September 25, 2022

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Tableau’s superpower is its ability to quickly transform data from a dry, rough data source into a rich, impactful data story. Anyone with access to the data set can explore their data by looking this and that way until they find the best expression of their analysis.

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So what, if you take it to the next level and ask tableau experts to do it fast in front of your peers and a panel of judges? Not only do you get to see multiple stories from a single data set at lightning speed, but you add a tiny bit of competition to make things even more exciting. Data visualization games—or “vis games”—that’s what it’s all about.

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The Vis Games were inspired by Tableau Conference’s wildly popular Iron Vis—the world’s largest data visualization (“VIZ”) competition. The Viz Games are held throughout the year in companies and organizations around the world. It aims to harness the excitement and fun of the Tableau community to establish its own internal data culture where all employees are empowered to use Tableau to collect, analyze and apply insights.

Over the years, I have had the honor of judging and hosting Viz Games with many Tableau clients. Every so often I see an expanding data culture, internal community enthusiasm and the development of data analysis skills. Viz Games encourages people to do many things. They are learning how to use Tableau, looking for insights into data sets, and most importantly, passing their analysis on to others. One advantage of Viz Games organizers is that they can use their own organization’s data, which sometimes reveals previously hidden opportunities.

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What are the key elements of vis game competitions? Subject

It’s important to have a theme up front because it helps the building stand out from the rest of the competition. Themes for Viz games are usually around a specific theme, dataset, business problem, chart/dashboard type, or feature. It’s important to be creative and challenge the participants in a fun and engaging way.

Great data and resources

Subject matter isn’t the only thing to consider when looking for a data set – size and shape are factors as well. Typically larger datasets provide more opportunities for deeper analysis and storytelling. Visuals are often most interesting when authors begin with a question they were curious about, rather than using the dataset as a starting point. Encourage people to make it something they can learn from the data, rather than a collection of random facts.


The judging panel for a balanced assessment may be a group of people with diverse experiences and perspectives. We recommend anywhere from 3-5 judges. The criteria in which judges determine the winner are generally centered around:

Design – How appropriate is the design to the story being told? Storytelling – Is there a clear story being told or is a question being explored, and is there an appropriate context? Analysis – How sophisticated and appropriate is the data being used for the story? The world’s largest data visualization competition

If you’ve dipped your toes into the Tableau community or been a part of the Tableau convention, you know about Iron Wiz. We are talking about next level vis game. The tableau community takes center stage with three qualified contestants selected from the global qualifier competition. They have 20 minutes to hone their skills and deliver a compelling and awe-inspiring story using the same data set. Win or learn, you cannot lose.

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If you want to grow your organization’s data culture and spread the excitement of data storytelling, check out these Vis Games resources.

Lastly, do you want to see what all the buzz is about? We’re bringing Viz Games to Dreamforce with Viz Games: Team Earth Edition:

In person: Wednesday, September 21 at 4 p.m. PT On Salesforce+: Thursday, September 22 at 12:00 p.m. PT

Of course, everyone!

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