Gamifying Engineering for Better Employee Experience

After rolling out our online learning badges (Please read more in here) over the course of the past few months, Gamification has really made me feel reinvigorated in my quest to learn and understand how to make software engineering fun in order to improve Employee Experience and ultimately Customer Experience.

The term Gamification was not new to me, but my initial belief was centered around the fact that it only meant to add a game to your product or experience design, something that would increase Engagement. But as I slowly read “Actionable Gamification” , I realized that I had a terrible misconception about the term altogether and that is what prompted me to type out this article.

Most of my inspiration came from “Actionable Gamification” and “Understanding Gamification- Products and Beyond”.

What is a Game?

It seems like a simple question. But, most people fail to answer the question in the first go. One can give numerous examples of a game — Pokemon Go, Mario, Tetris, etc, but cannot classify what exactly is a game.

A game is basically a form of play, which is more structured, wherein a player(someone playing the game) interacts with it for entertainment or fun. Games can also be used as tools for education. They are distinct from work as they do not hold any source of income and cannot be considered art, as they are not centered around aesthetic.

Games mostly excite us by driving our curiosity to discover and experience something new. It also gives the player a sense of accomplishment when they are able to overcome a challenge created by the game in the first place.

Games are learning machines that help us-

1. Experiment

2. Develop strategies

3. Learn New Skills

So, What is Gamification?

As games and their popularity grew, it was inevitable that the formula they were built upon was going to be used outside their own sphere. Gamification takes the elements of game mechanics like Points, Scores, Leaderboards etc. and adds to non-game environments.

Its core objectives are-

  1. To Engage Users/Employees.
  2. To Motivate them.
  3. To Retain the Existing ones.

Even though Gamification adds these mechanics to certain activities, they are not supposed to turn the activity into games themselves. So, Non- Entertaining- Full- Fledged games cannot be categorised under Gamification. They are called “Serious Games”. Gamification also does not mean that one can add a Game to a non game environment.

The following Diagram explains gamification in parts of a game rather than being one by itself:

Yu Kai says-

The only problem is, unlike most games with a computer interface, life does not have clear objectives, visual cues to tell me what to do, or feedback mechanics to show me how I have advanced in it. I had to design my own game, along with clear goals, meaningful quests, and creative feedback systems. Effectively, I had to transform life into an entire adventure where I, the player, could advance and grow in.

So the two defining questions to gamify his life became:

  1. How to make games more meaningful?
  2. How to make life more fun?

Human Focused Design mainly takes into consideration the motivations of the user in the system. How they are generally feeling while carrying out an activity, whereas, Human Centered Design is all about building a deep empathy with the user, generating tons of ideas and possible solutions(prototypes), testing it out on the user and then releasing it for the world to see.

It is necessary that there are clear motivations that drive the user. There are two basic kinds of motivations that are experienced by us:

  1. Extrinsic motivations are external, which arise when one engages in an activity because of a goal or a reward.
  2. Intrinsic motivations arise when the player finds the activity fun and exciting and would do it with or without a reward at the end of it.

What is Techcombank Software Engineering Next Experiment?

In “Transformation at Techcombank” I shared about our full DevSecOps capabilities which is been extremely successful thanks to Dustin, Harry, Soe, Fei, Luan and all other engineering team members. After our success now it was our turn to start experimenting something new.

Our key members Luke and Huyen (as well as all other key engineers) worked together and build a simple badge system as below:

In your organization, how do you motivate your engineers? how do you use gamification in order to improve code quality, team work and healthy engaging culture?

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