Book Review: For The Win (How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business)

60-word Summary:

Gamification of learning and development has been en vogue for several years, yet so few organizations do it well. For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business goes beyond points, badges and leaderboards and offers a basic overview on how games work, why games work and some thoughts on how to combine game elements to achieve extraordinary results.

The Details:

Bright Spots:

The length: Weighing in at 126 pages, this book can be read from cover to cover in a couple of sittings (or a couple of cross-country flights!).

The examples: The authors obviously know their stuff and offer a variety of examples to ignite your imagination in how to transfer successful examples of gamified business practices to your own context. Equally important, the authors offer some powerful examples of gamification gone awry. When it comes to gamification, what not to do is as essential as what you’re thinking of actually doing.

The elements: Beyond points, badges and leaderboards, the authors offer an overview of game elements that too many attempts at gamification are missing. Dynamics (like emotions and progression), mechanics (like randomness and feedback) and components (such as boss fights and quests!) are all key pieces to any successful gamification effort.

Room For Improvement:

I’m not sure that I have too much critical to say about this book. As a learning and development professional, I would have loved to have seen more specific examples of gamification in the learning and development space. The wide variety of examples, however, offers plenty of ideas that are easily transferable to training programs.

Who Should Buy It:

I bought this book because I had begun to take a Coursera MOOC on gamification that was being taught by one of the authors and he recommended this book as a course text. I didn’t make it past Week 2 of the course (I’m just not into trying to learn new concepts by watching a series of 5-10 minute video lectures), but I’ve learned a lot from this book.

For The Win is perfect for someone who is either new to the concept of gamification or someone who is familiar with the concept but just doesn’t know where to start. It’s also ideal for training designers who have been trying to “gamify” their learning experiences with points or badges or leaderboards but just feel like there’s supposed to be more to a gamified experience (there is).

Honestly, this book isn’t just intended for training professionals. If  you’re someone in a position of management – either people management or process management – and you’re looking to truly understand a way to engage and motivate people using gaming principles, this book can offer a lot of ideas.

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