Gamification: Questions that keep me awake at night!

This week there is no real blog post for you I’m afraid. I am in the middle of trying to produce a talk for next week and enjoying the Coursera Gamification course. Instead, here are some questions that I have spinning in my head that I would love to answer. Can any of you amazing gamification lovers out there give me your opinions? Maybe you have some burning questions to ask as well, add them to the comments.

  • Is gamification more behavioral psychology applied through the lens of a games designer or games design applied through the lens of a behavioral psychologist?
  • Are we spending so much time trying to define what can and can’t be included in gamification, that we are missing out lots of opportunity to just create great experiences using any and all tools we can?
  • Are short marketing campaigns that employ gamification really a bad thing?
  • Can everything be gamified in some way?
  • When will companies wanting to gamify things start employing games designers?
  • If you were to write a job description for a gamification person, what would you write?
  • Will we be talking about gamification in 5 years time?

One final thing, if you have not already filled it in, I would love to get your opinions on the definition of gamification with the public survey I am running!

Gamification Survey

I should have a bit more for you all next week, sorry for the lack of real content today!!

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6 thoughts on “Gamification: Questions that keep me awake at night!”

  1. I go to the root.

    1. It is a reality, so it can be studied by both. The designer is the manipulator and the psychologist is the investigator.

    2. Yes. We need more success stories.

    3. Yes. If they generate habituation, these are bad precedents for the population. We will be getting generate resistance to voluntary participation.

    4. Yes. The life is a game in micro and macro vision.

    5. I don´t think so. Gamification is a powerful tool and design methodology for the leaders of the company. Not a full-time professional is needed.

    6. It’s crazy to think that there will be a position in the company for “gamificators” would be like thinking that there is a figure of “design thinking” (e.g.). That will never exist. But knowing the methodology is very useful.

    7. will be an area of ​​knowledge more developed. There will be a tendency for managers to generate “contexts” gamificados to awaken the voluntary participation of people.

    It will be very important for the world carry this thinking to the people responsible for making decisions.

    Thanks Andrzej for the proposal of thinking, I have taken the liberty to respond clearly and directly.

  2. Here are my answers 🙂

    1) That is tough for me to say, so I will not give an answer because I am not scientifically aware enough. Although, I will say that gamification can be seen as an anthropological science. We are studying humanity and society by seeing what games have done to our everyday thinking. How has game thinking been “wired” into our brains. It is a mix of behaviorism and cog. psychology.

    2) yes. i don’t need to explain this one. hopefully my upcoming work will explain this!

    3) no they aren’t. not at all. in short term campaigns, gamification 101 does work really well and will continue to work well. However, we should appreciate those short term campaigns for being successful short term campaigns but nothing else. so when it comes times for a short term project, we look to certain “more basic” tools. For other things, we look at other tools.

    4) I don’t think everything can be “gamified” but if you view gamification as the intersection of games and user-centered design thinking, it seems that every situation can be explained using a gamified explanation.

    5) I love this question. I’m a 20 yr old looking for a job out of college. I’m hoping that companies will employ “gamification specialists”. Kind of like what Luca did for me at We Play. As for my work with GamificationCo, we live, eat, and breath gamification .

    6) “a strong academic focus on one of the following subjects (of gamification–such as math, econ, psychology, etc.) and an appreciation for the others. With the use of that knowledge, you will apply game and user-centered design to analyze market conditions. With the same style of thinking, you will also help drive certain business objectives as a game thinking consultant” or something along those lines.

    6) Great question. What was it even called 5 years ago? I think we called it “THE BEST GAME EVER!!!” until the next game that came that was better. Gamification is constantly changing. It hates “cookie cutter” solutions because gamers don’t want to play the same game twice. Unique, self-expressive, and creative thoughts in gamification will help the concept and thought process grow. Not sure if the term will exist, but we will hopefully be damn good at it!

  3. For point two: if you do NOT make distinctions around what is and is not considered gamification, then you cannot have a meaningful discussion, make predictions, assess risks, etc. If the differences did not *matter*, then I would agree with you. But again, you cannot say ANYTHING useful about gamification if the things included in that label live in opposite sides of the motivation continuum, and without knowing a very specific context. I think you already know this. Gamification currently is used to refer to things that evoke VERY different behaviors, and we must make those distinctions. We are playing with people’s brains and behavior. We ought to take it seriously as a discipline.

    Besides, “missing opportunities” while we take the time to figure out what is and is not *really bad* for people (especially potential targets of gamified systems) is not a bad thing. Some of us have been asking for some time to just insert a PAUSE and THINK button, not kill everything currently labeled gamification.

    For point three: see above.
    You cannot POSSIBLY have a meaningful, useful answer to this question without defining what “short campaign” means, what the exact context of this campaign is, and — most crucially — what exactly is meant by “gamified.” The differences matter. If you choose to sweep the science under the rug as though it were simply trivial and getting in the way of opportunities, then you still don’t understand it.

    Though I am advocating on behalf of the users, customers, potential targets of gamification, it is also in a corporations best interest to not get this wrong. Mistakes will be made in gamification that are simply NOT recoverable. And the third-party consultants and platforms will not necessarily be the people paying the price for this. After all, they will simply write another post or white paper “explaining” that the company misused gamification. Gamification proponents are too quick to explain away problems with, “they’re doin it wrong”.

    Ask yourself, once again, why these gamification consultants and vendors — the ones with the most to gain if people use it — are not themselves using it in their own work, or at least not in any measurable, obvious way. For those who claim to be masters of engagement, they are not using these “engagement engines” to build their own communities.

    • And this is exactly why I posted this 🙂 great answers and I agree with all.
      I do feel that the definition is too argued over still. Just agree that it is game mechanics applied to non game tasks (the standard) and start using your imagination as to how you can use this to best effect.
      The question about campaigns comes from this over riding feeling that marketers get it wrong by being to superficial. I wonder if that is fine for a one off event. A single campaign that uses some basic, albeit superficial, pbl style mechanics.
      Now, bring that mentality to enterprise or to a long term business model and you will have real trouble.


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