Solving the case of Ideation



Today the GamFed community was visiting Sherlock Holmes, yes, the guy who always smokes a pipe and has a seriously weird taste in hats.

Set yourself in the mood of a cute little british beach town. We’re sitting inside a traditional brick house, on a wooden chair, soft rain is tapping on the window and the crackling of the fireplace make up a scenery like it could have been hundreds of years ago.

What has that to do with Ideation, you ask yourself. I answer: “Everything!”



“In my opinion, ideation starts with the mindset,” I say.

Imagination is the key, and you need the right mindset to be able to be truly imaginative. You don’t need to generate ideas at the touch of a button, you are generating ideas all the time.

For that, you need an open growth mindset. Embrace challenges and obstacles, see your effort as a path to mastery, learn from criticism and get inspired by the success of others.

Sherlock Holmes had a vision, a goal, something that filled his life with curiosity. He had the right mindset to solve the riddles in the world, and our work should just be like that, solving a case.

Sherlock Holmes was telling us about his adventures, and how we first met him, in an old musty tavern, about five miles from here. If we wouldn’t have been going out of our comfort zone, we would have never met him and you wouldn’t be able to read this article. Travel, explore, find new places, learn and meet new people. Instead of staying at a 5 star hotel, stay at an Airbnb and try to absorb the city and experience as much as possible.



Sherlock is the master of all research, he has it all, magnifying glasses, brain, hat… and he was up to date.

“There are two main aspects to my ideation process. The first is more general, I am constantly reading up on new business ideas and new business tech and I like to explore connections between them to come up with new ideas. The second is more specific to the gamification process,” Pete mentions.

Constantly read up on new business ideas and technology and explore connections between them to come up with new ideas.

“But how much inspiration do you take from playing actual games?”, asks Gustavo.

You might ask yourself.

You might have a busy job and not a lot of free time, but playing small indie games, researching apps, mobile games or watch some Game reviews on youtube can help you analyse why you like it and why you don’t like others. It might gets you closer to answer the burning question – what does it make fun?

“Another way is researching bad games and see why they failed!”, Vasilis mentions.

“Sometimes we can learn much more from failure than success.”

Also look at successful games that you don’t like, (maybe you don’t like Monopoly), see what elements don’t appeal to you and how you could change them.

Don’t copy what others in your field do. Look at other practices, reflect on their inspiration behind why they do things and adapt it to your specific context.

“These guys can copy Sherlock’s hat and magnifying glasses, but they can’t copy his inspiration,” Joshua says, while taking a sip of his light amber coloured ale.




Sherlock asks himself, who could have been the suspect? Where do they go to and what do they like?

Learn more about the Player types involved. What personality do they have, how would they interact with your idea and what is their background?

Gustavo takes a deep breath looking towards the group:

“Start considering the player’s goals and challenges in the system,” he says in a calm but powerful way. “Look into the activities that the user already does in the system. Examine the different game mechanics, ask if each mechanic would fit into that system and how it could be used to motivate the users.”

To be sure you’re creating an engaging experience for all user types and stages, you can use Hexad and the Octalysis frameworks to look at the game elements. Depending on what the project is, you can also use Sebastian Deterding’s deck of lenses to think about the motivational aspects of the system. This sometimes makes it easier to generate ideas rather than looking at the game elements directly.



“One of my golden tips would be: don’t settle on the first idea that comes to mind.” Michiel explains waving his arms in excitement.

Sherlock’s cases are never solved with the first suspicion and the same thing counts for ideas.

Always keep the objective in mind – what case do you want to solve?

Generate as many ideas as possible and then decide which ones are solving the case the best way.

But when is an idea a good idea and how do we decide?



“According to Vitruvius, good design exhibits three qualities: firmitas, utilitas, venustas (solid, useful, beautiful) !”, Michiel responds.

View your ideas from your target’s angle. Which ideas would they like and why. Also keep in mind that there might be cultural differences. Sherlock might have a different view on what’s solid, useful and beautiful than someone from China. Having a team with diverse background will help you understand how to create a design that meets the situation’s needs.

The next time you try to solve your Gamification case, wander up the coast to find that cute little beach town and knock on the heavy, dark wooden door. Sherlock might still be waiting to find the solution you were looking for.


Your GamFed Team

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