How a game can help the implementation of new software

How a game can help the implementation of new software

by Jan Willem Huisman, creative director IJsfontein

Clean desk policy. 

It’s my intention every time: clean my desk.

 It works for a week. Or two. But sooner or later my desk is a mess again. It currently houses a mini drone, a stack of post-its, three empty espresso cups and a bunch of pens.

Changing behavior is hard. Even for someone who is dealing with precisely that subject for 20 years.

Because that is what we do at IJsfontein. We design games, but actually we design behavior. By using mechanisms of play you can seduce people, challenge them and make them experience moments of happiness. That’s how you can make them do exactly what you want them to do. Voluntarily.


That sounds like manipulation

Yes, that’s what it is. But without negative intent. Manipulation, in this case, stands for creating motivation and commitment. Using these play mechanisms to teach people something is called serious gaming. Serious games are used in schools, in the healthcare industry, and also more and more in the corporate life. Five years ago people where still reluctant to get their employees gaming during office hours, but now they are beginning to see the benefits. 

 A game is indeed a very effective learning tool. Most often even more effective than traditional methods, like classroom training, learning from books or e-learning ‘old style’. The high efficacy of games is caused by the fact they provoke action on the part of the gamer. A game offers a save environment to experiment. The players can apply the information immediately and all action is initiated by the player. Making mistakes is permitted. It even is essential to the learning process.


You actually learn something from serious gaming?

Yes, but the process is substantially different from classroom training. In a classroom you learn by listening. That works just fine if you want to convey knowledge, but if you want to change behavior it won’t do the job. Especially if you are trying to get people to use new software. Everyone who has acquired new software for his or her organization knows that the success of the project is determined by the implementation.

The following is often the case: employees get trained, they see the benefits of the new software, get inspired and have good intentions. Just like me, when I’m annoyed by the mess on my desk. After a week I relapse into my accustomed behavior. Intentions are simply not enough. You have to do it, use it. And preferably in a situation that is relevant to the behavior you want to change.


So you integrate the learning experience in the software itself?
Exactly. And then using becomes learning. And vice versa.

 For the first time we, in cooperation with StartReady, are making a game that can do exactly that. The game is called Finding Victor. It’s a serious game that helps the adoption of Microsoft’s Skype for Business in the workplace. You play the game in the Skype for Business software itself and you need all of its functionality to complete the game. Every employee plays the game at his or her own pace. It takes only a couple of minutes per session. You play every day for three weeks.

 It’s for the first time ever that a game is embedded in Microsoft software. That brings technical challenges, but also makes it very special. Playing, learning and working are becoming one and reinforce each other. A first – and maby the new standard for implementing software. We expect to launch Finding Victor this fall.

 But first I’m cleaning my desk.