AI Keeps it all fun and games during lockdown. Riding the gamification trend to HR and beyond.

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An interview with Alex Migitko, founder and CEO of Flamel.ai

Flamel.ai is a tech start-up headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia focused on developing revolutionary tools for the HR and gaming industries. We sat down with Alex Migitko, Flamel.ai founder and CEO, to talk about the best of what AI and gamification methodologies have to offer right now for these two fast-moving domains.

 

Why games, why now and why IBM?

During the lockdown period, it became obvious to me that people crave for ways to keep themselves entertained and escape everyday worries and struggles. In fact, in the U.S., the gaming audience has grown to 28 million people since March 2020, with a 28% jump in mobile gaming, while in the UK the gaming audience peaked at 8.6 million, with a 50% increase in mobile gaming. *

So, for us, at Flamel.ai, it was simple: if so many people, entire families, will spend their lockdown time playing games, why don’t we create a bold, unique app that would offer more fun, richer content, flexible gaming experiences and new ways to connect in these difficult times?

Seeking the right answers led me on an unexpected journey alongside one of the world’s largest tech players: IBM. It was clear that developing this app would require a serious amount of expertise and resources.  So, I turned to the IBM Garage, an accelerator for innovation and transformaton. Tapping into IBM experts  — engineers, researchers, designers and developers — remotely from anywhere in the world, we co-created the first version of the Flamel.ai app, a minimum viable product (MVP), on IBM Cloud with IBM Watson in only seven weeks.

What exactly does the IBM Garage bring to the table in such a project?

It’s three crucial things:  Design Thinking, Architecture Consultancy and MVP Build-Up including design, development and machine learning exploration. During the Design Thinking workshop, the team aligned on a business opportunity, re-framed it to key end users, identified key pain points and first in-market experiment to run – the MVP. In addition, user feedback guided iterations led to rapid innovation. Just to give you an idea of the sheer amount of focused creativity this brings, the Design Thinking workshop resulted in more than 20 executable ideas. That’s pretty awesome!

What’s the tech behind this and how did it work in the face of challenges?

The MVP was built on IBM Cloud® and it used IBM Watson® Machine Learning as well as IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding technology to boost AI functionality. We were surprised to see how easy it was to develop the app remotely. That’s the beauty of continuous integration and deployment: you’ve got developers in the Czech Republic, England and Germany working on the code, and within 20 minutes of them finishing up, you’ve got  the Flamel.ai team in Serbia testing the code on the app. The only downside to this is that virtual development means no going out for a drink after a long day, but I’m sure someone will soon create an app for that as well.

What’s the role of AI in your project?

In this project we used AI to enrich and optimize the tabletop role playing game experience. Typically, the masters in tabletop games require a lot of prep time but we managed to create an AI solution that can help players decrease prep time by up to 75%, while maintaining 100% of the fun.

Imagine this app as your AI companion.  If you are the master of the game you can use the app to help you to create the narrative, identify characters, settings, challenges and much more. You can use AI killer features to instantly create elements such as non-player characters, themes, maps or kid-friendly stories. The game becomes more flexible and nimbler and opens up all kinds of creative possibilities.

This really optimizes the user experience for the tabletop role-playing games, and has huge implications for the category, which is expected to grow to $22.417.3 million by 2023. You can use such kind of app in various types of games and for different purposes.

Is this just a gaming opportunity?

We are no longer focused only on gaming. This engagement has changed our perspectives and the way we work. The human-centric and collaborative experience of developing the app through the IBM Garage completely transformed how we as a team do collaborative thinking. By adopting the practices and culture from our IBM Garage experience, we’re able to drive even more innovation as an organization. We want to further develop the app and customize it to be used outside the gaming world, in HR, for instance. The idea is to bring the power of gamification – game elements and techniques such as collaboration, puzzle solving, decision driven narrative – to accelerate learning and skills development, empower employee engagement, improve onboarding process and tapping talents, boost productivity, internal collaboration and innovation. We have plans to bring new apps to market this year and we hope  2021 will be a good year for creative and strategic thinking.

 

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Facebook, Games Marketing Insights 2021, https://bit.ly/39rkwnU, https://bit.ly/3u8ryG1

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