Every week, we talk to our clients about everything that motivates them to do business. This week the founders Jasper Müller, Kristel Thieme and Jan-Willem Manenschijn of Raccoon Serious Games talk more about their love for technology and Serious Gaming. High time for Rinkel to get acquainted!
Serious Gaming: what does it mean exactly?
Serious Gaming means making serious, difficult or boring subjects discussable and/or ownable in the form of a game. Raccoon Serious Games develops and facilitates learning experiences that touch and connect. "We believe that people make the difference. That is why we create a safe environment in which people can and - perhaps more importantly - want to develop. An environment in which they learn by doing."
How did the idea come about?
"We got to know each other in our student days. Jasper and I (Kristel) studied Aerospace Engineering and Jan-Willem studied Computer Science. At the time, all three of us were self-employed. Jan-Willem made personalised pop-up escape rooms for companies.
Out of a desire to do business together, we then grabbed Jan-Willem's thriving business. We asked ourselves: how fast can we make this big together?
That question was retrospectively the beginning of Raccoon Serious Games. At the end of 2018, we did a test, where we wanted to see if we could get customers hooked on our new concept within 3 months.
This certainly turned out to be the case, even more than we could handle at first! The three of us started part-time but now count 15 employees."
In what area does Raccoon contribute?
"With our serious games, we cover complex and sometimes quite dry topics. When, as a client, you want to discuss topics such as vitality, data-driven working or area development, you quickly end up with one-way traffic concerning information exchange. With our games, you make it more attractive to talk and learn about these topics. Because you are safe in a game, you also see people making different choices that are riskier than they would normally make in real life. As a result, people's authentic behaviour comes out naturally."
Where is the technical challenge at Raccoon?
"There is a lot of technology behind our products. We have developed several technological platforms ourselves, one for escape room (physical) and one for our virtual escape room. For example, when building our physical escape rooms, we use in-house developed IoT (Internet of Things) system. These are all separate puzzle components, which must be able to communicate with each other. For example, when a player presses a certain button, you want an audio clip to play or a certain door to open. An escape room easily has more than 30 of these active components. Because we work with customised projects for clients, it is important to be able to make adjustments to these components easily and quickly."
Do you also have the ability to play online?
"Yes, developing and offering online escape rooms was of course a logical step in this day and age. For this, we developed the MORSE (Massive Online Reactive Scalable Escaperoom) system. With this system, up to hundreds of people can simultaneously play with and against each other in an online escape room. While playing, you see in real-time how competitors/co-players are doing. This creates an exciting competition. We can also ensure that each team member has access to unique information. This motivates people to work together. All in all, a lot of technology, with multiple challenges every day."
What is your biggest achievement?
"That is surely the realisation of the Beta&Tech Experience. Together with 13 organisations from different sectors, we set up a project to bring technology to the attention of schoolchildren. I am personally most proud of the fact that between 13 organisations we were allowed to work as a connector in this project. We are bringing different engineering worlds together in an exciting engineering experience that connects with young people's perceptions."
What exactly does the project entail?
"The STEM Experience is an interactive and exciting technology experience. This programme, including a teaching programme and a technology escape room, has been specially developed for pupils in class 2 of the VMBO. With this teaching programme, we want to introduce students to technology in a positive way. We want to build on their technical self-confidence and technical image, thus encouraging them to choose a technical study."
And plans for the future?
"Right now, we are fully engaged in developing and facilitating online escape rooms and serious games. From team building to awareness-raising and from strategy communication to onboarding new employees.
We are very happy to be able to bring connection, energy and inspiration in times of online (collaboration) in this way."