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Gamification — How Much of It Is Really New?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the achievement-unlocked-reading-this-post dept.

Businesses 95

An anonymous reader writes "It's nigh impossible to avoid all the chatter and buzz around the concept of gamification — using game mechanics to create engagement outside the world of videogames. Silicon.com has an interview with author Aaron Dignan, whose book Game Frame delves into the topic to try and pull out a few rules of engagement for businesses seeking to tap into the power of gaming to better motivate their staff. Dignan is fairly convincing, yet I can't help feeling there's a lot of hype and not necessarily a great deal of substance to all this gamification chatter. Perhaps the term itself is the problem — maybe 'playfulness' would be a better name for the concept. What do Slashdot readers make of the gamification movement and its evangelists?"

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95 comments

Minesweeper (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675138)

I'll have to remember the term "gamification" next time my boss catches me playing Minesweeper.

"It's gamification! This is motivating me!"

Re:Minesweeper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675254)

Whoa! Minesweeper? I hear that's what all the cool kids are playing nowadays.

EOD (2)

Databass (254179) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675592)

As a sailor in the Navy, this made me think of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal rating.

For them, their boss wants to see them "sweeping mines" on the job!

Is there no escape... (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675176)

For people NOT obsessed with gaming?

Sure there is. (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675208)

You just have to start enjoying games!

Re:Sure there is. (2)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675418)

OK:

I need it run well natively on Linux, since the MS "we can access your hard drive at will" license, plus the "contact MS to get permission to change much of your system", is unacceptable to me, and while Mac OSX is a kind-of nice update to AmigaDOS, I don't have any desire to support the Mac culture.

If there's a multiplayer mode, like Star Craft/Brood War, Civilization/Alpha Centauri/..., then I need pure LAN play, not "connect to our server", like the new Star Craft 2.

I prefer RTS. How 'bout a decent AI, instead of cheats.

Perhaps a good single- or multi-player flight sim. Used to be an awesome one on SunOS. Beautifully rendered aircraft and Defense Logistics Agency terrain maps. Full LAN play (had to wonder if the guy you just smoked was your boss). Something like that, with joystick control would be a pleasure to play. Even something like the Amiga "Strike Aces" (Accolade) would be nice, too, 'specially with LAN play for "full package" missions.

Again from the Amiga days, "688 Attack Sub". Now that computers can match, and surpass, the Amiga's graphics and sound, that one would be much more immersive.

A modern graphics version of "Arctic Fox" (another Amiga classic; anyone know where the Forth source code went?), which had an outstanding balance of tactical and strategic objectives, plus some really well thought-out effects (lose a track and you can go in circles, with your tank tilted down on the missing-track side, changing track sounds depending on terrain, ...).

Games used to be fun. Now they (at least the MUSHs) are way to much like work; should probably be a term like the "workification" of games.

Re:Sure there is. (4, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675606)

You're the one on the right [wordpress.com] aren't you?

Re:Sure there is. (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675662)

No, but I wish I had the mod points to spend for you.

Antique (now), but unmatched (then) by all but heavy-duty commercial work station's, graphics and sound, plus some really well-designed games, give me a benchmark against which nearly everything today falls short.

Re:Sure there is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677158)

Try a board game.

Re:Is there no escape... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675400)

For people NOT obsessed with gaming?

Yes, there is a trick: simply do whatever it takes to reach the "Game over" the fastest possible. After a while, everybody will let you be.

Re:Is there no escape... (3, Insightful)

vivian (156520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675488)

I used to be obsessed with gaming - then one day I woke up and decided I should be spending a few hours a day leveling myself up instead of hours a day leveling up some virtual toon.

Now I spend about 1 to 2 hours a day doing the following: Getting physically fit by hitting the gym, cycling and sailing, and acquiring a real world skill like playing an instrument (Piano,guitar).
it's much more reqardign than spending hours and hours leveling up a virtual toon in a virtual world so I could get the uber sword of whatever from the in WoW - for one thing I know it's not all going to be for nothing as soon as the next expansion pack comes out.

Now I get out on the weekends and meet real people too, which sure beats reading trade chat.

I don't miss online gaming at all.

Re:Is there no escape... (2)

Raumkraut (518382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675826)

Well there's your mistake; you were never obsessed with gaming, you were obsessed with World of Warcraft.
WoW is not the be-all and end-all of gaming, it's barely even the beginning. It is apparently little more than a thin veneer of video game wrapped around a Skinner Box.

Re:Is there no escape... (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675878)

I agree with your overall message, but you can still play games as well as doing all that. I do, and have all my life. Even when I was at my most addicted to games I'd still do other things. Even these days when I'm physically training 10 hours a week (on top of a 37.5 hours a week job), I still spend some evenings gaming or watching movies etc.

I don't play that much online anymore, but it is definitely enjoyable with the right group of people.

Re:Is there no escape... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676924)

Reminds me of this story [stackoverflow.com] . Stackoverflow employee who decided to stop playing WOW, and start leveling up at real life.

Re:Is there no escape... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677452)

Wow, I play games and do all that. 'cept the sailing part...doesn't sound very fun.

Re:Is there no escape... (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686092)

Wow... Learning a real instrument, rather than a gamepad facsimile thereof (Cue obligatory xkcd 'Rock Band' cartoon) - good man! Musical geeks seem to be few and far between where I work. Play the keyboard and learning the guitar here.

Re:Is there no escape... (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35808374)

It sounds like you weren't playing games for fun, but merely ego. If your only reason for playing the game was getting an uber sword, then I guess you were doing it wrong and games aren't for you anyways.

Please also note: not all games are RPGs, and not all games are WoW. Saying you were obsessed with gaming, but the only thing you played was WoW, doesn't truly mean you were a gamer, because that would mean you played games (plural).

Re:Is there no escape... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676306)

come on - you know you want to.

and the first one is free!

Since we're talking WoW 'n' all (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675184)

Tasks, achievements and goals exist in the world of work, and in the Warcraft Universe. So what else sets WoW and work apart?

Grinding (case lists) and ganking (backstabbing managers) shit me to tears. I don't play WoW any more - should I treat work the same way?

Re:Since we're talking WoW 'n' all (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675564)

Tasks, achievements and goals exist in the world of work, and in the Warcraft Universe. So what else sets WoW and work apart?

Grinding (case lists) and ganking (backstabbing managers) shit me to tears. I don't play WoW any more - should I treat work the same way?

False dichotomy... For example, you can switch to play "Angry birds" (if falling pigs is more to your taste).

Re:Since we're talking WoW 'n' all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35682860)

The discussion of gamification misses the point of gaming. I play because it isn't real -- there's no real-world repercussions if I succeed or fail. It's just a game. If it was real then it would be a job (or an actual war), with all the stress (possibly death) that implies.

Tech Support == Farmville (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675214)

At least I always feel like I'm playing Farmville when I talk to tech support. It's expensive and frustrating. I get nothing but empty promises for my efforts which make no difference in the real world, it's a real slog, and I wish people could speak English.

Re:Tech Support == Farmville (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35687812)

I wish people could speak Lebboese

FTFY.

New name for old idea (1)

kafka.fr (188701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675230)

The Go game is supposed to have been invented to train an emperor's son in better strategy/military skills... and that was a big pair of thousands years ago (see Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ).
Again and again, a new name on an old idea, someone is trying to sell something to people not needing nor wanting to buy it.

Re:New name for old idea (1)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675244)

Besides, we make games out of anything. If there's a task that's a pain to get done, making it into a game makes it fun and seem to go by faster. Children can make games out of almost anything when inspired to (still haven't figured out how to make a game out of my little brother's chores around the house; he leaves it all for mom to do), and it seems to just be a part of our nature as humans. I think Dignan might be trying to make himself the next Malcolm Gladwell, but for business-related audiences.

Re:New name for old idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675280)

Seymour Skinner: "Trapped under the pile of papers, I survived the week by eating mother's preserves, and preserved my sanity by dribbling a basketball that was barely within reach of my one free hand. I made a game of it, seeing how many times I could bounce the ball in a day, then trying to break that record.''

New name, not a new idea (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675278)

Just because something suddenly has a trendy new name, does not mean the idea is new. We see this effect over and over... move along, nothing to see.

Old Concept (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675286)

The olympics used to demonstrate the martial skills of a soldier. Shot put, Javelin, relay races... these were all military skills.

Play is practice. Even in the animal kingdom you see 'games' and play while juveniles practice their skills. There's even some theories that song and dance originally was an outreach of coordinating work.

By historical standards what we view as work is unnatural. If you look at a tribal culture in which we existed for hundreds of thousands of years you'll see people working hard but they are talking to one another and being social. The idea of locking someone away to slave over paper is a pretty recent development.

I would say that what we're really doing is re-discovering the innate mechanisms by which we best learn and it's not through mechanical determination it's through a more interactive and engaging process that works with--not against our nature.

Re:Old Concept (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675600)

I would say that what we're really doing is further perverting the innate mechanisms by which we best learn and it's not through mechanical determination it's through a more interactive and engaging process that works with-- [...] against our nature.

FTFY. RTFA if you don't believe me. Below some relevant quotes:

But gamification advocates do not preach the beauty and power of play. Perhaps without knowing it, they're selling a pernicious worldview that doesn't give weight to literal truth. Instead, they are trafficking in fantasies that ignore the realities of day-to-day life. This isn't fun and games—it's a tactic most commonly employed by repressive, authoritarian regimes.

At a Google Tech Talk last year, Zichermann gushed about the low-cost opportunities this creates for business. He was particularly excited by Zynga's collaboration with 7-Eleven, a deal in which people could buy FarmVille credits along with a Slurpee. FarmVille credits didn't get you the Slurpee, Zichermann explained excitedly. Rather, customers paid real dollars for the virtual currency. "It's all money in and no money out!" he cried.

Re:Old Concept (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675932)

I don't have any mod points, so I'll just post: Well said.

It's not about everything being a game, it's about simulating in a fun, engaging way the skills you need to be at your best at a job/hobby you (hopefully) have a desire to be good at.

Re:Old Concept (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676320)

So you mean there was something inherently wrong by sitting in a cold room with 30 other kids listening to an old fart drone on and on endlessly without being allowed to speak or even fidget?

Yeah I figured as much when I kept falling asleep.

Re:Old Concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676892)

By utilizing gamification methods, management may leverage extant synergies for incentivization of the labor pool. If that sounds like buzzword bingo, it is. This is merely a fad management idea. It claims the same ultimate goal as many others: increase productivity without increasing pay/benefits. It will be as effective as any other work-life-balance idea. Ultimately, jobs suck. They all suck. If it were fun, the activity would be a hobby and not a job.

Re:Old Concept (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35680414)

Well sailors use(d) song as a means of timing, so it is not impossible.

Re:Old Concept (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35687834)

The olympics used to demonstrate the martial skills of a soldier. Shot put, Javelin, relay races... these were all military skills.

The ancient Greeks used to lob cannon balls at each other in battle? News to me.

'Gamification' (3, Informative)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675292)

The problem with 'gamification' is that it's not about games!

'Gamification' is about the application of (the lessons from) game theory, which has to do with psychology - the study of HOW and WHY we behave in such a manner - but not WHAT.

'Game' theory is a misnomer - it's NOT about games in themselves at all - it's about the study of COMPETITION, and COMPETITIVE behaviour in general.

Games are, of course, competitive activities, but so are puzzles, competitions, and life in general.

'Game' theory is not about the specific application of the specific behaviour the word game itself represents, even if it forms PART of its application, and so considering games in such a manner is INCONSISTENT with how the word game is used, and what it represents, elsewhere in the language, and is therefore causing problems!

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DarrenTomlyn/20110311/6174/Contents_NEW.php [gamasutra.com]

Re:'Gamification' (1)

WhitetailKitten (866108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675328)

So it's an unusual verbed form of "Game theory," then? I guess "gamification" is better than "game theorified."

Different objectives, different techniques. (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676308)

Uhh, I appreciate your point of view; however, the type of "gamificaton" you are referring to (in relation to Game Theory) is more about strategy.

There are other types of "gameification" which I think are more related to what TFA considered. It is called "role playing game" (best known as RPG). RPGs are being used to put people in "charge" of certain roles within a system; it is used as a "human simulation" to understand the decisions that people do and the non-rational reasons on why they do it.

RPGs can be used for example, when trying to "computerize" a real-world system. In order to *understand* the dynamics and decisions of such system you let people who know about the domain to play a well designed RPG.

I am actually working with such kind of games, using them specifically to create simulations of complex systems than include individual's behaviour. RPGs allow us to explore the actions of the people and to understand the reasons behind those actions.

Re:Different objectives, different techniques. (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676620)

(But that is not what cRPG's are actually about, but that is most definitely an argument for another time...).

Games are an activity in which people compete in a structured environment by writing their own stories/(doing something for themselves).

The main problem to do with this and work - is that although it CAN involve writing stories in the same manner, not all work does. Because of that, yes, some work can be turned into a game, but even then it's more about using competition itself, (i.e. a reward to be competed for), to encourage some behaviour, rather than using games in general - as I said - more of an application of game theory, than games. Yes, competition can also be the main driver behind such behaviour in games, (whether recognised or not), but because of the way work is structured, it can also be more about competing to be TOLD a story, which is a competition in itself, rather than a game. So competitions and puzzles etc. can also be part of this process, as the article said.

Just like I said - game theory, more than games.

(And as for being something 'new' - it's not, of course. Competition and games have been involved in work for millennia, probably almost as long as games have existed, which will probably be almost as long (or longer?) as humanity itself. (I guess it all depends on your definition of humanity?))

Re:'Gamification' (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677504)

The problem with 'gamification' is that it's not about games!

Nope. You're wrong. Try reading TFA. It is exactly about games and nothing to do with game theory. It's about making work (or some other generally unpleasant activity) as engaging and rewarding as playing games with the idea that this will increase productivity.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678480)

Read my reply above - some of what it says is to do with that - but not all - it's still mainly about using rewards and competition to encourage/maintain certain behaviour - not all of which would be consistent with games - i.e. more game THEORY than games.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

kwolf22 (825499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678760)

In the education industry there's a lot of interest in the gamification of online courses. One thing that's often found lacking in an online class as compared to a face-to-face class is interaction. That is, online classes are either full of static text-based content, or one-way TV-style videos that require very little participation (communication & interaction) from students. However, one of the greatest strengths of online an online class is the ability to be asynchronous & self paced; allowing students to participate & learn on their own schedule. In a general sense, video games - even simple ones bridge these gaps by allowing people play when they want to play and interact with the game as much as is required to accomplish the goal of the game (i.e. they learn). The game keeps track of the player's progress and can often adjust to match the player's skill level - all automatically. Moreover, gaming can provide frameworks for communication, organization, and competition among individuals & groups can be well beyond the physical limitations of a traditional classroom.

Of course, probably the greatest challenge to bridging the two worlds is adapting various course materials to work as games. Although I've seen a lot of great "expert systems" that are good at introducing a concept, then following up with questions until it is determined that a student understands the concept, these are usually text-based and not very engaging. Not much better than the early text-based computer games from the back in the 80's.

As paper is becoming more & more obsolete, it would be nice to see textbook publishers think beyond e-books & online CMSs and get into game development. Then maybe we'd see some truly immersive, interactive games that can help students learn.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35679928)

But none of what you're talking about is specific to just games - some of it can be merely part of work or play in general, puzzles or competitions...

Re:'Gamification' (1)

kwolf22 (825499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35681750)

Fair enough, in a general/abstract sense... But that's not my point. The point that I was trying to make is that online education is ripe for "gameification". This is because video games - especially online video games - are incredibly efficient mechanisms for learning, while online instruction is not - even though many of the high level patterns that you encounter in video game design are very similar to the patterns that you find in online instruction... In fact, the basic problem domain seems to be pretty much the same between the two.

I tend to believe that this doesn't have as much to do with content as it does with the fact that the technology used for online instruction is relatively primitive when compared to even simple online video games; in that online instruction generally doesn't implement many of the technologies that we would consider "normal" elements of online video games.

...and yes, the concepts behind those technologies are not necessarily specific to video games or even gaming in general, but the implementation that I'm referring to is.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35686628)

Nothing in what I read in your post above was specific to games - and that's the point I am making - even the implementation you try to speak of above can involve puzzles or competitions. To be honest, some MMO's also interleave games with elements of competitions and puzzles as-well - but then people don't fully understand the difference and the relationship between them, so...

And this is the point I'm making - 'gamification' in general is NOT about games. Although it can involve games, because the basis of it is merely competition and competitive behaviour - it can also involve puzzles, competitions, and even (competitive) play or work. Without fully recognising and understanding what ALL of these words represent, both in isolation, and in relation to each other, the term 'gamification' will, and IS causing problems for games in general - just like 'game' theory which it is applied from.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35680462)

If only so much of game theory was not based on a paranoid schizophrenic world view...

Re:'Gamification' (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35695016)

'Gamification' is about the application of (the lessons from) game theory, which has to do with psychology - the study of HOW and WHY we behave in such a manner

Bullshit. If game theory is a branch of anything, it's mathematics.

Re:'Gamification' (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35698314)

Yes, you're right in general, BUT, game theory has become so encompassing, that parts of it are purely a matter of psychology - and that is the part we're looking at here - NOT the mathematical side at all. (When you get down to it the entire universe is just maths, but such a perspective isn't always useful).

Re:'Gamification' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35721960)

ABSOLUTELY. Companies are taking the theory behind game design motivation and applying it to real world programs. The google tech talk, (its on the gamification blog) talks about this extensively, the whole concept of status and how important it is etc. I know I know, everyone says but its not important to ME. Well all I can say is, maybe you are the exception to the rule. The vast majority of people thrive off attaining status and unlocking badges or what-have-you. Just look at foursquare! How could they exist if not for peoples innate desire to be noticed. Anyways, good read. Another great article Gamification: Game Design In The Real World check it out. http://bit.ly/fFE4FR

Re:'Gamification' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35722124)

(Dammit - I hate having to log in all the time - sod it).

But neither competition or game is DEFINED by the/any goal/outcome to be competed FOR.

Competition is about the process/behaviour of TRYING to gain any such outcome or goal (whether or not it's even attainable does not matter) - at the expense of, or in spite of, someone or something else. Competition can be, and often is, PERPETUAL.

The word game represents the process of competing (for whatever reason) BY doing something FOR yourself in a structured environment.

Neither game nor competition, (as a basic application of compete), REQUIRE goals to actually exist - and are NOT defined by them, instead merely relying on the (often subjective) PERCEPTION of such an existence.

What's happened with 'gamification' however, is that the goals themselves, objectively, have become perceived as being the reason for game and competition to exist, which is not what they represent. Goals are not WHAT, merely WHY, which is subjective.

Gaming vs Real Life (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675310)

I believe that there is something fundamentally different between gaming and real life. You cannot respawn in real life. There are significant and measurable consequences for screwing up. Adapting a business model to a game is asking staff to adopt an 'all care, no responsibility' attitude.

Now, having a gaming lounge in the office, with high spec PCs networked and all preloaded with L4D2 ready to play... now that's a different story. However, I don't think that's what they mean by gamification.

Re:Gaming vs Real Life (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675380)

That sounds reasonable to me. However, playing only to win with no care for consequences sounds exactly like how big business is being run the last couple of decades, and most of those guys are making insane amounts of money, even in the middle of an economic crisis. Their position appears to be one that cannot lose, even when they fail. That's an enviable perch, is it not? Perhaps it is our viewpoint of real-life work which needs to adjust.

Re:Gaming vs Real Life (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675618)

I believe that there is something fundamentally different between gaming and real life. You cannot respawn in real life. There are significant and measurable consequences for screwing up.

For some, this is irrelevant (think: most CEO-s, most of the top level financials - Goldman-Sachs - want some other examples or can you already find them on your own?)

Adapting a business model to a game is asking staff to adopt an 'all care, no responsibility' attitude.

Guess what? The guys that can afford to believe in re-spawning are the ones that are most likely to decide the "rules of the game".

Re:Gaming vs Real Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678104)

For some, this is irrelevant (think: most CEO-s, most of the top level financials - Goldman-Sachs - want some other examples or can you already find them on your own?)

You remembered the bad example but forgot the good example.

"Business is a good game - lots of competition and a minimum of rules. You keep score with money."

- Nolan Bushnell [longwood.edu] , founder, Atari.

Syzygy almost worked. Atari worked perfectly (until he sold it to rack up a new high score :). Chuck E. Cheese / Pizza Time Theater sorta worked, and has muddled on through to the present day. PlayNet and uWink didn't. (Kind of a bummer, uWink was Chuck E Cheese for adults. Imagine playing Angry Birds your dinner table after using it to order funky cocktails and trendy fusion cuisine... four years ago.)

And yes, you can respawn. The point of business is to keep respawning until you manage to do something neat, hopefully racking up a new high score in the process.

Maybe this is overly critical... (4, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675336)

This seems like just one more way to extract more work out of people that are increasingly disappointed with their station and ambitions (or lack thereof). It seems like both companies and individuals would do better to address the root issues. I don't want to have to put a game layer on top of my work to feel like I'm doing something important, and for good reasons.

Or maybe I'm just too cynical.

Re:Maybe this is overly critical... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675636)

I don't want to have to put a game layer on top of my work to feel like I'm doing something important, and for good reasons.
Or maybe I'm just too cynical.

Dystopian view: in the future, good reasons or not, there may be a medication for you.
It only requires the majority of people to want it and you'll be "outside of the acceptable norm, need treatment".

Re:Maybe this is overly critical... (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676444)

I don't want to have to put a game layer on top of my work to feel like I'm doing something important, and for good reasons.

It's no different to games having scores, achievements etc. By your logic, the game should be compelling without any metrics of success or rewards. The reward is actually playing the game to begin with. Clearly people are motivated by competition, and/or bettering themselves. If providing mechanisms like that at work means that people work harder AND get more enjoyment, it's a good idea.

If someone is already doing work they find enjoyable, this kind of mechanism is hardly going to change that.

Re:Maybe this is overly critical... (1)

BForrester (946915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35681106)

Your cynicism doesn't mean that the underlying reward principles of "gamification" don't work. Even military forces have long-known that they could avoid root issues by sugar-coating combat campaigns with "ranks" and "achievements."

"A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon."
  - Napoleon Bonaparte

Mark Twain did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35675352)

It sho' is fun painting Tom Sawyer's fence.

There is a sucker born every minute. Some you can trick into thinking work is fun, and some you can even trick into paying you to work for you.

Hyperbole error at line 10 (1)

Burb (620144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35675684)

If you want to avoid all the chatter and buzz around the concept of gamification, I recommend being me. Never heard of it. Is this a US thing?

Re:Hyperbole error at line 10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676354)

It's just another way to phrase 'Haven't you heard, you're behind the times (sucker)', standard hype propagation can't be too direct as pony farts have more substance.

Examples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676420)

I'm too lazy to RTFA. Any examples of what this actually means?

Well, maybe; (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35676434)

I'm currently involved in an EU project looking at ways of creating incentives for people to make semantic annotations (http://www.insemtives.org) It's somewhat subtler and quite a bit more interesting a topic than this very brief article has space to suggest :)

Creating entertaining activities that also have worthwhile by-products in terms of data produced is quite a big deal; look at the spectacular success of Galaxy Zoo, Moon Zoo and the other Citizen's Science Alliance projects for evidence. Taking 'playful' (yes, better word than gamification) approaches to dealing with such problems improves outcomes - although this is taking a 'scientific' approach which is probably less cynical than some employers attitudes. Gamification is in many ways an HCI issue that is an inevitable by product of the fact that for a number of years now a whole bunch of people have been using exactly the same computers for spreadsheets, databases and running around mazes firing BFG's at alien monsters. Where it becomes really interesting is if you can persuade 10,000 people to give up a bit of free time to help out solving a problem.

Mind you, running around Skype conferences stomping on certain colleagues like Super Mario works for me too.

Re:Well, maybe; (1)

herojig (1625143) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677636)

I played Sea Fish, and I get your point. Well done. But while I can see how it makes sorting pictures more fun then using a file manager or iPhoto, how will this concept scale to solving complex business problems? Take for an example the task of producing a schedule for a large scale project, where the previous method is to have a meeting of the principles and then create a Microsoft project (or something like that). Would you have to design a game interface just for the task? Cheers!

Re:Well, maybe; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678018)

I think it would probably be wrong to scale it in that way unless perhaps you took the approach of modelling it as a simulation; then I suspect it becomes something different. In fact those types of simulations have been tried before and in every instance the limiting factor was the complexity of the set-up. I guess in that sense a game-like interface could provide some tangible benefits if only to (say) easily visualise whether an MS Project would actually get from start to finish and quickly identify where complex dependencies clash. Of course you can do this already in MS Project and other tools, but there is always the danger of even professional users becoming 'snow-blind' when looking at large numbers of interactions. There are also plenty of examples of that kind of problem, and unfortunately they frequently seem to result in real-world tragedies. More immediate ways of visualising such things might help solve some problems of ever increasing complexity, and the types of tools used by games designers might make creating those visualisations more straightforward.

I think the contentious part of this discussion may be in the term 'gamification' itself; there have been some - and in my opinion quite rightly so - vocal objections to trivialising people's jobs. The benefits would only really occur in instances where there were either simple, mechanical but deceptively complex tasks being performed (Sea Fish tries to address that) or large scale and explicitly complex projects. In the middle ground, 'good' companies seem to have already found better ways of tackling this - the role structure used by Apple seems to work extremely well in this regard.

One area in which I'd quite like to see some of those tools employed is the financial services sector. In making a game you do at least need to know in detail how each of the individual components of a system work, even if the final outcomes might be unpredictable (Soviet Union winning Command and Conquer or some such!). A better understanding of the components of financial markets and easily used tools by which 'players' (sic) might simulate various strategies before embarking on them might have been beneficial in 2008 :)

RPGs already do this (1)

HalfNormalForm (849933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676638)

If Eddie Izzard worked at Square Enix: "How stupid do I think the gamers are? They'll pay money to navigate menus. We'll tell them it's from Japan."

Money (1)

Mandrel (765308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676704)

What's the most popular form of gaming? Gambling.

What's the best motiivator? Money.

Same thing.

Status pales.

Re:Money (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35680484)

hello wall street...

Fucking dumb. (2, Insightful)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35676712)

I live in the real world, I may choose to work in IT but I am not a stereotypical nerd/geek and I also have ZERO interest in bullshit like this. I don't want fucking achievements and "points" or other inane things, I want to be treated as a professional and I want to do my job. That is already almost impossible in IT as it is never given respect and seen as purely a cost/drain as it is. If any company I would work for would implement something like this, I would resign instantly.

Re:Fucking dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677066)

Good for you, Sparky!

Re:Fucking dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677248)

Life is too short to always have this serious, "professional" attitude, get off your high horse.

Re:Fucking dumb. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35692638)

Life is too short to always have this serious, "professional" attitude, get off your high horse.

If surgeons and aircraft pilots would take your advice life would be even shorter.

Re:Fucking dumb. (1)

musicalmicah (1532521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677620)

I don't want fucking achievements and "points" or other inane things

I love the irony that this post is modded up. Slashdot's karma system feels just as much like a game to me as any multiplayer game with achievements and points.

Re:Fucking dumb. (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35679284)

If it's any consolation, I couldn't care less about that either. :)

You know that this kind of thing in the typical management hands is going to become a nightmare in a "fun" wrapper. I'm not a mouse running a maze to get a little nibble of cheese for a right move. The average IT/IS type is so concerned with ego and showing off their knowledge that we are so easily manipulated as it is, it's why we are where we are now. So many do the overpromise, overly optimistic deadlines, etc. and then suffer time and time again. We've already marginalized ourselves, and there is a current trend in Fortune 500s to completely eliminate CIOs and leave IT be everyone's bitch... I've worked in this field for 16-17 years now and I've watched the entire rise and fall to where we are now. "Gamification" is not the answer.

Re:Fucking dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35685752)

Because you're doing it wrong. The mods aren't meant as a reward. They're to help people filter. As long as you're not a complete ass, you get good karma, which means your posts don't get insta-buried. That's the extent of the "points"

Re:Fucking dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35679036)

I'm guessing you wear the minimum amount of flair then?

Big problems with gamification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35677506)

I just recently wrote something on the subject for Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2289302

I think there are a lot of terrible ideas floating around right now under that heading.

Re:Big problems with gamification (1)

Swarley (1795754) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678196)

I definitely agree. And I also happen to really love video games. But the main reason why they are fun, and why players assume the most honorable version of themselves is because there are no consequences. Doctors need a lot of education and get paid a lot of money. But they don't need more education than a lot of other professions who get paid much less. Doctors aren't being compensated only for the education they endured to achieve the capable status in that profession. They are also being compensated for the consequences of their job. People die or get injured if you aren't good at being a doctor. People go to jail or pay huge fines if you aren't good at being a lawyer. Nobody really suffers much if a research professor writes a crap paper. Consequences are an intrinsic part of productivity. Games are only fun because you don't actually die when your game avatar does. You really can't inject real world productivity into games without also injecting real world consequence. The two are linked inextricably. Even if I don't die when my avatar dies, let's just say my company looses $500 every time my avatar dies. Sorry, but that game isn't fun anymore.

I'm conducting research on this very topic! (1)

abramovs (744048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677670)

I'm glad that the original post presented both sides of the argument because the truth is that no one really knows whether gamification of anything is a good idea....yet.

My own research is in education where scientists have been looking at how games can teach and motivate since at least 1987 (I'm talking about research and not educational games which go further back). Classically the debate has always been two fold:
1. Can anyone prove that knowledge transfers from a game to another setting?
2. Can games increase intrinsic motivation to learn or are they just another extrinsic motivator?

The first question is still undetermined for a lot of reasons (i.e. how does one even determine whether someone knows something).

The second question is important because education research has proven pretty conclusively that extrinsic motivators don't work - people driven by extrinsic motivators drop their motivation as soon as motivator is removed. But new research in motivation has illuminated what drives individuals to learn; that framing motivation as extrinsic vs intrinsic is possibly a misrepresentation of what drives us to learn something. In addition, integrating a badge or achievement system is different than what we are used to thinking about when making something game like. The badges aren't necessarily replacing goals, just supplementing them. And if that is true (TBD) then that could also increase a type of motivation necessary for learning (or accomplishing other goals).

Does gamification work? Sit tight and I hope to have an answer in the next 6 months. ;)

XP (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35677928)

Funny, my boss and I were just discussing merit based review. At her last position you would get points for being able to do a certain level of task and points for completing tasks. Of course I immediately equate this to experience points:

1) Java Programmer: Level 6.
2) .NET Programmer: Level 5
3) PHP programmer: Level 3
4) write an application to inventory computers into an SQL-based database: 300 xp
5) script a website that allows for a single header across multiple pages: 25 xp

So there is less distance between level 3 and 4 so the PHP programmer might pick up task 5. But if that person takes on task 4 and does it well, that's a big xp boost and they might even ding.

My examples to my boss actually included killing orcs and saving princesses but you know...didn't want to alienate the tech-only crowd.

Re:XP (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35680510)

learning the ancient language of cobol to battle the metal demon of the holy chamber: master of the known universe.

Wrong topic (1)

Dimes (10216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678068)

Interesting idea aside, its a bit like discussing Tomato crop yields when you find your pizza sauce bland. Sure, what tomatoes go into pizza sauce make a difference, but if its just shitty sauce its not really going to matter if you add some nice tomatoes to it.

If employers think embracing Gamification will fix an endemically lousy work environment...well, its probably why the work environment is so bad in the first place.

dimes

Flow and Engagement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35678130)

I just finished reading Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonagall. It had very similar ideas. She tied together some really interesting concepts about personal engagement and flow experiences (when we're at our most productive and self-forgetful). Flow happens when certain conditions are met: we're getting realtime feedback, we're right at the threshold of our own skill levels (being neither bored nor overwhelmed), we believe we can win, etc. This is covered in the research and writing of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (primarily his classic work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience).

It's not entirely new territory. The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack (1994) made a great case for structuring business endeavors as mini-games. People love to outdo themselves. It invites a phenomenal amount of brilliance as people's goals go from vague to ultra-measurable. Case studies are presented where entire plants are transformed and everyone's ingenuity is invited, not just high-level planners. I think this ties into McGonagall's ideas about using theories of flow and personal engagement, informed by the wild success of gaming at rewarding players for overcoming essentially voluntary obstacles, to restructure reality in new and creative ways.

When I started reading the book, I was suspicious of its core premise. But I really do now believe that principles from game design can be, and is already being, used to restructure academic experience (look at Khan Academy and it's built-in reward systems for mastering material). Similar creative leaps await us in business and society as well.

Flow and Engagement (1)

blaster151 (874280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678306)

I just finished reading Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonagall. It had very similar ideas. She tied together some really interesting concepts about personal engagement and flow experiences (when we're at our most productive and self-forgetful). Flow happens when certain conditions are met: we're getting realtime feedback, we're right at the threshold of our own skill levels (being neither bored nor overwhelmed), we believe we can win, etc. This is covered in the research and writing of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (primarily his classic work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience).

It's not entirely new territory. The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack (1994) made a great case for structuring business endeavors as mini-games. People love to outdo themselves. It invites a phenomenal amount of brilliance as people's goals go from vague to ultra-measurable. Case studies are presented where entire plants are transformed and everyone's ingenuity is invited, not just high-level planners. I think this ties into McGonagall's ideas about using theories of flow and personal engagement, informed by the wild success of gaming at rewarding players for overcoming essentially voluntary obstacles, to restructure reality in new and creative ways.

When I started reading the book, I was suspicious of its core premise. But I really do now believe that principles from game design can be, and is already being, used to restructure academic experience (look at Khan Academy and it's built-in reward systems for mastering material). Similar creative leaps await us in business and society as well.

Re:Flow and Engagement (1)

blaster151 (874280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678338)

(sorry for the duplicate; when I'd posted before I hadn't realized I wasn't logged in)

Re:Flow and Engagement (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35679106)

Jane McGonigal, is that you?

Re:Flow and Engagement (1)

blaster151 (874280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35684320)

lol!

An anecdote -- driving habits (1)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35678312)

I just bought a hybrid car. When I drive, it shows me my current MPG, and when I get to my destination, it shows me the MPG for the trip. If I get over 35 MPG, I get a little "Excellent!" message that flashes.

It's not much, but I'm surprised at the effect this has had on my driving. I notice myself driving differently when I have this feedback.

Now imagine we all had cars that published (tweeted, for example) our total MPG, and some sort of public leaderboard/ranking system. I think that alone would change the way a lot of people drove, and save a lot of fuel.

Re:An anecdote -- driving habits (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35682596)

Me, too! It's a very tight feed-back loop with near-immediate rewards.

To give you a non-video game equivalent of a tight feedback loop: jogging with my dogs. Running sucks. But when I look down and see my boys with their mouths open and their tongues hanging out having a great time, it makes me want to run faster.

Re:An anecdote -- driving habits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35683084)

You hit upon an excellent point here-- a simple, fun user interface which provides useful feedback data you're not accustomed to being presented with about tasks you have direct control over.

A lot of what this boils down to is creating more & better user interfaces that display more & better data about our environment - and our actions within it - in an aesthetically superior way (i.e. more important data is more visible, data which is updated more frequently is animated and/or shows a rolling history, data which affects goals/profits more directly is displayed in a more 'motivating' color/font/animation)...

I really think this will all happen as an inevitable result of the continuing evolution of software-- all other variables being equal (functionality, price), people will pick the more aesthetically engaging option every time. Software development teams which haven't already realized this are probably doomed in the long run.

No original content, just repetition... (1)

keeruq (171502) | more than 3 years ago | (#35679288)

After reading the article, I found nothing new that I hadn't already learned by reading the books and papers already out by other authors like Edward Castronova and Nick Yee. I wish someone would focus less on explaining the what the concept is about and more on some actual case studies instead. In theory it sounds interesting, but who is getting it to work and what did they do?

In every job that must be done ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35681216)

"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun; you find the fun and snap, the job's a game" - Mary Poppins

Captology (1)

Modern Primate (1503803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35685750)

I believe the "scholarly" term they're looking for is captology, the study of persuasive technology. [stanford.edu]

This is all just recruiting the lower parts of the brain that B.F. Skinner studied. Pull-lever-get-food-pellet type of stuff. No play involved, really.

you gained a new level (1)

islon (1864460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35687276)

Just leveled up my java skill doing some web programming here. Now i'll grind "big files" to improve my perl pet and sell the loot to apple store.

hi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35691784)

That is very good comment you shared.Thank you so much that for you shared those things with us.Im wishing you to carry on with ur achivments.All the best. chat [hayda.net]

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