How to introduce gamification where you work: an enterprise case study

pacman 2

In late May, a small team at AMP launched a ‘Mystery-gami’ game. It was an experiment in gamification for all involved – a first for AMP internally – and with little expectation of its success.

The game ran for a little over a week, originally set out as a way to engage staff to join in the week-long AMP-led event Amplify Festival. But it surpassed all predictions. In just 10 days it had reached 900+ players, generated 40,000 touches, and seen engagement across multiple locations of the business – nationally and internationally.

Project lead, Developer Mark Morgan tells us about the game in his own words:

“I learnt so much about gamification and how powerful it is. I recognised gamification is everywhere and part of us. In my mind, reading a book is a good analogy for a game. The reward is finding out the ending, a chapter mark is akin to getting a badge. It marks your progress. We used the same principles.”


“Our game idea was to finish the mystery-gami by working out the mystery puzzle. Every badge you got earned you a fold in the puzzle. All nine badges, you completed the puzzle.

“We designed it so that the final badge could only be earned on Expo day – the final day of Amplify Festival – so that we wouldn’t have people completing the game too quickly. Six people completed the game in total. It was important to make the game fit to the theme of Amplify – origami was a perfect fit to transformation.”

How we did it

“The idea is that there is something for everyone in the game. Using the Octalysis model of the core drivers for successful gamification we tried to match our scoring opportunities in the game to cover all of the core drives. This helps our game to have appeal to all players.

“There are four types of player – ‘killers’ who just want to win at any cost are the ones to watch out for. You have to be careful of them, they can get so far ahead in the game that it puts others off. That’s a theory of course, but it really became true. We had 5-6 ‘killers’ in our game.

The Amplify team took part in a brain storming session with the Amplify Festival speaker and gamification expert Marigo Raftapoulos (watch her session here) which kicked things off.

The excitement builds

“Promotion of the game was minimal. But even before any comms had gone out, people had picked it up from the app and website.

“The game only came out on Tuesday before Amplify Festival. From the Wednesday, people were already asking ‘how we can get more points?’ We started a quiz to give people the opportunity to get more points.

“That was my first indication that people were really motivated.”

Employee engagement

“Our leaderboard throughout the competition was dominated by an employee who worked in Parramatta [outer Sydney]. She couldn’t make it to the event – until the Thursday, but still managed to keep in the top five of the leaderboard through the website, tweeting, submitting comments.

“And a guy in NZ – he couldn’t attend. He watched the puzzle being made and completed it and sent through his solution in a photograph. I was quite amazed.

“We designed it so people engaged with content – for the quiz, people had to read all of our website interviews with speakers to answer the questions. People got more points for things they physically had to do – like taking a photograph –to build the engagement.

“A lot of our participants were people highly engaged in Amplify Festival, those taking part in lots of activity – like our speaker buddies, our tweeters and those participating in Idea Frontier [internal idea sourcing platform]. What you see when you look at the leaderboard is people who weren’t passionate about a game – they were passionate about Amplify Festival.”

Mark’s key drivers of success

1) People playing, word of mouth – someone playing could talk to their friends.

2) Game was easy to play – and easy to get on board with. App was slick.

3) Based on framework. Design of game around player types. Badges. People who love playing computer games attracted by points and bages.Even gave me a sense of satisfaction seeing badge popping up

4) It wasn’t about reward, the prize was just a ticket to our closing party. But it’s important people also get recognised.

5) It’s human nature – you see a leaderboard, someone I know above me, it’s competition to get feedback.

6) Make sure you cater for the killers – the most determined players. Keep them happy, whilst not scaring off new players.

Gamification in numbers:

  • 40,000 touches (checking in, doing anything in the app, RFID, website)
  • Top 100 players scored between 175 and 1,213.
  • 900 players scored more than 10 points
  • Six people completed the game.
  • 64 completed the quiz
  • 21 self-taken photographs (‘selfies’) submitted
  • 118 pictures
  • 160 tweets
  • Total cost under $6k

When good comms go bad: is it ever okay for your CEO to dress up as superman?

Is it ever okay for your CEO to dress up as superman?

What are your thoughts on this video below, leaked from NHS (HEY) Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust?

It was released to staff at the Trust to promote ‘Work-out at Work Day’ and features Chief Executive Phil Morley dressed up as superman and dancing to music. Yep, you’ve got to watch it to believe it….

**UPDATE 28/06/2013: unfortunately due to a copyright claim by the Trust the video below no longer works, you may be able to find elsewhere online**


The video has divided opinion in press, online and seemingly within the NHS Trust itself. Variously labelled as ‘insulting’ to hard-working employees and a waste of time; others meanwhile have said it’s ‘brilliant’.

Personally, I think it’s a real shame that such a well-intentioned engagement piece has backfired so badly. I think it could put off a lot of other leaders from being open to more innovative forms of communication in the future; discourage them from showing their personality and being more than just a suit and tie in an ivory tower.

I think we should congratulate someone like Phil Morley for being brave enough to try something new. It should be seen a what it is – a bit of fun to show his support for this wellbeing initiative.

But not everyone thinks that way. So, how do you balance being creative in your comms with ensuring you protect the reputation of the business you’re in? Is it ever okay for your CEO to dress up as superman?

Here’s a few basic checks to carry out:

– Aim for fun and cool, not David Brent cringeworthyThe HEY NHS Trust video, I think, probably positioned Phil Morley more towards the latter.

– Test out your idea first: what might sound like a great idea in theory just doesn’t work in practice. Think of how it could be perceived – in this case by frontline staff who don’t have the luxury of taking time out of their day for something like this. Will everyone ‘get it’? And if it’s on a video and it’s seen externally, what then?

– Join the dots: Hmmm, multi-million pound cuts to your organisation looming? Likely to involve redundancies? Probably not the best time to be showing all the fun you’re having in the office.

– Is this the right image for your leader? Ask yourself if the person you’ll portray in the video fits the actual personality of the leader. Can they carry it off? How will this build the reputation of your leader throughout your business – particularly among staff who might not have regular face-to-face contact with your leader. If this is all they’ll see, make sure it’s the right image portrayed.

– Does this accurately reflect your workplace culture? Does your piece of comms reflect the values of your organisation? How risk-adverse is your organisation? Can you reinforce your culture through the comms, or will it undermine it?

– And finally, manage closely and trust your gut instinct: It remains to be seen how closely involved the comms team at HEY NHS Trust were in the making of this video. Phil Morley has said to the media that he was asked by his physiotherapy team to take part. Ultimately, you need to be the trusted adviser to your CEO and the one guiding the decision. Even if he/she wants to take part, it’s you who should be the one making the call on whether or not they take part. Trust your gut instinct.

And that’s the hardest part of all, weighing up all the pros and cons, staying objective and sticking to your guns. What would you have done?

The long game: Why gamification is now a strategic management tool for business

rock paper scissors game

Until this week, I’ve been a total gamification cynic.

My early memories of ‘gaming’ are the nightmares my brother had after playing Trolls on our family Commodore 64.

So, why would we want to use gaming at work? Why would we want to encourage employees to start gaming? Surely, gamification is just a fad, a ‘nice extra’ piece of fun we can offer staff for participation? But ultimately, something with not much more than novelty value?

I was wrong. Two things happened this week that have changed my mind. Firstly my team launched its own enterprise game (more on this in a later blog); secondly, I heard gamification expert Marigo Raftopoulous speak at Amplify Festival in Sydney.

Marigo’s fascinating session has persuaded me that gamification is here to stay and for Internal Comms pros, it’s going to be an incredible tool for staff engagement.

Here’s some of the top reasons Marigo advocates gaming in business and why gaming is here to stay:

  1. Gaming is now a strategic management tool – it’s not just for marketers
  2. Current business models are over – employees are bored, disengaged, uninspired
  3. Games reflect how humans like to interact. We naturally like to play. Check out this fantastic example from Stockholm where they trialled ‘gaming’ traffic speed cameras into a lottery: those that sped paid a fine, those that complied got the chance to win the money from the fines.
  4. Fun changes human behaviour positively. Interactive play increases alertness, learning and long-term memory.
  5. The potential for employee-led innovation and crowd-sourced solutions can be realised: In 2011, 240,000 players of the University of Washington’s ‘Fold-it’ took just ten days to help decipher the structure of an enzyme that had stumped scientists for 15 years. [Read more here]. Think what potential this has for employee-led innovation in business.
  6. Deeper customer experiences: Jay-Z used gaming to launch his memoirs Decoded. Since fans were already likely to buy the book, the real draw of the campaign was to deepen the engagement in the content and therefore Jay-Z’s connections with all of these fans.

At the end of the session I asked Marigo about her thoughts on the future of gaming. She predicted that gaming was here to stay – with Chief Engagement Officers managing a diverse team including a game designer and a game strategist, both of whom could partner with teams across the business to build gaming into business strategy.

I can’t wait to find out more about gamification and start to introduce some more games into my internal comms work to improve employee engagement.

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