Interview With Ercan Altuğ Yilmaz – Gamification’s Impact on the Modern World

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Our guest, Ercan Altuğ Yılmaz, has worked in digital education channels management at Netron, Bilge Adam, Turkcell, and Yum Brands before working on award-winning gamification projects. He currently provides training, seminars, and consultancy on topics such as digital education systems, digital game design, gamification, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Altug is the author of the book “Gamification for Everyone”, the first Turkish gamification book published by Abaküs Yayıncılık in 2015. He is also the first and only Turkish to present at the World Gamification Conference (Gamification World Congress), the only gamification-focused conference held in Madrid, Spain, every year.

Before we start the interview, we need to tell our audience how and when you started in this (gamification) industry. Can you please write a little on what intrigued you about gamification and what your personal experience has been so far?

My career as an educational technologist spans over 10 years. It was in 2015 when I first introduced to the concept of Gamification after started working on gamifying an educational portal. I wrote and published my first book in Turkish during that period and also started my career as a lecturer on game design and gamification. Currently, I give keynote speeches and lectures on Gamification and it’s the ability to shape our lives as we know it.

1. What does the term “Gamification” mean to you?

The term Gamification is all about creating human-centric designs that use game technics to offer a more enjoyable experience to users. 

2. Tell us about GamFed and the idea behind it. Can you also discuss the responsibilities regarding your position?

Gamfed is a London based non-profit organization that has quite an astounding cast of members in its community. We use game mechanics in non-game environments to drive positive behaviors like engagement and performance. With ambassadors all over the world, one of our priorities is to help and support gamification events around us like Gamification Europe and Gamification Meetup Turkey.

3. Can you discuss some of the challenges that you had to face on a daily basis?

In Turkey, some companies still mix the term “gamification” with “gaming”, which makes my job a little difficult because every now and then, I have to explain what gamification is to people (often in meetings). I give them a simplified explanation which is the best way to explain what gamification is – it is a design process that supports game mechanics rather than gaming itself.

4. How does Inooster Information Technologies help your business clients break their goals down into objectives, tasks, and activities?

Inooster is one of the most powerful gamification platforms in Turkey. We have been working on its development for more than 3 years now. Now, not only do we own an impressive portfolio but we also excel in maintaining a healthy relationship with our clients that include three banks, and several others.

5. How does your company successfully implement sales gamification in key business functions? Can you also talk about some of the most renowned sales gamification tools in this industry?

Gamification in sales is ironically less about selling and more about focusing on small steps that will eventually result in big sales results. In order to achieve optimum results, you have to know which key metric to measure how to do it. Keeping gamification scenarios in mind, you can measure different key metrics to have better outcome/results.

Also, here are some factors that you should consider:

  1. KPI Determination (what will change at the end of the project) & Gamification 101 Workshop. 
  2. Player’s Journey 
  3. Persona Reviews
  4. User Interface and Experience in Design & Technical Integration 
  5. Pilot Release with a small group
  6. Pilot Reporting and Persona Review 
  7. Launch with Storytelling. 

Below is an example of a real gamification project that I have been working on for the past 6 months.

Turkish project plan

6. How do you measure performance and be transparent about the rules and results?

The results should always be transparent otherwise your users will be enticed towards quitting on you very quickly. Measuring the performances of your users might be difficult but you can easily read the data on sales platforms and even improve on your workings by following up the feedback from your users.

7. What goals are you currently working on achieving with your company? (Can you talk about the projects you’re currently working on?)

Due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, we are now mostly focusing on human communication, knowledge, innovation, and well being.

8. What changes (apart from the ones you’re already working on) do you want to see made in the next 5 years?

I’m certain that we’re not far from seeing almost every company opting to adapt game-based strategies to their business and adding game mechanics to their processes.

Some companies will find success by increasing the quality of their processes while some will remain the same. The inability to adapt or creating poor gamification designs will cause some of them to quit. Many companies are already ready to use our platform for gamification and augmented reality-based purposes like Kahoot and menti.

9. Name a few mentors, influencers, or friends that you think have helped you understand or increase your knowledge about gamification.

I learned a lot from Gabe Zichermann’s books and models. I use his SAPS rewarding model for my training and workshops. I also admire Yukai Chou’s Octalysis model because it has helped me a lot in understanding game mechanics. 

Currently, I’m using Nir Eyal’s Hook model to learn about game loops and Amy Jo Kim’s Player Journey phases for my journey design. This design will help me make players familiar with discovery, onboarding, habit-building-mastery. Kevin Werbach’s D6 model is a great model to understand how the gamification project will run. Beginners should go for Werbach’s Gamification Free Course at Coursera.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to anyone entering gamification, what would it be?

I think there are numerous ways to learn and design gamification concepts. The gamification domain has many models so try to choose and learn from the one that suits your project. Models, badges, rewards shouldn’t be as important as achieving final results.  Make sure that your project’s game mechanics are practical, functional, and fun. Always keep an eye out for improvement.

You can also check myCred’s WordPress Gamification add-ons that are built to increase website user engagement.

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