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Is Gamification a Good Motivator?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the winning-at-work dept.

Businesses 290

CowboyRobot writes "Growing up, many of our teachers used gamification techniques such as a gold star sticker on a test (essentially a badge) or a public display of which students had completed a set of readings (leaderboard). These were intended to motivate students to strive to do better. Now, these techniques are increasingly common in the workplace where the parallel with computer games is more intentional. A report by Gartner predicts that 'by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.' One example would be assigning badges for submitting work on time, another would be having a leaderboard in an office to show who completed a training module first. The idea of using game mechanics in work or study environments is not new, but its ubiquity is. Educators can discuss how effective gamification is in classrooms, but how useful is it as a motivator in the workplace?"

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Already done it. (4, Funny)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964477)

We have something similar already where I work, I can goomba colleagues.

Slashdot? (0, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964861)

Oh, please give me a +1 insightful mod, and pump up the tires on my karma, oh benevolent Slashgodz, please!

Re:Already done it. (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964903)

Hell, even the Soviets had already done it [kmjn.org] , and it didn't work very well. And then in the 1990s there was a whole wave of "make work like play" management books, which didn't do much either, except perhaps inspire the "flair" scene in Office Space. Not sure we need another go at it.

Oh no, what did you just do? (-1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964483)

Articles like this is bound to invite that game maker nut.

And also first?

Re:Oh no, what did you just do? (-1, Offtopic)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964589)

Yeah, I'm kind of shocked that there aren't fifty back-and-forth posts (or possibly the same AC posting in reply to himself) on the subject already. Surely we haven't been abandoned? Return to us, Return To Gamemakerdom Guy!

Re:Oh no, what did you just do? (0)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965097)

I think they got bored of it, wonder what the next one will be.

It is like TPS cover sheets. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964485)

It's really a shame system. If you don't have enough gold stars or silver turds or whatever, you look bad and might get fired.

That's an entirely different thing to being motivated, unless you consider jumping through stupid manager-invented hoops just to keep your job motivation.

What Is Being Measured? (5, Interesting)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964555)

Apart from it being a shame system there are also other problems.

This is a form of measurement system, and sociological studies have shown that those are growing increasingly common in schools. The problems is the same as with most such systems: the thing being measured isn't necessarily anywhere close to what is thought.

In the case of a list of who completed things first, the probability is high that it measures who took the most shortcuts and did the least amount of work possible relative to their own capabilities.

Instead of focusing on measurement and rivalry studies have shown that focusing on equality and everyone in class doing a good job lifts the entire group. I do not know if this carries over to work environments, but I'm sceptical about using rivalry when there could be co-operation instead.

(Further reading: sociologists who have written about the culture of measurement in schools include David Hargreaves and Risto Rinne.)

Re:What Is Being Measured? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964645)

With respect to programming, Tom DeMarco has written at some length about the hazards of software metrics, eg. in "Controlling Software Projects". Whatever it is you measure, you'll get more of it -- but that won't necessarily be the same thing as the sublime Quality you were hoping for.

If you "gamify" (ugly word) a system, it will be gamed.

Re:What Is Being Measured? (3, Interesting)

gomoX (618462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965107)

The trick is in closing the feedback loop. Not all projects are software projects, where quality is highly subjective and unmeasurable. At InvGate [invgate.com] we introduced earlier this year a set of tools to bring gamification to the helpdesk [invgate.com] .

If your system can measure the actual quality of the work (which is possible in IT/customer support environments by gathering feedback from requesters) then you can actually have an incentive system that works.

Bad system:
* 10 points for solving a ticket
* 1 point por replying to a ticket
* 4 points for chipping into another tech's tickets (allegedly to help out)
* -20 points for reopened ticket
* -100 points for SLA missed

If you ever worked in this type of environment, you can already see the incentives pushing for quick, bad replies to customers in your tickets and everyone else's, and new requests filed instead of reopening old ones.

But what about this?

* 1 point for solving a ticket
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those tickets
* -100 points for SLA missed
* 200 points bonus for doing 10 5-star tickets in a row
* 1000 points bonus for doing those 10 5-star tickets in a row in less than one hour

It even starts to become fun! And if you plug gamification throughout the whole system, even this (taken from a "Knowledge Week" quest that lasted through a specific week in an InvGate Service Desk instance):
* 10 points for creating a Knowledge Base article
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those articles
* 20 points for having the article you created used by other techs to solve a ticket
* 50 points for having the article you created used by customers to figure out the ticket themselves

There other significant side effects to a gamification setup in this situation:

* You get a performance metric in the amount of points an agent gathered during a period of X
* Non-geek helpdesk or customer support admins can tune incentives themselves (an earlier approach with a "black box" combined metric resulted in questions about how it's calculated, and why it's doing things that you don't expect)
* Unlike the case mentioned above, gamification-based metrics are transparent. Everyone can understand what's going on with a score counter that pops up when you perform actions.
* It even has a "ka-ching" sound effect when you get points!

Re:What Is Being Measured? (4, Interesting)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964659)

It probably boils down to this: Are you sure by introducing rewards for certain things, you are really encouraging the kind of behavior you want for your team and company?
This is a already a serious problem with sales based bonuses. Measuring performance is difficult if you want to do it right.

Re:What Is Being Measured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964721)

Metric dysfunction -- see http://testingeducation.org/a/scmmd.pdf
as well as many others

Re:What Is Being Measured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964787)

This is like capitalism vs socialism. And we know now what works and what doesn't.

Re:What Is Being Measured? (2)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964983)

I agree. We are pretty much sure that communism is the economic powerhouse these days where things get built and economic growth happens.

Re:What Is Being Measured? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964837)

My company does an above an beyond your job type of award. I won one and now I'm demotivated from ever earning another because it sets expectations stupidly high from the run of the mill workers. Ever since I won it people seem to expect that I will have a solution immediately and anything less than that isn't "acceptable for a winner".

Re:What Is Being Measured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964839)

Instead of focusing on measurement and rivalry studies have shown that focusing on equality and everyone in class doing a good job lifts the entire group. I do not know if this carries over to work environments, but I'm sceptical about using rivalry when there could be co-operation instead.

Please provide some references. I have doubts about "focusing on equality"; all that does is give the lazy a free pass.

Re:What Is Being Measured? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965035)

Instead of focusing on measurement and rivalry studies have shown that focusing on equality and everyone in class doing a good job lifts the entire group. I do not know if this carries over to work environments, but I'm sceptical about using rivalry when there could be co-operation instead.

Please provide some references. I have doubts about "focusing on equality"; all that does is give the lazy a free pass.

I am sure you are right if it is the sole motivator, but if there are other motivators for the class/team to do well then it may help reaching the optimum performance rather than letting a few "star players" do everything.

Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964615)

We need to talk about your flair. 15 is the minimum. Now it's up to you if you want to do the minimum... but Brian over there, for example, has 37 pieces of flair.

And a terrific smile.

Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964759)

Yup. It's a bad system in schools as well. A kid with few to no stars may decide the system just doesn't really seem to apply to him or her, and it becomes a really effective demotivator.

But in the workplace?

Hell no, I am not a child. Maybe if you have an office full of recent grads that need to be corralled into behaving themselves, but not in an engineering lab with experience and self-imposed discipline.

Workplace? (2)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965183)

But in the workplace?

In the workplace it pits employees against each other. Not exactly a "team building" option. I also didn't see any indication of research by Gartner on this one. Are they just making predictions based on how they feel things should be done? Or did they actually ask company leaders about their "gamification" strategies?

Re:It is like TPS cover sheets. (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965143)

It's really a shame system. If you don't have enough gold stars or silver turds or whatever, you look bad

I remember from my stint in the telecoms sector, where there was constant whining that we didn't fill in our time report cards. "Very important, that's how we get paid!". (Yeah right, it all got lumped into one account statement when sent up the ladder anyway).

So, they decided it was time for some automated shaming. Every month an automatic email got sent that listed how much unreported time you had. And our boss would follow up with the inevitable; "We need to do this, please, pretty please". However, since his name was always pegged at the number two spot on the list (by a wide margin) only bested by *his* boss, it had the opposite effect. Quite a few of us realised that we didn't really need to do it weekly as our bosses and co-workers apparently couldn't be bothered to do it monthly even... Shaming fail. :-)

Might work for a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964493)

But one has to accept that it will work only for a subset. Not everybody is interested to acquire as many badges/friends/top scores as possible. And some that like that in gameplay (leisure) might become desensitized to it when used at work. So perhaps games would need to find new motivators? (Followed by workplaces adopting them again? Lather rinse repeat.)

What about non-gamers? (1)

zarlino (985890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964495)

Not everybody has a RPG (or other game type) mindset. I'd feel weird if being given a "badge" at work. As in "Wtf is a badge anyway? And why should I care about it?".

Re:What about non-gamers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964691)

Exactly. It's infantile, and insulting to adult professionals.

It's the sort of thing that deserves an industrial-strength shower of mockery from the likes of Douglas Coupland ("Microserfs", "JPod") or Scott Adams.

(And for some reason, this "gamification" topic makes me think of bloody Microsoft Office Communicator, with its bloody "emoticons". This rubbish is for fourteen-year-old Japanese schoolgirls, not for investment banks.)

Re:What about non-gamers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964831)

(And for some reason, this "gamification" topic makes me think of bloody Microsoft Office Communicator, with its bloody "emoticons". This rubbish is for fourteen-year-old Japanese schoolgirls, not for investment banks.)

While I agree in general on that, adding an "emoticon" to scathing sarcasm does seem to mitigate political fallout. Although not always, as emails sent to my manager testify.

Re:What about non-gamers? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965153)

It depends; does the each badge allow me to leave from work a few minutes earlier? Does a badge allow me to get some free candy from the vending machine? Does it mean I get paid $5 more each month? Does it mean I get to yell at the PHB next meeting? Most likely it's just "This cartboard crap is a lot cheaper than actually rewarding employees".

Ever more short-termism (4, Insightful)

solarissmoke (2470320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964503)

"Accelerated feedback cycles, short-term but achievable goals, compelling narrative."

So basically they're predicting that organizations will become even more focused on the short-term and immediate gain, and even step away from reality in order to make it more exciting. Because that's not what got us into this financial mess in the first place.

Re:Ever more short-termism (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964685)

This "this quarter" mentality needs to stop as soon as possible and has to be replaced by a more long term oriented approach. Paying management according to performance is not a bad idea per se, but this short term goals bullshit has cost a lot of companies dearly.

Not a motivator (1)

Meneth (872868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964505)

I think it's not a motivator by itself. It's a tool that helps you keep track of your achievements. It's useful for those that are already motivated to do well.

Re:Not a motivator (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965171)

Somebody who needs badges to keep track of his own achievements probably likely won't have any achievements to keep track of.

if ( Question in Title ) Answer = no; (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964511)

Nope. Not a good motivator. More precisely it's a motivator for the wrong type of behaviour. Once you "gamify" a system, you've just added one more layer of indirection, and several orders of magnitude more ways to game the system.

Perfection in game design is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to cheat.

Slot machines are the answer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964939)

Gold stars on tests was not fscking "gamification", it was "Operant Conditioning" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning [wikipedia.org] and when proper motivators are used and used well it is a (Yoda voice) powerful tool.

Vegas knows. And as Pavlov proved, you can only condition one or two layers of indirection before it turns too weak to be effective.

Why are so many corporate shill articles making it through the editors?!?

Re:Slot machines are the answer (-1, Offtopic)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965201)

Why are so many corporate shill articles making it through the editors?!?

I have a feeling this is related to the departure of Taco. Not sure which is cause and which is effect.

Re:if ( Question in Title ) Answer = no; (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965063)

Nope. Not a good motivator. More precisely it's a motivator for the wrong type of behaviour. Once you "gamify" a system, you've just added one more layer of indirection, and several orders of magnitude more ways to game the system.

Perfection in game design is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to cheat.

I have actually seen that happen. A bonus scheme based on the number of incidents fixed meant that teams quickly found out that rather than "try something, test, try something, test" until it worked, if they instead would "try something, send back to user as done" it would not only mean that they could move on to the next problem quicker, but also have the added bonus that the user would probably have to raise another problem report on the same incident. Quality went down, incidents went up, bonuses went up - for nearly two months until the scheme was revised.

Works once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964517)

Then when there's no real reward .....

Already widely used in the workplace... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964519)

I do believe the rewards are called "money".

Re:Already widely used in the workplace... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965071)

I do believe the rewards are called "money".

That was last year. This year the management will have read the report and know that you will be better motivated with a gold star.

Achievements (1)

Noread (2270278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964525)

Just throw in some achievements while you're at it and you can really get the competition going.

Bonus days off works better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964527)

Especially if they cannot call you while off.

Flair (3, Funny)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964529)

The nazi's used to hand out stars to the jews, just for being so awesome!

Mastery is more important (3, Informative)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964531)

Microrewards a great, but they only do part of the job. Engagement also relies on the feeling that your skills are improving (mastery). Autonomy and purpose are also fairly important.

I've worked in a number of workforces that use gamification techniques. Typically it's adopted brute force (leaderboards, backed by monetary incentives) that convince you to work against others. They basically turn a group of people who should be working together into fifteen year olds playing co-op Modern Warfare 3 - smack talk included.

This isn't to say they're bad, just typically poorly adopted.

the only way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964533)

...that's gonna work is if I can get a level up to throw lightning bolts at people.

Hell yeah! (4, Funny)

karolgajewski (515082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964535)

As a bureaucrat in a dead-end job, I can say "Hell yeah!"

There's nothing I look forward to more than a little gold star that I can put on my cubicle to rub in the face of Jenkins because I submitted more dreary TPS reports than anyone else in our unit.

Not gamification.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964539)

A gold star sticker isn't gamification. Giving me experience that I can use to level up and get perks (say the ability to use "skip this question" on a test for the price of having to look up the answer after) or virtual currency that I can redeem for prizes, that is gamification. A gold star sticker is what everyone has done forever .

Gamification? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964543)

Please use real words in the title or at least put made up ones in quotes. . .

Re:Gamification? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964797)

Or you do a single Google for it.

Gamification [wikipedia.org]

Your auto-correct isn't a standard. Languages are defined by use.

Best Motivator (2)

rikkards (98006) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964553)

Money
Otherwise why are we truly there?

Re:Best Motivator (3, Interesting)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964767)

Money
Otherwise why are we truly there?

Was discussing this with my boss yesterday. we agreed that money was very effective for motivating salesmen, very poor for motivating engineers. Good challenges and good toys to play with seem to me the best way to motivate engineers (by which I mean they're the best way to motivate me).

Re:Best Motivator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964873)

So he cut your pay and provided more difficult problems!

Re:Best Motivator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964911)

So he cut your pay and provided more difficult problems!

Yep. More difficuly problem: you know that thing I asked you to do over the next 6 months? Have it done by Thursday instead.

Re:Best Motivator (1)

ThreeKelvin (2024342) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965085)

Well, sort of, yes.

When I get paid enough to cover my needs I don't really care about money. If I had to choose between two jobs: one with huge pay and dreary work, and another with adequete pay and interesting work, I'd go for the second job.

Re:Best Motivator (2)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964967)

Money
Otherwise why are we truly there?

Good challenges and good toys to play with seem to me the best way to motivate engineers (by which I mean they're the best way to motivate me).

...If you already have the money, or enough to live comfortably.
I personally hate those fucking badges. Just got two of them this quarter (they were handed less than a week ago) so the rage is still fresh. One was a team-based award (some project I was part of) and the other was a recognition award (some people considered me being awesome and shit).
Strings attached: no cash reward. No cash reward, these "database entries" are worthless to me. Those "badges" mean "We, the Company, think you are worthy, but not worthy enough to throw some money your way". You can commend everyone for free. That doesn't mean shit. if you're underpaid but surrounded by beautiful toys, it's not gonna work. It's my current situation; if I need this IT component or that monitor or whatever, I can go ahead and get it and if there's a business justification, the company will approve and pay for it. But when I see there's budget for fancy mobile devices and expensive monthly subscriptions, but no budget for salary adjustments (nota bene: NOT raises, just adjustments to inflation), that makes me pretty mad and demotivates me.

And then badges come, and I'm supposed to be happy about them? Piss off.

Very useful, more so if the rewards are good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964557)

I even do it when I work for myself. (software, web, tools dev, and now game and engines dev. )

If I meet certain deadlines within a day, I reward myself with watching or playing something I like, such as a new episode of a TV show I watch, or a game. (30 minutes)
If I even go above and beyond what I set out for that day, I will reward myself with a 60 minute segment instead of the typical 30. (good for those 1 hour shows, or 30 minute and some gaming, or whatever else.
If I don't, no playtime for me. Boohoo. But it happens. Sometimes I just need to push through and find that light at the end of the tunnel in the case of something complex where a break would probably ruin my current mindset and I'd have no clue what I was doing.

It got me more productive in more ways than one, specifically more productive at having fun instead of wasting time sitting around doing nothing.
My organization is better, which used to be just a huge mess. Both with respect to working as well as play.

My days follow a pretty strict schedule mostly to fit around health issues. From exercise to work to play to work to relaxation, and possibly some more play and even work. (since it is both a hobby and job to me)
Works pretty damn well if I do say so myself.
Stopped me sitting around wasting away like a burst grape.

Looking at the bigger picture (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964585)

This just seems like yet another step towards employers treating their employees like children(that unlike real children they can, and do fire) rather than adults. Monitoring internet, asking for social network passwords, and now this....if they wanted to run a kindergarten, they should have gone into that field.

Re:Looking at the bigger picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964651)

Mod parent up. +5 Insightful.

Re:Looking at the bigger picture (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964927)

...if they wanted to run a kindergarten, they should have gone into that field.

Case in point: moderation, karma points, meta-moderation, friends, fans, freaks and foes. Gamification of an otherwise dry forum.

Re:Looking at the bigger picture (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964969)

Nah, this pays far, far better than being a school teacher.

Not at all. (4, Interesting)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964587)

Competition in games works because competition is added to something that would be less interesting without competition. Same about classroom -- students don't perceive their achievement as significant or a part of some greater picture, public display (not necessarily competitive one) affirms the significance.

At workplace, environment usually is already competitive. Worse yet, the most "important" competition's results, salaries, are never disclosed, what already causes some uncertainty in the minds of employees (do people who clearly do worse job, actually earn more than me because they were hired this year?) Adding another "competition" seems like company trying to avoid raising salary for its best employees instead opting for cheap "badges". It sends a message -- yes, we have meritocracy here, we give worthless things to people who contributed the most, however don't expect us to actually return your loyalty with anything of value, we have salaries and bonuses determined by haggling, nepotism, management hierarchies, and $deity knows what.

There is also another aspect to this -- a person who underperforming in a "game" would live in fear that he is going to be fired, even if his work is entirely adequate for the company's purposes.

It's also an interesting detail that it was very common in USSR to have competition in a workplace, however first and foremost, it was based on originally non-competitive environment (no unemployment or "working poor", narrow ranges of salaries), and created "bigger picture" not unlikely one in the classroom. Second, competition was mostly between groups, not just individuals. "You suck because your construction project goes two times slower than neighbor's" hurts someone's sense of pride for his work and ability, especially when it is known that all other conditions, results and consequences are supposed to be more or less the same for his and neighbor's group. I have a strong suspicion that this is what is being imitated here. Nope. Doesn't work under Capitalism. You can't enroll the same people in three competitions at once -- one for money, one for not being thrown out, one for shiny stickers.

Re:Not at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964913)

Didn't work in USSR either - it resulted in shortcuts and cheating.

Re:Not at all. (2)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964991)

It worked, just was undermined at some extent by taking shortcuts and cheating.

Those are inherent problems with any competition, and they are unrelated to the fact that some forms of competition are counterproductive to begin with.

Not that useful. (1)

kubajz (964091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964591)

Gamification is an example of extrinsic motivation [wikipedia.org] - the kind that gives you a substitute for the joy of work itself. It can be effective (in a similar way that money motivates people to do all kinds of jobs they hate) but it can be hardly a substitute for "intrinsic motivation" where you aim at making the actual work more interesting - in your example by making the training interesting and relevant to people, by avoiding all kinds of stress by submitting work in time, by giving people a greater variety of tasks, more responsibility - simply a more interesting job, not a more interesting badge.
The outcome may seem the same... until you remove the rewards - look for reference [11] in the Wikipedia entry. That's why intrinsically motivated people keep doing their jobs even though they are extremely badly paid (in my country, that would include e.g. pastors, teachers and even doctors).
In short - if you need "gamification" then in the first place you need to admit that the gamified job sucks.

Re:Not that useful. (2)

javaxjb (931766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964891)

According to Punished by Rewards [alfiekohn.org] , which cites many studies, it can also be counterproductive, especially in work that requires creativity or teamwork. The only creativity it appears to encourage long term is cheating. It's short term productive at best and long term counterproductive at worst (here's looking at you Wall Street).

"ubiquity"? Been there, done that (1)

KrazyDave (2559307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964627)

"Badges" as motivators might be novel or perhaps "ubiquitous" in business via "gaming" culture, but the concept goes just a lil' bit beyond gold stars on school papers. Viz: military institutions have been using badges as a motivator for, oh, about >1000 years, now.

Re:"ubiquity"? Been there, done that (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964669)

military institutions have been using badges as a motivator for, oh, about >1000 years, now.

Military at the time of war is an extremely dangerous co-operative environment on every level of its hierarchy. Harmless competition works when added on top of it. Modern workplace is usually a safe environment with both co-operation and competition already in place.

Re:"ubiquity"? Been there, done that (1)

infolation (840436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964687)

The difference is that most military decorations are for bravery, valour and honour. For helping others rather than putting yourself first.

Whereas competitive awards within a workplace award the individual triumphing over others.

Re:"ubiquity"? Been there, done that (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964763)

The difference is that most military decorations are for bravery, valour and honour. For helping others rather than putting yourself first.

Actually, most US military decorations these days are for, um, showing up. When I was stationed in England, the RAF guys (who really have to earn their decorations; it's not unusual in the British military to go an entire career without earning more than a couple of ribbons) used to laugh their asses off at the amount of crap decorating our dress uniforms. And lest anyone think this is just an Air Force problem, I have a green uniform hanging in my closet too, and it's even gaudier than the blue one.

Personally I'd have been a lot happier with a lot fewer decorations, and the sense of having had to really earn the ones I had; most of the people I served with felt the same way. There's probably a lesson here for the corporate "gamifiers," but I can practically guarantee you they won't learn it.

Gamify the system (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964635)

"Gamifying" the system? Won't that just lead to...people gaming the system? Or is this the sort of obvious conclusion that people miss, the kind of people who have no problem using "gamify" as a verb.

Re:Gamify the system (0)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964905)

If someone uses the world "gamify", it shows that they've already lost at mastering English.

Here's how it worked at one place. (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964689)

There was a quality bonus.

Every day without a return was a dollar. After the first month, it was 2 dollars. After the second month, it was 3 dollars/day.

The owner of the company would come around and give cash out of his pocket at the end of each month.

It wasn't a lot of money. It was gas money. But it was goal oriented and people liked it.

When I was apprenticing there, we got almost to the end of the third month and we got a return. A company had a new receiver and rejected a batch of hobbed gears because he didn't like the finish, because hobbing a gear leaves a scalloped effect that is apparent under decent lighting. It has nothing to do with the overall quality of the gear. He just didn't like the shine.

Some of us were... unhappy. We were literally 3 business days from the end of the month.

We glass beaded the gears (in our opinion, ruining the finish) and sent them back and they got accepted.

Making a game out of the quality of the product changed people's attitudes.

--
BMO

Gamification is very important (1)

miketheanimal (914328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964701)

The important thing to understand about modern use of gamification, is that the benefit is not to the employees (or students), nor to the company (or school). The benefit is to the management, so they can say "look, we are actively monitoring performance" and "look, we are actively seeking to improve performance". Plus, with a bit of inflation in the system, "look, performance is improving". The wider the disjunction between how the company creates products, and the typical manager's understanding of that process, the more gamification you'll see.

Decent pay, fair conditions of employment (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964705)

Call me a communist, but these, along with respect for the dignity of employees, seem the best motivators.

Re:Decent pay, fair conditions of employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964953)

No, I'd call you an enlightened Capitalist. Communists really don't give a shit about dignity.

Sales bonus (1)

MM-tng (585125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964719)

It is easier to drag other people down than to do actual work. Within our company this is very obvious in our sales department. People are not focussed on winning. They are focussed on other people loosing.

Competition between employees: not new (2)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964727)

The idea of stimulating competition between employees is not new, nor is giving out "badges" such as plaques, trophies, other ritual and non-monetary icons that can be displayed to demonstrate one's prowess in front of other members of staff (e.g. "salesman of the year" "long service award").

I am not a researcher of workplace environments (IANAROWE?) but I should imagine there is a lot of written research on employee motivation, competition, and so forth.

Is this second grade? (1, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964729)

Are they going to have milk and cookies, nap time. and craft hour?

Grow up, you thumb sucking, diaper wearing 20 year old over-privileged snots. It's a fucking business, not a social networking site or a video game. Your motivation is to do the job and get paid.

This is the result of helicopter parents. College grads are showing up for job interviews with their parents, or having their mom call and chew out the boss when they don't get a big enough raise. This crap happens at big New York financial firms, for God's sake.

The US will be screwed when this generation takes over. I can just see them trying to negotiate with Chinese or Indian firms and calling their doddering parents to whine that the people on the other side of the table are not playing fair.

Re:Is this second grade? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964823)

Grow up, you thumb sucking, diaper wearing 20 year old over-privileged snots. It's a fucking business, not a social networking site or a video game. Your motivation is to do the job and get paid.

This is nothing but whining BS on your part.

See my post further up the thread for *one* example of how it can work.

--
BMO

Re:Is this second grade? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965011)

This isn't the twentysomethings. This is their forty, fifty year old bosses, fresh from the change of life, desperate to look 'with it' and feel young again, trying to adopt their kids' lingo like the dads in a bad sitcom. You know, the people who have had the time and opportunity to rise to their level of incompetence in management.

BACKDOORS Galore! With your tongue in my tail? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964753)

You'd be surprised how much hardware and software have back doors built into them, much of it legally.

GOOGLE: Cisco routers back doors

and you'll find hours of reading material alone just for one company.

WIKILEAKS: published information on dozens of companies making spyware for hardware and software and selling it to governments.

When is the last time you checked the firmware on your PCI devices and network card?

Your router?

Dumped and checksummed/debugged your BIOS lately?

Why aren't the anti-malware companies like Symantec and others climbing over each other in an effort to invent the technology and utilize it via the cloud to create GIANT databases of legit firmware for hardware in the fight against the most serious of root kits? Are they in bed with big bro?

How many so called remote exploits were patched this week in Windows? This month? This year? Since its release? Start from the beginning of the Windows version release and count all of the remote exploits up to present day and compare that to OpenBSD for example.

##

U.S. govâ(TM)t wiretapping laws and your network
â" https://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/012307-us-govt-wiretapping-laws-and.html [networkworld.com]

âoeActivists have long grumbled about the privacy implications of the legal âoebackdoorsâ that networking companies like Cisco build into their equipmentâ"functions that let law enforcement quietly track the Internet activities of criminal suspects. Now an IBM researcher has revealed a more serious problem with those backdoors: They donâ(TM)t have particularly strong locks, and consumers are at risk.â
â" http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html [forbes.com]

Hmmm... another 'Gaming' concept Gartner liked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964755)

I attended a Gartner 'Summit' 5-6 years ago. I recall talk of 'Second Life', 'Avatars' and 'virtual shopfronts' as inevitablities. :-)

If you need this, you're in the wrong job. (1)

hachre (981066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964777)

If someone needs motivation by gamification in his job then it's just clear that they are just doing the wrong thing for them. If companies introduce gamification into their workplaces all this tells me is that they know that they hire people who don't belong there in order to pretend to do something but in reality nobody is interested in actually doing anything.

Depends on the Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964783)

For jobs with short-term oriented goals, I can see this as successful.
For jobs with mid to long-term oriented goals, this will have no effect.

My mindset tends to work in 3-4 month increments, my spouse's in 3-4 year increments each based on the nature of our respective work. We also both regularly work 60 hours a week. Short-term motivators won't cut it for us when we are focused on achieving the end-goal, not simply what looks good today.

However, [citation needed], psychological studies have shown time and time again that for such short-term rewards, the only thing that does not have diminishing returns is money. Gold stars / leadership boards / respect have diminishing returns, money does not. If they want to may me more for doing the same job, I won't complain.

Companies specialize in this (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964793)

My friend works for Achievers (www.achievers.com). Basically, their business is providing gamification to other businesses. You give points and stuff to coworkers for doing good things, which they can then turn in for prizes. It's all kinda creepy and false IMO.

In Soviet Russia... (for real, actually) (3, Interesting)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964795)

I used to think gamification was an interesting idea which might lead somewhere: especially when dealt with as kudos, since monetary rewards so easily can lead to really counterproductive behaviours. Then I realized it had already been tried: in Soviet Russia, no less, under names such as 'socialist competition'. http://www.kmjn.org/notes/soviet_gamification.html [kmjn.org]

Now, the fact that the idea is not new is not an automatic rejection of the idea; but its history should be carefully considered to avoid replicating failure. Can gamification be managed so as to 1) reward both short and long term objectives, 2) avoid acting at cross purposes to monetary rewards 3) make it serious enough to affect sufficient numbers of employees, and 4) still be fun? I don't think I'm smart enough to setup such a system. Good luck to those who try: it'll be interesting to see any results.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (for real, actually) (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965051)

See my comment above for description of this very thing (and why it is not applicable to workplace under Capitslism).

Extra Credits Talked about this a long time ago (1)

Jetra (2622687) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964819)

http://extra-credits.net/episodes/gamification/ [extra-credits.net]

You don't have to watch it, but the narrator, Daniel Floyd, who works for Pixar Canada and is a game enthusiast, gives some pretty cool ideas. there is one more episode that was requested by teachers on a possible way to apply this to the classroom. He gives some good ideas that I would have thought of myself or anyone else if they spent an afternoon thinking about it. Link is provided.

http://extra-credits.net/episodes/gamifying-education/ [extra-credits.net]

Encouraging people is easy (4, Informative)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964821)

You know how to make me feel encouraged or valued? Just acknowledge what I'm doing from time to time. Say "thank you" or even just comment on the fact that I did some work over the weekend.

Where I work this actually happens, and it sure as hell means more to me than some fucking gold star or my name on a board. I hate attention being drawn to me publicly, I much prefer private acknowledgement. The letter I got from HR noting my contributions to a specific project along with telling me I had a £2k pay rise effective immediately? Also nice.

Re:Encouraging people is easy (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964871)

But wait, acknowledging you would be actual work...how about this automated game instead?

This is really so abhorrent (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964885)

[sarc]
All of this competition smacks of watered down capitalism.
Capitalism, of course, is that failed source of all human misery.
We must reject all comparisons of right/wrong, better/worse, vaguely homosexual/slightly Canadian, in order to regain the idyllic, Edenic, stress-free, Utopian existence which is our natural right.
[/sarc]

Re:This is really so abhorrent (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964937)

<NOSARC>
You are a strawman masturbator.
</NOSARC>

Gamification == competition? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964909)

These techniques abuse and promote competition rather than cooperation. They train people to view their peers as somewhat benign threats rather than colleagues. I suspect that it's techniques like this that prevent societies from being able to effectively transition to collectivism.

Re:Gamification == competition? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965069)

They work if the original environment is "too" co-operative, and a person may lose a reference point for how the effect of his work changes anything.

They don't work when original environment was competitive, or co-operation was insufficient to begin with.

Re:Gamification == competition? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965103)

well to promote co-operation you would have to have actual rewards given to whole team for team effort. just giving a sticker to one guy and shaming the others indirectly that way is cheap, doesn't offend anyone on paper and ultimately meaningless for the guy receiving the sticker too.

Badges? (3, Funny)

kwark (512736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964921)

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

Games Copied Life (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964923)

Not only was giving gold stars and showing leaders publicly not intentionally "gamification", this summary has the relationship backwards. It's the games that copied real life practices like those. Games are increasingly realistic. Of course, that's because all of life is adopting practices used in other ways in the past in new situations. Since real life came first, games copied RL, and then RL repeated the compliment by copying the updated practice from games.

Gah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964941)

I tend to have an attitude of "I'm here to do work, keep out of my way", if the pointed haired types get a kick of out systems like this that's up to them, if my general attitude of "keep your damn leaderboard and key performance indicators away from me" causes them a problem then I'll take my genius elsewhere ta very much.

Usually they just let me get on with my job and if they have to report back to their PHB overlords they just make shit up as needed.

If anyone approaches me with an "Annual Assessment Form" I usually just growl at them and they scuttle away in fear....

I thoought payment was motivation for work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39964957)

If the little gold stars are printed on a check I'm all for it.

badges?! (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39964999)

One example would be assigning badges

Well, that would be the day when I'd stick such badges up in the originator's behind and leave for greaner pastures.

This is not gamification, it's introduction of idiotic, ignorant and almost always unncessary extra race factors, with the negative aspect over all others that this type only motivates the idiots at your company and the rest will feel as being considered a child.

Some managers just need to be kicked out when they are stupid, not all their ideas are great, understood? Good. Now get back to work.

yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39965001)

when i was a kid it was a semi-motivator. kids that didn't care wouldn't try. but you'd get a bunch of kids putting in some effort to try lift their game. overall it was tough to get a sticker. do well and you got a simple reward for it. but on a larger scale it meant effort = reward which was an investment in your future work ethic later on. i wasn't top dog in getting stickers but i had my fair share.

of course the problem is that parents eventually get involved. when their kid hasn't gotten a sticker they complain to the teachers. the kid may be struggling, have a learning problem, or they just don't care. either way the parents want the teachers to reward the kid anyway in order to "encourage" them. that way no-one is a "loser". the result is the whole sticker system is heavily devalued. what's the point of getting a sticker if you'll get one anyway for a "good try" without putting in any effort? hence we end up with a system where "everyone is a winner". in that kind of a system, where is the motivation to do well when you generally don't see the results for years to come (it's hard to get a kid to plan that far ahead).

of course parents of sutdents putting in a lot of effort argue their student should be rewarded better. the worry being that not rewarding well is a demotivator for good students. thus you get a downward spiral. on one side, parents ask for better rewards for good students. on the other, parents ask for better rewards for worse students to raise the bar and encourage them to put in effort. in the end, with a bad balance it will drag down good performing students.

the same applies to the workplace. you can add various motivators to encourage people to try do well. people that don't do well should not be rewarded. never raise the minimum bar unless you're absolutely forced to by law. that way those that want to succeed put in the effort. those that want to cruise can barely just get by. you eventually cull those that put in zero effort and bring in a new batch of employees to replace them. never make the rewards too excessive or the "game" becomes about maximising their own personal interests (such as CEOs getting excessive bonus for hitting a certain target regardless of long term consequences).

where things fall over though is with unions. i'm not saying they're bad. it's more there needs to be a balance. unions are there to serve the interests of all workers of the union. the collective bargaining power basically tips the game in favour of the workers. unions will bargain for a pretty good minimum for all workers regardless of how much effort if put in by the worker. so as a union worker, there's no incentive for the "collective" to put in extra effort when they're guaranteed a pretty good minimum (else the company faces industrial action). so in the end the union ends up being the parents arguing for good rewards for everyone regardless of effort.

so with a bad balance, a downward spiral begins. good workers won't put the effort in as their counterparts get the same pay, treatment, and rewards with a lot less effort. hence good workers become demotivated which brings performance to a tedium everyone is happy to work.

so overall, gamification only works when there are definitive winners and losers.
when everyone is a winner, it's no longer a game.

Re:yes and no (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965099)

I agree in principle, but the "never raise the minimum bar unless you're absolutely forced to by law" implies that you just have a binary reward scheme. Ideally you should be able to give graded rewards, with the lowest level being achievable by an average worker trying hard. Of course the best workers need a higher reward than this.

I like what my company does (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39965089)

My company is a major international company. What they do is this: they have a points reward system where you can exchange the points for anything from American Express giftcards, to hotel rooms, to jewelry, even a few boats(if you get millions of points). You can get points in several ways: the main, regular way is by your department reaching certain monthly goals; the other way is by supervisors/other people recommending you for points awards, which are then approved by your supervisor. So the reward system has actual, tangible value. Of course, you are also dependent on your supervisor; some hand out the points like candy, others can be very stingy. But at the very least you can still get the monthly points as those are tied solely to department performance.
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