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Millennials are puzzling sales managers. The generation of sales reps born between the early 1980s and 2000s grew up with video games. With them becoming members of sales teams, sales managers struggle in understanding what motivates them and what keeps them engaged. An epic meaning or story may be more important than the carrot. That’s why it’s a good moment that sales managers take to look at the video game culture.
Millennials embody the video game culture. And two recent events demonstrated how impressively they do. One event took place in Germany, the other one in the US. At the largest video game conference – the gamescom 2015 in Cologne – over 345,000 attendees brought the Cologne exhibition center Kölnmesse, itself not easily impressed by large conferences, to a standstill. One way directions, staggered entrance times, attendees patiently waiting for up to four hours to play a new video game for 10 minutes, keeping their great attitude and radiating fun and excitement. At the same time the DOTA2, a professional video game championship with $18Mio in prize money, took place in Seattle over the course of six days. Every day 10,000 attendees in the arena watched the video gamers compete, while millions watched the live online-streams.
How does that relate to the world of sales reps and managers? Well, those two events show how ubiquitous video game culture has become, and that the Millennials are breathing and living it. It’s not a temporary thing that eventually will fade, this is a culture that will stay and penetrate companies. Millennials entering the workforce have played up to that point in their lives 10,000(!) hours of video games. That is a serious investment that they will not let go.
We find our younger sales reps respond better to 'try to beat your high score,’ than 'we need to increase sales.’"
10,000 hours. That is the amount of hours the average Millennial has played video games, before entering the job market. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers' 10,000 hours of deliberate practice mean mastery. A violinist in a renowned symphonic orchestra has practiced 10,000 hours. An NFL player has spent 10,000 hours of training over the years. When Bill Gates founded Microsoft, he had already 10,000 hours of programming experience.
The Millennials’ parent generation, aka Generation X, often feel ambiguous about their kids' preoccupation with video-games. “Such a waste of time!”, “You’ll ruin your eyes!”, or “Go outside and play with friends."
The problem is that the world has changed, and that thanks to Generation X. The very same generation that marvels about their own childhood of freely roaming outside the home, not being addicted to screens, and being left alone by parents or adult supervision, now actively prevents the next generation to experience that. Helicopter parenting, over-praising children, protecting them from failure, and mingling with their lives well into adulthood has become the norm.
This can be confusing for Generation X sales managers, who seem at a loss with the Millennials, oblivious of their own contribution to these Millennials’ behaviors that they now try to ‘fix.' Problems such as “over-sharing,” turning “quickly from little angels to little monsters,” or “valuing engagement with their parents” are some of the stereotypes that recent articles have discussed.
Screenwriters and novelist state that there is only a limited number of basic plots. Depending on how you detail it and also on the source, these may be 7, 20, or 36 plot patterns. Those plots may include Quest (Lord of the Rings), Adventure (Indiana Jones), Revenge (The Bride Wore Black) and so on.
Patterns are a good way to reuse a structure and have the basic elements already prearranged, so that a screenwriter focuses on the story and fits it into the plot structure, making sure not to forget any element. A plot pattern also gives the order of the elements, and which ones to use. Good writers play with the pattern and may even break some rules. A pattern approach allows also a better analysis of what's not working in the story, so it allows crafting better moviescripts or novels.
Patterns are also common in other areas. In software development user interfaces (the screens that you interact with) are also based on patterns. An edit pattern allows to create and edit a new record (like create new customer information). An attachment pattern allows to attach a document to customer data. The attachment pattern itself can be a sub-pattern for the edit pattern, so when you create new customer data, you also see a button for adding an attachment. Then there is a search pattern, that allows you to search through your customer data. For regular business software you may find a dozen or more patterns that are used.
The principles behind gamification are not entirely new. The term originated in 2002, but did not gain popularity until 2010. Since then, gamification has become a major trend in many business domains to increase customer loyalty and employee engagement. In requirements engineering, academics and practitioners are also exploring new opportunities to boost stakeholder participation with the aid of game mechanics and game elements.
The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the effectiveness of gamification in requirements engineering in order to improve stakeholder engagement. We developed an online digital platform for scenario-based RE supported with gamification. Derived from an in-depth literature study, we selected user stories complemented with scenarios from behavior-driven development (BDD) as a method to express stakeholder requirements. Points, badges and leaderboards (PBL) are very common game elements in terms of gamification and are used as a starting point for the artifact design. In total, the platform consists of 17 different game mechanics and elements, which intension is to positively affect intrinsic and extrinsic stakeholder motivation.
Subsequently, the playful prototype is tested in a controlled experiment. A conceptual framework is constructed in order to measure the effect of gamification on user engagement and performance. The experimental findings expose that it is possible to change stakeholder’s behavior effectively with gamification. Stakeholders who are exposed to the gamified platform produce more user stories, in better quality and with more creative ideas. The majority of their identified requirements are categorized as attractive, which lead to higher customer satisfaction. However, no differences concerning emotions and cognition between the experimental conditions were identified.