Gamification in the company: games as a creative and non-competitive tool

Challenges, scores, rankings, awards, trophies, cups, medals, badges, pins, banners, winners and losers: these are the words that ominously overshadow – defeat, no less! – all others when we attempt to tackle the topic of so-called gamification, especially in the field of business. In part, we can openly admit, it’s justified. During a chat about the potential costs/benefits of eLearning, the CEO of a large multinational company mockingly reminded me that their primary goal was still “that old chestnut about making a profit.” However, going from that to saying that “the use of elements borrowed from games and game design techniques in contexts outside games” (a definition given by Sebastian Deterding and found on Wikipedia) can only be seen in terms of a competition as to who manages to earn more, even in the context of corporate training, is a step too far. Often, both at a technical level and at a conceptional level, the point is that turning aspects of play towards points and rankings is both easy and immediate. This is also demonstrated by the high number of LMS platforms, ranging from Moodle to Docebo, which provide an integrated gamification package with this approach, at least as a default. If we then look at the Compare Gamification Products site, there is an infinite number of similar examples( It is an American site, just as the approach that we are talking about is also very American and very similar to the “test” approach that, sadly, is increasingly used in English-speaking countries (and in eLearning in general) as a tool with which to assess knowledge and (worse still) skills. One of the current gamification gurus, Karl Kapp, stated that “in the end the gamification platforms are all about questions”. Great stuff, we reply sarcastically. All of the above was the pars destruens part of this article. However, we like to build. And we like to create. More rarely, the “game” aspect is used in its creative sense, to which the American term “play” is linked, which also means playing music, acting, etc. Even with regard to serious games, i.e. (video) games used for education and transformation, usually it the use of a game (designed and built by specialists) that is formative. Much more rarely, we speak about creating a game or playing to experiment and open new avenues for the imagination. The biggest paradox is that, nowadays, many advocates of all-out gamification, especially in marketing, love to remind us that we humans learn, first and foremost, from playing when we are children. However, they forget that during our first phase of development, games are mainly experimentation, creation and sharing, and include first forms of artistic expression such as drawing and manipulation and assembly of objects. Why are we talking about it in the context of company training? There are two reasons: the first is that gaming experiments in training are a modern trend, but as already mentioned, they are too often focussed on outdated models and often produce mediocre results (which are often difficult to measure) the second is because there are organisations abroad that have already taken a huge step forward, concentrating on the creative side of the gaming aspect in training contexts. For example, in recent years in Spain (, England and, of course, the USA (, they have begun to exploit the game jam format in the corporate sphere. It is a topic that is more familiar to nerds, but nowadays it is also often mentioned in the national press: game jam, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a two-day format (often less, but sometimes a week or even more) in which a variable number of participants are asked to create a game on a specific topic. At the Global Game Jam ( in 2017, there were 36,000 participants from a total of 95 countries and 7,000 games were created in two days.

written by: Matteo Uggeri , 7 September 2017

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