Alternative University’s Camp – gamification case study

The Alternative University is a personalised learning program, created with professionals in various fields, to help grow young students, capable of generating a change in society.

University’s Camp is one of the most impactful experiences of its program, it’s a seven day intensive camp, full of learning, that kick starts the new academic year, it is known as one of the most powerful and beautiful experiences.

Playful Solutions has worked with the Alternative University to gamify 2016’s Camp. We offered a solution that increases the involvement of students in the daytime activities and made this camp more fun. This is how we did it.

  1. What was the challenge?

The Alternative University has a culture based on freedom. No activity is mandatory. This faced the organisers with a possible difficulty, lack of involvement from some students regarding the agenda. Also, the students get involved in co-creative activities like waking others up, serving breakfast and so on, that tend to be less fun. Finally, the team wished participants to be proactive and organise random fun activities on their own, on top of the agenda they created.

  1. What is the goal?
  • Build a fun atmosphere during the camp and encourage players to get to know each other better;
  • Have players engage in extra self-organised activities;
  • Create a common environment/platform where players can share fun photos and videos, where they all interact;
  • Build up responsibility among players, so they co-create activities and have fun while doing so.
  1. Who are the players?

Young professionals between 18 and 39, both students from the Alternative University and invited persons from outside who resonate. Diverse with the common drive to grow individually; opened to initiatives and passionate about self-discovery; active and involved in diverse projects with social and business impact.

  1. What are the target behaviours:

We pick some behaviours that, if applied, the goals will be achieved.

  • Build authentic relationships between players, open up and speak from the hearth instead of only chit-chatting;
  • Connect to the present moment, in this case with the CAMP, and be involved in different activities;
  • Have a fun mindset regarding less-fun activities;
  • Reflect after each experience and share insights with others;
  • Check the common online environment and actively participate in discussions.
  1. How was the gamification strategy design?

We started building the strategy from the CAMP agenda. We focused on empowering the dynamics and intentions of the organisers.

Players were split in six teams, each group having 10 to 12 players. This encouraged the participants to get closer to their team members and to be motivated to win as a team. It created a social pressure to participate in the game and, indirectly, a fear of missing out.

Each player gathered points individually that were added to the team score. At the beginning of each day we displayed two things. One consists in the challenges of the day, and second is the leaderboard of the teams with top 5 most active players included. During the day we gave surprise challenges, depending on the needs or situations, for example we had a birthday in one of the days and we had the participants take selfies with the birthday boy.

Their purpose in the game was racing each other to the top of the leaderboard, or to put it more simply, to win.

The challenges were mainly intended to follow the red wire of Camp’s activities and, as already mentioned, to keep the players active and present.

We did most of the communication via Facebook, but also used SMS and Facebook Chat to individually connect with them. The person they were communication with was called the Game Master, and nobody knew who this person really was. He was the one who talked about the quests, about their points and so on. He was both the handler of the game and a friend.

These are the game elements used to build the mechanics for this CAMP:

  • Points – Each action that was game related was rewarded with points that helped the team to advance;
  • Leaderboard – Based on the points, there was a team leaderboard. It’s purpose was to motivate others to be more active. During the game they got the chance to help, support one another and work in teams;
  • Quest List – This is the list of challenges they got on a daily basis; the quests were intended to build habits;
  • The Story – it was used as a main element in this process. It was meant to put together all the elements of the game, to interconnect. Everything from actions, missions, levels, player profile was given a name and a role in the story, this way nothing seemed out of place; another role of the story is to transport participants into a world of magic and fairytale where they feel free to dream, where the difficulties of everyday life are forgotten. This change of perspective, in which everything is viewed as a game, made the players more honest with themselves and with others, more opened to express and be vulnerable, it created a safe zone.
  • Win prize – Because each race has a winner and each winner has a prize, we gave away a basket of goodies (including Vodka) to be used by the winners to organize the after-Camp Party;
  • Aura effect – During the 5th day all players that came across the birthday boy and sent a selfie, got extra points;
  • Watercooler – The Facebook group served as an environment where the entire community got engaged. They sent self-made memes, clips from workshops, or just had general conversations about Camp’s topics;
  • Countdown – The Camp was 6 day long. This ment that they had a limited time to gather points and win the game. This results in an increase in activity during the last couple of days.
  • Boosters – During the second day we doubled the points for the reflection activities, because players were not focusing on them and it was a key habit we wanted to develop;
  • FOMO – Because most of the game activity was happening online, this gave people the fear they might miss out if they are not connected with the group.
  1. How to optimize & improve?

During this Camp we made changes that helped us reach desired outcome. One example is the Booster mechanism we used to increase the number of people who would do the reflection challenge. We just doubled the points for that challenge.

In the fourth day it rained, so all the activities, that were outdoors, were canceled. We adapted our points mechanism and used backup challenges to fill in the space. Another challenge was for them to play a childhood game and send a video while doing so.  

The purpose of the game was reached and the objectives met. Not all the plans were perfect, and not everything fit, but we adapted just in time so that everything worked out even better than planned. Truth is, of the most important aspects is flexibility and the power to adapt to any unexpected situation. You can find below some photos from this Camp, to emphasise with the energy that was created. ‘Till next time, I wish you a fun day.

Game Master, over and out.

 

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