Summary CRISP Visits #3: Ranj

Reaction from Pepijn Rijnbout, PhD candidate at Playful Interactions at TU/e: “The collaboration between science and business was discussed multiple times at the CRISP Visits to Ranj. Ranj is a dynamic company in which most projects do not have a long timespan. In the cooperation with researchers of TU Delft, this provides a new challenge: how to combine this approach with the long-term research projects? Furthermore Ranj develops approaches to incorporate the link with scientific research without loosing the necessary speed in business. I think the CRISP Visits are an example of why it is good to visit companies from time to time, and see how they work, and how this differs from a scientific approach. It might help to create better cooperation and understanding in both directions…”

Ranj (Rotterdam)

Michaël Bas, co-founder and co-owner of serious game company Ranj (partner in the CRISP project G-Motiv) welcomes us. Ranj was founded 1999, when they found a niche in ‘accidental learning’: games that can teach you something. The company currently focuses on Corporate Learning and the care industry.

Together with Johnson & Jonson and Yulius, Ranj developed the game ‘Plan-it Commander’ in order for children with ADHD to practice skills they often lack: time management, planning and prioritising. In order to use these games for therapy, they should be tested in a Randomised Control Trial. Requesting such a trial alone takes three months, which makes this procedure too pricy for most projects. A second project is ‘Teacher in a Box’ for kids with problems with their fine motor skills (5 to 10% of children). Michaël: “The game is based on neuro-motor methods and translates existing exercises into a game.”

Gamification at Wuppermann Steel

A case we dive a little deeper into is Wuppermann Steel Netherlands. Peter Nauta (game designer at Ranj) explains: “Wuppermann Steel has updated their factory over the last years, now they are ready to take on the human factor. Not only to solve production problems, but also because of the well-being of the personnel. Little changes can prevent big risks.

Valentijn Visch (project leader of G-motiv and professor at TU Delft) explains: “Game designers have a good intuition about what does and doesn’t work or which game elements lead to more team spirit or compliance. In conjunction with science we are researching which elements of games are effective, and how we can use these elements for future research. Niko Vegt (PhD researcher at TU Delft, G-Motiv) researches this in practice at Wuppermann Steel after a round of lab-case studies.” Michaël: “Before we brought Wuppermann in as a case at G-motiv, Ranj was brought in as expert. In a lab-test you can only test basic game techniques, practical research with everything that makes life complicated is never researched.”   

One of the participants asks Valentijn: “Do you think you have found something new?” Valentijn: “In the field of games pratice got ahead of theory. There have been results, but no one knew why a certain method works. There is no real research after the results.” Michaël: “At Ranj we joined CRISP because we have to find out why certain game mechanics work. It wouldn’t be affordable (and takes way too long) to scientifically validate every game. We need proven principles to speed up our work-rate. We need collaborations like CRISP to work more internationally, to work on a bigger scale and charge less for our products.”

Capricious reality
In the cantine of Wuppermann Steel is a touch screen, with real time information about KPIs of the factory. You can immediately see if things are going all right or not. If you click further, you can find out why something is wrong (or not). To stimulate a group dynamic you can only search per group (work shift) not per individual. Valentijn: “Also the type of information is a step towards gamification. Sometimes you give too much information, or the information is too personal, too competitive, which results in missing your goal.” Michaël closes off with: “People do not tend to cover each other’s position at the machines if someone need a toilet break. We discovered that some locations are too cold or too noisy. You wouldn’t invent such a thing as a researcher in a basic research. You need reality to test your research: reality is always capricious.”

More information about the Wuppermann Steel project:

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Frank Stemerding