Every serious games and gamification project begins with a kick-off workshop. Gbanga organizes the 2 to 4-hour workshop based on the “Sprint” methodology and design thinking described in Jake Knapp’s book. The design sprint methodology actually provides for one day for each phase. In view of the short availabilities, we normally conduct the workshop in a few hours in condensed form as described below.

How to organize a kickoff workshop correctly

The kickoff workshop, which lasts several hours, is best divided into the phases A) Problem definition, B) Idea sketches, C) Prioritization, D) Fast prototyping and E) User testing.

All participants should be informed in advance about the process described here.

How to start the workshop

In the very first part A), the participants introduce themselves to each other and draw up a list of challenges from the perspective of everyone involved. This can also be subjective and should include the concerns of various stakeholders. Ideally, post-its are placed on a wall with one challenge per piece of paper.

How does the project kick-off workshop for serious games and gamification work?

The group also focuses on a selection of the challenges collected from the previous phase, which are worked on in the “sprint” meeting. Ideally, one challenge is the “target”; if necessary, 2 further secondary topics are included.

This phase can last between 15 minutes and 30 minutes.

How to make productive decisions in group work

At the beginning, the participants decide on a decider person who will make the selection for the next phase in later phases. This does not have to be the most senior person in the room. The decider should know the target group and needs of the workshop outcome very well.

How do you find creative solutions in the kick-off workshop?

Anyone can be creative, but it is sometimes difficult to get started. At the kick-off meeting, the creativity of everyone involved can be stimulated with inspirational videos of previous projects or similar projects that have been seen online. These videos then lead to everyone coming up with ideas and in phase B) they can mix their ideas like in a blender and adapt them to the challenges.

This phase can last between 15 minutes and 30 minutes. A bio-break is then appropriate.

How to stay productive despite lots of creative ideas

Organizing ideas on a whiteboard or pinboard helps enormously. The many ideas can be arranged on colorful Post-Is on a wall around the notes with the challenges. This way you can keep an overview.

After the bubbling creative phase, the decider must select one of the many ideas. This reduction C) is very important for the success of the workshop.

Even if a decision may be difficult: the good thing about the post-its is that they are photographed and can be archived for later. So no work is lost. On the contrary: the one or other small idea will probably still inspire you later in the course of the project.

The decision should be made within 5 minutes and the reasons explained to the team.

For the next phases, at least two groups of at least 2 people each should be formed to work out two prototypes in the next phases of the competition.

What do you do with a good idea for a serious game during a workshop?

Each group transforms the idea into a storyboard. A storyboard is a line drawing of the user journey in which the customer’s moments are captured step by step. It is best to start with awareness and consideration and then move on to customer retention and advocacy after use/purchase.

Rough illustrations with line figures in felt-tip pen on a flipchart are possible even for those who don’t like drawing and help everyone involved to understand the sequence.

This is collaborative work. Everyone in the group should join in the discussion and draw in order to create the storyboard together.

This phase takes about 30 minutes.

How to further develop a rough concept for gamification

Concepts are ideas that have been developed further. Concepts become really good through testing. So that we can test, we need a prototype. In this phase D), we create “fast prototypes” from paper, cardboard, adhesive tape and felt-tip pens. It should not be a visual firework display. Sketch out the basic elements as a facade so that the prototype can be tested more or less realistically by a third person.

With an app, you draw the various screens on different sheets of paper and use them like a flip book.

For a physical installation, you stick the screens and interaction buttons to various pieces of furniture and walls to see what it might look like in the end.

This phase takes about 30 minutes. And both (or all) groups work on it.

How to test ideas for games that come from workshops

The previously created fast prototypes are now tested in E) User Testing with 5 real users. If these test persons are not immediately available, one group can test the fast prototype of the other group.

How do you test a fast prototype of a serious game efficiently?

The best way is for the users to sit down in front of the prototypes and use the “Think Aloud Protocol” to speak out loud to themselves what they see, think and decide. This allows usability to be tested and strengths and errors to be identified at an early stage.

This testing phase should be relatively short at 30-45 minutes, so that each of the 5 real users has around 6-9 minutes. With two groups, this would be shorter if it runs in parallel.

How to conclude a kick-off workshop for gamification

After testing, all participants should share their best impressions and highlight the challenges that have been solved or still exist. This will then help the person who summarizes the workshop afterwards.

How are the results of a good kick-off workshop reliably transferred to product development?

The challenges, ideas, priorities, almost prototypes and test results should all be recorded on post-its and then briefly photographed. One person is then tasked with compiling everything as a list of points and all photographs posted in a document that is shared with everyone involved in the project. Like this, it is ensured that the knowledge is shared with the project implementation team.