It’s pistols at dawn for #gamification

And so the infighting begins.

Hardly surprising given the rise of the term Gamification in recent months which has gained momentum, conferences, Gartner and it’s Hype Cycle¬† and now a certification course. GigOM published an interesting article where two tribes are now going into battle and it’s getting very heated with accusations being thrown around. Given the capability to make a lot of money out of an emerging trend there’s a lot at stake but it’s a sad reflection on the ethics of any industry, whether new or old, to go straight for the financial jugular rather than nurture something to realise it’s full potential.

I’m not an expert in the field, but I am an independent analyst who watches the trends and those that know me in the BPM industry know I have a brain and a tongue and I ain’t afraid to use it. I’m quite happy to have running sword fights and challenges with analyst firms and leaders in the field because open challenge is healthy. I’ve spoken with some bright people in the past couple of weeks and I agree with their explanation and application of Gamification beyond the simplified method most adhere (badly) to right now (I want to especially thank Melinda Jacobs, co-founder and CEO of Flight 1337¬† who shared her strategy around gamification and engagement design)

Whilst I don’t have a degree in game design what I do have is 30 years as a gamer and 12 years in business and process design and I’m happy to stick my neck out and agree that gamification is about engagement more than it is about leaderboards and marketing. Not only this but the techniques applied in this sense could and should be applied internally as well as externally within an organisation. It’s an extension of the overall concept of the Social Enterprise where people in business enjoy engaging in business with both colleagues and the end consumer. It shouldn’t always be about making just one party happy with incentives and rewards, where’s the fun in having a happy customer and miserable staff who couldn’t give a shit ? If you can engage internally, reward staff for excellence, make them care and enjoy the process they’re responsible for then surely that’s going to translate straight across the value chain and out towards the customer a lot stronger than making a marketing campaign fun ?

What is apparent is that the parallels in one industry just keep repeating in others;

  • the clamour to become seen and recognised as a ‘thought leader’
  • the approach in creating certification courses (whilst it may be necessary to create some kind of standard, at this stage it’s purely a financial prospect as there is no authority on the subject)
  • the big analyst firms jumping on the bandwagon with little to no qualified understanding at this stage

There’s a good point made in the GigaOM article which reads “We can act in good faith, we can read the literature, we can try and understand why something happens. Or we can remodel the world to fit an easy, commercially viable message.”

Right now Gamification is the latter, a quick commercial (read: marketing) hit but with little serious research into just how far the concept could take us beyond the basic application. The dissent in the ranks is because before the real understanding has occurred the invoices are flying out the door.

What we really need at this stage is a unification and collaboration into what it means to gamify, an authority in application and methodology, the basic frameworks to build upon and flesh out with open participation to create that standard.

What is doesn’t mean is a series of books, courses, conferences and films authored by the same people in a singular fashion.

Personally instead of a certificate I can hang on the wall I really want a t-shirt with the slogan “All you gamify are belong to us….

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8 responses to “It’s pistols at dawn for #gamification

  1. Great article, I’d argue that gamification is about learning, and engagement is a desirable by-product. I absolutely agree that badges and points offer little or no incentive. It might feel good the first time you get one but unless users are getting real benefit they’ll quickly lose interest. That benefit has to be focused on the individual. In a way gamification is about selfish personal gratification in a social world where the community rules.

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