Gran Turismo Academy Cup Winner is Belgian

Six PlayStation® gamers race Nissan 370Zs as part of WEC at Silverstone

Winner now embarks on intensive Driver Development Program before racing at Dubai 24H

Monday, 27 August, 2012: Belgian competitor Wolfgang Reip emerged victorious from over 830,000 European Gran Turismo® gamers when he was crowned Nissan PlayStation® GT Academy champion today at Silverstone.

The 25-year-old student from Lachutel will return to the UK shortly to embark on an intensive Driver Development Programme preparing him to race in the demanding Dubai 24 Hours in January in a Nissan 370Z GT4 car. The denouement of the gamer-to-racer competition was held as part of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) round at Silverstone – fittingly where former GT Academy champions Lucas Ordoñez and Jordan Tresson are racing in Nissan-powered LMP2 cars. The six final competitors raced on the world famous Grand Prix circuit in identical Nissan 370Zs. Starting from pole position, Wolfgang held off a challenge from second placed Andrea Cosaro and pulled out an unassailable lead to take the chequered flag.

After a long judges’ deliberation, when all of the data from the intensive week of driver training and each drivers’ future potential were considered, Reip was eventually announced as GT Academy 2012 European champion and took the top step of the podium at Silverstone.

“This is the most amazing day of my life,” said an emotional Wolfgang.” It is incredible, just incredible. I cried on the podium because there was so much emotion. It has been such a long week. There were so many different challenges and so much to learn and experience. To come out at the end of it as the winner, out of so many people who took part on Gran Turismo is just unbelievable.

“I was confident in the race. I really wanted to win it. It was quite amazing. It was a very difficult track because of the rainy conditions. There were constant changes, corner after corner the track got wetter in some parts and drier in others. I had the race under control. Andrea tried to pass me going into copse, but I knew I could re-pass him on the exit of the corner so it wasn’t a threat.”

Race Camp started when the 36 fastest PlayStation gamers from Europe arrived at Silverstone on Friday, 17 August. Split into six territory groups of six competitors, they were put through their paces in a variety of Nissan 370Zs, GT-Rs and other cars in many different challenges. The field was gradually reduced during the week as the impressive and experienced team of territory mentors decided which of their drivers had what it takes to make it through to the final stages of Race Camp.

“Race Camp has been really good. I am extremely impressed by the organisation and all that the competitors have done.” commented Benelux mentor Bas Leinders. “In the end, this was a very tough decision. In the race there were two guys who did a great job. The Italian, Andrea, started from the back of the grid but got a good start and was quickly up to second and challenging. For ‘Wolf’, it was hard to start from pole in the wet, but he was able to pull away until the last lap. Both have real potential and everyone felt they both deserve the chance to be racing.

“However, we had to make a decision, and the logical choice was the guy who had qualified on pole and won the race. I feel really strongly about this guy. He is top notch and can really do it. In the deliberation I put my reputation on the line arguing his case.”

Virtual Reality for Real: Oculus by Rift

I remember seeing the last VR helmet in 2002 at the ECTS (the European Games Convention – similar to E3 and Gamescom but much smaller)… The guys at Rift are optimizing this technology I guess! After Eyetoy, Kinect, Layar, Wii-U and Google Glasses… why not?

If Cliff Bleszinski and John Carmack believe in it, who would I be not to believe in it!?

FRIDAY FUN: A Dutch – Real life Gamification concept by Achtung

Who-ever thought that peeing in a pot could become a competitive game? I saw peeball in London once, some 5 years ago, but this Dutch concept by Achtung is very nice as well! Check out the video – and no, that’s not a transsexual you see after 40 seconds, but a woman using a ‘plastuit’ (a pee-aimer for women – another great Dutch invention)…

Newzoo outlook on the Gaming market 2012

My good friend Peter Warman from Newzoo held this presentation during the Game Developers Congress in 2012

Nissan Gran Turismo 2012 Dutch Finalists

These are the Top 3 players that will go to Silverstone to compete with other European finalists to become part of the Nissan GT racing team 2012. There was an online competition in the past months where Nissan started their search for new racing talent.

They have been doing this for the past 5 years and it shows that Nissan really believes that virtual skills can lead to real-life excellence as they reward winners year after year with a racing license, hoping to source new talent for their racing teams.

Way to go PlayStation and Nissan!

Netherlands in Top 5 Happiest Countries

American research shows that Dutch employees are in the Top 5 of happiest people in the world next to Denmark , Sweden, Norway and Germany. Surprise, surprise! Can you imagine how happy we would be if we could make our work more playful? Instead of feeling stress, we will feel invigorated  and excited to achieve the goals we set together and try to achieve with our co-worlers. I strongly believe that this will be my future business model: gamifying enterprises, like we did with ABN Amro two years ago together with IJsfontein. And like I am doing now at Ziggo on a project I can’t tell you too much about yet… ;-()

Bring Back the 40 Hour Work Week Infographic

40 Social Gaming Mechanics

Sims 3 Branches out with Diesel!

Another example how Diesel stays cool where other brands are watching and wondering how they should… In the past 15 years in the digital era as a marketing and advertising professional I have been part of both Atari and Diesel and witnessed loads of tie ins with games and brands. After featuring Katey Perry in Sims 3 it’s now time for my ex-employer Diesel (the Italian clothing brand) to get their hands dirty in Sims, or should I say: ‘build their brand further in the digital era’…?

The latest Diesel collection has been made available in Sims 3 after partnering with Atari back in 2001 with Driver 2 (my Atari-days before I was asked to come to work for Diesel), later Devil May Cry 2 (as a special feature if you played through the game) and a virtual shop in PlayStation Home to spice up the looks of your avatar. It’s now Electronic Arts that wants to spice up the life of the Sims.

A really cool and relevant way to build the Diesel brand amongst millions of women worldwide and it enables them to show the brand spin offs like Diesel furniture and wallpaper as well! Way to go Renzo Rosso and his team!

For more information, check the Diesel website: 


Alcatraz Prison – An Epic Experience!

Talking about an epic experience! I went a few days early to San Francisco to spend some time on my own before the business tour through Silicon Valley with a Dutch delegation started. Check out the pictures below and the video of my visit to notorious prison Alcatraz where Al Capone was at home for four years (from 1934 – 1938)!

Americans really know how to build up an experience. From waiting in line for 30 minutes before the boattrip starts, you can read some more about the prison through a brochure and interactive installations and have your picture taken before a backdrop image of the island.

Interactive installations throughout the waiting area made waiting less annoying. In Dutch I call this a ‘wacht-verzachter’ in English you could call it a ‘Wait-watcher’.

During the boat trip the brochure sounds through the speakers.

On the island itself you can watch a 17 minute film about the island (comparable content of the brochure) and do an interactive audio tour of about 40 minutes explaining you all the different areas and stories that took place, even explaining how 5 inmates escaped from the island in June 1962. This event was immortalized later in a film called ‘Escape from Alcatraz (duh) with Clint Eastwood).

This is one of the cells where one of the 5 inmates that escaped slept. You can see how they dug a hole around the ventilation shaft. Eventually they all got out by climbing throughout the hole they dug, climbed up the heating pipes and … gone…  No one knows if they survived the mile swimming to the main land, since they were never found again.

A picture of the ‘arrival’ at Alcatraz Island. Originally build as a military prison during America’s Civil War.

Key Learnings about Serious Game projects

After writing the Dutch version of ‘A Brand New Playground (Laat met je merk spelen) in 2009 I was fortunate enough to get involved in some pretty cool and prestigious serious game projects and I never left the scene ever-since.

Projects I was involved in (together with IJsfontein – I was merely just a consultant) involved challenges like change management, internal branding (ABN Amro) and giving companies insight in the logistic consequences of both air- and waterfreight (Air Cargo Netherlands / Schiphol Airport and Port of Amsterdam). Now, three years later I found that the hardest part is not just translating the essence of the problem into a cool and effective game concept, but to get all parties involved, determine the Decision Making Unit within the organization and actually ‘getting the job done’!

One of the recent projects I have done involve an organization of 2.500 people and I started this project about a year ago. Their challenge is to teach all their employees the potential consequences of their actions and behavior induced by the recently released ‘code of conduct’. In banking terms this is called ‘compliance’. We’ve proposed multiple concepts to the Decision Making Unit that exists of 8 different people from 5 different departments (Finance, Communication, Legal, Human Resources, Risk & Control Management) and after 7 months we still haven’t started production. Why? Mostly fear and too many people involved I guess. A serious game has so many aspects that on one hand you want to involve enough people to get the right information and the right clearance.

On the other hand, you don’t want to make them feel that they can actually determine what’s going to be leading in the gameplay. This is a sensitive and challenging task for the ‘producer’ of the game.

The key learnings in this project were the following:

  1. Downsize the DMU to the smallest possible group, preferably a maximum of three people, including the budget owner and / or CFO.
  2. Don’t let your client get involved creatively. It is not their expertise to come up with a good game concept, it’s yours – so fight them off your turf or it will become too complex.
  3. Keep the pace going and force decision making during milestone meetings. Employees of big companies tend to involve loads and loads of collegues and every person has his own opinion about all sorts of stuff (and expertise). Manage this well and you will be happy 😉

To give you an insight in the concepts we have proposed, it varied from playing the ‘mean manager’ giving you the opportunity to use every trick in the book to become the biggest and best company of the country serving you scenario’s and dilemma’s in which you have to choose between the ‘easy way’ that would make more profit for the company and becoming filthy rich, and ‘the hard’ way that involved more tenderness (devil versus angel). In this way we wanted to challenge employees to explore multiple roads towards the same goal and let them experience how this would effect their sense of ‘righteousness’ and ‘fairness’ scoring points for ‘revenue’ and ‘reputation’ (integrity). Unfortuntely this proposal was canned out of fear. Another idea was to build a ‘TV show’ with all sorts of dilemma’s and questions to focus more on ‘knowledge’. A fairly one-dimensional concept, comparable to the current e-learning stuff that we hate. 😉

Eventually we’ve created a quiz-kind-of-game where your goal is to become a ‘Zuperhero’ setting the right example for the company and co-workers. It will be a mix of knowledge based questions and dilemma-based scenario’s with specific mechanics. It should be cool!

I expect this game to go live in September this year and then it has been 18 months since we pitched the idea to our client, but believe me: I will be very happy let you know what we’ve done by then!

Concluding I can say from my experience that running serious gaming projects is mostly about managing expectations, involving experts from within the company, making them feel important enough to share their expertise as well as keeping them distant enough by showing yours… 😉