The game changers of game-based learning: Play It

The gaming industry has long been at the forefront of innovation and growth worldwide. And in Courtrai, this reputation is upheld by Play It, a company that helps businesses deliver more effective and safer training through game-based learning. In their quest for international expansion, Mike Ptacek and Brecht Kets, the visionary entrepreneurs behind Play It, eagerly joined Scaleup Vlaanderen's internationalization program.

The power of games

Let's take a trip back in time to the 1980s when the Ptacek family welcomed a Commodore 64 home computer into their lives. Little did they know that this new piece of technology would be the catalyst for a lifelong passion. Young Mike Ptacek quickly became enamored with text adventure games and immersed himself in the digital gaming world.

A few years later, games also entered Brecht Kets' path. His eye doctor noticed that playing games helped in the healing process of his lazy eye. It was at that moment that Brecht realized he wanted to create games that could positively impact people's lives, just as they had done for him.

Fast forward to 2017. Mike Ptacek and Brecht Kets, both game development teachers in the Digital Arts and Entertainment program at Howest, made a groundbreaking decision. They not only chose to teach game development but also adopted games as teaching materials themselves. It soon became clear that knowledge transfer through game-based learning surpassed the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods. And thus, Play It was born—a startup dedicated to revolutionizing corporate training by bringing game-based learning to companies.

Rules of the game

So how does Play It work? It transforms real-life situations into immersive digital training simulations. Through interactive gameplay, players can delve into a variety of topics such as safety protocols, cyber security, onboarding, prevention, and more.

"In many organizations, corporate training programs remain confined to ancient practices, making them dull and outdated. With Play It, we are changing this narrative and proudly calling ourselves true game changers in the realm of G-learning. A study by UGent shows that our platform enables up to 4 times faster staff training and leads to a 30% increase in knowledge transfer," says Kets.

Growth opportunities

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the unstoppable wave of digitization have propelled Play It to unprecedented growth. Since its inception, the company has nearly doubled its workforce—an achievement that has not gone unnoticed.  Deloitte has recognized Play It as one of the 50 fastest-growing Belgian technology companies in Belgium. To navigate this tremendous growth, Play It sought the guidance of Scaleup Vlaanderen in 2022.

"We stepped into uncharted territory, facing entirely new challenges. Neither Mike nor I had any prior experience in internationalization, and embarking on an ad hoc testing approach seemed unproductive. That's why we signed up for Scaleup Vlaanderen's internationalization program."

Through enlightening workshops and coaching sessions, Mike and Brecht were able to identify new markets, explore growth opportunities, and makeinformed-based decisions.

"The interactive approach and bouncing ideas back and forth made the internationalization process almost as educational as our games," Kets says with a laugh. "Thanks to Scaleup Vlaanderen, we analyzed our competition, explored the scalability of our platform and learned the dos and don'ts of internationalization from fellow entrepreneurs and experts. The result? Securing major contracts. The insurmountable mountain of internationalization suddenly became conquerable."


Thanks to the support of Scaleup Vlaanderen, Play It is now better equipped than ever to embrace the next level: internationalization. The first step on this journey is establishing a dedicated sales team in the Netherlands. Additionally, Mike and Brecht have ambitious plans to expand their product offerings, with a particular focus on cyber security and GDPR, safety and prevention, and personalized training through the AI-driven app Play It Creator.

To facilitate this growth, Play It has secured a substantial investment of 1.2 million euros. The money comes from West Flanders entrepreneur Christian Dumolin (through his company Trustcapital), Steven Buyse, Arne Vandendriessche and the founders. The accelerator imec.istart remains involved, but adds no additional funds. Mike and Brecht will continue to maintain majority ownership.

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