Published: 4 April 2018 at 15:37
On two evenings during March the team from REACTOR hosted introductory seminars for individuals from local businesses who want to learn more about how the theories of game-play can be incorporated into small businesses’ products and processes to enhance experiences. The first seminar took place in Peterborough, on 7 March, and the second in Cambridge, on 28 March – in each city’s respective Allia Future Business Centre.
An exciting part of the REACTOR initiative is the annual Big Gamification Challenge. Each year the challenge requires participants to focus on solving a problem within a particular theme. The 2018 theme for the Big Gamification Challenge is Immersive Environments | A series of smart city challenges, and SMEs are invited to consider how cities can be more user and customer friendly, providing immersive, seamless access to services.
During both seminars REACTOR Project Director Jan Storgårds introduced attendees to the concept of gamification and explained the support that REACTOR is able to offer to SMEs. He encouraged attendees to recognise that “entrepreneurs are agents of creative disruption” and that, while SMEs would continue to ‘make the coffee’, REACTOR’s role is to ‘add the syrup and cinnamon’ to enhance products and experiences. REACTOR provides participating SMEs with support in a number of ways: through its growing community of experts, innovators, enablers and mentors; through grants from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which co-funds the REACTOR project with Anglia Ruskin University; and use of the REACTOR incubator space.
Also speaking at the Cambridge seminar was Brandon Wu, who worked at Electronic Arts during the creation of games like The Sims and is now Managing Director of Studio Pepwuper. He highlighted that creating games that people will return to is not as simple as merely adding points, badges and rewards. Despite there being stories of people becoming so obsessed with playing online games that they forget to eat and drink, there are, none the less, 500+ new games released each week, most of which fail to retain players. Brandon emphasised that it’s extremely important therefore to look at a game’s design, too – not only its point-scoring and reward mechanisms.
Daniel Dearing, Managing Director of Actualise Consulting and REACTOR business mentor, provided attendees at both seminars with an introduction to developing a gamified concept, or adding elements of gaming to an existing product or process, that would be a viable business venture. From considering the problem to be solved and whether gamification will provide a real solution, Daniel went on to talk attendees through the process of assessing the current market and competition; explain how to develop a working business model; and provide information about REACTOR and other schemes’ roles in offering essential funding during concept development.
Also speaking at the events were Sam Goodall of Cambridge Cleantech, which aims to establish Cambridge as a leading cleantech community in Europe; representatives from Iotic Labs, which aims to bring about a truly disruptive, and connected, approach to Internet of Things data distribution; and Lorraine Turner, who has worked with REACTOR to develop her app YoYo Let’s Go, which enhances experiences for families visiting UK cities.