Gamification – Complexity and Engagement

My third session of AMP’s Amplify Festival is Marigo Raftopoulos (@Marigo), speaking on ‘The Game has changed: How to cut through complexity and engage employees and customers through meaning’

A little on Marigo:

Marigo is a strategic business advisor specialising in innovation using gamification, systems thinking and experience design. She is also co-founder and co-chair of Games for Change Australia-New Zealand, advisor to several technology incubators and start-ups and is researching her PhD in enterprise Innovation.


Gamification – Complexity and Engagement

Mario starts us off by getting us all off our seats to play Rock Paper Scissors. I lost, but it was still fun. Marigo explains what occurs in the brain whilst playing games. Behaviour and attitude improve after game playing – it can be a really powerful tool.


Gamification is the idea of trying to use games in non-gaming situations, to get the get the benefits we all experienced when playing Rock Paper Scissors moments before.

What are great elements of a good game? They engage, evoke, connect, adapt.

Marigo makes the case that the traditional way of working is over, and that ‘gaming work’ will be massive.

“We are bored, disengaged & uninspired”

The average workplace only has 20% of its workforce actively engaged. She says that engagement has a very strong bottom line impact. Companies that report high engagement have stronger bottom lines.

Game Thinking = Reframing Business

Traditional business systems are designed around efficiency and throughput. Marigo says this should be more about ensuring staff engagement. For me this is a really interesting point. Viewing a business process through the lens of gamification leads to some surprising conclusions on how IT and business systems should be designed. How do IT business systems assist employee engagement? By this, I don’t mean intranets and portals like yammer, but real business systems? Most business analysts and application developers would consider keeping staff engaged a problem for HR.

“Games are patterns of social systems and human interactions.”

Marigo mentions a funny example where gamification was used to solve the problem of speeding in a unique way. A Scandinavian country designed a lottery system for people who drove under speed limit, with the prize paid for by the fines for people that went over the speed limit. Reminded me of the Monopoly free parking rule where you collect all the fines paid by the other players.

A key thing of any gamification in business is that you need to keep it real.

Financial services and wealth management aren’t yet making big moves in the direction of gamification. Marigo says that what she has seen so far has been tweaking of models, and not real gamification innovation in this space.

‘Don’t linger on existing industry examples – go outside’ – Marigo

One of other benefits of gamification is that it can give you much more data to learn from, creating a deeper insight into consumer behaviour.

Marigo’s talk on Gamification – Complexity and Engagement┬áhas me wondering, how can the systems I support be built in a more engaging way? Is focusing on efficiency and throughput, without heed to engagement, a damage to long term business success?

It’s clear more thought is needed. Thank you Marigo for the great talk, it’s given me a new paradigm to think through.


Thoughts.. comments? As always hit me up in the comments below!

Did you like this? Share it:

5 thoughts on “Gamification – Complexity and Engagement

    • Thanks Anna, certainly lots to think on! I keep going back to how enterprise business systems are designed for efficiency, and little thought to whether the employees thought using them was fun or enjoyable.. After Marigo’s talk this feels like a lost opportunity for sustainable performance..


  1. And then for me the question raised is how do we use gamification without getting into the “do this for that reward” mentality?

  2. Hi Phil, this was one of the things I was having trouble reconciling too. I think the key is that it needs to be fun, or as close to fun as possible, with less focus on the reward beyond social recognition (top score board?).

    The other thing I had trouble with is how do you make a game that is enjoyable by all and not unfairly dominated by ‘gamers’. Make a game too generic and many people will see it as a bad game, or worse, a poor trick by management..

    But it is early days in this area, I’m sure we will see some very successful examples of gamification in the workplace over the next few years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>