Perspectives on gamification

Alex Butler speaks with John Pugh

The Social Moon and Boehringer Ingelheim

Games are a powerful tool, they can be used to solve complex problems and to bring people together. Farmville clearly demonstrates, with almost 100 million users, that the opportunity to connect via games is vast. The use of games in healthcare is just being realised as we see more healthcare game tools coming to market.

Syrum is a game currently under development by Boehringer Ingelheim, which will promote how the pharmaceutical industry works. The game development, led by John Pugh, is at the Beta testing stage and can be expected to be made available through Facebook. Players of the game will be able to ‘save the world, one disease at a time, by harvesting molecules’. Boehringer will be using the social aspect of Facebook including linking up with Facebook friends, awarding gifts to friends and being rewarded for Facebook check-ins.

At the advent of this, the first social game that a pharmaceutical company has ever produced, we get an insight from John Pugh in his conversation here, led by Alex Butler.

Watch the video below to hear Alex and John’s conversation.




01:16 – How John first became interested in games.

03:52 – How John wants to integrate human behaviour and motivation into the digital work that he does.

07:55 – John’s thoughts on gaming as a pseudotechnology.

14:30 – Stakeholder’s that can benefit from gaming / crowd sourcing benefits.

18:34 – Understanding people through gaming.

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About the speakers:

John Pugh, is Director of Digital Communications at Boehringer Ingelheim’s Global Centre in Germany. With a background as a journalist and Internet start-up entrepreneur, he has over 17 year’s media experience, 10 of them in digital. John is responsible for Boehringer Ingelheim’s global social media strategy and is regularly cited as a global thought leader in the field. You can find him online at or

Alex Butler has very recently founded the online marketing communications agency The Social Moon (@the_social_moon) to provide the highest quality digital marketing communications in healthcare.

Prior to this, Alex worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over a decade with six years at Janssen (Johnson &amp, Johnson) in numerous roles, culminating in him being senior lead in Johnson &amp, Johnson Strategic Marketing for Marketing Communications responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa. This role worked above international brand and communications teams to deliver core integrated marketing and communications platforms, through the use of new marketing models and social enterprise strategy.

Alex is often cited as a key thought leader for digital marketing and health care social media in pharmaceuticals. He has overseen numerous award winning projects including the design, implementation and management of the world’s first Facebook pharma disease information community with open commenting and the UK’s first corporate pharmaceutical company twitter account. In addition, he developed a social charter, approval process and business toolkit for Janssen to move it towards becoming an innovative social business and leading to numerous digital awards for the company during his tenure.

Personal awards for Alex include becoming the first pharmaceutical recipient of the Johnson &amp, Johnson James Burke global marketing award for ‘Uncommon courage’, numerous PM Society Digital awards (including three in 2011 for Psoriasis 360). He was also the inaugural recipient of the John Mack ‘Pharmaguy’ Global Social media Pioneer award in October 2010.

Alex is keenly interested on the impact new media has had on advertising and is an invited member of the prestigious Wharton University ‘Future Of advertising’ Global Advisory Team.

He can be reached by emailing

What potential do you see for gamification in healthcare?