The Dark HEXAD – Star Wars has inspired a new HEXAD!

Dark hexad The Dark HEXAD 8211 Star Wars has inspired a new HEXAD

I was having a think about the User Type HEXAD and it occurred to me that I have never considered Star Wars and how that might fit the HEXAD! You know, as you do 😀

As I did so, I was reminded of the fact that when I started building the user types, I used to split based on whether they interacted with people or a system AND if they acted on people or the system – I.E. imposed themselves on them rather than working within them.  This got me thinking about light and dark side HEXAD types. If you have seen my DODECAD you will know that there are actually 12 types in my overall taxonomy – but I really like this idea of a Dark HEXAD! Read More ...

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I was wrong: A definition of gamification that should make sense to everyone!

Gamification 2022 taller I was wrong A definition of gamification that should make sense to everyone

I was wrong… for many years in fact. So, here I am again, banging on about definitions. I have been here before, but usually trying to push through the idea of a more academic and “correct” definition of gamification. However, over the years I have realised that this is not much use to most people! I have banged my head against more tables and brick walls that I would care to mention trying to get people to understand “no, it’s not about games…. Well it could be… urm…”

This comes down to the fact that in the non-academic world, the word gamification, or gamify sits in a series of words that essentially mean to become more of something, or to become it!

Take the word beautify as an example. The Oxford dictionary defines that simply as  “make beautiful”. Whilst we are thinking of the word simply, it also defines simplify as “make simple”.

So, it stands to reason that the layperson would look at the word gamify and assume it means “make gameful” or just “make game-like” (as gameful isn’t really in common language still). And, as we are looking at this from the layperson perspective – I’m throwing in the word game as well, not just game-like!

If we go on to define the noun version of beautify,  beautification, we would use something like  “the process of making something more beautiful”. We don’t see anyone defining it as “the process of using elements of beauty in non-beauty contexts”!

In the same way, the definition of gamification should be “the process of making something a game or more game-like”.

And this is where the issue lies for most people, especially those outside of the academic world. The definition of a word is pretty direct and simple, it does what it says. It doesn’t contain caveats or descriptions of what is not included, it is just what the word is, means or does.

You can add the how and the why, but that might change in different contexts. For instance, we could talk about the beautification of urban areas.

Beautification of urban areas: the process of making urban areas more beautiful to improve the aesthetic qualities for those who live there by adding parks and green land.

In the same way, you could say

Gamification of learning materials: the process of making learning materials into a game or  more game-like to improve users experience, participation and completion rates by using the materials in a scenario-based simulations, with deep gameplay as well as progress markers such as points and badges”

The point of all of this nonsense is that my big takeaway after 10 years of trying to explain gamification is that most people just assume the word is defined the same way other words that end in “ify” and “ification” are, not caveated and twisted to exclude the main item they think it refers to! They don’t care that strictly speaking it should not include full games and points and badges are too simple to be part of it and…  blah blah blah.

So from now on, accepting that I have spent 10 years probably hammering home something considered wrong to the majority of non-experts in the world, I am using the following…

“Gamify (verb): make a game or game-like”

“Gamification (noun): the process of making something a game or game-like”

I use “something” here rather than ” an experience, service, system, UI, turnip etc” because I am trying to keep it as simple as clients want it to be. We can add context and methods after they understand this.

What game-like may contain could be up for discussion, but as far as most clients are concerned, it absolutely covers everything from adding points and a leaderboard all the way up to making a full game – so it should mean that to us as practitioners if we ever want to get over the massive speed bump which is still the word Gamification!

Don’t get me wrong, from an academic perspective and from a practitioner to practitioner perspective there are still 50 shades of gamification and game based solution design to talk about. However, we are in the business of solving problems, not creating them because we feel that serious games and gamification are different and should not be spoken about in the same breath, or that we should correct the prospective client for their lack of understanding!


The Danger of Unbalanced Incentives and Negative Expectations

Reward 1630922108 The Danger of Unbalanced Incentives and Negative Expectations

I recently saw a news article that certain parts of America were trialling an incentive program to try and encourage more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The idea was that individuals could earn $100 by getting vaccinated.

If you have ever read any of my work, you will probably know that I am not a big fan of large incentives to do things that should be done for intrinsic reasons. To me staying safe and keeping people safe is reason enough to take the vaccine – but hey – we are not all the same.

Very quickly I started to see people on Twitter complaining. Not that this was a bad idea, but that they wished they had not taken the vaccine already and could be eligible to get the free money!

In isolation that may not seem an issue, however, it does have a potential knock as effect should anything like this ever happen again as a negative expectation has been set. Rather than people taking the vaccine early, they will wait until the Government gets desperate and starts to incentivise people to take it – after all, that is what happened the last time.

I accept that this probably seemed like a good idea at the time, I mean, when do politicians ever think about unintended consequences!?

How could this be prevented then?

Well, I’m glad you asked! If you think you will need to incentivise behaviour, do it at the start and reward positive and early action higher than late. This sets the expectation that being early is better than being late. For instance, a parking ticket encourages you to pay quickly or the fine doubles!

In our vaccination example, set the initial incentive as $100 if you get it in the first round and drop it to $50 if you are late.

However, even better than that, educate people more effectively. Provide simple, truthful and unsensationlaised information that explains the benefits and potential risks whilst shutting down conspiracies and silliness as early as possible.

In gamification, we know all of this. You only incentivise when you absolutely have to and you make sure that the most positive and constructive actions are highly rewarded compared to other behaviours and actions.

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Gamification in 2011

Lesson 1574418020 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Gamification in 2011

As we edge closer to Gamification EU, I was thinking about the lessons I wish I had learned earlier on when I started in Gamification. Keep in mind, at that stage there was not a lot of information about gamification, it was in its infancy (2011/2012).

  • The word gamification is going to cause you all sorts of trouble in business conversations! Even now, it still has not penetrated into the common lexicon.
  • Gamification is full of experts and evangelists. You have to listen to and learn from both, but be sure to also check the research for yourself and what projects they have worked on.
  • There is no one perfect framework. The majority have their place but don’t rely on just one.
  • Research Gate is your friend as there is more research out there than you realise. There are also academics out there who want to help, but research takes time!
  • There are very few jobs that are specifically for gamification experts or designers. You need to look at user experience, engagement specialists, product owners etc.
  • Gamification is used (for better or worse) as a blanket term for all games based solutions. Life is too short to argue about the true definition – leave that to me 🙂
  • We make use and reference to a lot of psychology, make sure you understand the source, not just the pop psych books.
  • There are usually no quick fixes, the faster the fix, the shorter the engagement.
  • Short term engagement is also fine though, it depends on the needs of the project!
  • Focus on the solution, not the technology or the cleverness of the game design. Solve the problem.
  • Read More ...