As gamification grows as an industry, it will be increasingly important to recognize the different roles that one can have as new positions are created and what better way is there to learn than to ask someone working in that space right now? I got the chance to sit down with a Badgeville employee Zachary Bodnar, a producer at Badgeville, to get an accurate sense of what actually goes on at a gamification software as a service (SaaS) company.
He was kind enough to explain what role a producer plays and how producers drive innovative gamification and behavioral solutions for Badgeville’s clients. So what exactly does a producer do? A producer wears many hats, but the main responsibility revolves around ensuring implemented gamification programs are aligned with client’s business objectives.
Ensuring client success is probably the most important role that the Producer plays. Badgeville is a SaaS company, so Badgeville’s solutions are an added layer upon client’s existing platforms and products. As Badgeville adds a “layer” of behavioral mechanics, including game mechanics, and user-centered features, it is crucial to align a client’s business objectives with the specific behaviors required to achieve those objectives. More often that not, clients themselves know what key metrics they want to increase but sometimes they don’t clearly understand what actions will help them reach their goals. Put concisely, a Producer needs to align the gamified behavioral solution with business objectives. This includes distinguishing between a client’s needs and wants to create an implementation that will drive the client’s key metrics. This is done by drilling down into the business requirements until the level of individual behaviors is reached. Taking from scientific reasoning and play theory, Zack claims that asking a series of ‘why’s’ allows him to scratch the surface to discover those individual behaviors that will help drive key metrics. Once Zack and the client come to a clear understanding of what behaviors will drive those key metrics, the context of the behaviors is examined—where the behavior “lives,” how it fits into the experience flow, and what the underlying motivations are to perform the behaviors are. As Producers wear many hats, Producers come with many different areas of expertise. Zack has a background in cognitive sciences and cognitive neuroscience. Other producers at Badgeville have different areas of expertise, and sharing knowledge and best practices within the team is key to the success of each and every implementation.
Collaborating with other Producers is key to helping the client create an accurate picture of how Badgeville will help gamify the client’s services from start to finish. Although Zack comes from a background in cognitive sciences, his fellow colleague leads the Black Card loyalty program at American Express, so if Zack needs help with loyalty programs, he speaks with his colleague to gain more insight. On top of being able to speak with a loyalty program expert, Zack can also talk to Steven Sims, the VP for Production and Professional Services for Badgeville, formerly the Executive Producer for EA and responsible for Madden NFL Football, or Tony Ventrice, another game design expert and thought leader in the industry who has such hits to his name as Zynga Poker and I Am TPain. Game design, loyalty programs, and cognitive sciences are just a few of the many different unique skills Zack, and by extension his clients, can tap into. Despite Badgeville being a company of 80 employees, Zack told us that collaboration among Producers is shockingly easy. The access to exploratory learning allows Zack and other producers to learn something new everyday. This ease of knowledge sharing allows Producers to gain interdisciplinary insights that they can then take to clients. Once the Producer and client have created an accurate picture of business goals, behaviors required, and an implementation scheme, the Producer is ready to wear yet another hat.
Ensuring implemented gamification programs are aligned with client’s business objectives. The Producer works with an account manager and a technical account manager for account maintenance. The account manager helps manage the relationship with the client while the technical account manager works with the development teams on both sides to ensure the implementation is done smoothly and effectively. Once Badgeville added their behavioral layer to a client’s services, the Producer checks on the status of the key metrics that are aligned with the client’s business objectives. By looking at quantified metrics, the team gains quantitative insight on which behaviors are working and which behavioral mechanics should be iterated upon.
These are the three main hats that the Producer wears on a day-to-day basis. As one can see from this, gamification is much more than just throwing points, badges, and leaderboards onto a digital property. Gamification is good design. Design that stems from interdisciplinary insight ranging from math, cognitive sciences, habit psychology, game design, sociology, and so on. Badgeville uses gamification and other behavioral mechanics to put the pieces together to create a natural and engaging experience for the end user.