Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gamification Meets Technology Mentor Program

It all began with watching Jane McGonigal's TED talk, The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. I realized that Psychology, technology, and Game Design have come together at last; it's called Gamification. To our delight, it's fun and successful!

Let's take a step back...

Besides being an iPhone/iPad software developer, I'm the chairperson of our department's technology Mentor Program. It's our mission to empower people to share technological knowledge with each other.

Up to now, we did two things. 1) We published a list of people who want to share knowledge. 2) We roughly tracked how much time people spent instructing others. It was OK yet boring.

We set goals. The last quarterly goal was something like: We want 10ish hours (10 to 15 hours) spent sharing knowledge. Weekly, I would report how things are going with: "OK everyone. Our goal is 10. Everyone excited?" (..ZZzzzzz...)

In January of 2013, things were real slow and knowledge sharing was minimal. Something had to be done! After consulting with a friend of mine Julie Price, we Gamified our program.

Now we do three things. 1) List of people and how they want to share knowledge. 2) We track every 15 minutes spent. 3) We share our accomplishments as scores, a departmental score and each instructor's individual score.

Following the Extreme Programming idea of Big Visible Charts, Shane Davenport came up with the idea of a fundraiser chart like approach which I playfully name funraiser. Our goal was 700 points which is 17.5 hours of knowledge sharing.

We blew the top off our goal! Here's the chart:

At the time of this writing, we are at over 1000 2310 points which is translating to about 58 hoursWe even have 3 weeks left!

Update: We ended the quarter with 2310 points which translated to 57.75 hours. The year over year growth aka YOY in the program was 45% and the gamification was only introduced in this last fiscal quarter!

For the curious, the photo contains 3 sections with names that are blotted out white in this photo.  Sections contain a list of instructors who got us to our quarterly goal with their names in a star image and another list of instructors who have gone above and beyond our quarterly goal.

So, there it is! Some tuning should be done, sure. There are even many fun directions this can go! 

Like Gabe Zichermann points out, Gamification is an ongoing process as opposed to just slapping something on top. Discussing how game thinking can become a part of what you are achieving is for another time.

Until then, may we all have a life filled with Epic Wins! 
( Pssst! If you have questions, contact me, Mike Finney or post them here! :) )


  1. BTW, Jon Guerrera at inspired me to start blogging again. So, thank him and give yourself a treat by visiting his site, please.


  2. Love your simple approach to Gamification! Its amazing what happens when you start tracking activity in a fun way.


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