Created by: Emad Henin & Sandra Abadir (GamUp Founders)
Written by: Sandra Abadir
An avatar or a gamified character is a powerful game mechanic to consider when designing your gamified project. It connects the player intrinsically way more than just a simple written text profile or platform. Having a visual manifestation of what the character looks like creates a bond between the player and this game element, it also boost the players esteem if this character will represent them and it plays a very critical role in enhancing player engagement.
There are different ways in which avatars can be used to get your players charged up. One way is that the avatar can represent the player/learner/user himself; another way would be resembling a coach, mentor, teacher, guide, leader etc where it can facilitate the on boarding throughout the game or the avatar can be created in a theme- based environment related to the organization brand where it reflects its traits and can be customized accordingly. Also, avatars can be a well- known existing character either real or virtual but related to the theme and mood intended to be created.
The choice of the avatar “character” depends on the learner/user profile (gender, age, background, interests etc), learning content and the desired learning outcome- training objective as well as the reason for gamifing in addition to other significant constraints such as the nature of corporate and its specialty as well as its culture.
The following are some lessons learnt when creating the correct and wrong avatars with some tips to what to consider or avoid when choosing those characters and what would be recommended to design.
- Be Cautious with your Avatar names:
In a customized gamified training program on, “How to deal with difficult/various different personalities”; we created one of the riddles customized in relation to the employees. One of the avatars created was a cook so we related him to the employee in charge of the cafeteria whose last name is Alexander and called his restaurant “The great Alexander for sea food restaurant” after surely hinting to him about it and getting his approval.
The cook’s personality was a careless clumsy one who is unorganized and unaware of what cutlery, grocery and ingredients he used and uncertain what he would need for future planed meals. Unfortunately, one of the employees’ first name was Alexander, and we missed out this issue, this employee was very demotivated and came up to us upset of using his name in a game and bonding him to an irresponsible character. It surely wasn’t intended, we without doubt apologized and wrapped it up yet you always have to double check!
Lesson Learnt: Be careful when using real names for your avatars; study well your employees and neglect none as some take it easy others get offended quite easily.
- Employees’ autonomy of Avatar choice:
“Welcome Noha”, is a proposed project that was created as a result of a gamification workshop. It was intended to be created to enhance induction program. Noha was the newest member on board on that day and she choose the name as well as how the character would look like which is a cartoonized version of her. This induction program will be used by all the new comers, where Noha, the avatar will introduce herself and narrate her story, and will guide them through their on boarding at work and take them for a journey starting from finishing their paper work, finger print, orientation and starting their on- job training.
Lesson Learnt: The impact on her (newest employee): in this case Noha herself felt the ownership of the idea and already volunteered using her figure as the avatar all by herself and this immortalized her idea for the upcoming new comers and made her feel the ultimate relatedness.
The impact on new comers: They will feel the relatedness and that this person was as new as me and already suggested an idea on day one that was already executed. He will feel that improvement, innovations, new ideas or change is welcomed as soon as day one and is not related to the number of years you spent in the organization.
- Culture Consideration when choosing Avatars:
In one of our gamified trainings that reflects on “leadership & delegation” we chose a well known character- detective Columbo; yet to harmonize it with the Egyptian culture we chose “Corombo” which was popular Egyptian television series starring a funny detective animated character inspired from Columbo, not only but each team was handed a crafted paper beige coat just like the one he wears and their criteria was to help him with the case inspected and they get to fill their coat with badges.
Lesson Learnt: Picking a well- known character facilitates and aids the on- boarding stage and prepare the players on what to expect – so they already were prepared that they will be given case to inspect. It also increases the engagement especially if it’s a loved character and has a special essence that all players can relate to.
*All real existing names were replaced with made up names as to respect the client’s case privacy.
Emad & Sandra have joined GamFed recently after they started their own gamification consultancy in Egypt called GamUp.