That's Myths About Gamification!



Play and game consultant, Alyea Sandovar, PhD, joins me to talk about some myths around gamification. Alyea has done a lot of research around play and games, and provides consultation on gamification through her company tint hue.


Throughout her career she has come across many misunderstanding about gamification, and she shares some of those insights with me. She also discusses the Playful Creative Summit, which is a virtual conference on the importance of playfulness and creativity to many different facets of our lives.


Learn more about the Playful Creative Summit here.


Check out Alyea's company at tinthue.com.


Connect with Alyea on Linkedin or Twitter.

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain spelling mistakes or typos.


Leslie Early

Okay, today I am joined by Alyea Sandovar. She is a play and game consultant, as well as the co founder of the Playful Creative Summit. And she is here today to share some insights about gamification and the myths that surround gamification in the l&d world. So thank you so much all y'all for joining me.


Alyea Sandovar

Thank you so much, Leslie. It's a pleasure to be here.


Leslie Early

So before we jump into talking about gamification, because I know you have a lot to say about this, do you want to take a minute or two to just introduce yourself?


Alyea Sandovar

Sure, I thought your introduction was perfect. But no, I'm Alia, sandbar. I'm originally from Colombia, South America, I'm a world citizen now having lived in the US and Netherlands. And now I spend my winters are there in Southeast Asia or in Portugal. And so I help people create really fun and engaging products by using gamification. And my background is in game production. My PhD is in game production. And I produced a few educational games and love game design. So that's me.


Leslie Early

Yes. And that's why I am so excited that you join me because if you have so much, so much information so much, you've done so much research in this, and you clearly have a lot to say about it. So based on everything, you know, and you've learned, what is gamification to you? What does that mean to you?


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, that's a really great question. So I think for me, it's, it's, here's how I define it. gamification is the science. So you need to understand behavioral science, and the art of applying game principles to business. And in it's been even further than that is tailored to that specific business, to those specific customers and to a specific product. So it is actually that requires, requires like an organized scientific process to be fully effective. It is not something that's just a slap on type of solution. And, and it requires thinking. So it's both like an art type of work. But it's also based on behavior in science and how people function.


Leslie Early

Yeah, yeah, that's kind of the understanding I'm getting now over time is that this is actually pretty complex. It takes a lot of planning, and thought and designed to be effective. And it has to be different for each project is what I'm picking up like, yes, you know, you one type of gamification will work in one situation, and maybe not in another exam. So we're going to talk about myths, though. So I think we just talked about the first myth that you know, it's not something simple that you could just, you know, throw a badge or a leaderboard. And that's gamification. So what are some myths, the biggest myths that that come to mind for you?


Alyea Sandovar

Well, yeah, that first one is leaderboard badges and points. So just adding those even though they are game elements, it doesn't make it a gamified experience, it just makes something that has game elements in it. I think that the second one is we sort of touched on which is this idea that gamification is like copy paste, right? That once you've figured out what, like how it works for your business, or how it works for your product, you can just copy and paste it across all your different products, or you're using it to motivate teams across all your teams or, or across, you know, work or across different businesses if you have more than one business. And like we just mentioned, it's specifically tailored to different businesses, different products and to your different customers. The other thing, which I think is the one that you love, the best is the idea that game applications can serve as a as a booster, it amplifies what you already have, but it's not a hail mary. So if, if you don't have a good product, no amount of gamification is gonna, is gonna help it. So it's a little bit like the chocolate covered broccoli, right? Like, you still have broccoli, like you're not going to change it. And one example I use, and I, I'm sorry to mention this company, because I don't know who they are, where they are, and maybe they've changed things since then. But there was this company called sink tuition. They advertised a lot on YouTube and I signed up to because they had some sort of like, by law All sound thing that balanced your right and left hemispheres of your brain. It's supposed to be this like oscillating sound. And I thought, Oh, that looks cool. So I signed on. And it has a few sort of like gamified elements. I actually don't recall what they were. But I thought they were sort of like cute. And then I went on to listen to the audio, right that's supposed to balance and keep me at peace. It was awful. I mean, I'm not a sound engineer. I'm not a musician, but I can tell you even for my, for my ears. I was like, I cannot I this is not something I can work with. So. So that's what I mean that, yeah, maybe it got me in the door. Maybe it got me to try something. But it didn't keep me. So long term customer or in education or in learning. It doesn't keep me motivated. It's not good, right? So here we are assuming that the structure of what you've put together is good and solid. And not something that doesn't have solid content.


Leslie Early

It sounds like, that was the opposite effect of what it was supposed to be like, give me a call and you're like, Oh, no, this is terrible. Yeah, I'm curious, though, like, what was the sound was it like, like, an ambient sound was?


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, sort of this ambient, there were some there are some like, nature sounds, but then there was, um, you know, and you kind of need that sort of like balance. But I just remember that, that the sound was not well rounded. And it was sort of jarring to my ears. And I thought, this is not going to balance my left and right hemisphere. And


Leslie Early

Well, they are balanced in that both hemispheres do not like this.


Alyea Sandovar

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.


Leslie Early

So if if the product or the service or the experience is bad, no amount of gamification or gamified elements is gonna rescue that.


Alyea Sandovar

Exactly, exactly. So so this is assuming that what you're offering is already already good. And I think there Yeah, so I think those are like the big the big, the big ones, maybe a side one that sort of, not yet, within the gamification world from one which I also talk about is the idea that these days, often people think as gamification as sort of like a nice to have. And, and I'm trying to motivate, encourage all those involved to begin using gamification, everything that they do, especially because of the number of people I've plotted the online space in the last year, as we know, we've had quite a quite a year all over the world. And, and so gamification is one of the ways in which a company a business, a course, can stand out and keep people motivated. Because now if we even had more things competing for our attention online, before, we have even more, and and so this is one of the ways in which you can ensure that your customers or people who are taking a trainings or or taking your courses, get the most benefit possible by by motivating them to say complete something or or being engaged without long term.


Leslie Early

Yeah. And as you're talking about that, it made me think, have you ever heard of us excel.com? No, I haven't. No. So it's like this new website? Well, it's an app, I think, too, but I just use the website version. But it's UX, like user experience, yes. And then sell CEO. And their entire thing is gamified. Like they're teaching you about UX design, but it's just it's very similar to like, Duolingo, where you just log in, and you're doing little exercises, and they're telling you Yes or No, you're right. And you just keep going that way. And I realized as I was doing it, this is completely gamified. Like, it's so seamless that it took me like I was through like 10 lessons before I realized, like, Hey, this is all gamified. So I think some companies are doing exactly what you're talking about, like that's how they're differentiating themselves is, is, is having those game elements and in the micro learning elements that I think will make people a lot more competitive in the future. Yeah. Yeah. So there was one other thing in your game account presentation that I thought was really interesting, because I've never heard anybody talk about this before. For me, it was like an aha moment. And that is that you brought up the importance of the Creator, the game, gamification Creator. Yeah, the process the design process. Yeah, it was like, yeah, never heard of that before. Yeah.


Alyea Sandovar

Yeah, so that actually comes from my research. So when I, when I did my PhD, I actually studied game designers and how they go about designing, and the theories or the body of work that that I was focusing on, where was on ethics of design, and how we embed our values and beliefs in everything that we make, right? So. So whatever is made, has the values and beliefs of the maker. And, and of course, then we consume that, right, because we either play that game or interact with that website or whatever. And, and that informs us as the receiver. And, and so often, when we're looking or even in video games, often people focus a lot on the game itself, or the the program, or the course itself, and how that's structured, and how, and the people who are using it. Alright, so in and looking at the, which I also talked about looking at the play personality and the, like, the player types of the users, but no one really looks at the personality of the person who's actually designing. Yeah, yeah, and this, this is very important, especially if it's your course, because it has to come just just like gamification is sort of like half art and half science, whatever you create is half from you, and and half for your audience, so as to come from you and have your flavor of personality. And, and that's when, you know, because of that I I really then advocate for, for the, you know, the play personality, I created this little quick quiz, the play personality is not mine, you know, that, that comes from a researcher from the Institute of play. And, but I took the information from his book and and created the play personality. And what that does is it helps the play persona, because it helps people define what personality type they are, and what would be the most fun for them to create in terms of their course, right, so, so if you are a, let's say, if you're an artistic type, then ensuring that the flavor, the vision of your course has some sort of like artistic angle, it's what's what's going to flavor the course and also make you unique in the marketplace, you know, then of course, then you can select game elements or game mechanics that that your clients or customers will be encouraged by, but but it is sort of kind of like the container, right? If you're more of a kinesthetic type, you know, you you there's activity, you know, you like action, you like movement, so maybe the way you flavor, your course or your flavor your program has to do with some sort of active something. And, and, and it's you it's part of who you are. So so it's part of what differentiates you in the in the marketplace?


Leslie Early

Yeah, and you gave that little quiz. I think you gave the quiz during gave the session, a few minutes to fill it out. So I think I got storyteller out of that. When I when I saw that. I was like, Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Like, outside of, you know, my professional life. I have always loved creative writing, you know, watching TV, movies, TV, like anything story related, and it would make so much sense that My mind goes to Yes, stories and scenario based courses and things like that. And that's like what I get excited about and having the character you know, go through a journey or something like that. So, yeah, it was just very it's very illuminating to to know that about yourself and know, like, okay, I don't have to force myself to make a type of game because I think that's what's going to be successful. Focus on what I like, and and hope that that resonates with other other players. So yeah, it's very interesting.


Alyea Sandovar

And it's also a bit like I said, it's it's a it's a mash, right. So because, you know, there are eight play personalities for those listening. So I'll briefly mention them. They're the Joker, the kinesthetic, the Explorer, the competitor, the director, the color collector, the artists creator and the storyteller, which you were talking about. So so it is important that you when you design something comes from you. And you also have to keep in mind that who you're serving, they also have their own ways in which they play and, and so the And the goals for your course or your program will come from your play personality, but then the mechanics, the game elements that you put in it to motivate people will come from who you think is going to the types of people you think are going to come and play with you. For example, you're a storyteller, right? So so maybe you would have, like a story line or something like this, or maybe a character that people might pick, right. But if you have a lot of people who may be our competitors, you know, they they like they like to compete, you might have it so that the different characters as you're like moving along, of course, or something, you can get things that you can show off, or something so that you could, so you can so people can feel like, Hey, you know, I am doing, I'm competing against others to try to get this one thing, or this kind of thing. So, yeah, no,


Leslie Early

that makes a lot of sense. And I think also, knowing your own play personality and knowing that there are other personalities also can like, expose any some biases you might have, or things like that if like, you know, this is my preferred way. But this is not the only way and I need to. Yeah, anyway, I'm just rambling that but I just thought it was very interesting. And people are interested in that they should go take a look at your your player personality quiz. But before we run out of time, I want to segue us because you have something a very interesting project that you're working on. Right now. Yeah, all about play and creativity. And that is the playful, creative summit. So I did want to give you a chance to kind of talk about that. And first of all, what is that? I know what it is, but what is? Yes, so


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, so the playful creative summit is an online free conference, you could say, for entrepreneurs, business owners, play oriented professionals, and anyone who's curious about playfulness and creativity. It's free, it will go live April 21, through the 25th. And we have invited 50 plus speakers, I think it's 53 total, to come and talk to us about playfulness and creativity. So our speakers come from many different types of fields. Some of them are consultants, some of them are game designers or programmers, some of them are improv enthusiasts. People are in film or musicians. So different sort of creative and playful fields. And we just invite them to come talk to us about how to play and be creative and look at life. And, and how to use the things that they've learned to maybe discover purpose in our businesses and how to grow together. And yeah, I think they're going to be offering lots of great background in terms of creative process or daily practices for playful creativity. And and we'll also be discussing how these can impact us in the future for 2021 and beyond and the importance of playfulness and creativity in our world today.


Leslie Early

Yeah, so and I've been getting the email. So I'm ready for when it comes on April 21. But it seems like most of it is asynchronous, is that right? But there are some synchronous elements.


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, yes, exactly. So so we what we have done is because our idea is to have this accessible to anyone with an internet connection across the globe. Then we just release about approximately about 15 pre recorded videos on Monday, the 20 I mean, Wednesday, the 21st at 9am. UK time, and then and then you have all day, plus the next four days to watch any of the videos have the first day at any time that works for you. And then the second day will release another 15. And the third day will release another 15 approximately. And then and then you still have Saturday and Sunday to continue to watch anything that you missed this probably about five hours of watch time for per day, so you could split it up over over five days. And then we do offer interactive workshops. So we have two networking events to place sessions and two workshops. And those are for those who choose to co sponsor the summit. So the summit is free. And then we invite those who want to co sponsor us to sponsor us so we can keep going and doing doing it next year.


Leslie Early

Yeah, that's so fun. I love that you're you have, like, the, the main content is free, which is an amazing service to the community. But you also have the option, you know, if you if you do want to co sponsor and essentially donate or you know, hey, you do have access to these other live synchronous events. So I think that's a really nice model. But my last final question here is, yeah, what this is a lot of work. It's clearly it's a lot of work. So what did you I know, you have a partner who who's working you're working with on this, David? Yeah. But what motivated you guys to put this together?


Alyea Sandovar

Yeah, that's a great question. I, I think we were first motivated by the idea of like, could we bring our two worlds together, because I come from the playful side, and he comes from the creative side, having done you know, he was been a journalist for many years. And he also was a band manager. He was a music, you know, traveled all over. So. So we wanted to see what could happen, we brought people to hate you and people that I knew together. That was just at the beginning, we didn't know exactly what we were doing. And then it became larger than that. It when when we saw the impact. And we asked ourselves, why are we doing this? And we we did they say we believe that playfulness and creativity are behavior, shifting doorways, that can change the world. And, and we, we, we believe that fully. But at the beginning, we're just kind of, Okay, let's just try experiment, see what happens. And we can, we're gonna try this. And then over time, it's really become this sort of more of a movement for us, then then just a summit, it is definitely, we really feel especially now in the last year that playfulness and creativity together can really shift mindsets and change. It change the way that people feel help people think outside of the box, or create new solutions. And even even yesterday, we had a sort of like networking event for for attendees, and in for speakers. And I was in our group and some of the attendees there were saying that one of the reasons they were joining the summit was because they needed it, they needed some lightness, they needed some playfulness, they needed some creativity, they pretty much had it with everything that's happening. And in the seriousness of everything everywhere. And, and so for us, it's just the spirit of lightness and play. That can I think, bring peace and I don't know, joy, joy to everyone. So yeah.


Leslie Early

Well, that's, that's wonderful. And that also explains a lot about why you are offering this as you know, a free essentially a service. So it's I I'm super grateful, I'm really excited to attend. Hopefully, I'll be able to attend some of the live events. Because of the time difference. I'll try my best. But either way, I'm just happy to support, you know, so yeah, so thank you so much again, Alia, for joining me and for sharing some of your insights about gamification. And I hope we will have a chance to join your playful creative summit and get a little bit of that joy.


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, I hope so too. For sure.


Leslie Early

Yeah. So if people wanted to connect with you or you know, continue the conversation, is there a good place that people can find you?


Alyea Sandovar

Yes, of course. So you can of course, go and find us through the playbook creative summit calm so that's the first place and the second places you can always find me on Twitter at Alyea Sandovar, or on Instagram, at tint dot hue t i n T dot h u e that's also my company name. So another website for you tinthue.com. And yeah, so anyway, you can find me. I'm happy to respond. Yeah.


Leslie Early

Yes. All right. Well, again, thank you so much. And I will see you very soon, I think.


Alyea Sandovar

Yeah, see you very soon. Thanks so much, Leslie.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai