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Bizarre Ideas Inc. proudly presents…

by Rob Addy  |  June 10, 2013  |  Submit a Comment

…a new immersive research paradigm. Passive content provisioning won’t cut it in today’s attention deficient world. But what if you experienced research content rather than read it? What if the research interacted with you rather than you with it? What if the research leveraged traditional story telling techniques in conjunction with an interactive fiction engine to convey its messages and themes? What if the research engaged your emotions as well as your intellect? What if it challenged your assumptions in a virtual world and helped you to come to your own real world context specific position? What if it didn’t feel like you were consuming research at all? Could the knowledge, insight and opinions of nearly nine hundred industry experts with over 20 millenia of experience be absorbed via some form of sub-concious osmosis? What if indeed!

Now maybe I’m crazy. And even if I am, what of it? You, my dear reader, wouldn’t be the first not to buy into my particular brand of crazy. Nor will you be the last I am sure. Certainly, this concept hasn’t yet been embraced by my corporate overlords here at Gartner Towers as I had originally hoped. To be fair to them, they politely heard me out, they weren’t dismissive, but they weren’t overly enthusiastic or encouraging and defintely haven’t embraced the insanity just yet. Instead, they just smiled, nodded and gave me a metaphorical pat on the head before sending me on my way. I really don’t blame them for it. The blame, if blame applies, probably lies with me for not articulating the concept effectively or in a sufficiently compelling manner to convert them into raving advocates and evangelists. And yet here I am like the proverbial dog with the proverbial bone… Hoping to enlist some of you to help me champion the cause and bring gamification in its truest and purest sense into the realms of research content delivery.

So exactly what is it that you’re proposing?

Static research notes are just sooo 1980s. I mean, they just sit there waiting to be read. I ask you! Really? C’mon now! You expect me to actually do the “reading and understanding work” for you right? Interactive tools and guides are better but they still sometimes fail to connect with their intended audience fully. We need to engage more effectively… We need to become integral to your thinking… We need to get deep inside the heads of our customers… But how to do it without the need for life threatening invasive cranial surgery?? An interesting challenge indeed… Why not leverage the current Gamification Zeitgeist and make the research deliverable a game? Now first person shooters are probably not the perfect vehicle for this kind of thing but how about the retro gaming phenomena that is the text based adventure (or work of Interactive Fiction as it is now often known)? What if we embedded research themes and guidance into a text adventure and surrounded it with puzzles to intrigue and characters to interact with?

Ladies and gentlemen, It is my great pleasure and dubious honour to give you your first (and possibly last) glimpse of the soon to be industry phenomena that is “Service Value Quest!”

Consider this… You have been transported to an unknown and unfamiliar world. You are alone. You have nothing but your wits to survive. You have a mission, although you’re not 100% sure what it is at this point. Danger awaits you at every twist and turn. What will you do? What will you see? Who will you meet? What will you achieve? It is entirely and completely up to you! Wander where you will. Take the path of your choosing. Return as many times as you want and take an alternative path or strategy to see how it pans out.

Along the way you will meet an array of interesting and colorful characters. Some of them helpful, some of them less so. Some need to be worked with, some need to be worked around. Some are irrelevant, some will materially affect your future. How you interact with them will determine how they respond and behave. Can you afford to make an enemy of them? Can you afford to appease them? Can you ingratiate yourself and make them your friends? Do you even want to?

Who’d have imagined you’d ever see a cross-dressing nun in Gartner research??? In an interactive fiction world the normal rules simply don’t apply! It will allow the analyst to tell you what they’ve been trying to tell you for years in a direct and forceful manner. If they want to shake some sense into you they can. If they want to lambast you for a particular course of action, they can. If they want to give you a gentle (or less gentle) slap to emphasize a point, they can. The constraints of political correctness and acceptable business to business communications are loosened. What would they say to you if they were free to say what they really thought without fear of the consequences?

By poking fun at the world around us we are able to deal with real world issues that would otherwise be taboo. Down-sizing, proprietary lock-in, anti-competitive practices, price gouging, regional price discrimination… These issues are real. And yet we sometimes shy away from discussing them in the depth that we should for fear of causing offence. Hopefully we are all adults and can appreciate (if not agree with) multiple perspectives. Comedy has been used as a tool to make uncomfortable truths palatable for decades… Who says that research content cannot be fun? If Gartner were to adopt the BBC’s core mantra of “Educate. Inform. Entertain.” would it be such a bad thing? We’re all busy with our day to day lives, we all have challenges and issues to face. Why not face them with a smile on our faces? Laughter is the best medicine after all.

Now I’m not suggesting that all research should be delivered in this way. But perhaps some of it could or should be?

There will be some that ridicule the idea. There will be some that will decry the very concept. There will be some that just don’t “get” it. There will be others that smile and nod and just sit back and wait for it to fail. But perhaps there will be some that take a moment to think about it. It’s a little out there for sure. But is it too far out there? Is it somewhere that we should go (even if it is just for the occasional day trip)? And hence the purpose of this blog post… I am keenly interested to find out if this is something I should continue to pursue or should I walk away quietly? I know from my readership stats that more than a 1000 lovely people will read this post this month, hopefully some of you will feel strongly enough either way to play the demo and/or complete the feedback survey. Even if you don’t fancy it, why not tell your friends and colleagues? Perhaps they would like to challenge themselves to be the first to complete episode one of Service Value Quest!!!  Aren’t you curious? Not even a little bit?

Why not give it a go for yourself?  It won’t take long and it could even be interesting…

Play the first short episode of the world’s first ever immersive research experience here

For those of you that complete the first episode there is a adventurer specific URL embedded into the game for you to tell me what you made of it. Alternatively, you can tell me what you think about the concept here


All that remains is for me to thank you for reading this far and wish you well on your quest!  I hope to hear from you very soon…


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Category: customer-experience  

Tags: gamification  serious-games  

Rob Addy
Research Vice President
5 years at Gartner
More years than I care to remember in the IT industry

Welcome to my blog! I post about all things services related from the provider perspective. End-users are welcome to read but please be aware that you may sometimes find its content unsettling. I will endeavour to post frequently (as it's a lot cheaper than a therapist) but please forgive me if other more mundane activities occasionally get in the way...Read my official Gartner bio here

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