Beginning a gamification project


Gamification has many uses in the business area: user engagement, learning, employee recruitment, employee motivation, productivity increase…

Datio’s culture encourages the freedom and responsibility of the employees, good atmosphere and camaraderie in our offices. We want employees to be enthusiastic about their work and we want empowered people that can do the work their way. For that reason, gamification fits perfectly with the company’s philosophy, which is based  on staff  engagement and participation.

According to research from the company Gallup, only 13% of the employees working for an organization are engaged, worldwide.  What’s more, this same company assures us that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

So we all put our hands on deck to begin a gamification project at Datio.  But before we could start to play we had to do a lot of research, design and drafts. These were the main steps we followed to create this amazing and funny project:

Identify the goals

The key goals of the game should align with the company’s objectives. In our case, we wanted to promote our web with talks, articles, posts for the blog and video tutorials. So we decided that these were the items, we should reward in our gamification project.

We defined four categories according to the items that interested us:

  • Scholar: we reward the certifications obtained by the employees.
  • Brainhunter: for future employee’s recommendations and for helping human resources in the interviews of new candidates.
  • Specialist: talks and meetups related to our technology.
  • Writer people who want to participate in the blog with tech articles.

As a bonus we also reward the organizing of fun events which help to build and strengthen relationships.

Another thing we wanted was to keep employees motivated and satisfied, so we needed a topic that could interest the majority of the employees. The topic chosen was Marvel comics.

Design the game

We decided to base the board on the Goose game. This game consists of a spiral board with 63 fields.

All games share four defining features: a goal, rules, a feedback system and voluntary participation.

  • The goal is the purpose, the object of the game, which in this case is to be the first to reach the last square of the board.
  • The rules establish how to achieve the goal. They must be clear and simple: travel along the spiral from fields 1 to 63, according to the points obtained with the gamification categories (Writer, Specialist, Scholar, etc.). All players are placed on the starting space on the outside of the spiral. The first person to reach space 63 is the winner.
  •  The feedback system informs the players of how they are progressing. We established the points depending on the gamification categories. For example: writing a post, 100 points; give a meetup, 200 points.

Of course there is absolute freedom to enter and leave the game.

Establish the rewards

Rewards were a complicated part for us and a big motivation for the players. We thought carefully about what to give and how to establish a priority order.

Scattered throughout the board are a number of spaces on which different families of Marvel characters are depicted: Fantastic Four, X-Men, Mutants, Avengers, etc. When a player lands on one of these families, they reach a new level and receive an award related to the topic.

They also receive a gift card when they reach a certain number of points. But according to Gabe Zichermann, author of the book The Gamification Revolution, “People may be motivated by getting a gift card, but what really drives them is recognition [as well as] status, access power and stuff” .

The activities done by the players require a clear process to track the progress in the game.  Players want to see their names on the leaderboard, compare their performances with others and create healthy competition.

Ready, steady, go

Officially, we started the gamification project in Datio on the first of July of 2016. In these months 25 people, 37 % of the staff, have taken part in the game and have achieved 2830 points.

The pie chart shows the participation in the game organized by category:



The highest number of participants are in technical interviews, followed by employee’s recommendations. We are increasing the number of posts but at the moment there has not been any talk or meet up in the Brainhunter category. So we need to promote this category for visibility in specific forums .

We gave several gifts related to Marvel like lego super heroes figurines, Fantastic  Four mugs and big  figurines of Loki.



Participate to feel involved

So my tips for beginning a gamification project: be patient. The results are not immediate, gamification can be a slow process. You need to know the company well and the players so that they feel acknowledged and motivated by the game.

In Datio we are getting this project off the ground, which requires motivation and perseverance,  but at the same time it is funny and exciting.

Gamification promotes healthy competition among employees, rewards are given according to effort made and not status. Participating in the game is the most pleasant way to feel involved in the company and to become a real part of it.


Raquel Asenjo

Over the last years I've been working as technical writer in a company dedicated to media software solutions. Currently I'm learning new professional skills related to Big Data, Gamification and management of Social Media. I'm really enjoying this period, which I find exciting and motivating.

More Posts

2 thoughts on “Beginning a gamification project”

Comments are closed.