Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 2011: Gamification

What does it mean to gamify? Does this mean that the world is full of activities, sites, and programs that can be "gamed"? Is this good or bad?

When I was first introduced to gamification by its proponents, I thought it was very similar to what David Michael and I supported in our book, Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform. We could see that game design could be used to improve the learning experience. So, it was very exciting to hear tales of increased engagement and changed behaviors.

But lately, when I hear about point systems to various things, I wonder: Are we trivializing what we want to emphasize? Is gamification about a point system, badges, or a way of thinking?

Maybe you've seen Jesse Schell 2010 DICE speech in which he describes a Big Brother'ish world where all our actions are tracked and measured in order to award points. Is this where we're headed? Or is this so not what gamification is about?

I want to hear from you. What's your opinion on gamification?
  • What exactly is gamification?  
  • Is gamification beneficial?  How so?
  • Is there anything wrong with gamification?
  • Is a gamified future inevitable?


Daniel Bahamon said...

Great post, It is a very interesting question. 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.

now the term Gamification is the million dollar question, cause up to now it seems something an app could handle, so it would be called Applification or something like that.
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 world wide 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 one belief I have that I really think is true. People will not reach their potentials 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.

In conclusion, Gamification should promote and encourage people to be who they want to be, 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, 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.

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