How Games Work – Tales of the Arabian Nights


Today I will talk about Tales of the Arabian Nights. I want to stick with non-digital games for a bit. One thing I keep noticing during my talks and workshops is that people tend to think about games mainly as video games. That is a very limiting view on games and gamification though. When designing for gamification we should be able to have a wide scope on what makes people have fun and play. We should be thinking basketball as well as World of Warcraft and everything in between.

Tales of the Arabian Nights is a board game with elements of role playing and a lot of storytelling. You start by choosing to play as Sindbad, Ali Baba and other legendary heroes straight from the 1001 Arabian Nights universe. This game uses theming in an inspiring way as it ties together illustrations, design and storytelling really well. Once you start playing you really feel you are in this world of 1001 Nights. Tales of the Arabian Nights is all about freedom of choice. You can do whatever you want as you travel through this very rich world of mystery and adventure.

When talking about gamification we talk a lot about player types like the Explorer. Personally, I have always been an Explorer, both in games and in real life. I like exploring and learning things without a reward. Getting to see new places meet new people and have new experiences is the reward I need to feel happy. Since I started working in gamification I have been thinking about my life more in game terms. I like to give myself new quests and challenges. I try to go on adventures as much as I can and do my best to have a great time.

Tales of the Arabian Nights will really appeal to players that are explorers. As you go through the game you can make tons of choices based on the skills you have and the character you want to play or just on how you are feeling. There is an element of luck that always introduces surprise for players and sometimes throws strategies out of the window. Explorers want to be amazed and get out of their comfort zones. Exploring a huge map full of possibilities where every outcome depends on the choices you make promises players a lot of surprises and excitement.

At the same time, Tales of the Arabian Nights is a great example of how users can generate their own stories - content. The way it works is similar to the old fashioned make your own story books where every choice changes your story and at the end of the game you care more about the stories each player experienced than about who actually won.

If you want to empower people to explore new concepts or large complicated systems like CRM systems, this board game can give you quite a lot of ideas on how to do that. Another use of that game as an inspiration could be a case where you want your customers to explore their choices and the effect these choices will have on their everyday work. If you sell different business consulting services for example you could have your customers explore how your different services will help them in different ways.

If you want me to play a game and then give you some idea on how to use it for gamification just send me a tweet at @v_gkogkidis or if you want us to design a gamification project for you based on choices and freedom drop me an email at [email protected].

About the author 

Pete Baikins

Pete Baikins is an international authority on gamification, a lifelong gamer, successful entrepreneur and a lecturer. As CEO of Gamification+ Ltd he mentors and trains companies world-wide on the use of gamification to solve business challenges. Gamification+ won the Board of Trade Award from the UK's Department of International Trade in January 2019.

Pete is co-host of the health gamification podcast Health Points and is also Chair of Gamification Europe, the annual conference for Gamification practitioners.

Pete is an Honorary Ambassador for GamFed (International Gamification Confederation), having previously been the Chair from 2014 to February 2019, whose aim is to spread best practices within and support the gamification industry.

After 15 years as a Lecturer on gamification and entrepreneurship at the University of Brighton he now guest lectures on Gamification at King’s College London and at ESCP Europe at post-graduate and under-graduate levels.

Over the past 20 years Pete has built and sold two businesses. One was in security software and the more recent one was a telecoms and internet connectivity business. He is also an Ambassador for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

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