Gamification Success Stories (Part III)

Welcome to the third and final addition to the “Gamification Success Stories” series. In Part I, we had responses from Pete Jenkins, Dutch Driver, Toby Beresford, Alireza Ranjbar Shourabi and John Turner. In Part II, gamification experts like Gustavo Tondello, An Coppens, Roman Rackwitz, and Dade Ronan were kind enough to participate.

For part III, Jan Bidner and Michael Sutton spoke about their respective success with gamification in the educational sector; Karl Kapp talked about his Zombie Sales Apocalypse app; and Patrick Bartl referenced a project at IBM. See what each had to say below, as they all had unique experiences that showcase the broad applications of gamification.

♦ Jan Bidner ♦ Karl Kapp  ♦ Patrick Bartl ♦ Michael Sutton  ♦

Gamification Success stories (1)



Jan Bidner (@JanBidner)

Project manager, IT-consultant at SOGETI Sweden



“Let’s start by defining success, shall we. How do we measure gamification success? The easy answer is ‘ROI’. But even though engaged end users or co-workers, without any doubt, are invaluable to any system, service workplace – the relationship between successful gamification campaigns (or system redesigns) and profit is not an easily established relationship. I would say: not even the softer values.

Another tricky aspect to this, which is wildly debated, is: what is gamification? Is it the intention of gamifying something or is it the end result. Take for example Twitter. The 140-characters-limitation (which originally stems from the limitation of the SMS protocol) is a great example of unintentional gamification. Scarcity and the creative challenge in articulating your thoughts in 140 character or less made Twitter unique! And by those measures, Twitter is one of the greatest gamification success stories. But would you call it gamification by design or by chance?

When I asked one of my clients, Peyman Vahedi, a school principal in northern Sweden, about the ROI of the gamified learning app we helped create for his school, he first scratched his head. ‘That is almost impossible to answer,’ he said.

This is a service that has created much engagement both among students and teachers and has been made an example and pointed out as significant both by the principal himself but also by others. It focuses on bringing learning into a gamified context to engage students and make them more engaged in their learning even outside of school: as a challenge and as something fun. It also boosts feedback in both directions by the way it is structured. The teachers master their content, design the paths and get feedback from both the students and the system. And the municipality of Kramfors did actually climb the national ranking board from no. 135 to 14 (of 290 municipalities) when it comes to students getting their exams within 3 years of Upper Secondary school. The school also climbed 143 places when it comes to ‘attitude towards entrepreneurship’ as measured annually by ‘Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’.

The employee survey at the school also shows that the index of confidence and comfort of the employees is notably higher than [the] rest of the municipality and much higher than the rest of the country, according to the statistics from [the] Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

But how much of this success can actually be accredited to the app rather than to the whole change of attitude and change management driven by the visionary principle is hard to say. But then again: gamification isn’t there to fix a broken system or to patch a bad culture. It is there to change or enhance behavior of a core activity that is already somewhat engaging and ties into and drives towards something intrinsically motivating. Like learning!

So, even if it is thanks to the gamified learning app or the visionary leadership and change management at a school in a  small municipality in the north I do consider it a success and I feel lucky to have been part of it.”


Karl Kapp 

Gamification Analyst, Consultant, Designer | Professor | eLearning | Bloomsburg University


To answer this question, I need to step back just a little. I define two types of gamification. One I call ‘Structural Gamification’ which is the addition of points, badges and leaderboards to instruction without altering the instruction itself. The second I call ‘Content Gamification’ and content gamification is the process of altering content to make it more like a game. So, for example, instead of starting an online learning module with a list of objectives, you start with a challenge or a question. Or you add a character to an online course or you form teams and let learners compete in teams against each other.

My most successful gamification experience revolves around content gamification. It is the creation of a sales learning platform I conceived and built called Zombie Sales ApocalypseThe platform is a flexible, interactive sales training tool that uses content gamification to immerse the learner in a 3D environment focused on building sales skills in a simulated sales situation – with the added danger of avoiding zombies. The sales training tool is built from the ground up on a foundation of solid academic research based on my experience as a professor and researching and writing books on gamification.

The 3D zombie sales experience is not for every organization. However, those interested in cutting edge analytics and allowing their salesforce to practice specific behavioral sales skills have found the experience to be worthwhile. Additionally, the gamification platform is customizable to eliminate zombies and make it more of a simulation experience. The gamification platform can be modified to fit each individuals organization’s own sales model.

The biggest successes have arrived on two levels. The first is the level of engagement, focus and participation. We launched the zombie gamification experience to reinforce a corporate sales model and found an engagement level through the roof. We’ve had wonderful reports and anecdotal evidence of individual sales reps participating in the experience over and over again – on and off hours. Most importantly, district and region managers are able to use the analytics to diagnose areas of weakness for both individuals and regions based on actual behavioral choices made within the game. The choices made are more authentic than role-plays because the sales reps are under constant pressure due to the fact that they are being chased by zombies. This pressure causes real decision making and avoids the reps trying to ‘game’ the system. They have to answer quickly and accurately or they lose.

The second level of success is increased performance (ok, this is really the biggest success). The company has seen an increase the subsequent application of the sale model and a subsequent increase in sales of the product. The team is also able to use the analytics to track behavior over time so they have a record of how the sales reps’ understanding of the sales model has changed through the gamification experience.

The best result is the enthusiasm and learning of the sales reps within the gamification experience and the data the managers are using to help coach and guide their sales force to success.


Patrick Bartl (@bartlpatrick)

Managing Consultant, IBM Deutschland GmbH


Back in 2014, IBM introduced a new internal cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. This did not only cause technical effort, but led to the question of how to train thousands of users globally in the most efficient and effective way. It required a large scale global change management and communication strategy with local adaptations.

At the same time, IBM aimed at increasing the internal usage of its enterprise social networking tool – IBM Connections. The enablement of a systems of engagement belongs to one of three strategic pillars of IBM. A more efficient collaboration and knowledge sharing shall promote problem-solving across borders, easy expertise location, and support the collaborative creation of assets.

For IBM Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, I lead an enterprise gamification initiative to promote the usage of the new CRM tool while leveraging collaboration capabilities of IBM Connections. Thanks to agile principles and industry standard gamification frameworks, the initiative could be launched after only 3.5 weeks of ideation, design, and implementation activities.

At the core of that initiative was a treasure hunt. Users were asked to be part of an international task force that aimed at finding a colleague that got lost a few weeks earlier. Within 12 weeks, 9 short challenges were presented to the participants. Each challenge made the users either experience the CRM tool or the enterprise social networking tool to find hints that lead to the missing colleague.

The wiki pages of the gamification initiative were visited about 15,000 times during the 12 weeks and received almost 200 comments. More than 20% of the target population in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland registered voluntarily to participate and shared more than 2,000 related status updates in IBM Connections.

The most relevant result is most likely a 63% increase of logins per user per week to the new CRM solution. A final feedback request revealed that the underlying story was engaging for more than 70% of the participants. About 80% said that they enjoyed participating in the challenges. Almost every second participant felt more comfortable in using the CRM tool after the enterprise gamification initiative.



Michael Sutton

Chief Gamification Officer/Chief Knowledge Officer, FUNIFICATION LLC


Serious games, which are for adults, could be anything from strategy simulations to the communications exercises I do with Legos in the classroom. My interest began by building educational programs in the corporate world as a Learning, Training, and Development (LTD) consultant over 30 years ago. When I graduated from McGill University in Montreal, (at 57-years old), I had already been working as an Assistant Professor at Kent State University in Ohio. I designed and taught Knowledge Management courses that educated Master of Science learners through gamification.

After 3 years at Kent State, I was recruited to Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT, to help lead the architecture of competency and project-based, online BBA and MBA programs in the business school. I emerged as a fervent evangelist for gamification techniques in our residencies as well as our online wiki-based modules. My decades long experience with experiential education allowed me to prove that simulations, serious games, and immersive learning environments could build ‘sticky knowledge’ for the learners to apply immediately in their careers. Research has shown that in a 2-to-3 hour lecture, if that information has not been applied with the next day, over 80% of it is lost, even if people were taking notes. If the topic is not applied in the next month, 95+% of the knowledge is lost. By engaging students through the use of online simulations, video games, card games, mobile quests, and board games in the classroom, I have been able to significantly increase the engagement of the learners, and subsequently their retention at the university. Gamification gave a better ‘return on learning’ (ROL) than any other learning strategy.

Even though I apply games to facilitate the learning of soft skills, such as management, strategy, entrepreneurship, business communication, emotional intelligence, leadership, teamship, and communityship, not every professor is excited by the idea of gamification. Many professors have dismissed my use of gamification as a fad, and are wed to a musty, 15-year old syllabus that has not kept up with the times. In fact, many instructors are comfortable ‘talking’ their MS-PowerPoint slides to the learners for 2-3 hours. Of course, the learners are from GEN X, GEN Y, and GEN Z (Millennials). These younger learners are very disengaged, disappointed, and discouraged from listening to old farts who do not engage in the business world of today, and are enamored by whiteboards, rather than by LinkedIn or relevant educational technologies, such a mobile apps, wikis and blogs.

Thoughtful and sensitive educators need to engage the new generations of learners who have grown up using the internet and playing video games. We have to capitalize on tools these recent generations can relate to. That’s what any educator wishes to see within a physical or online classroom: PRESENCE! My serious games, simulations, and immersive learning environments have carved out success with the younger generations.


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Matt Goldman

Matt Goldman

Matt Goldman is a Content Marketer/Social Media Strategist for Tenfold. His writing has focused on social selling, marketing, as well as gamification.

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