Let me expand on this.
A discussion started on twitter when I mentioned in passing to a couple of gamification people, that really gamification is often a benign form of manipulation. It became an interesting chat, fast. I suppose I expected that! However, when you look at the definition of manipulation in the Oxford English Dictionary you get these two definitions
- handle or control (a tool, mechanism, information, etc.) in a skilful manner
- control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly or unscrupulously
Of course, we take notice of the second normally – focusing on the more negative connotations, but it is the first that I am interested in. As gamification people, we understand behaviour and how to use game mechanics and the like to influence this behaviour. We use this information to set up systems that promote certain actions. Sometimes this is for the benefit of the end user, other times it may be for the interest of the company (or brand or whatever). Either way, it is done in a way that is meant to engage the end user (god forbid let them have a little fun as well).