Interview with Fabio Viola – Director of Strategic Planning and Game Designer at Fondazione Alghero

This week, we are going to interview one of the most well-known personalities in the world Gamification. Yes, “Fabio Viola” is a famous gamification consultant, professor, interactive screenwriter, game designer, and museum serial innovator.
His career spans over two decades in which he has worked as more than just a Gamification expert. Fabio’s first experience as an owner was at Italia Network Service where he launched the first mobile gaming website and printed magazine (Giocare con il Cellulare) in Italy. The organization also managed the editorial/gaming communities platform for Vodafone and Wind.

Fabio’s most notable accomplishments include founding a handful of companies including GameVenture, DigitalFun and Mobile Idea. He openly supports worldwide public institutions and private companies to achieve successful metrics through the power of gamification.
His publications are leaving an impact on the minds of gaming aspirants related to the hot topic of gamification and showing a proper roadmap to the enthusiasts of this industry. Apart from his professional life, we found Fabio as a social person, humble, and energetic.

Listen to the keynote by Fabio Viola, gamification expert from Italy, at “This Is CBN Science” on 26 January 2021.

Fabio Viola – Gamification

1- Before we start the interview, we would love to know what inspired you to start working as a “Gamification Pioneer”?

I started my career in the videogames industry serving companies like Electronic Arts Mobile and Vivendi Games. In those years working on bestsellers like Fifa, The Sims, Crash Bandicoot, I understood the power of game mechanics and dynamics outside our industry. Indeed during 2011, I released my first book about the gamification topic, and I founded my gamification agency ( working for private and public entities around Europe.

2- What does the term “Gamification” mean to you?

It means designing engaging and memorable experiences (physical or digital or phygital), often borrowing tools and theories from the design of (video) games. I recognize a well-done gamification project when it includes the 3P formula: user’s protagonism, rooms of participation and interactions, and principles of personalization.

3- What message do you want to deliver through your books “L’arte del Coinvolgimento” and “Gamification: Video games in everyday life.”?

The centrality of what I call engagement-centered design. We still live in a society based on “having to do” while our post-industrial society is going towards “willing to do ”. The new generations are growing up in a world dominated by the mythologies, aesthetics, and interfaces of video games. Still, for the rest of the day, they find totally disengaging experiences. This generates a short circuit and urgently requires us to rethink every moment of our daily life. Human regeneration is not a question of economics or technology but, above all, a creative fact. And creativity is tightly connected with the engagement design and working with and for the audience.

Also, how long did you take to complete these books?

I’m a slow writer, at least two years for a book. I need to experience on the field the theories and techniques I write down in the books. The last one, set to be released within the end of the year, “Interactive Culture Age,” required three years.

4. Why did you specifically opt to target the tourism and museum industry in your projects?

I strongly believe in gamification as a game-changer in the cultural and tourism sector. Both branches have a lack of creativity and engagement, and they represent an extraordinary field of experimentation. For example, I produced a game-based interactive story called “Father and Son,” freely downloadable on the App Store and Google Play for the Archeological Museum of Naples. This app has been downloaded more than 4.5 million times worldwide, and the museum gains new visitors and half-million dollars in extra revenue thanks to this gamification project. Or, let’s imagine the opportunity of game-based tourism.

5- What is the scope of gamification in Italy, and what are the best gamification examples you think everyone should adopt to excel in their businesses?

Actually, in Italy gamification processes are frequently integrated into the enterprise world: recruitment, talent management, training, employee engagement, and sales motivation have been a must in the last 3 years. Take the FCA City project, an immersive virtual city where Fiat/Christler employees acquire knowledge by visiting several buildings and their internal spaces. Each building is a skill and the experience is full of gamification dynamics such as progression, competition, altruism, unpredictability.

6. How would you create a borderline between gaming and designing? Also, please specify how you can incorporate the gaming factor into the fashion industry?

With over 2.5 billion players worldwide, video games have become the main medium for a large part of the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) and Z (those born after 2000). Creativity and self-expression are two points of contact between the growing video game industry (whose value has exceeded 150 billion dollars) and the fashion industry.
Above all, the luxury sector begins to be dominated by a cluster of buyers in constant search of involvement, fun, extravagance, and alone the “true luxury consumers” represent a market worth over 100 billion dollars compared to the almost 1000 generated by the whole sector. World fashion.
It is possible to identify four crossover industries guidelines:

  • Fashion companies sponsor, create co-branding operations and produce limited edition products in partnership with already established console / pc or mobile video games.
  • Fashion companies enter e-sports by sponsoring tournaments and teams, dressing pro-players, or creating ad hoc products.
  • Fashion companies directly create promotional video games tailored to meet the needs and objectives.
  • Fashion companies launch gamification initiatives, logics borrowed from games to interact in a creative and participatory way with their audiences.

7- Name a few of your mentors, influencers, or friends you think have helped you understand or increase your knowledge about gamification.

As a creative studio, we are pretty much obsessed with transmedia and phygital right now; all our next projects explore the opportunities in intertwining different languages (gaming, photography, theater, cinema) and mixing physical and digital experiences. In our next game-based project, Eternal Memories, we created a narrative where a 2D game-like experience is combined with a national tv documentary about Florence’s flood in 1966. Or we are just releasing a human city Pac-Man experience where citizens see symbols spread in augmented reality around the city of Favara (Sicily, Italy), and the physical experience is enhanced through the digital layer in order to discover the city and the stories behind it.

8. What changes do you want to see in the next five years? Any future predictions of this industry?

The game-based approach will pervade every aspect of everyday life and in few years user experience, user interface, and “gamification” will merge completely, becoming a single subject of study. Across the different technologies, artificial intelligence will forever change our ways to interact with the world.

9. If you could give one piece of advice to the people starting in the gamification industry, what would it be?

Be curious with a trans-disciplinary background and just one mandatory skill; I can’t imagine gamification designers without solid game design experience. Having imagined and produced video games represents a boost in understanding the dynamics of players. Fortunately, in the last few years, several books, gamified platforms, and university courses have been launched on the market, making it easier to enter into the market, but just pay attention to the standardization of the gamification processes and remember to add on top your own out of box ideas.

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

In random order: Jesse Schell, Gabe Zichermann, Nicole Lazzaro.

11. Could you share a picture of your workspace with our readers?