About gamification: when things are well done, you just wanna do them.

Computer Engineer,

i should’ve become by 2005. But i didn’t. Or better put, i pivoted. Why? In 2002~2003 it was unberable for me to learn programming in Fortran and Pascal. Back then, the internet existed! I was 10.000km away from home and was constantly using email and looking stuff on netscape/alta-vista/yahoo/early-google?. Computer use-cases for me were around email and the internet and not about solving [not always practical] math problems using the above mentioned languages. And frankly, i was bad at programming. I guess, or so i’d like to think, because i was not entertained by it at that point in time.

Pivot & re-start:

Go for what you love [at that critical point in time] and this quest will ultimately lead towards your end goal if you have one. Or, it will eventually help in shaping that very end goal. In my case this was music. Going for a Creative Media Engineering degree seemed just perfect. The name is mind-blowing 🙂 and it is a good combination of both tech and creativity. Media and Communication certainly needs this. And it was a great experience. Learning was fun and because of this, going the extra mile was simply a natural thing to do.

Audio, Film or Web:

I was to specialise in one of these specific medias. But instead, my thesis combined the 3 arts. [My forte was nonetheless audio/music.] I had gotten obsessed with the “work & play” idea. If working is a joyful and entertaining experience, then, wouldn’t a richer learning outcome take place? What if a digital medium, produced in such a way would generate such a result? This was to be tested. How? It needed to be simple and within the boundaries of a research approach.

Edutaining Video Product: Is it a viable approach in know-how delivery?

This was my thesis’ title. The topic to be tested: in the Audio Engineering field, more specifically in Audio Recording On Set for TV & Cinema. The scope: 1 script holding the elements of the lecture (the words, messages, key points and techniques to be taught). The same content but presented via 2 different approaches. a) An entertaining (somewhat funny) and educational video for the Focus Group; b) A traditional lecture delivered by a teacher for the Control Group. Both a) & b) were respectively projected and presented in classrooms. About ~300 students from SAE-Amsterdam’s Audio Engineering Diploma/Degree participated in this experement. Roughly ~50% of those were on the Focus Group and the other half, Control Group of course. Great fun and all this thanks to Dennis Beentges the General Manager and Visionary back then. Dennis is a good friend and has mentor me in several key moments throughout my career. I owe him.

Edutainment: up to 18% higher marks vs. traditional know-how delivery.

These results were staggering. If in such a specific field this is the trend: picture the impact of it for general culture, elementary-middle-high-school, marketing or business for instance!

This is the aim of this post: how the experience described above has been eye opening in 2 folds.

(1) Creating “edutaining” content and generating “gamification” type of approaches is a key business driver, but this, is a topic for another post. and (2) below:

Gamification as a driver for career fostering/upgrading and skill polishing

The 3 most relevant examples in my mind and for an IT+Business profile:

  • Code school: Mind blowing. “Learn Rails creating Twitter for Zombies”. I fell from my chair when i discovered Code School! I purchased the yearly membership even though i actually really used it 2 summers in a row. They’ve understood how to produce entertaining and educational content beautifully and simply crafted. 2 examples: each lecture has its intro song. This works perfectly because remembering songs is easy, specially if catchy, right? Also, they leverage well the use of chroma-keying. This is technique is as “old as hot water” from a tv show or audiovisual stand point. Remenber the weather [wo]man? If not click here 😉  Joke aside, It’s easy to do today. It can give a good dynamic and pace if managed properly.


  • Bitmaker: After Code Schooling for 2 years, needed to go from online to onsite. Bitmaker represents a “gamified” experience not because you learn how to code funny projects [you actually clone amazon, open table, kickstarter, imagur, use the canada beer distribution API, the alternative imdb one and even a pokemon API]. Bitmaker is entertainment and education to its max because of how they’ve manage to build a super focus, help each other out and take a break and drink water atmosphere. From Yoga, to Meditation, to early coffee & code challenges and being able to write down in any wall: the ride is so joyful [in my opinion] than even-though it is hard, the learning comes in naturally. They know that it will come, so they focus on making sure you enjoy the ride while following the ruby, git, html, css, js, and rails trails!


  • Trailhead: “La Crème De La Crème”. The most complete gamification example i know so far. Why? It combines several content delivery approaches following the pyramid of learning. Briefly and roughtly about it: one retains ~5% of what one listens, ~10% reading, ~25% audio+film, ~75% learn by doing, ~90% learn by teaching. Trailhead combines all of these [except the listening to someone]: reading, graphs, videos, exercices. It is written with humour so pleaseant to read, i actually sometimes laugh. Then challenges are hands on with the solutions and finally the cherry on top is the points system. There is of course a social aspect to it so if you want you can share your progress: this is fantastic within a company imagine. But the top is the fact that it is free. Also, it is made in such a way that one can start a trail and finish it. This is key: sense of completing what you started. So you can plan a 15min or even 5 or 10min strategy every day.


In a nutshell:

There is so much more to tell about making learning/work experiences entertaining and the impacts of these. While researching on the topic i ran into the multiple-intelligence theories of Gardner: it all connected then. No one learns or engages with information in the same way. In my case: audio books & video tutorials work very well. I have enjoyed great lectures from great speakers and this always works. But not all teachers have the “performing gift”. Not only gamification opens a new path in stimulating students to come back and engage in a whole new way, It also allows the institution to focus on what there academic body knows best or is more exited to teach while combining it with audiovisual product/content that would fill in the other gap.

From a business standpoint: imagine you have a gamification platform in which ALL* the users of your products can have premium content to understanding everything (if they want and organise their planning towards to this) and follow along your evolutions for free. *ALL: business users, administrators, developers, architects, customers, partners. This is trailhead.

Today i’ve focused on Gamification from a career enablement and skill polishing standpoint. There are tons of ressources where you can learn almost anything in a fun yet serious way. But it doesn’t stop there. Work & play is for the office. Setting up this atmosphere allows to push team forwards and generate incredible results. A topic for another article.

If you’d like to share your “gamified” sources to keep your learning up to speed: please do this below.

Thank you.

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