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DSN 02 W — Game On! How Gaming Can Motivate You and Your Customers

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Apr 27—Jun 5
Drop Deadline: Apr 30
Unit: 1
Tuition: $455
Instructor(s): Laura Pickel, Jesse Harris
Limit: 30
Status: Open
Please Note: The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 30 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is May 5 at 5:00 pm (PT)
Apr 27—Jun 5
6 weeks
Drop By
Apr 30
1 Unit
Laura Pickel, Jesse Harris
Please Note: The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 30 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is May 5 at 5:00 pm (PT)
From parents of preteens to CEOs, change can be difficult. We struggle to motivate others and ourselves to enact meaningful change. Game play can help. In this course, we will unpack some of the core mechanics of game play, which is becoming an increasingly popular and effective way to motivate and drive behavior. For example, trackers like Fitbit have become widely popular by enabling users to set a daily step goal. Tracking progress and sharing results with friends help users become more mindful of their activity levels, while making exercise more fun (a game!) and easier to do.

Each week, we will introduce a new game mechanic. By playing games, analyzing game play, and prototyping gamified experiences, we will explore ways to use that mechanic to impact behavior. We will start by analyzing digital and tabletop games, and continue by exploring how companies, universities, and individuals leverage simple gamification strategies to enact and support change. Along the way, we will look at how companies like Virgin America, SAP, and Virgin Orbit have used gaming in staff development and team building. Students will be asked to apply gamification strategies—including randomization, competition versus cooperation, and risk/reward—to help solve real-world challenges.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 30 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Laura Pickel, Learning Experience Designer, Lyft; Adjunct Lecturer, Stanford School of Engineering; Teaching Lead, IDEO U

Laura Pickel designs gamified learning experiences whose courses incorporate the core mechanics of games to make learning fun and impactful. She received an MA in learning, design, and technology from Stanford.

Jesse Harris, Head of Talent, Virgin Orbit

Jesse Harris leads the learning, development, and people strategy for Sir Richard Branson’s newest space company. He received an MA in learning, design, and technology from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.