Gamified Training; An Interview with Hydra Frame’s Marcelo Vita


DSC03545Hydra Frame is an international digital development company with extensive experience in gamification, interactive sales aids, website design, and video/motion graphic production.  They and their President, Marcelo Vita, caught my interest with that word “gamification.”  After all, shouldn’t an industry that is very much about games be using games to train and engage?  I thought so too so  Hydra Frame President, Marcelo Vito.

Marcelo started developing interactive projects in 1997. An architect by training, Marcelo founded Hydra Frame in 2001 with the goal of becoming a one-stop-shop for digital development.  Interestingly, Marcelo is also an independent film-maker, and his short “Visiting Friends” made the international tour of festivals in 2010.

He kindly agreed.  Here is my interview:


Marcelo, though many readers may be familiar with gamification, many more are not. Can you tell us about gamification and how it is used in training?


Thanks, Richard. We have to remember that, in the US alone, more than 150 million people play video games. So that’s very much a part of people’s lives these days, of our DNA.

Gamification is the way to turn learning materials and what you could call “dry” content, and make it fun and engaging. You learn and enjoy the experience of learning. Studies have shown how games can increase dopamine release on the brain, increasing motivation. And of course, repetition can really help memorizing content. 

Richard:         You have a history of creating gamified training tools for the pharmaceutical industry.  Based upon your experience, can you tell us why gamification works and how it can be applied to the toy, games and play industries?


We had some really positive experiences with the pharma world. As an industry that relies heavily on their salesforces, they were very receptive to tools that would increase the sales call efficacy.

What’s interesting with gamification is that you can simulate the common challenges they face every day, the most common pushback and how to work around it, how to reach your best leads when you have gatekeepers blocking you.

I believe the toy industry can be benefit from the same tools, tailored of course to their unique needs. Basically, how to fine tune the sales calls and make the most of the materials you have. And never forgetting the competitive nature of the salesforce, which can be quite fierce, in a healthy way.


I see that you also create apps that allow salespeople to carry training tools with them.  Can you tell us a bit about how the apps work and how much time they consumer?  Can I learn from them in minutes or do I need to commit a large amount of time?


Many times it’s difficult to describe the best features of your product through a simple print piece. You need to really dig deep and showcase how your product is unique.

With digital sales aids, you can have a great mix of text, animated graphs, interactive 3D components that can explain in detail any particular feature, all the way to full videos.

The best part is that these components are available to the sales rep to present as he sees fit, in a non linear fashion. So they can really tailor the call to the particular client.

So some clients may give you 90 seconds to display your product, others may want to know in detail what you’re selling. We give power to the reps on how to best use them.


Can your aids be adapted for use in communicating directly with retail buyers or consumers?


Definitely. Instead of simple website where you have to click through a series of products, we’ve done sales aids that are completely controlled by the final user, but follow a “story”. So you control your message in a much better way that a regular website ever would. For game manufacturers an in-depth recreation of their board game online is a great selling tool to prospective buyers.  Marketing their product on their own website or stand-alone app.

Richard:         I notice that you use animation in your work.  Is there a difference in how trainees respond to cartoons as opposed to real people?


It really depends. We have experience shooting live action scenes and working with animations. Some clients prefer the realism of live action, as opposed to the animation route. Many times it boils down to their creative directors and how they envision the initiative.


It sounds like it could call for a very large investment.  Can you give us some idea of the range in pricing for your services?


It doesn’t have to be. The advantage of working with us is that a lot of the prep work has been done already. We have pre-coded components that can be easily transferred from one project to the next.

Sure, very complex initiatives can go to six figures, but you can have some pretty solid solutions for $10K or less.


One final question, are you able to adapt a game company’s game play to be used as a training tool for their salespeople?  Kind of using the game to train about how to sell the game?


Definitely. As with everything computer-based, once you establish the logic of the game you can easily replicate it through specific algorithms.

It’s exactly the type of project that would make a great sales tool; make it engaging, make it fun. And of course, learn from it!

Time magazine just did a cover story on virtual reality where it made the analogy that virtual reality and 3-D gamification are at the stage now of Pong in video gaming. In other words, a virtual explosion in capability and usage is about to happen.


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