AtHand winnaar Dutch Game Award 2014 Serious Game AtHand winnaar E-learning award 2014
AtHand winnaar San Accent


Play as a tool

Here at AtHand, gamification is all about improving learning, performance and, most importantly of all, achieving a specific change in behaviour. Game mechanisms activate behaviour in people, while the game itself facilitates the tasks and knowledge modules to be completed. Each game features a storyline with an inspiring goal, mutual pleasure and challenge and results in a social connection and visible progress. Gamification takes place on the work floor, during working hours, at home or on the way to work or home. The primary goal of the game is to reward the behavioural change envisaged, in situations where it actually needs to be demonstrated. So, behavioural change manifests itself in the real world, while also resulting in progress in the game.

“Here at AtHand, our game development is inspired by science, psychology, the economy and art.”

‘‘Play is more deeply rooted in human experience than language or culture’, Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, 1938

We base our approach on the most fundamental of principle, being the fact that people enjoy all kinds of different types of play and feel the need to play. Play is deeply rooted in our brains, even deeper than language or culture. Just like animals, we play games for fun, but also to develop social contacts and skills and because play is a safe way of confirming or strengthening our social status. After all, recognition in the group is vital from an evolutionary point of view.

‘Our course of action is determined by our experience of pain and enjoyment, not by gaining knowledge’ – Prof Dr Margriet Sitskoorn, Tilburg University.

The avoidance of pain and the search for pleasure or enjoyment are the most important stimuli underlying the decision-making process. We place great importance on acceptance and recognition from our social environment. One of the guiding principles for our games is the improvement of recognition and status. We achieve this by confirming the important role of individual players; in the real world and in the game. This effect is strengthened by giving constructive and positive feedback, rewarding performance and sharing both with colleagues and stakeholders.

Several of our sources of inspiration follow below

Brain Central Learning

The institute for brain central learning (Instituut voor Brein Centraal Leren) has defined six so-called ‘brain principles’, which improve the learning effect achieved when applied in a training or education programme. For example, the addition of emotion to a learning experience, enhances the effect because of the dopamine created. About six weeks is needed to convert the daily adaptation of behaviour into a lasting effect. This is one of the reasons why our AtHand games usually last six weeks.

The famous 70-20-10 model

We learn 70 percent of the skills we need as the result of experiences on the work floor during working hours, 20 percent from coaching on the work floor and 10 percent through some form of theoretical training. So, learning is something that you primarily achieve by ‘doing’ something yourself.

AtHand games focus on improving performance on the work floor. We place a game layer over day-to-day reality and challenge employees to actively develop themselves – on the work floor, during working hours. The game also creates inspiration and a safe environment for behavioural change by employees. Players see a clear goal and are guided towards its achievement step by step. The game also refers to relevant and existing coaching and knowledge resources, with the object of improving knowledge and skills. This results in better performance, creates interaction between all of the players in the organisation and culminates with the achievement of an adaptive and permanent learning effect.


American author Dan Pink published his famous book, Drive, in 2010. The four starting points he identifies for drive can be found in all of our games. Always and for every target audience. Autonomy translates into making meaningful choices further to the challenges presented by and actions necessary while playing the game. Mastery is evident in the meaningful journey that players embark on in their personal development while playing the game and in their actions back in their day-to-day work environments. Purpose is the bigger picture of which players form part. Players also receive plenty of recognition for their role, efforts, contribution and progress. This happens in the context of the game and from the social circle involved in the development of the player.

‘The starting points of brain-central-learning, a focus on the achievement of intrinsic motivation in accordance with the theories of Dan Pink, the 70-20-10 model and the teachings of Johan Huizinga: all of these form the basis for our approach, regardless of the target audience, goal or game format.’ Marcel Mens, founder of AtHand.