GWC 2016 – A Recap

This year's Gamification World Conference happened in Madrid. A beautiful lively city with loads to see and do. One of those things was the GWC at the theater Goya, a renovated cinema that is mostly used for conferences now.

First Day - October 26

We met with Pete at 8 in the morning to check out the layout of the room that he was scheduled to deliver his workshop named Games For Effective On The Job Learning. I have to admit, a cinema room is not the perfect layout for a workshop, as it makes collaborating in teams difficult, but I think we made it work just fine.

The workshop was a success and everyone enjoyed what Pete had to teach them about games and on the job learning. All the teams came up with really creative ideas for the role playing part of the workshop which made it very fun and interesting.

Next up was the Gamification Nation workshop delivered by An Coppens and Andrzej Marczewski. They talked about different types of players and how we should think more broadly when designing a gamification solution. For example one think to take into account is the players age and lifestyle.

Very interesting workshop that made us think about different aspects of the people we design gamification solutions for and how we might approach brainstorming for projects in the future. Teamwork was also fun as we had to examine one application that uses gamification and discuss what works and what doesn't for different personas.

Third workshop was run by Melinda Jacobs focusing on the user experience. She compared the user experience with the hero's journey and made us think what we want our player to experience and feel as people play our games. A lot of great examples from companies that offer a unique experience to their customers always having the player experience in mind.

Last workshop for the day was run by Stephen Erin Dinehart IV, a very successful game designer from the US, talking about the importance of play testing. We had the chance to split into teams and make our own game and play test it which was a lot of fun. It also made you go back to the roots and remember that a game needs to be tested over and over again to make sure you are going the right way about it.

Some food and drinks were the best choice for the evening to relax and have some fun after a very hectic first day!

Second Day - October 27

The second day of the GWC had a very different vibe to it. The venue was full of people, everyone was a bit more stressed and people everywhere were getting ready for their presentations. Presentations run at parallel sessions in two different rooms so it was not possible to watch all of them.

I got to see Yu Kai Chou open the main stage with a great speech about Gamification and the stage the industry is at the moment. The main stage was quite impressive, filled with people from all over the world that came to learn about gamification.

One of the presentations that stood out for us was from Altug Yilmaz where he talked about a gamification solution they designed and implemented at KFC Turkey. Nice and simple solution with a lot of statistics and a system that can be easily modified and further used in the future.

Also nice presentation that stood out because of the different subject was Joshua's Wong presentation about gamification in the public sector. We would all love to see the public sector become a bit more playful instead of bureaucratic in the future!

Back to the main stage as Pete was getting ready to talk about small gamification!

 We have been researching and talking about this presentation for quite sometime now so I was excited to see if it would go well. I think people liked the list of affordable gamification tools we gave them and kept asking for more during the breaks.

Of course a highlight for everyone that works in the gamification industry was Kevin Werbach! He is the mentor of us all either with his Coursera course or his book For The Win. His talk was inspiring and motivating as he basically said, it still is early to celebrate, get back to work, work more closely with researchers and improve. The man that started gamification still cares about his child's future.

Andrzej Marczewski closed GWC 16 with a great speech on play and how we should not forget about how important it is when designing a safe place to fail on the job. People should feel safe to fail sometimes and companies need to create that culture of play and learning through trial and error.

Last but not least are the Awards of GWC 16!

 Pete Jenkins was nominated for Best Contribution To Industry which was a big honor for us. Not winning didn't feel disappointing at all.  Andrzej Marczewski more than deserved the title.

Overall GWC 16 was a great experience, with loads of information about gamification and games, great presenters, great workshops and an excited crowd. One of the best things to watch during breaks was the networking that was going on and meeting people from all over the world that came to Madrid for the GWC.

We are definitely looking forward to the next GWC and seeing old friends again and meeting new ones!

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