox  21:14

You can actually you can even do with yourself, the kind of the programming of it and the framework of it, you can, you can easily apply it to you because yourself in your own activities as well. So basically, the key is, is just setting a goal. So you what you want to do is set, set the thing that you want to achieve.

So you want to make it basically like a SMART goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time based. The idea is you’re going after something that’s worth going after, you’re not being vague, you’re not making it impossible to actually do, and you actually set how long it’s going to take you to do it so you can get there. 

So I mean, you can do things from like, say, for example, client outreach, you could email five potential, you basically go on to go into LinkedIn, search for the type of company that you want to want to get as clients. And you find five people that work for them. 

And the level to which you would they would be the ones that would hire you, for example. And then what you do is you set yourself a goal of emailing five, these five or five people like this, each day, this week, and then on Friday, you can reward yourself with finishing at lunchtime. And so the thing is, is that you can, you can build in the reward and the gamification part of it takes some of the pressure off as well, by doing things that are maybe Monday maybe just quite repetitive. 

Adding an element that basically puts in a reward things that are generally bad for you often have quite a short term payoff. So it’s easy to do them. But things like say, for example, doing exercise every day, you don’t suddenly get a six pack, like the first time you do sit-ups. So there it’s more of a delayed gratification on that side of it. So it helps to gain these things.

Tom Payani  22:56

Why is it so difficult trying to get in shape, or trying to quit smoking? Because you’re not getting a result, you’re not getting an immediate result. This is why exercise apps are a good example, aren’t they? Because you’ve got to try and maintain these apps have to have gamification built in that can maintain that motivation before the user is seeing a result.

Brendan Cox  23:16

It’s all about doing something good for yourself, that gets to the goal, and rewarding yourself before the reward becomes natural for doing it. The gamification basically gives you a hint of seeing results already. Before you get that six pack. And say things like sports apps, exercise apps, and even something as simple as say you want to give up smoking. But it’s tricky because you want to keep smoking. 

What if you put the half the cost of a packet of cigarettes into a jar and put it on your desk and make it really visible. And one of the keys for things like that is you. You make it easy for yourself by making it taking away the barriers of doing it. So you just have it right in front of you is right in your face. Each time you don’t smoke. There’s more money in the jar. And by the end of it, you’ve got a big pot of money, and you can go and do something fun with it.

Tom Payani  24:10

Brendan, we’ve run out of time today mate, but interesting, as always.

Brendan Cox  24:15

Yeah, I think also, if anyone’s got any interesting, or any of our listeners have got interesting insights about VR, gamification, things like that, we’d love to hear from you as well. So we’re always interested to definitely find out new stuff.

Tom Payani  24:27

Definitely. All right. It’s a pleasure as always, mate, and I will speak to you next time.

Brendan Cox  24:32

Chat to you soon. Bye.

Intro/Outro  24:36

Thanks for listening to the blend podcast. It’s available on Spotify, Google and Apple. You can find blend interactive content on LinkedIn, or Don’t forget to like and subscribe. See you next time.