The website is currently unavailable due to missing payments. Al access to data is blocked due to rejection of all payments. There are no funds available. And the CEO has left the office, nobody knows about his whereabouts, but he has apparently gathered all the company’s funds and has disappeared. Customers are getting angry; we are out of control and it is your assignment to get things back on track. You have retrieved a company credit card and are ready to start all over again with a new AWS account.
Behavioral psychologists have since the late 00’s emphasized gamification as one of the most efficient strategies to ensure motivation and engagement while learning. The strategy suggests that by using elements from games: challenges, competition, and the possibility of a reward will increase motivation among the participants and empower them to learn new skills or change existing behavioral patterns.
AWS presented their first gamification event in 2015. The storyline is built along the fictitious company Unicorn Rentals. Unicorn Rentals are a cloud native company that specializes in hourly unicorn rentals but has currently found themselves in serious problems. These challenges are the ones that are in scope for the participants to solve.
AWS GameDay has since then been a fixed item at the yearly Re:Invent conference where new storylines unfold about Unicorn Rentals latest endeavors. The new version of the GameDay challenge is being used the following year when hosting GameDay’s globally.
The first AWS GameDay in Denmark was held on November 13th in Copenhagen as a cooperation between KeyCore and AWS Denmark.
Partner in KeyCore Tue Lystrup says:
“GameDay illustrates the strength that we, as an AWS partner have, by teaming up with AWS in the Danish market. AWS is by far the largest cloud provider in the world and this is no coincidence. AWS reaches beyond its immense technical capabilities. The resources that AWS can provides us with, gives us access to some unique tools for a digital transformation, but also secures that the development of the organization and the individual employee is changed.”
Hints and challenges
Returning to the conference room in Copenhagen the participants are getting ready and gathering in smaller groups with laptops open ready to start. The game is divided into modules with specific tasks that are to be solved. The participants are gradually getting access to more information as they progress in the game, but misinformation and irrelevant clues is also part of the game. It is also a good idea to watch the screen showing the current score and the trends for the individual teams. Even if a team is progressing very well concerning total number of points a wrong trend might show that not all is good. It could be that the website that was completed initially suddenly fails or that IAM policies are not set-up correctly.
Tue Lystrup explains:
“All the participants have a high level of AWS competency and we do not assist in solving the tasks at hand in the game, that would be cheating. But the challenges are on a very high level and our expert consultants are there to help the participants if they are stuck in the problem solving. It is important that everybody is learning, our experts can provide guidance to the participants and help them to advance in the game.”
AWS GameDay is closer to reality than you think at first sight. It shows very clearly why it is not good to have a “we will do it later” attitude towards the establishment of IT infrastructure which will eventually have significant implications on your business and the game shows that in a very condensed form.
AWS Solution Architect at KeyCore Dennis Munk Christensen says:
“It is very easy to make these mistakes. And it is exactly why AWS uses it in their GameDay, experience shows that the majority will fail. In a project with a tight deadline and other priorities at hand it is easy to forget fundamental and critical design principles. “Lets us just get it running and then we will deal with it later” is most likely one of the most used sentences in IT when struggling to meet a tight deadline. But reality bites!
The new devops mindset
One of the learnings from the AWS Gameday is to enable participants to work with AWS. Both in the way that they will have a better picture of how they more operationally solve their daily tasks, but also to find out about the many possibilities in the AWS stack.
Senior Cloud Architect David F Nielsen from KeyCore says:
“No matter how we look at the current form of IT development, waterfall is still one of the most widely used project models in Denmark. Maybe not officially but definitely mentally and in the daily work. And maybe for a reason, it is obvious that the idea of devops, creating a close, effective and value creating cooperation between development and business cannot be realized if there is no confidence with the development team. It is a question of the perception of security and breaking with status quo and all previous understanding and to break new mold with knowledge and clear evidence. That is one of the things that are clearly shown from a Gameday like this. The possibilities to implement governance and compliance is moved to a higher level in AWS than what many know from their current inhouse development projects.”
The Gameday stretches over an entire day, but time flies and lunch is taken next to the laptops where the participants are becoming increasingly focused. It is obvious that they are under a lot of pressure, and some are frustrated, but they are constantly looking at the large screen and sometimes a cheer breaks out showing that the participants have embraced the story of Unicorn Rentals and they are determined to play for the win.
This is gamification at its best !!!