Gamify later or Why Gamification needs to be rethought

A powerful light shines in the dark.

A powerful light shines in the dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you still remember that little Dishwasher game I wanted to let my work mates play? For those who don’t. Well, you remember, my boss interrupted at the mention of gamification so we couldn’t play. I had a great and long discussion with him this week and I can tell you: Gamification needs to be rethought. You might wonder if I’m being a bit too rude to sweet innocent gamification now but let’s take the popular example of Foursquare:

They just gave their players points and badges for checking in and had leaderboards (“The Mayor“) for every place. But after a several time, players quit. Do you know why?

They now changed the design completely and I think they are getting one step closer to the light side now. You can read the whole story here.

So if you already read my page “The light side” and maybe even the short Foursquare story, we can start to think about the new, sustainable gamification. I want to develop such a light side application called gamma. Gamma stands for gamified non-manipulative mmorpg-like application. So what does that mean?

  • Gamified because it uses game elements to support players by providing immediate feedback and a skill board to
    Gamma - The light side of Gamification

    Gamma – The light side of Gamification

    see where they stand.

  • Non-manipulative because players are intelligent enough to discover real manipulation and will oppose against it as I do against using manipulation techniques. The application will provide information and allow players to communicate so that they can make a decision together instead of getting a decision.
  • Mmorpg-like because I was inspired by Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games to develop an application which allows players to create quests and accept quests (or tasks) to get experience points and skill points to know where they stand and what they want to achieve.
  • Application because it will be a piece of software that enables the players to enjoy the light side.

So much for now, I will come back to gamma in a later post.

Now I still want to discuss an interesting point Joe Cool (btw the first commentator on my first post, you are a brave one, thx!) made yesterday:

Our whole life is about influencing, or if you want to coin it in a negative way, it is about manipulating

(Joe Cool, July 5, 2012, comment)

I replied to him that we need to differentiate between 1) giving arguments plus the chance to make a decision AND 2) “giving” a decision. 2) is manipulative without doubt. 1) is what we call in my company the “way of making a commonly accepted decision”. The idea is that everybody tells why he or she wants to do something and given all this motivation, you can make the right choice. Sometimes it takes a bit longer but well, at least most times results are quite profoundly thought-over.

Pirates thumb

Pirates thumb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think to be clear about where discussion ends and manipulation starts is a very essential point also for gamification. In my oppinion manipulation starts if you decide to keep knowledge private to avoid getting a possibility killed (e.g. telling the world you only need 100k € to get back on your feet and not telling that you already bought a one-way flight to a little island in the Caraiban).

Thx for reading, I appreciate your comments very much!

May the force be with you…

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6 thoughts on “Gamify later or Why Gamification needs to be rethought

  1. This is a very interesting post, and I definitely think your view of Gamification is much more realistic than let’s say Foursquare. I think Gamification, instead of manipulating should be abut motivating and building up slowly. There is no fun in playing games in which you can win easily, because you tend to get bored after a while.

  2. Yeah, it seems that the paradox is that gamification could work because it manipulates the sometimes peculiar way our brains process incentives but on the other hand for gamification to be widespread, more and more of us would become aware of the simple fact that it is manipulation. People don’t want to be manipulated through games unless they’re stepping up voluntarily for the experience.

    It’s part of a broader challenge for us as a society. I think about it in terms of education a great deal because we have vested energy tied up in social structures that we now know are not the most efficient ways to “manipulate” our brains into learning.

    • Great points you’re making, thx! I want to try to implement what I call the light side because I believe that this won’t be manipulative. Did you read my post about a
      A way of making a commonly accepted decision? I think providing such a process plus feedback can help you much and even make fun without manipulating you. I would rather use the words “forward pushing” and “motivation enabling”.
      What do you mean?
      May the force be with you,
      Chris

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