Serious Games on BBCTV


It’s a documentary from 2010 I think.

Zynga stocks available!


Zynga stocks are available since last Friday. The starting bid was $10 releasing 100.000.000 stocks (!) – so Zynga was aiming for a minimum of 1 billion dollars in public capital! 

The company was founded in July 2007 (less than five years ago!) by Mark Pincus and is named for his late American Bulldog, Zinga. Loyal and spirited, Zinga’s name is a nod to a legendary African warrior queen. 

Zynga’s mission is to connect the world through games. Everyday millions of people interact with their friends and express their unique personalities through our games, which range from harvesting crops to building your business franchise, to playing poker. 
Through the company’s philanthropic arm, is committed to transforming the world through virtual social goods. Zynga players have raised more than $10 million for world social causes since launched in October 2009. 

Games that Zynga developed over the past four years are (amongst others): 
CityVille – Build the city of your dreams. 
FarmVille – Grow fruits and veggies and raise animals on your very own farm. 
Words With Friends – Test your lexicon against friends in the #1 mobile word game. 
Empires & Allies – Build your city, grow your nation and conquer the world. 
Mafia Wars – Start a crime family. Run your mob businesses. Then take over the world. 
Indiana Jones Adventure World – Grab life by the boulders. 
Café World – Slice, mix, and grill your way to building the hottest restaurant on the block. 
Mafia Wars 2 – Welcome to the dark side of social games. 
CastleVille – Create your happy ending. 
CityVille Hometown – Create the town of your dreams. 

Top Zynga Games (MAU): (According to 
CityVille 48 m 
CastleVille 35 m 
Zynga Poker 28 m 
FarmVille 31 m (this used to be 61 million in 2009 & 2010) 
Empires & Allies 16 m 
Words With Friends 13 m 
Adventure World 9 m 

Their User Numbers: (According to our latest S-1/A) 
 227 million monthly active users 
 2 billion minutes a day of play 
 4 billion neighbor connections 
 54 million daily active users 
 450 million social actions a day 

Some noble things that did in 2009 through 2011: 
Zynga is committed to transforming the world through virtual social goods. Zynga players have raised more than $10 million for several international nonprofits since launched in October 2009. Players have purchased virtual social goods within games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Zynga Poker that have benefitted earthquake victims in Haiti and to school lunch programs for children in Haiti. In 2010 Zynga players also helped to build the L’Ecole de Choix School in Haiti. Recently, Zynga players banded together to support victims of the deadly earthquake in Japan, and raised more than $3 million for Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund and Direct Relief International. had the opportunity to donate through more than 10 Zynga games, including FrontierVille, Café World, Mafia Wars and CityVille. In addition, following the devastating tornadoes in the Southern United States, players in CityVille, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Treasure Isle and Vampire Wars rallied together to raise more than $250,000 for Save the Children and Direct Relief International’s efforts. 

Below some more fun facts about Zynga in an infographic 

Gaming and the Millenials – a summary

> I was reading this article about millenials based on research done by MTV Networks. A lot of their conclusions are stated in my book ‘A Brand New Playground ( and I summarized the essence of their study below: 

 Half of Millennials said “People my age see real life as a video game” and almost 6 out of 10 said “#winning is the slogan of my generation” (certainly #epic_fail seems to have become their anti-slogan!) 

Principle #1: Play fair or you are “fair game” (What I call ‘Be Righteous’ in my book): these days you can’t bullshit your customers anymore. Be real and be fair and don’t try to cheat you customer into bad (poor quality) – overpriced – products. 

Principle #2: Leverage the leaderboard  
People are always interested in ‘how they’re doing’ compared to others. A leaderboard shows your position compared to other players and MTV links this to ‘wanting to know’ what price we pay for products and whether that price is fair. The internet is of course an easy way to compare prices. 

Principle #3: Smart-cuts, not short-cuts 
Gaming evokes intrinsic motivation to reach objectives. It’s very interesting that in games we tend to search for ‘work arounds’ to achieve the same goal in many different ways where as in real-life most employees are used to do the same routine every day and actually are afraid to change their behavior because it might have a different result (or at least it creates uncertainty). 

Principle #4: Deliver dopamine/adrenaline fixes

Half of respondents in the MTV study — perhaps those more prone to Millennial micro-boredom — believe that “life can be less stimulating than gaming.” The complementary game dynamic we found fascinating was “positive randomness” — if a game is too predictable, it is boring, but if there are too many random surprises, it is too complex. 

This can be explained by looking at the ‘flow’-model where we continuously balance between frustration and boredom using the skills available to us to fight challenges we face… this is the same in real-life, which I will explain in my next book ‘The Game of Life’. 

Principle #5: Hand over that joystick. 

Millennials are accustomed to having a voice, and having it heeded. And they’re frustrated when big corporations don’t give them a voice or a true “role” as a consumer in the game. In a game the player is always ‘in control’ (at least so it seems….). Instead of just sending advertising into the world brands should start a dialogue and start listening to their consumers and accept that THEY (consumers) are in control of our brands, not the marketing department…. 

 Read the full article here.

‘Laat met je merk spelen’ bijna uitverkocht!

>Just to be disruptive a Dutch subject title today. It says: ‘A Brand New Playground’ almost sold out!

Of course I am referring to the Dutch version of my book. The first edition almost sold 1.500 copies so far in 15 months time. According to my publisher Kluwer this is good result for a book in such a niche-market that was written for Marketing Managers of which there are maybe 10.000 in The Netherlands. So I already sold my book to 10% of the market potential, which is excellent penetration! There are about 300 copies left, so if you want to get a hold of your copy of the ‘eerste druk‘ (first release), order it here: or here It – generally – is rated with 4 out of 5 stars – so don’t take my word for it. If you send me a picture of yourself reading the book I will even hand sign it for you (Dutch residents only ;-)!

This is a Dutch review of the book in 2010 by Management
This is a Dutch review of the book in 2010 by Max Kohnstam:

The English version is still available for free through

How many you say? Go figure!


During one of my presentations recently in the United Kingdom some one asked me how many game developers there are in the world. In my book I made an estimate that there would be at least 60.000 different kinds of boxed games available in the world since the beginning of the games industry in 1974. I wrote that in the beginning of 2009. Soon I learned that there were about 200.000 apps available for iPhone and that 70% of all downloaded apps are games (this was end 2010). The past year Android and Windows 7 phones have proven to become new ‘handheld’ gaming devices as well and with 500 million downloads for Angry Birds and a few million on WordFeud one can conclude gaming is mass-market. But still … how many game developers are there globally woud you think? I said that I know there were about 20 big publishers in the world amongst them of course the ‘console-owners’ Microsoft, Nintendo and PlayStation, EA, Ubisoft, Activision and many others. But then – what is Steam? Is it a distributor, retailer or publisher? What is iTunes? Retail or publisher? What is Facebook, what is Google+ … a gaming platform or a game publisher? It directly connects content with consumers so in that case it seems to be a publisher… ?

I just read a report on gamastura that there are over 750.000 registered game developers using Unity. 750.000 !!! Of which 200.000 are monthly active and releasing new games on a regular basis. These games are mostly web-based (or iOs / Android).

Read the article about Unity here:

So how many game developers are out there…? I honestly don’t know! And should we care? There are a lot, good ones, bad ones, mediocre ones, small and big. The only thing I hope is that game developers still start their companies with a burning desire to make great games instead of ‘just’ making money.
I recently held a presentation for students in Amersfoort and I really hope that they remember my first rule of entering this industry: do so because it is your passion, you love playing games and love making them! Don’t enter this business to make money, because you will be disappointed and will never make it through your first three years. If you do everything you do with passion and dedication there is no doubt you will be successful, depending on how you define success of course 😉

I guess life is not about quantity (how many) but always about quality (how well).

So be well – Be passionate!

If you would like to be game developer one-hunder-and-twentythree-thousand, check this blog first: 

Learning Faster by Playing Games?

>Introducing Morten Geertsen – one of my new Bloggers to the Gaming & Branding Universe! This is his first article: a summary of a paper about the effect of serious gaming!

Here’s the article:

Learning Faster by Playing!
I recently stumbled across this study on serious gaming: Transfer of Gaming – Transfer of training in serious gaming. If you are unfamiliar with the term, serious games are games used to teach something to a specific group of people. In other words: a learning tool with serious objectives.
Apparently it seems these days, companies and other institutions have increased their focus on such games. They see it as an attractive alternative to the traditional types of training. Here’s an example: A geography class might fly an airplane over a digital model of the earth to discover the location of various countries. Or a math class has to “catch” the correct answer to a math equation with the mouse. Maybe you remember one or two of such games if you look back at your school years. Also companies train employees by using such games to simulate the environment and real life practices of the work place.
The study answers the question, “Why do people play games?” Well, one major reason has to do with an evolutionary and developmental aspect. During play individuals perform new, unfamiliar activities and while doing this, they learn the “rules of the game”. They develop new skills and learn to adapt to new environments. Another important reason is related to the feeling of reward and being positively stimulated. Remember the rush of adrenaline you get when you score a goal in your favorite sport? This feeling makes us want to play the games because it feels good and is fun: Games for the sake of gaming!
With this in mind, we can see how serious games offer training possibilities for companies. A dynamic, interactive and rich learning environment is created to practice work-specific tasks to learn real life practice. These games give employees the opportunity for memorization, practice and forming elaborate cognitive structures or schema’s. They can be adapted to the individual learning needs and ability levels of learners, and that way offering relevant tasks at a level of desirable difficulty to strengthen the learning process.
The World Bank Institute is making a strong push for bringing Serious Games one step further with two leadership capacity building strategic games.
Companies can pass on knowledge about job tasks in a more stimulating and entertaining way than with traditional training programs. Research shows that games generally increase the motivational level. The games are expected to make employees more perceptive during the learning process, because the training is interesting and different from the usual types of employee training. The above implies that the use of games for training can be asolution for reachingroups of people who are not motivated by more traditional types ofeducation. But by making the employees motivated to learn, they will generally be more perceptive to the learning process. To illustrate this, I’ll quote a part of the actually study:
“In a tank gunnery training, a Space Invaders game is implemented as a bonus scenario. This requires the learners to perform their training tasks at ever increasing speed. As they like to play the Space Invaders game so much they are willing to spend their own time in the simulator and improve their skills beyond the training goals. It is also imaginable that players become so involved in a game that they start to explore other information or task elements related to the domain the game is set in.”

However, far from all such games are successful at transferring a recent amount of work knowledge to the employees. What makes some serious games successful in this regard?
Well, it is essential that the employees can see the similarity between the skills, knowledge and attitudes acquired by playing a game and challenges in real life. This mostly depends on what game industry specialist’s calls fidelity: To what extent a simulation looks and feels like tasks in real life in terms of physical measurable characteristics. Some games have almost no resemblance to reality and users playing them will only improve their ability to play that particular game. It will have no direct effect on the employees’ work skills. However, when having a strong focus on realistic, authentic practice, serious games are seen as powerful tools to strengthen the learning value and increase learners’ motivation to practice.
Companies might run into trouble when developing successful serious games. Not all tasks can be adequately converted into a game. Managers will have to identify the specific types of tasks, which have to be trained. Which skills to such tasks require? Can these skills be effectively trained in the game? Based on the knowledge about employees’ performance and learning processes, it will be possible to identify types of tasks that are better suited to train using game-based technology.
The study shows that serious gaming should be seen as a promising substitute for training. The amount of companies using serious games indicates the same. The games ensure that the employees are easily attracted to playing a game, are motivated to continue playing, and as a result: Learn! The entertaining qualities of serious games make employees more receptive to the learning process. Gamers typically emphasize the fun, engagement and flow aspects* of successful serious games. So although there might be barriers in successfully implement serious games into the workplace practice, the advantages make them a worthy alternative to traditional training programs that seem unattractive or expensive.
* The flow theory is explained in Bart Hufen’s book ‘A Brand New Playground’, which you can download HERE (link to )

Game in the City 2011 Indigo booth


This game is visually stunning and seems to be really fun to play as well!
I saw it at ‘Game in the City’ last Friday where I also gave a presentation about marketing your brand for young entrepreneurs (graduates).
The game is called Cargo Commander and is inspired by (amongst other things) ‘The Cube’. If you haven’t seen that film, go rent it soon!
The video will explain the rest and if you would like to parttake in the open beta, please go to and use the SECRET code: goldenticket …

Dutch Game Awards 2011 Openings Film


The opening film for the Dutch Game Award dinner last Thursday. I had great fun that evening with some great individuals from the Dutch Gaming Industry. Hopefully the organization can keep up the high level of tasteful food, drinks, chicks (chicken breast that is)…and euh… GAMES of course!

Below some more pictures of games and the dinner… I am the guy with the mustache… Remember Movember (getting sponsored for prostate cancer)…

 Two new friends I met that develop game trainings for students (

 Me and the ladies… 😉

There was in fact – an iTable … although not designed by Apple… 

A VERY cool game concept : a puzzle game made in two months by just one guy: Jay van Hutten – his ‘one-red-button’ game is called ichi: check it out on

Bob Derksen over uniek project [Dutch – Sorry]

> By exception a Dutch video from one of the partners I work with just because:

A. It was his first Pecha Kucha presentation
B. He did a great job presenting – very funny and very much as himself
C. It was a great project that I saw coming to life from close distance and really enjoyed being (tiny) part of.

Pecha Kucha presentatie from Today Designers on Vimeo.

Go to their website for more creative shizzle:

Lady Mitra interacting with Wall of Balls.MOV


Last week I visited London, Manchester and Birmingham with a delegation of the most promising Dutch Creative Companies. During this tour we visited all kinds of events like the entrepreneur conference in the Milky Building in Tech City (Shoreditch) on Monday, the BBC studios, a match making lunch, a meet and great with our prime minister – Mark Rutte and a high tea in the town hall of Manchester. The third day we went to Launch – a game event in Birmingham and we visited RARE Entertainment – one of the key developers for Xbox Kinect. They created the best selling Sports series. I went back to London on Thursday to have a fabulous day with my good girlfriend Mitra and she took me to all kinds of museums (VNA & Science Museum) and a fantastic authentic Iranian restaurant near Paddington and Hyde Park (hidden park as we call it).

This is just a small video of Mitra interacting with a video wall that uses the Camera Interaction Technology. At first we didn’t understand what it was about until the balls started to copy the shape of her movement… Well done by the artist!

Below some pictures of the other stuff we visited during the tour in the UK and my moment with our prime minister! I handed over the Dutch version of the book (Laat met je merk spelen). Be sure to download your personal copy of ‘A Brand New Playground’ at (it’s in English of course 😉 

Hope you enjoy!