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SXSW Interactive 2014

Emotional Water Coolers and Competitive Buildings

There is a lot of hype about gamification and claims that it can motivate, engage, and otherwise solve the world's problems. There has also been plenty of criticism as well as dire predictions of engagement overload and player apathy.
We believe that gamification is one tool in a much broader toolbox. We will share the results of more than a decade of applied experiments that form the basis of our recent post-gamification strategies initiative, codenamed Gambit.
Enjoy a frank glimpse into what worked, what didn't and what we believe has terrific potential in the future. We will demonstrate a water cooler that gets sad when people don't use it and share recipes for the secret sauces (literally, we have actual sauces) that are key to how we engage with employees and encourage them to develop healthy habits, not for their own sake but for the sake of their sentient buildings.

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Related Media


  1. Why is gamification insufficient for ubiquitous serious gaming?
  2. What serious games strategies can we use that don't leverage gamification?
  3. What is Microsoft Research working on in the area of serious games?
  4. What the heck is an emotional water cooler?
  5. Is this the first step towards SkyNet?



Donald Brinkman, Program Manager, Microsoft Research

Meta Information:

  • Tags: health
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: AI and Intelligent Devices
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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