In this article, game developer Dan Bahamon considers how gamification can help improve people's lives.
I agree that most people think of achievements when they hear gamification, and I do agree that these little achievements will help many people to organize and learn about things that are good for them and the community, anywhere from getting kids to eat vegetables to reducing water over usage, awarding points and rewards will really help build these core behaviors.
I've been thinking, and perhaps there are two game elements missing from this, a clear big end goal and enemies. This reminds me of the Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal. She talks about making massive online games to get people working on a big goal like low fuel usage. This would resemble something closer to gamification in my opinion, but to be honest, there is still some doubt on my mind. One belief I have that I really think is true is that people will not reach their potential if they are not emotionally involved with what they are doing. So some world wide problems might not motivate many people to play.
The only goal of gamification is to help society improve. So I would suggest that instead of looking at games to solve big problems in the world, we turn to games to help each and every human reach their goals and dreams. Thus making a better world.
Perhaps the closest example to help you visualize what I'm thinking it would be something like second life. But much more elaborate and with real life opportunities, with careers people can pursue, sort of like Warcraft, but with the difference that you are given real tasks and you are evaluated on performance.
So for example, Let's say I want to be a police officer, and I'm 10, going out of my house at 1 am to fight crime is not a possibility, but with the use of games, there can be events like car chases, robberies and more, could be either simulated or user triggered. And as I play the game I gain badges or ranks that allow me to play or do different things in the game, and by the time I'm 18 I would have already understood many of the challenges and difficulties of this career, helping me make my decision on what career to choose. This career changing decisions are easier to make in game when young than during midlife chaos.
This sort of reminds me of Wannado City, a wonderful place where kids get to run around in a kid-only "city", and they are given jobs they choose, like being chefs, police officers, scientists and many others.
In conclusion, gamification should promote and encourage people to be who they want to be and to follow their dreams, It should help them understand what they say they want, and track their experience that will later be rewarded by real life jobs. It is a big dream, it would definitely take a world wide collaboration to accomplish it, but that didn't stop Wikipedia from being the top encyclopedia on earth.
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear opinions, There is nothing more productive that teamwork.
Daniel Bahamon is the founder of Impudia games. His goals are not only to entertain and engage players around the world but to use this technology to help kids around the world learn by playing.