Gamification thumbs down… but why?

16 Nov

My personal definition of Gamification is a combination of “use of game elements and game design techniques in non game contexts” (For the Win, 2012) and  Gartner’s definition (Gamification 2020: What Is the Future of Gamification?). Simply, I see “Gamification as a tool that uses game dynamics and its mechanics to design behaviors, develop skills and enable innovation; with other technologies and trends, it can cause major discontinuities in innovation, employee performance management, education, personal development and customer engagement.

Wired’s article, “How gamification can make your customer service worse” argues that gamification makes tasks which are internally motivating shift towards extrinsic rewards thereby destroying the motivation of the player. It is based on Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory (SDT), which tells us that there is a zone of transition between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and if the person is given proper guidance then the extrinsic motivators will slowly shift to be more intrinsically motivating.  A line from the Wired article: Sierra cites … Deci and Ryan … the most powerful motivators for employees are the mastery of the task at hand, autonomy, and something called relatedness, which might involve helping a customer with a meaningful problem. Gamification replaces these motivators with extrinsic motivators like points and badges.” I would like to highlight thatthere is gap in conceptual clarity for gamification in this article, the basis of gamification lies in making boring tasks engaging and motivating and not making an already interesting task de-motivating. In the views of Gabe Zichermann, gamification is awesome because the work is freaking boring. We have spent a considerable part of our life playing games, where we lose count of hours spent playing them. If we can make work so engaging that a person forgets the time, by use of game mechanics, then what’s the harm? Games are one of the most cherished thoughts in a person’s memory.

If a person is already immersed in their work then there is no need for gamification.  In the view of Badge Ville CEO Kris Duggan, more than 70% of the workforce is disengaged in the workplace and that creates a channel for gamification to make an impact. The gamificator, a person who is implementing gamification within an entity—be it an organization, a school, someone’s personal life or any other place—ought to be aware and check to see if gamification would be helpful in improving conditions. However, since there is only 30% of us who are naturally intrinsically motivated at work, it is easily argued that there is no harm in implementing gamification. Gamification will engage the non-engaged and, most importantly, it will give recognition to those who are immersed and happy at work, those people who would not normally receive acknowledgement and accolades. And that’s a win-win situation for everyone.


Thanks to Arvin for helping me in editing this blog.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Gamification


Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: