GamiCon Reflection- My Top Three Takeaways

by Jacob Guerra-Martinez

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the first ever GamiCon conference, which was a co-located event hosted here in Chicago by Sententia Games and Training Magazine’s Online Conference. This conference was specifically for those who design and deliver Gamification for a variety of audiences, including corporate and academic programs. Along with the sessions, I, and fellow Learning Designer David Noffs, had the opportunity to showcase an exciting project we developed at SPS-Distance Learning called Discussion Hero for GamiCon’s Gamification Throwdown. It was a lot of fun, and we’ll share more about Discussion Hero in later posts.

But what I would like to do is reflect on three takeaways that really made me think about what I do, not only in terms of Gamficiation, but how I approach all projects as a learning designer.

“Don’t Let The Soul-Sucking Force of Reasonableness Talk You Out of Your Idea”

That quote was from the keynote address given by Monica Cornetti, CEO and founder of Sententia Games. I’ve always been the type of person who over analyzes ideas, sometimes to the point where I will eventually talk myself out of it. But does type of behavior really benefit me? No it most cases, and definitely not when it comes to trying new projects. We have to be willing to take the leap and really stretch ourselves in order to make our ideas come alive. Otherwise we may never try.

“Not all Badges are Digital”

This particular revelation came from the session “Cultural Dimensions of Design: Addressing the Challenges of Diversity and Budget” give by Ahmed Hossam, founder of Gampact. Sometimes people like to see rewards that they can hold, which is why he suggested handing out physical badges to participants. This helps provide immediate feedback and helps keep the learners engaged.

“Don’t Focus on Mistakes, But Make Sure Players Fail Constantly”

This quote made the biggest impact on me, not only because it makes so much sense, but it’s probably the fear of making mistakes is probably the biggest block to innovation that many people face. Bernardo Letayf, the self-proclaimed Evil Mind Behind the Operation of BLUErabbit, listed this as one of his ten things you can do to avoid a gamification meltdown, which is what happens when people continue using the same old techniques. Think about it, how do you learn to pass a hard level in a game? You try over and over again until you figure it out. The same goes for learning. Learners need to be able to make mistakes in order to figure out what the right solution is. That is how true learning takes place. So when you are designing activities, try to find ways to incorporate ways that students can retry certain behaviors to achieve mastery.

As I continue on my gamification journey, I will definitely utilize not only these takeaways, but wealth of other information I learned at this conference. Hopefully in the future I will be able to attend more just like this one. Bonus takeaway: I also brought back with me a gamification game deck that was developed by Gamification Nation. The deck helps you brainstorm gamified activities for your courses and trainings. If you want to learn more about them, just send me an email.