Teaching the Value of Money with Games

371924 Teaching the Value of Money with Games

Today I am literally ripping a transcription out of one of our recent blogs – all about how I used Roblox to help get my daughter to understand the value of money. The podcast in question can be found here – https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/e1hr3lp

Lots of people have used gamification around banking and around money, but it’s always about how to save, how to invest, and how to essentially make sure banks have more of your money. It’s safe to say that most banks when they release something about gamifying finances, it’s about learning how to put more money in a bank and how to live off that money. Read More ...

What’s Your Biggest Gamification Challenge? (And Episode 3 of the podcast is out)

Gennfqfvw48 What 8217 s Your Biggest Gamification Challenge And Episode 3 of the podcast is out

I wanted to ask you guys what you feel your biggest challenge in gamification is? For me, it is getting folks to take gamification as an industry seriously. There are many reasons for this, a lot of which we dive into in the latest Andrzej & Roman Show (Yeah shameless plug)!

Whatever the reason for this may be, it is imperative that you overcome it quickly. I’ve told this story many times, but it is worth repeating. I once sat in a meeting where less than 5 minutes into the presentation, the client just stopped me and said “I hate everything you have said so far. We don’t play games, we are too busy” Read More ...

Engagement – What are we talking about?

10309649 10153344097952619 1236186563670714891 n Engagement 8211 What are we talking about

Engagement. A word that is thrown about in gamification with all the abandon of a child dancing and singing to Frozen…

The thing is, what exactly are we talking about? What is engagement.

As ever, I took to the dictionaries to see what the word on the street is. Looking up engagement is a fruitless task as you get such gems as

A formal agreement to get married


The action of engaging or being engaged

However, looking up engage is a far more satisfying experience.

[with object] Occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention)

[no object] (engage in or be engaged in) Participate or become involved in


From this we can get an idea of what people are talking about when they say they are using gamification to engage people, or increase engagement. They are generally looking to get people to participate in activities. That tends to be the key goal for most gamification, participation.

So here is the thing. When people play a game, they play because they want to play. They participate because it is their desire to participate and be involved.  When people use a gamified system, it is very often not their desire that drives entry, but the desire of whoever set the system up. This is a really important distinction.

Is participation enough though? When I was doing my workshop at Gamification World Congress (GWC). this came up. We were looking at the difference in my 4 phase EEEE user journey. Enrol was fairly simple. This could just be as simple as an invite. All you are looking for there is participation! Enthuse is a little different. This is the part where you want people to get excited and to play with the system (if that is possible). It could be part of the enrol phase, but it is where you tend to see the most activity and participation. However, is this really being engaged? Does participation mean they are engaging with the system. They are certainly using it, but is that just because they are getting rewards for it – are they essentially being bribed to participate?

When I talk about the Engage phase, I am talking about a part of the user journey beyond mere bribed participation. This is the part where (as the initial definition eludes) they are interested. Their involvement is due to something that they want to do and want to continue to do – it is intrinsic.

The final phase, Endear (or End Game), may be the same as the engage phase, people stay for their own reasons. it may just be a great ending to a great narrative and people go on to tell others how amazing it was. But again, it is because they were interested and intrinsically motivated to stay involved.

Engagement is something beyond mere participation,. Engagement is intrinsic to the person who you want to involved. You have to use the opening phases of their journey to help them find their reason to stay. It may be that you teach them why it is important for them to be involved (not just why it is important to you). It may be that they find it enjoyable or beneficial. It may be they just get into the habit of doing it, but for you to get true engagement – make it their reason to stay, not yours.

OnBoarding, Tutorials and Learning by Doing

Feelies OnBoarding Tutorials and Learning by Doing

For me one of the most effective uses of gamification that I see in education (at the moment) is the inclusion of things like onboarding and tutorials.

When I was young, games came with manuals that you could knock a donkey out with. They had all the instructions, keyboard overlays, back stories and more! It could take a day just to read them, let alone start to play.  Who can forget the microscopic space fleet that came with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

I sometimes wonder if a lot of this was acceptable to us because of how long games took to load. Ah, the joyous sounds of the Commodore 64 loading – not to mention the amazing music you used to get (Ocean Loader v4 being my favourite – sad I know!).

These days you don’t get any of that. Now all you get is a single page that explains the story in a short paragraph and the buttons you need to play. The rest is handled by an onboarding process.

Onboarding in this case refers to the step by step “hand holding” that takes place. The game teaches you how to play, by letting you practice in a controlled and safe manner. Learning how to move first, then how to shoot, and then jump etc. Once you have nailed the basics, you are then equipped to play the real game. Often more complex games will have extra tutorials to learn the more difficult aspects of the game as well, giving you the chance to learn at your own pace, whilst still being able to play.

Not only is this a more enjoyable way to learn how to play the game, it allows for several things. First, it allows the story to be told from the beginning, setting you up for the main game. It also helps you remember more. Many people learn faster when they are actually doing the thing they are learning. Also there is a greater sense of achievement from learning these actions as you do them rather than just reading about them.

In education this can be replicated with ease. Rather than asking children to read about their numbers, teachers have them count coins or blocks. They can see and feel the counting and the maths.  There are serious games, such as Microsoft’s “Ribbon Hero 2” which make great use of this hand holding and learning by doing approach. This is a game that was produced to help people learn Microsoft office. The entire game is one on-boarding tutorial, as you help Clippy find his way through time back to the present day. Every level has you using functionality from the Office product – learning by doing.

Breaking things up and having people learn by doing is definitely one of the greatest lessons I can see from video games for us to use. You don’t need points and badges for it to work. People are motivated by the experience if it is built well.  They get continuous feelings of achievement as they learn and master new skills. However, everything has to be meaningful and relevant. There is no point just throwing animations are a learning “game” that the learner has no control over, or giving them choices that have no meaning or effect on the rest of the experience. The will not thank you for making a five minute tutorial into a thirty minute yawn fest that they can’t skip!

GAME: A design process framework

GAME Framework New GAME A design process framework

Quite some time ago I released my little design framework. Well as I have been condensing my thoughts and ideas, I decided it was time to make it a little easier, so I came up with GAME.


Gather information by asking;

  • What are you gamifying
  • Why are you gamifying it
  • Who are you gamifying it for
  • How is success measured


Once you have the information, act on it. Design the best solution for your goals and the engagement / experience of your users. Then you have to test it with them!


Measure the activities of the users and measure the outcomes and how they relate to your goals. Use this feedback to iterate improvements.


Enrich your system over time. This is also an iterative process. Add knew challenges and improvements based on the data you gather. Keep the content fresh and engaging for your users. You have to keep up with their needs, if not stay one step ahead!

All in all this is a slightly simpler way to look at the design process.  It also spells GAME, so has to be great!!!

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