The Sweet Way that Gamification Helps M&M’s Boost Consumer Engagement


It wasn’t long ago when marketing choices were relatively few and messages were simple. Companies pitched their products via the old standby of print advertising. Eventually, broadcast advertising emerged as the surefire way to bring a product to the attention of the largest captive audience. But the digital age has eclipsed the broadcast age and companies need new ways to support consumer engagement. M&Ms, an old standby candy product, is overcoming these new digital challenges with gamification.

M&M’s USA turned to a gamification strategy for a campaign promoting its pretzel-flavored version of the candy. The company’s marketing efforts included an eye spy game in the campaign, according to Digital Training Academy. Promotional images posted online were comprised of an image of M&M’s. The campaign challenged consumers to find the single pretzel hidden in the image.

M&M found that the game readily engaged consumers. The campaign also generated some tasty results for the company. M&M’s digital marketing efforts garnered more than 25,000 new likes on the brand’s Facebook page, plus 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments, according to Digital Training Academy.

Just because consumers are living digital lives doesn’t mean that marketing campaigns need to be stuck in the past. More than 77 percent of Americans own smartphones and many of them connect with brands through “micro moments,” Paul Polizzotto, president and founder of CBSEcoMedia, writes in AdExchanger. “Gamified ads may be the perfect way to attract this audience and have been shown to increase consumer engagement,” Polizzotto says.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to digitally engage consumers with a game. If the game is complex or cumbersome, users will lose interest. The genius of M&M’s campaign is that it is based on the relatively simple concept of hide and seek, Polizzotto says. If a campaign can successfully manage consumer engagement, it stands a stronger chance of spring boarding the interest of one consumer into shares and online discussion with others. Word of mouth, whether it happens in person or online, counts as a marketing win.


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Insurance Companies Gamify Healthcare


Gamification has been used by schools and private business as a way to make learning more fun. Now, insurance companies are using the technique to change people’s behavior toward maintaining their health, according to Healthcare Dive. The idea is that the more individuals who pursue healthier lifestyles, the less burden they place on health insurance companies and health care providers.

The gamification efforts are being delivered through mobile apps. Some of the apps, such as the ones offered by Blue Cross, Cigna, and United Healthcare, invite participants to search for more information on healthy lifestyles, diet, sleep, and exercise, or the locations of in-network health care providers and hospitals. United is also working on an app called United Healthcare Motion. People carrying insurance will be given wearable devices that will track their daily activities, including the number of steps they walk. Participants will be given financial incentives for meeting certain goals. A number of other apps, such as Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and Zombies Run also track activities.

The Affordable Care Act has built in incentives for helping people pursue healthier lifestyles. Younger people are more use to gaming, both as recreation and as a technique that delivers education. So marrying gamification with mobile apps is a no-brainer.

The trick is to continually evolve the gamification apps, to keep them fresh and prevent them from becoming stale. As more data is acquired that can be applied to wellness, these apps can constantly be refreshed with more versions. Thus healthier lifestyles can become something that is second nature.


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Happy Atoms: An Elementary Interview with Jesse Schell


At this year’s Games for Change, Jesse Schell of Schell Games showed off his company’s newest idea for making chemistry more approachable for middle and high school students — Happy Atoms, a mixed reality, lego-like experience that asks people to explore atom formation through play. G.Co was fortunate enough to speak with Jesse last week about the game, its current crowdfunding campaign, and his plans for making chemistry more approachable to a wider audience than ever before.

Happy Atoms has been in the works for over five years; long before a prototype existed, Jesse had been thinking of ways to make chemistry easier to digest. Traditional chemistry classes were frustrating and difficult to learn from, and there was a need for a way to learn the subject more easily. To make these connections form in a more understandably way, Jesse tinkered around with a digital prototype of his vision — but this too had its limitations. The prototype had a hard time dealing with one electron at a time.


Physical models were more approachable, and tangible — students had access to tinker toys and other models, but these limited platforms made it challenging to really see how things connected. When Jesse thought of a physical model for expressing chemistry to students that incorporated digital components, things really clicked. There were moments of discovery when models were put together in a tangible space and later researched digitally to see if they made anything. The act of building a model in real life and testing the model on a computer created a deeper sense of understanding, and, more importantly, fun.

With a department of education grant in hand, Schell Games went on to manufacture a larger print run with the help of Thames & Kosmos, a leading publisher of physical toys and kits geared around science and education. Through their partnership, they developed a model where electron snapping is innovative, intuitive, and easy. Atoms connect through magnetic tips on the ends of rubbery “arms” that extend of out the atoms and fit into magnetic bonding sites on other atoms. This process represents how electrons (the tips) bond with empty spots in other atoms’ electron shells. With a few snaps, anyone can create a molecule that actually exists.

HA 2

To check one’s work, all the models can be scanned into an app, which will inform the creator of the resulting molecule that they made. After the molecule is discovered, the app gives additional information about it, such as its name, its structure and its composition. The overall direct goal of the game is to make models in the real world with the physical atoms and scan your creations into the app to see what you’ve made in an effortless, seamless way.

The experience of designing Happy Atoms has not been effortless for Jesse, however. To create Happy Atoms, he’s had to make a few concessions. Chemistry is complicated because of the ways things connect, and sometimes, it can be beyond our ability to model it at all. As you start modelling, you can run into exceptions where models generally work, but a few corner cases don’t. Chemistry experts can be susceptible to perfection — if a model isn’t perfect in every situation, then it’s widely not viewed as an accurate model.

Jesse argues that the purpose of a model isn’t to be accurate; rather, it’s to give insight. A universal modeling decision is difficult, and because of that, it is difficult to find the “right” way to look at something. Regardless, these corner cases have caused interesting design decisions, such as the choice to leave out more common elements like Boron and Aluminum out of Happy Atoms.

HA 3

Despite these challenges, Jesse has big plans for Happy Atoms. Schell Games has received great feedback and is already working with schools to test the game’s effectiveness using lesson plans specifically created for teachers to integrate it into classrooms. Jesse envisions a popularity like the levels of Minecraft or Lego Mindstorms, where children get into it, want to go deep into the experience, and engage with the game on a level similar to how students engage with robotics or other hobbies today. Happy Atoms is Jesse’s vision to get young children to fall in love with chemistry, and to begin to cultivate a long term commitment to the science.

Happy Atoms is expected to launch this fall. For more information, visit its crowdfunding campaign or website.


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GamEffective Raises $7 Million for Employee Training


While gamification is no longer a revolutionary way of training employees, the start-up GamEffective is claiming that their take on the trend is a fresh one. The company, which operates out of offices in both North Carolina and Israel, boasts some large-scale customers like Microsoft and Ebay. They’re confident in their ability to boost employee performance across the board with their no-code integration.

According to GeekTime, the largest international tech blog outside the U.S., GamEffective has raised a total of $10 million under the leadership of CEO Gal Rimon.

Rimon says, ‘At GamEffective, we focus the employees on their personal goals, and motivate them to achieve them by expanding their know-how, and through other activities. The employees know at all times what their status is and what is expected of them. Just as people using fitness trackers are more conscious of their health, our system instills a similar process at the workplace for performance management purposes.'”

The company has done so well that they’re on the cusp of something huge. How huge? Try a $7 million financing round. That money will be used to develop sales, marketing, and R&B efforts. Some within the industry have suggested that the company’s training model is second to none. According to GamEffective that is accomplished not by making competition with other employees the main vehicle for enhanced performance, but rather by having employees work to better themselves, and improve upon personal past performance.

In the past things like real-time feedback, engaging narratives, and clear objectives have set the company apart. Now, they also have a hefty sum of money to further their advances in the world of employee training.

Image credit: flickr


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3 Positive Impacts of Gamification On Agent Retention


Increasing Contact Center Agent Retention

According to North American labor statistics, employee turnover is at an all-time high in today’s workplace, and the implications for the contact center industry are significant, considering its reputation for being a volatile employment segment with a lower median employment age, high-stress work environment, and lower than average remuneration.

This workforce dynamic has created opportunities for applying the theories of game mechanics, or gamification, to the real-world problem of retaining valued agents. And at the epicenter of the contact center workforce is the agent.

Unique attributes and skills are required of agents in a contact center environment, e.g., infinite patience, finely-honed communication skills, and a superior ability to prioritize and organize their workload.


  • How can contact center leaders retain and reward their agents?
  • How can they ensure that they invest in the right talent?
  • What kind of incentives will motivate agents to continue to perform in the long-term?
  • What kind of financial and environmental factors can be positively impacted by increased agent engagement?

Attrition by the numbers

Overall attrition averages for the contact center industry range between 30–45 percent, with some sectors showing attrition rates in the triple digits!

In fact, according to Quality Assurance and Training Connection, replacing one front-line agent can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $12,000. And when you multiply that by the high numbers of agents who end up leaving their jobs within a couple of years—up to 45 percent—the costs become astronomical.

The process of replacing an agent necessitates recruiter fees/referral bonus, and newly-hired agents will start drawing a full salary well before becoming productive, as they navigate the necessary orientation and training stages that are part of any new position.

And how about those training costs!

Not only do new agents require formal training, there are colleagues that have to back-fill the departing employee’s workload, fill in-costs for overtime, as well as a noticeable productivity lag.

The less-quantifiable, but still very tangible cultural factors to navigate, such as getting to know the rest of the team, their work habits, and individual communication styles, should also be added to the equation.

But let’s take a step back – how can we prevent agent attrition in the first place?

There are so many surveys, polls and studies that have been published over the last few years on how to motivate, or engage, employees across industries. For the Contact Center industry, these are the factors that stand out, other than actual salary, which, somewhat surprisingly, ranks somewhere in the middle in terms of importance:

  1. Meaningful feedback
  2. Strong collaborative environment
  3. Possibilities for advancement
  4. Performance-based incentives

…and a sense of belonging, or team spirit. these are all factors that contribute the most to “Employee engagement”, which translates to prolonged retention and company loyalty.

The derived benefits are numerous for the employer, but front and center are the golden metric for any contact center: Customer Satisfaction.

How can gamification help retain agents?

Gamification is a proven performance management method that can improve how an employee interacts with their work in terms of collaboration, commitment and competition.

Training and Self-Assessment

Agents need to feel attached to their jobs to continuously improve their skills. Traditional training, whether by classroom or web-based, requires pulling agents from their assigned tasks, thereby reducing their efficiency.

Gamification introduces an alternative where agents can improve skills on their own time, and at their own pace, while being recognized for their efforts.


Traditionally, creating competition was done on whiteboards and through email. Such approaches are cumbersome and tend to becomes less frequent, losing momentum as other important and urgent tasks come into focus.

Gamification provides contact centers with multiple, continuous agent challenges. Research has shown that agents are motivated to work harder, and with an improved attitude, when they are directly rewarded and are able to gauge their own improvement.


Another successful game mechanic is automated team challenges. Agents who become high-performers are inspired to pass on their best practices to those who may require more encouragement, thereby assisting with a task that is typically reserved for managers. Working in teams creates a stronger sense of camaraderie, making the workplace feel more like sports team striving for the same objective.

In conclusion, Gamification in the workplace is an employee-centric interaction model with a higher purpose; there is a world of difference between playing games for fun (…and there is nothing wrong with that), and providing a gamified interface to a business application. The benefits are two-fold: the application is used to its fullest potential and intended purpose, while the agents using the gamified interface are more engaged and will develop a strong loyalty to both their employer and their customers.

This article was written by Jean-Marc Robillard, Marketing Manager at nGUVU. You can follow nGUVU on twitter.

Image credit: flickr




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Transforming the Call Center Workplace with Pascal Leclerc


Revolutionizing the Call Center Workplace One Agent at A Time

Last week, we featured nGUVU’s VP of product strategy, Pascal Leclerc to talk about how nGUVU’s platform help to create a better workplace environment for contact center agents. Using a combination of game mechanics, social interaction features and behavioral analytics, nGUVU helps motivate agents to achieve their goals in a fun,game-like environment.

Watch the full interview below to learn about:

  • What was the central problem nGUVU aimed to resolve in the contact center working environment?
  • How did nGUVU present KPIs to contact center agents in contrast to traditional layouts that centers solely around competition?
  • How did call center companies reacted about having a layer of social mechanics for the agents on the nGUVU’s platform?
  • what were nGUVU’s key lessons in finding the balance between game-like elements and gamified, progress-orientated mechanics?
  • What were some of the behavioral changes that occurred among contact center agents as a result of gamifying their workplace?
  • Have nGUVU used rewards for knowledge sharing or knowledge base contribution among contact center agents?

Watch the video, listen on the audio podcast or subscribe to our iTunes channel below. Be sure to catch our next episode of the Gamification Revolution.

Download this episode (right click and save)


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Five Impactful Experiences From Games For Change 2016


Highlights From This Year’s Games For Change

Last week, Games For Change had their 13th annual festival at the New School’s Parsons School of Design. New to the festival this year were three featured tracks participants could focus on: the Games for Learning Summit; health and neuroscience; and civics and social change.

Gamification.Co was lucky enough to attend, and from what we saw, some exciting new products and services are on their way to consumers’ hands.

Civilization for the Classroom

Image Credit: Twitter

Perhaps the most exciting announcement out of Games for Change, Sid Meyer announced a partnership with Take-Two Interactive Software and Glasslab Games to release CivilizationEDU in the Fall of 2017. The first Civilization designed to integrate into classrooms, CivilizationEDU will include tools for teachers and students that help evaluate critical thinking.

Virtual Reality Workouts

Image Credit: Blue Goji

Blue Goji has been gamifying cardio for several years through its exercise peripherals and games. Now, they’re entering the VR space with games designed to work in tandem with your workout. We got to try one at Games for Change, and the feeling of flight while on an elliptical is a hard one to describe (but definitely positive).

Mixed Reality Gaming

Happy Atoms
Image Credit: Indiegogo

Jesse Schell delivered an excellent keynote regarding Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality experiences during the second day of Games for Change. His studio’s newest project, Happy Atoms, is a mix between digital learning and physical presence. Happy Atoms is a teaching tool centered around assembling atoms from models in real life and exploring those models in a digital companion app. Schell Games just launched their crowdfunding campaign this week.

Learn Business Analytics Through Play

Image Credit: Wrainbo

Ever wanted to learn economics while playing an RPG? Then Wrainbo’s Magitech is just for you! Featured in the Games for Change Marketplace and mentored by a Duke University professor, Magitech’s gameplay is centered around analysis, production and trade in a fantasy setting.

Life is Strange Wins Big

Image Credit: Wikia

Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange was the big winner of Games for Change, earning the “Game of the Year” award and the “Most Significant Impact” award. Life is Strange is an episodic game about Max Caulfield, a senior that tries to use newly discovered time travel powers to rewind time and save her best friend Chloe. Life is Strange has a unique gameplay element for its genre, allowing players a great degree of control through its time manipulation mechanics.

Title Image Credit: Games for Change


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Growing Conservation Awareness with Save the Park


Save the Park Gamifies Education on National Park Conservation Efforts

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular of the nation’s 409 national parks, drawing visitors from across the country and around the world. But not everyone who visits Yellowstone understands the wildlife that make these parks home. Recently, two well-meaning tourists driving through Yellowstone came upon a baby bison standing in the middle of the road. Fearing that the calf was cold and at risk of dying from exposure, they packed the bison into their SUV and drove it to a ranger station seeking help, according to Time. That was a mistake.

Park rangers tried to reunite the calf with its herd, but the herd rejected it due to its contact with humans. Unable to rejoin the herd, the calf instead sought out more human contact by positioning itself in the middle of the road. Rangers had no choice but to euthanize the calf due to the danger it posed, Time explained. While the calf’s death is tragic, the circumstances leading to this outcome expose the lack of understanding that many people have about park wildlife. A new conservation endeavor is using games to fill the gaps in conservation education.

Games for Change has developed a game that aims to engage people with the workings of national parks. In the game, “Save the Park,” players must complete activities that help support a national park. Players control two characters, a park volunteer and a Junior Ranger. The two characters must work together accomplish tasks that conserve the park. As players progress through the game, they can reveal Easter Eggs that unlock shareable digital postcards of National Parks. Players are also presented real-life opportunities to volunteer.

Multiple parties came together to develop Save the Park. American Express asked Games for Change to create a game recognizing park volunteers, Save the Park President Susanna Pollack told Forbes. Games for Change brought in Schell Games to develop it. American Express funded the endeavor with a $250,000 grant, part of a multi-year, $5 million commitment with the Department of Interior to increase volunteer efforts at national parks.

Save the Park comes too late to avert the circumstances leading to the baby bison’s death. But as awareness of the game grows, more people will learn what is appropriate conduct in our national parks. The developers of the game aim to recruit one million volunteers each year by 2017. Save the Park is doing its part to reach that recruitment target with each game played.

Image credit: Wikipedia


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McDonald’s Eats Up Game-Based Training for New Meal Prep System


McDonald’s will use a new meal prep training system for its staff this fall

McDonald’s customers in the United Kingdom will soon notice subtle changes in how their meals are prepared. To carry out these seemingly small changes, corporate leaders are making some big changes in how they train their managers. In order to bring all restaurant managers up to speed in a quick and uniform manner, McDonald’s is turning to games-based training.

McDonald’s needs the new training system because the company will soon be launching a new approach to food preparation at many of its UK restaurants. Instead of stacking burgers and fries ready to go, food will be prepared as it is ordered. For customers, this preparation should result in burgers that are hotter and fresher, and fries that are crisper. But this “just in time” process will be more complex and will call on store managers to manage their staff differently, Diginomica explains. Traditional McDonald’s restaurants that keep food stacked up and ready to go operate with more staff at the counters to take orders. But in the new model of McDonald’s restaurants, staff need to be more flexible to adjust to the changing demands.

In order to train managers on this new food preparation system, McDonald’s will use a 3D virtual reality game that simulates the new approach. The 3D environment allows a player to virtually walk through a McDonald’s restaurant and react to changing scenarios. Mark Reilly, UK head of corporate training at McDonald’s, told Diginomica that the game allows managers to make decisions just as they would do doing an ordinary work shift. As they make these decisions, they will see the consequences of their choices play out in the store – even the mistakes. The hope is that managers work out any trouble spots in the game before they try the new process live and in person. “The most powerful way to learn is by doing and by making mistakes,” Reilly said.

This 3D game is new to McDonald’s but the restaurant chain is actually well acquainted with gamified training. The company started using gamification several years ago when it developed a game to train staffers how to use new cash registers, according to Diginomica. The game simulated processing orders and serving customers, becoming more challenging as players progressed. Diginomica reported that McDonald’s saved approximately 500,000 British pounds in training costs. Depending on how the 3D training progresses in England, McDonald’s could roll out the training system to its managers worldwide.

Image Credit: Flickr


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A Systematic Review of Virtual Reality Stroke Therapy


In the past couple of years, there has been an increase of game device use for areas other than actual gaming. The newest area of use is for physical health. Medical researchers and physical therapists are finding that using virtual reality games are very helpful in terms of treatment and rehabilitation for stroke patients. The interest for this type of treatment has been gaining popularity, and researchers are starting to realize and prove that using games provides better results than conventional methods.

Keith R. Lohse et al published a study in 2014 that compiled other research studies that used various gaming equipment to help post-stroke adult patients with their rehabilitation. Their article, “Virtual Reality Therapy for Adults Post-Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Exploring Virtual Environments and Commercial Games in Therapy”, takes a look at how well custom-made virtual environments and commercially available gaming systems, such as Nintendo Wii and PlayStation EyeToy, worked for patients in comparison to traditional therapy.

Below is a link to the table of the characteristics of each trial compared in the research paper study:

Table showing characteristics of trials comparing virtual reality therapy to conventional therapy in adults post-stroke

The table shows: the researchers of each study, which therapies they compared against each other, and the expected outcome versus the actual outcome.

Overall the study shows that Virtual reality therapy, when delivered as virtual environments or commercially available games, was more effective in comparison to traditional therapy. However, there was not enough evidence to clearly see the benefit of commercially available gaming systems with post-stroke patients’ rehabilitation. Nonetheless Lohse et al stated that future research in that area, specifically, could help with the lack of evidence. If funded properly, this research could even help expand the use of gaming to different areas of health, and eventually every area of life; making the world a more interesting place to live in.

Image credit: flickr


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Gamifying Home Energy Management with Homebeat


Gamified Energy Management App HomeBeat Uses Analytics and Engagement to Save Energy

When summer temperatures spike and air conditioners run full throttle, the demand for electricity strains the power grid. Utilities try to manage these peak times of power demand with an approach called demand response: industrial users and residential customers are encouraged to cut back on their power use to ease the load on the grid. But it’s not enough to ask people to curtail their electricity use. Customers need incentives. That’s where energy analytics company Bidgely enters the picture.

Bidgely has developed an app that turns demand response into a game that people can play on their smartphones. The California company’s app, HomeBeat, shows homeowner their baseline energy usage, and also shows a target they should strive to reach, according to Utility Dive. When a peak power event occurs, the app encourages consumer engagement in power-saving activity through a combination of psychological cues, financial incentives, and an innate sense of competition that can be a motivator for many people. Beyond offering cash rewards for saving energy, the app shows progress toward reaching goals, and encourages some friendly competition by comparing a user’s energy savings against those of neighbors.

Bidgely piloted its app in partnership with United Energy, the electric utility serving Melbourne, Australia. It’s the third year that United Energy has used HomeBeat and the utility’s experiences with the app show both benefits and shortcomings that are instructive to others considering a gamified approach to demand response. Last summer, HomeBeat helped the utility reduce the electricity load by 30 percent last summer. That’s good. But United Energy initially had a hard time recruiting customers to the program. If too few customers sign up, participation won’t be meaningful enough to make a dent in power demand.

Also, United Energy told Utility Dive that some customers who were initially enthusiastic about saving power at the start of a peak event did not sustain those efforts throughout, leading to appliances and other energy-sucking devices drawing power while the grid was still strained. The utility solved that problem by offering an additional reward to incentivize continued energy-saving behavior.

HomeBeat is apparently catching on with United Energy customers. In the three years that the utility has offered the program, customer participation in HomeBeat has grown from just 30 to more than 1,000. As other utilities look for ways that they can manage demand response, United Energy’s use of HomeBeat stands as an example of the role gamification play in saving energy.


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Morf Media’s Playbook Offers Gamified Compliance Training


Gamifying Compliance Training for Corporate Employees with Morf Media

The subject of compliance with government regulations and ethics is a serious one for businesses. The consequences of being caught violating the law, even inadvertently, are more severe than ever. The Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies are waiting to catch rule-breakers. Thanks to the Internet and social media, the news of violations spreads around the world immediately. One misstep wipes out years of patiently building a great reputation with consumers.

However, the law, applicable federal regulations and how the history of how courts have ruled are dry subjects and often little-understood by most employees. In general, they hate compliance training even though they recognize its necessity. That makes compliance training a great example for applying gamification.

In May 2016, Morf Media USA announced it had formed partnerships with leading compliance training providers to use Morf’s Playbook smart phone platform to provide corporate training on compliance. Partners include:

  • ComplianceOnline
  • World Compliance Seminars
  • The Growth Company
  • Strategic Compliance Partners
  • America’s Mortgage Institute

Morf is now offering smart phone enabled, gamified courses on HIPAA, Workplace Harassment, Food, the Mortgage Industry, Data Protection, FDA Inspections, Medical Services and Bio/Pharma.

In an article for eLearning Industry, Asha Pandey describes the time she created a course for a business to training employees in risk management compliance using gamification.

She describes the content as “dry,” and though the enterprise sanctioned the gamification approach, they didn’t want it to become frivolous. She and her team worked hard to come up with an approach that would be challenging and yet reward learning the material. The structure and the underlying story had to remain true to the actual content. It also had to relate to the real-life work experiences of the employees so they could relate to the material and actually apply it on the job. The learning had to proceed in increments.

They completed a full game environment with quality graphics and a console to guide the students and give them realistic yet fun situations to evaluate.

In another article for eLearning Industry, Melissa Dougherty describes how she made compliance training fun and effective. In the first instance, she had employees complete an investigation into a security breach. They had to figure out how the act occurred and how to prevent such future security problems. In the second, she designed a board game.

Employees do not want to watch dull and boring talking heads. To gamify employee training can make even compliance training fun and interesting.

Image credit: flickr


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Improving Fleet Management Efficiency with Telogis Coach


Fleet Management Software Telogis Coach Curbs Engine Idling Through Gamification

In the transportation business, you’re only making money when you’re moving something, either products or people. But transportation companies know all too well that for much of the time, engines are running when vehicles aren’t moving, either because the vehicle is stuck in traffic or it’s left on while parked. Traffic congestion is inevitable. But idling during delivery stops should not be. Telogis Coach turns engine idling management into a game.

Idling here and there may seem inconsequential, but it adds up. Running the engine when a vehicle isn’t moving wastes fuel and adds to engine wear and tear. Companies can employ policies and training employees on ways to reduce idling. But Telogis Coach saves on fuel and engine wear by gamifying these employee training efforts. The software encourages drivers to switch engines off when appropriate by scoring them based on how much idling they do, according to Fleet Equipment magazine. The game can also be configured to evaluate drivers on other metrics, such as overall miles-per-gallon driving, or on-time starts. Drivers can view their scores, as well as well as their position relative to other drivers, which encourages drivers to improve their position on the leader board.

The rankings aren’t about shaming. In some cases, a small number of drivers might be the source of the problem. But gamification works by motivating all workers to improve, and it shows them where and how to improve, Fleet Equipment magazine explains. These kinds of programs produce real results. Atkinson Construction, for example, tells the magazine that its use of the Telogis software cut idling of its fleet by 50 percent.

Telogis has since caught the eye of much larger companies. Apple reached a deal with Telogis that will allow fleets to use the Telogis software on Apple’s iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches. The deal could be a winner for fleet companies because it means that fleets will no longer have to rely on expensive, dedicated hardware that is associated with older fleet management systems, Computerworld explains. That means that more fleets will be able to bring these idling reduction strategies to their drives, saving on fuel and maintenance costs in the process.

Image Credit: Wikimedia


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Gamifying Asthma Inhalers For Kids with Gecko Health


Gecko Health Delivers Asthma Medication for Kids with Double Dose of Smart and Fun

As the delivery of health care becomes more digitized, it’s no surprise that medical devices that historically had no electronic components are now available with digital capabilities. An attachment to an inhaler, for example, brings the ability to track doses. But the challenge for any medication continues to be getting patients, particularly children, to use these products when they’re supposed to and just as they’re prescribed. One medical device developer is overcoming that problem by bringing games into the delivery of health care.

Health IT startup Gecko Health got into gamified smart inhalers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company’s first product, aimed at kids, was a souped-up device that made taking asthma medication fun. Affixed to a conventional inhaler, the Gecko Health product’s LED lights light up when it’s time to use the inhaler. The Bluetooth-enabled device sends data of how much medication a child takes, information that can be viewed by a parent, caregiver, or doctor.

The concept of using bright lights to prompt a child to pick up the inhaler and use it is simple enough. But Gecko Health also wanted to make the entire process fun for kids. Data from each dose synchs with an app, which translates the medication dosages into points that kids can accumulate, MIT News explains. Points for good behaviors can earn badges. And this app is smart. If the inhaler is used more often than usual, the app asks if it was due to weather, increased pollen, or pet dander. That helps the child engage with their medication regimen, and if necessary, make any adjustments to how and when they use their inhalers.

Gecko Health’s approach of turning asthma medication dosing into a fun activity caught the eye of a big pharmaceutical company. Teva Pharmaceuticals acquired Gecko Health in 2015, adding the startup’s smart inhaler to its portfolio of medical products. Now, with the resources of a larger company, Gecko Health’s team is working on adding even more capabilities to its inhaler technology, which would make its device even smarter. Yechiel Engelhard, Gecko Health’s co-founder and CEO, tells MIT News that by adding analysis of pollution and weather conditions, combined with new predictive analytics capabilities in the device, the technology could predict for patients – and also notify them – when poor air conditions mean that they should stay at home. Those new capabilities should help kids breathe a little easier, and also have some fun along the way.

Image credit: flickr


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