Boss Fight at YTA, an illustration of Gamification in Training by Zero Generation
The Gamification framework we are using was created by Andrzej Marczewski and consists of three phases: Define, Design, Refine. There is a video at the end of the post if you’d prefer a different/complementary way of engaging with the content of this post.
A proper gamification process starts with a problem to solve. On our major events: Leadership Summer School and Youth Trainers’ Academy (YTA), we often have a lot of participants (30+) and trainers (6+). Even though participants have the possibility to interact with trainers during training sessions, because of the intensity of the different learning activities proposed, it may be challenging for trainers to have meaningful interactions with each participant (and vice-versa).
So what can we set up to nudge each participant to interact meaningfully with each trainer, even for few minutes in a week long event?
We came up with the main idea for trainers to be the learning “bosses”/experts participants would have to “defeat”. They’d win tokens which would illustrate a relevant sense of accomplishment.
YTA being a Train-the-Trainer event, we wanted win-state, meaningful interaction, to be: a participant talking with a trainer, on a training related topic which would be an area of interest for the participant’s development as a fresh trainer. The activity should allow each one of the seven trainers to have meaningful interactions with ALL the participants (32). Trainers agreed to coordinate the variety and the level of difficulties of the tasks.
For participants, it’d be about practicing concrete tasks a soft-skills trainer performs when designing, preparing and delivering a training session. These tasks could also serve as practice for various other happenings during the event itself, such as boosting active participation on some sessions.
We decided to go for the following game scenario:
- Trainer XYZ owns tokens of a specific colour(yellow) that participants can get only from her/him to complete their set.
- S/he sets a challenge (the same for all).
- Each participant, at a time of their choosing during the event, go to Trainer XYZ to discover the challenge and related instructions.
- After completing the task, the participant ask to meet Trainer XYZ.
If the participant succeeds, s/he got the token; otherwise, s/he can try again.
We were 7 trainers. The choice of the token went for a puzzle and we remembered a children game which fitted perfectly what we had in mind: Tangram. “Tangram” is a chinese word which literally means seven board of skills. Talking about destiny…
To kick start the activity when all participants were gathered, we explained the overall game, we provided instructions on how to engage with the various actors and showed the prizes (tangram tokens). Then, each participant received an empty board, and was invited to individually interact with the trainers at a time of their choosing.
All the proposed tasks were trainer’s related skills to acquire, practice to develop and improve with time. Here is an example of tasks participants could find when talking with the trainers:
- Present a session flow;
- Design a flipchart/visual for a learning block;
- Create/adapt a learning activity/game;
- Map conversation;
- Use a Facilitation technique from the manual you were provided;
They were calibrated to offer a quick feedback loop for the participants.
The main Game element we chose was the Boss Fights.
Boss-fight is a higher challenge that needs to be overcome, something unknown so far, a more difficult quest — the players are not sure they can overcome it, this makes them nervous, but it sweeten the joy of victory once it is achieved.
We went for a specific type of Boss Fight, from the game Mega Man. We wanted participants to be autonomous on how and when to tackle the various challenges.
The specificity of Boss Fights in Mega Man are that:
- beating a Boss meant aquiring its power (which could have been another boss’s weakness)
- the game offered a non-linear progression aka players could choose which plateform/Boss to take on first.
Next, for trainers having to act as “Bosses”, beyond walking the talk, we also had to make the tasks interesting and valuable enough for us to run them (as game masters) and for participants (sense of meaningful accomplishment) to want to win. Hence we went through some cycles of constructive feedback to improve the concept.
Most participants got into this gamified activity during the event with various level of engagement. A few took it very seriously and went all-in to win all the pieces. Many fought to get some but not all. A couple didn’t engage with the activity.
The experience went well enough for us to have decided to integrate this activity as a part of the event in following editions with some twist brought up by the trainers’ team.
If you want a bit more information about our use of this Game Technique, here is a video introducing you to Boss Fight in a Training Event.
We’d be happy to hear from, and read about, your experience with Gamification in Learning. So do reach out! :)