Melinda Jacobs

Blending a passion for games with a fascination for human behavior into celebrated expertise.

Melinda is a geeky nerd who found a way to combine her love of games and her fascination with people's behavior into an award-winning expertise. Through Subatomic, she’s helped companies and organizations develop interactive experiences that change behavior through play, games, and gamification. She has over 10 years of experience managing startups in the C-suite, and is an active mentor, coach, and advisor. She frequently gives workshops, guest lectures, and talks on gamification, startups, organizational psychology, and technology ethics at companies, universities, and events around the world. 

Melinda has published her research in peer-reviewed journals and is also on the review board for several publications. Her current project, Games in a Brave New World: The Role of Immersive Playful Environments in Re-Inventing the Future of Work and Re-Imagining Organisations, with Dr. Marigo Raftopoulos, is exploring how businesses are using or experimenting with interactive, playful, and game-inspired tools & approaches that encourage new ways to engage stakeholders in organizations – especially in a world adjusting to a “new normal” in times of climate change, socio-technical cultural shifts & pandemics.


Beyond the Quick Win: Ethical Considerations in the Age of Convenience

As society increasingly craves digital gratification, technology has risen to meet this demand, offering quick wins through gamification elements like points, badges, and leaderboards, yet often without the deep, mindful design necessary to ensure these mechanisms serve more than momentary engagement. This trend leaves us at a crossroad, forcing us to confront whether our design strategies genuinely uplift users or, instead, manipulate them under the guise of motivation, and to critically assess the ethical impacts of our decisions.

In this talk, we'll dissect the evolution and implications of these quick-win strategies, particularly through the lens of AI's growing influence. We'll explore real-world examples where AI-driven gamification has either missed or hit the mark in ethical design, illuminating the fine line between bias and balanced engagement. This talk will emphasize the essential need for more ethical practices in design, championing the principles of Kintsugi—highlighting the beauty in imperfection and the growth from failure. It will argue for a design philosophy that values progress alongside integrity, advocating for a future where technology not only captivates but cultivates a fair, inclusive, and genuinely engaging digital landscape.

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