Gamification: Why Badges can be Bad – Really Bad

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Andrzej Marczewski

Gamification Expert, author, consultant and designer. I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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7 Responses

  1. Carlos GonzalezCarlos Gonzalez says:

    Nice post Andrzej. Not sure about the Army, but I can speak for the US Navy. It is not always the case where a service member has to do the task. On a ship for example, yes there are badges that everyone will receive as a whole. For example, if the ship conducts a rescue in conjunction with the US Coast Guard -everyone on the ship will receive a specific medal for that operation. However, there are badges and insignia that you can only wear for having qualified beyond the normal duties and expectations of the average crewman. There are badges that you can only attain by going the extra mile. I attained the specific ESWS pin that I was then able to wear on my uniform. This pin represented the fact that I was knowledgeable not only in my own job description -but also knowledgeable in all the ship’s ratings and functions -from engineering, to combat systems, to sonar etc. Did I learn those extra jobs because I wanted to? Not really, I did it because I knew it was a way to advance quickly. If I could accomplish qualifications expected of a crewmember with 15 years experience over me -would allow me to shine. Another example is a Navy Seal. They don’t just hand those pins out to anyone -and it’s totally optional if you want to pursue that route. 

    • Thanks. I had a similar comment from an ex army vet on one of the syndicated sites I post to.  The point is for me that people in gamification can often say – look it works in the army and scouts, it will work in your office.  Totally missing the point in my mind.  As you say, their meaning is totally different in that context.  Same with video games, there is no need to collect them in a video game.  But, the act of collecting them is often fun, so you do it.  You may even get a sense of pride. Work is generally not all that fun, so getting a digital badge to say you did something not all that fun and that you had to do anyway, is not going to increase your motivation in any way! Especially if that badge has no real world value or status attached to it!

  2. FransgaardFransgaard says:

    Good post. It all comes back to the issue we are facing across digital at the moment: It is becoming too easy to deploy technology/functions so people don’t stop and think “Why are we doing this? What do we get out of this? What does our audience get out of this?”

    Badges have their place, ofcourse they do, if deployed with a plan in mind

    • Thanks @fransgaard:twitter It is also one of those things that is really easy to write, but a bit more difficult to actually do.  So easy just to say – badges make stuff fun, lets use em!  It worked for the scouts!

  1. August 6, 2012

    […] points systems. You know them, and loads of you seems to love them. Now, precisely to sound like a broken record, in isolation they don’t work. You can’t make a task more fun, interesting, engaging […]

  2. December 21, 2012

    […] Gamification: Why Badges can be Bad – Really Bad […]

  3. February 14, 2014

    […] Why Badges can be Bad – Really Bad – by Andrzej Marczewski […]

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