As you may know, the concept of play is very important to me. I feel that it is one of the true keys to engagement in adults, but as I was speaking about recently, adults often have no idea how to play. They have the intrinsic desire to play battered out of them by the “real” world. Unlike children, they don’t see the potential for play in the world around them. Some blame work for this – they often say that the opposite of play is work. However, I prefer to go with Dr. Stuart Brown’s (founder of the National Institute of Play) analysis in this case, that the opposite of play is actually depression.
A worrying trend I have noticed in gamification is people talking about making addicting experiences or applications. You hear phrases like “Addiction loops” and “Habit forming”.
I am pretty sure that their intentions are good, 90% of the time. They are describing experiences that people will want to come back to again and again. The key word is want. If you create an experience that people want to return to, you have done your job well. If people have to come back because it is a key tool to their job, or something they have to use on a regular basis, you have done a good job if people find it usable, pain free and at time an enjoyable experience.