Onboarding Innovation at Shopify

A Gamification Success Story

How did Shopify harness the power of gamified experiences to revolutionize its onboarding process, creating a model that others in the industry aspire to emulate, and setting a new standard in engaging and effective employee integration?

The Challenge

In the competitive landscape of the e-commerce industry, Shopify stands out not just for its business acumen but also for its forward-thinking approach to employee engagement. At the forefront of this approach is their onboarding process, a critical phase for integrating new cohorts of employees and interns. The challenge was significant: How could Shopify not only inform and orient new hires but also captivate them, making them feel an integral part of the company culture from day one?

The Gamification Solution

This is where the concept of gamification comes into play, transforming traditional onboarding into an interactive and memorable journey. Shopify, in their continuous quest for innovation, sought a solution that went beyond mere fun; they needed a tool that resonated with their dynamic culture and fostered genuine connections among team members.

Organizer and participant feedback from Shopify highlights the game’s success in meeting these objectives, showcasing its value as a key tool in the onboarding toolkit.

Game Mechanics

This team-based competitive event was seamlessly integrated into a private, branded game on the Social Scavenger app, offering an intuitive and engaging experience. The gameplay unfolded as follows:

  • Team Structure


    Each team was led by a 'Tech Captain', responsible for guiding their team through the challenges.

  • Collaborative Problem-Solving


    Teams worked together to solve puzzles and riddles, making strategic decisions on whether to use hints, which affected their point totals.

  • Interactive Elements


    The game included creative photo and video challenges that teams submitted through the app, fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared fun.

  • Progressive Gameplay


    As teams completed various challenges, they earned points and moved up the leaderboard. The game was designed to gradually reveal clues for the ultimate challenge - figuring out 'Who Kidnapped the Boss?'

Debrief and The Big Reveal


Following the completion of the challenges, the event transitioned into
an important and enjoyable phase: the Debrief and Big Reveal. This segment
served as the climax of the game, where several key elements were unveiled:

Revealing the Scores

The suspense built up as the hidden scores were finally revealed, highlighting the performance of each team and celebrating their efforts throughout the game.

Answering the Mystery

The correct answer to the ultimate question – 'Who Kidnapped the Boss?' – was disclosed, offering a satisfying conclusion to the game's narrative (along with how teams actually figured it out - since less than 30% get the answer correct - and we know some are just guessing)!

Showcasing Submissions

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the debrief was the presentation of the funny photos and videos submitted by the teams. This showcase not only provided a lot of laughs but also allowed participants to appreciate the creativity and spirit of their colleagues.



This phase of the game was integral in consolidating the shared experiences of the participants,
reinforcing team bonds, and leaving everyone with memorable moments from the event.
The combination of competition, humor, and creativity in the Debrief and Big Reveal ensured that the game
was not only a learning experience but also a genuinely enjoyable and engaging event.



Customization and Engagement

At the heart of the game's design was a deep level of customization, making it uniquely
relevant and engaging for Shopify employees. The game featured Shopify's CEO, Tobi Lutke, and five key members
from the onboarding and HR teams as characters in the storyline. This element served several purposes:

  • Personalization

    By including familiar faces from the company, such as the CEO and heads of departments, the game fostered a sense of familiarity and connection among the new hires.

  • Humor and Approachability

    Each featured leader provided amusing photos and crafted humorous motives, along with entertaining 'two truths and a lie' statements. This approach humanized the leadership and made them appear more accessible to new employees, breaking down formal barriers.

  • Sustainable Engagement

    The foundational structure of the game was designed for longevity. Shopify could easily update or replace characters (the 'suspects') as needed, allowing the game to be reused with each new cohort. This adaptability not only made the game a sustainable onboarding tool but also ensured that it remained fresh and relevant.

By integrating these elements, the game not only offered an enjoyable and competitive experience but also served as a platform for introducing key company figures in a lighthearted and engaging manner. This approach significantly contributed to the game's success in onboarding sessions, making it a standout feature in Shopify’s employee engagement strategy.

Conclusion and Impact

  • So much fun. I had the chance to get to know my fellow interns on a more personal level, which can sometimes be challenging while virtual

Shopify's customized game proved to be a resounding success. It provided a unique and entertaining way to introduce new employees to the company and each other. The flexibility of the game to be conducted virtually or in person added to its appeal, making it a versatile tool for onboarding in any setting. The game’s ability to be reused for different cohorts demonstrated its sustainable value as an onboarding tool.


In conclusion, the custom game not only fulfilled its intended purpose but also set a new standard for engaging and innovative onboarding processes. Shopify's experience serves as a testament to the power of gamification in the workplace.

Discover how our customized gaming solutions can transform your company's onboarding experience.

Contact us for more information and to start creating a memorable and effective onboarding journey for your new hires.

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