15th Jun 2020
3 Min Read

Gamification 2.0 – a new way to get cut-through in a digitally connected world

Russ Norton
Russ Norton
IC & Engagement

A few years ago, gamification was the hot topic in driving behaviour. Points, leader boards and badges were built in to intranets, recognition platforms and advocacy apps to encourage people to repeat positive behaviours. Behind the scenes, this data gave internal communication teams some handy insights, such as who their most tech-savvy early adopters are and who their most engaged employees are when it comes to spreading positive messages about their brand.

However, now that almost every digital platform in our personal and professional lives comes with some kind of ‘score’ (your Twitter follower count, how many likes your Instagram posts get, how many connections you have on LinkedIn), we appear to have reached the peak of arbitrary leaderboards.

That doesn’t mean that gamification is dead.

Internal communications teams are turning to online games to communicate complicated topics in innovative and immersive ways. Here are tr examples from scarlettabbott clients.

Growth Game


We developed this ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ game for an international insurance brand. The game puts employees in the shoes of a CEO and challenges them to make strategic decisions about their imaginary company. Working through a series of scenarios, employees made an A or B choice about what they would do when faced with those circumstances. The scenarios represented some of the big themes faced by that organisation, many with an obvious trade-off between decisions that impact in the short-term against decisions for the longer-term.

At the end of the game, players were emailed a summary of their leadership style. This was based on the choices they’d made throughout the game. They were encouraged to take this to their next team conversation to compare their results with others in their team.

As the game rolled out to employees, we monitored the analytics daily and were able to provide updates on what themes were emerging in the data, and therefore what topics the internal communications team needed to further address through other channels.

Trust Game

Trust is a topic that’s high on the agenda for many organisations, as it’s hard to win and very easy to lose. We based this game on the plants. Plants need regular care to grow and thrive. Neglect them and they’ll wither. Over-water them and they’ll drown. Much like maintaining and growing trust, plants need careful and considered attention.

We based the game mechanics on the five characteristics that contribute to trustworthiness which, for this organisation, were things like honesty, openness and communication. Each characteristic was represented by a plant. Players read through a number of work-based scenarios and entered their choices about how they’d respond. Their responses each allocated a score to one of the plants, and made it either grow or shrink.

At the end of the game, they received a summary of how much each of their plants had grown (or not!). For the plants that hadn’t grown, they received simple suggestions of actions they could take to foster more trust by focusing on these characteristics.

Inclusion Game

This game aimed to encourage discussion about inclusive behaviours in the workplace. Players heard about situations in the workplace where team members were not being inclusive, and asked to choose how they would respond. In the course of the game, players heard about the same situation from the perspective of a colleague and from the perspective of a manager – though we mixed up the names and focus of each story to make it less obvious you were seeing the same scenario twice.

At the end of the game, we showed the results more clearly: ‘As a manager, you would…’ and ‘As a colleague, you would…’. This made for interesting conversations as employees compared their results and discussed why there were differences and similarities.

Collecting data cleverly enables you to make smart decisions about what to do next.

Oftentimes, internal communications are challenging to measure. Surveys can suffer from low response rates. Intranets and ESNs still only really provide arbitrary measures such as hits and clicks. And email measurement is still almost impossible without paying for an additional service.

A game comes with some excellent opportunities to gather useful data:

  • Before play begins, you can capture characteristics like department, seniority and location which can help you segment data later on
  • During play, the decisions that people make reveal the overarching attitudes and behaviours in your organisation. Think carefully about the scenarios you put players in to make this data more applicable and useful to you
  • At the end of the game, asking qualitative questions becomes even more powerful as they player’s mind will have been fully focused on the topic for a while

Best of all, in the overall experience, none of these feel like classic ‘feedback’ methods. When you ask people how they are feeling or how they might behave, they might lie to make themselves sound better or their answers may be skewed by how they are feeling that day. And now, you’d be asking them to dedicate brainspace to something in among the many updates, emails and notifications they’re receiving from multiple channels on an hourly basis.

Through gameplay, people show you their answers, a much more reliable source.

Most importantly, this data gives you the insight you need to make smart decisions about what topics to publish more information about, or which departments or leaders might need more support engaging their people with a particular subject.

It must be said, people are rightfully wary about the data they share – and you should always check with your legal team that any game you deploy does not contradict any laws such as GDPR.

So next time you’ve got some new values to explore, or a strategy to unpack, or a purpose to develop – why not try deploying a game? An immersive, interactive way to help employees discover a topic in detail and help you craft internal communication plans to address the needs of your people.

scarlettabbott can help you with the end-to-end delivery of an interactive game. From devising the shape and structure of the game, to writing the content. Design, build, testing and deployment, plus measurement throughout and data analysis at the end. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with russell.norton@scarlettabbott.co.uk

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