Martin (Marty) Smith
April 14, 2014

Playing Serious Games For Business With Author Phaedra Boinodiris

Serious Games For Business book image on Curatti

Phaedra Boinodiris author Serios Games For Business
“Gamification is every bit at important as social media,” IBM’s Serious Games Manager Phaedra Boinodiris said this morning at Triangle Startup Factory. “I worry about the Trough of Disillusionment because gamification is about more than badges,” Phaedra continued. The fear is gamification is over hyped. Hype creates the illusion of simplicity. When gamifying a business process turns out to be more difficult  the “Trough of Disillusionment” sets in. Reason and understanding gets thrown out in favor of over simplifications and stereotypes such as gamificaiton doesn’t work.

Trough Of Disillusionment graphic on Curatti

“What books are you reading on gamficaiton,” I asked. “I just wrote one,” Phaedra shared. Phaedra’s Serious Games For Business book sounds like a must read:

In the business world, gamification has typically leveraged badges, points and leaderboards in the hopes of engaging people. This falls far short of the potential of what gamification can do for businesses. On one end of the spectrum, businesses can use game design techniques in ways that are not overtly game-like to fully engage customers, partners, and employees. When well implemented, gamification can transform a work culture by cultivating deep emotional connections, high levels of active participation, and long-term relationships that drive business value. On the other end of the spectrum, businesses can utilize strategy games, simulation games, and role-playing games as means to teach, drive operational efficiencies, and innovate.
From Amazon Serious Games For Business by Phaedra Boinodiris.

Phaedra Boinodiris Serios Games For Business book

Games & ROI

Reading Ted Shelton’s Business Models for the Social Mobile Cloud over the weekend I read another great line:

There’s an app for that.Each app becomes a small demystifying revelation that arms people with whatever tool they need to become instant experts at the game, whatever the game is. …. [Shelton lists a series of tasks that now have apps.] What have these tasks become? Games. …I am using the word game not in the narrow sense of an activity that we engage in for entertainment but in a broader sense – a set of rules that we follow to achieve objectives and earn rewards. Our lives are full of games when you think about it that way.

As IBM Serious Games Manager Phaedra’s team focuses on connecting games to an improving bottom line. She explained her team’s process:

  • Develop a requirements analysis.
  • Begin process of high level game design.
  • Move to implementation.


Phaedra’s IBM team is working with Fortune 1,000 clients to gamify business processes. “The future of gamification is bilateral,” Phaedra mentioned in her discussion with the four startup teams at TSF. Bilateral because game creators learn as much as players., the real time crowdsource traffic app is an example of benefits of a massively crowdsourced game. If there is a traffic WAZE alerts drivers lessening congestion and creating an immediate reward – avoiding traffic.

Phaedra shared work IBM has on understanding the social status of “Guild Leaders” in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG). Social reputation is critical to “Guild Leader” elevation. As Guild Leaders gain and grow there is a physical and recognizable manifestation of their growth. Online reputation, especially in a social time, is “coin of the realm” so businesses can borrow the idea of “social reputation” to gain Phaedra shared.

She went on re-imagine LinkedIn. Imagine LinkedIn with a more clear set of directions. What if LinkedIn could help you recognize a need for more expertise in X or Y and then map a way to learn what is needed. Qualifying events would confirm “growth” much like the “Guild Leader” whose physical manifestations change as they gain socially viewable armaments and power in a MMORPG. Phaedra’s new Linked job seeker gains social reputation as skills grow.

Gamification As Important As Social Media

In Red Bull’s Branding Lessons: Why We Are All Media Companies Now</em> (also on Curatti) we discussed how Red Bull has capitalized on User Generated Content (UGC) as a powerful social marketing engine. What my post didn’t cover is the inherent gamificaiton Red Bull employs.

By creating a world where social status is confirmed by Red Bull’s branding Red Bull steals a trick from P&G – define what it means to be an extreme sports star by their terms just as P&G used to define what it meant to be a good mother (and it usually meant using P&G products of course :). Yes we are “media companies”, but, as marketers, our goal is not to sell more magazines. Red Bull’s goal is to sell more Red Bull.

Gamification is key to achieving Return on Red Bull’s massive media investment. ROI depends on Red Bull connecting the dots back to their product, the experience of their product and the social support for their product. Digging this ditch to connect “branding” activities to bottom line is Phaedra’s focus. “Gamifying isn’t about unicorns and fairy tales,” Phaedra explained, “its about helping business achieve their Return on Investment goals,” she explained.

When engagement goes up and your customers help your company and brand cut through clutter thanks to User Generated Content (UGC) with the social shares and ever widening circle (reaching out to friends of friends) UGC brings your content, website, brand and company wins. Hope to interview Phaedra soon for CrowdFunde’s blog because we know gamification will be key to achieving our “cut through clutter” and engagement goals.

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Passionate cancer survivor, Internet marketer and former Director of Ecommerce who believes in Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Glad to be an "Editor of Chaos".

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