Social Message in a Bottle: 13 Examples of Creativity and Gamification in Beverage Recycling

From a buddhist temple and a giant christmas tree made of empty beer bottles; through mutant plastic bottles, milk bottles in love or dreaming of a new life; to gamified soft-drink vending machines, recycling slots, dog-food dispensing machines and beer can turnstiles: IS the sky the limit to what creative commitment, innovation, and gamification can do for beverage container recycling?.. Continue reading Social Message in a Bottle: 13 Examples of Creativity and Gamification in Beverage Recycling

Why Every Office Should Have Its Dundies

Employee engagement is the new corporate mantra that has largely driven the rise of gamification in the workplace. Skills, productivity, loyalty, and creativity are all good and indispensable but will never unfold to the full without engagement. And if the latter is the magic door that leads to all these coveted treasures, where can employers find the secret key?


Is Recognition the ‘Open Sesame’ of Engagement?

Many different approaches have been proven to work in specific contexts. There is the path of  gamification that uses our appetite for competition and status; there is the CSR path, where Corporate Social Responsibility programs foster engagement by living up to employees’ values, principles, and need to ‘do good’. And there is one key that never fails to fit the lock: in all related studies and statistics, recognition emerges as one of the most powerful factors for employee engagement and satisfaction.  



So here’s one simple idea to make your employees feel valued and appreciated – institute your own office awards and celebrate everyone’s unique strengths and input at a special ceremony.


There are basically two ways to go about it. Either the manager can do all the work, taking time to single out unique qualities and contributions by each staff member. Or, it can be a collective project – everyone will be asked to share ideas about possible awards; once the best-liked categories have been decided, staff members will be invited to nominate co-workers. (The manager should have the decisive vote because if there’s one thing more powerful than peer recognition in terms of motivation, it is probably recognition by a supervisor.)


As seen on TV

If you don’t happen to be a fan of the TV show The Office, “the Dundies” are awards presented annually by Michael Scott, regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Because they are meant to boost morale and self-confidence, everybody gets a Dundie. In different seasons, these have included a “Redefining Beauty Award”, “Whitest Sneakers Award”, “Kind of a Bitch Award” and many others that fail to recognize actual job performance so you may want to go elsewhere for inspiration 🙂

Judging by the low rate of employee engagement worldwide, not many office workers care enough to hang themselves for lack of recognition as in Michael Scott’s story above. Yet, he does make a compelling case for instituting office awards 🙂

Whether you go for a serious tone and real achievements or unusual and funny categories, make sure everyone gets an award, if possible one encouraging good work practices and habits rather than white sneakers 🙂 Here are some resources to help you get started!


When Governments Become Game Masters, Part II

In our earlier article we brought you a first sample of old and recent gamification projects from around the globe tackling issues as diverse as dog poop, fiscal discipline, safe driving, and participatory budgeting. In the second part of this overview we present a surprising champion of gamification – the Dubai Police, with brief stops in Hawaii and Australia, for more innovative applications of game mechanisms in the public sector. Continue reading When Governments Become Game Masters, Part II

When Governments Become Game Masters

Game mechanics exploiting our need for competition, achievement and rewards can be powerful tools for enforcing citizen obedience and conformity, just as well as citizen engagement and initiative (see our recent article about China’s proposed ‘social credit system’). Whether the opportunities outweigh the threats remains to be seen but the collection of best practices and beneficial uses of gamification keeps on growing, as you will see in our quick tour around the world! Continue reading When Governments Become Game Masters

From High Tech to Hilarious Tech: How Restaurant Gamification Keeps up with Homo Digitalis

Yes, the nostalgic romantics among us are bound to complain about alienation and dehumanization. But the digital generations who have grown up with the smartphone as a vital sensory organ will simply feel more at home as touchscreens, virtual reality and gesture control technologies come to restaurants to enhance customer experience (and incidentally, optimize profits and efficiency)! Continue reading From High Tech to Hilarious Tech: How Restaurant Gamification Keeps up with Homo Digitalis

When Altruistic Fun Meets Capitalistic Gain

Philanthropy has long had recourse to a broad range of motivational instruments and effective means of pushing social activism through entertainment. But these tools have largely been designed, proven and tested in live fundraising. In 2010, ‘fun-for-a-cause’ came online with the crowdfunding website Crowdrise, which has since become ‘the world’s largest and fastest growing fundraising platform dedicated exclusively to charitable giving’. Continue reading When Altruistic Fun Meets Capitalistic Gain

Zombies Level Up Fitness Gamification


Why we need fitness gamification

Just consider the huge amount of effort, deprivation, and discipline involved in regular exercise, and workplace gamification might suddenly seem like child’s play :).

‘Working out’ is worse than work since you don’t depend on it.  You can’t even fall back on constraint and necessity: on the job, even if you don’t feel engaged, you have to do what your boss says or you’ll get fired and lose your income.
With fitness and exercise, there is no external authority and obligation other than your own willpower (and mirror).

On the other hand, the internal motivation is supposedly not an issue when you’re at the stage of shopping around for fitness apps. You presumably want to get fit and know what you stand to gain. You’ve embraced the goal but it doesn’t make the process any easier and progress can be discouragingly slow. And this is where fitness apps are supposed to help.


As we can never stress enough in this blog, points and leaderboards are essential but not enough for successful gamification. The market offers a myriad of apps to monitor your stats when working out – heart rate, speed, distance, etc, etc.
But while good design can make these tools quite engaging to use, at best they remain
useful, not fun. What the British Six to Start developers did was to use a story as the key to unlock the fun.


From Kickstarter to commercial success and one million players

Zombies, Run! is a 2012 video game co-developed and published by Six to Start and Naomi Alderman for iOS and Android platforms. 
The storyline of the game is written primarily by Naomi Alderman and a team of writers, with guest contributions by notable science fiction authors such as Margaret Atwood and Andrea Phillips.
The game was funded by a Kickstarter campaign which raised more than five times what was expected, a total of $72,627 from 3,464 backers. Zombies, Run! became the highest-grossing Health & Fitness app on Apple’s App Store within two weeks of its initial release.






Zombies, Run! is an immersive audio adventure. The story unfolds as dispatchers speak to you through your headphones in-between your own music . You are one of the main characters and while you complete missions and collect supplies and artifacts, you gradually get to know other characters, learn the history of the world you’re in, and try to unravel the big mystery – what brought on the zombie apocalypse!


The story
Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home.


200 Missions
Here is the very first of 23 missions in Season 1:
While en route to Abel Township from Mullins Military Base, your transport helicopter, “Jolly Alpha Five Niner”, is hit by a rocket attack and crashes. The crash site is full of zombies and Sam Yao, the radio operator from Abel, begs you to run for your life. You proceed to run away from the crash site and the zombies as well as your dying/dead pilot.


Zombie Chases:
If enabled, the game randomly switches to ‘zombie chase’ mode when you have to speed up and maintain the high pace for about a minute. If you don’t accelerate enough, the zombies start catching up and you soon hear them breathing down your neck.


After the run:
The game doesn’t end with the run – once at home you will use the items collected to build your base.

And of course, you can check your run logs for all the stats (total and average distance & time, average and fastest pace, even what music tracks you played).



Why it is a success story:

Now in its 4th season, with spin-offs such as books and real-world events in the works, the game boasts 200 missions, one million players, and a huge online community! What’s the secret behind its enormous success?

maxresdefaultRun For Your Lives Zombie 5K


To put it in a nutshell, it works because it’s not like a game, it IS a game.

Moreover, a game that appeals to all aspects of our individual player personality:

  • Killers, who live for competition, will obviously get their fill of thrill and will love the occasional ‘heart race runs’.
  • Achievers will enjoy ticking off missions, improving their track records, collecting supplies and building up their base in-between running sessions.
  • Explorers will look forward to discovering more of the zombie universe and to unravelling the big mystery in the zombie apocalypse story.
  • And finally, running needn’t even be a lonely business anymore – socializers will be happy to connect to the other runners in the growing online community of Zombies, Run!


The story and role-play enhance runners’ experience – they await their next run as the next episode or chapter in an audio book.

And once immersed in the zombie universe, runners can look forward to the exhilarating rushes of dopamine every time they survive a ‘zombie chase’.

The app thus turns physical effort into play. It provides an illusory context and reason for physical exertion, as well as immediate gratification and bursts of pleasure to sustain them in the pursuit of the more abstract goal of ‘keeping fit and healthy’.


We all know that great feeling AFTER your workout, which is an awfully demanding means to a desired end. With Zombies, Run!, the process itself becomes enjoyable and fun – and that is the ultimate goal of any gamification project.


“Make your next run fun!”:

Google Play

iTunes Apple 


Why should the customers have all the fun?

Gamification for service industry employees.

Gamification is all the rage now in the hospitality industry (as in any other) but it is typically focused on the guests, rather than the hosts, on the service, rather than the servers. Yet they are the ones supposed to get you those happily engaged customers who will keep coming back for more. Continue reading Why should the customers have all the fun?