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Monday Morning Gamification: Is It Bu****it?

August 15, 2011

I’ve written a little on the danger of over-hyping gamification.  Well others have also weighed in on the issue. Here’s Ian Bogost:

Gamification is bullshit.

I’m not being flip or glib or provocative. I’m speaking philosophically.

More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.

Bullshitters are many things, but they are not stupid. The rhetorical power of the word “gamification” is enormous, and it does precisely what the bullshitters want: it takes games—a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people—and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.

Plus this one…

In 1960, Milton Bradley published »The Game of Life«: a capitalist wet dream of a board game, won by the lucky one who retired richest. Today, »gamification« vendors take Milton Bradley seriously. From losing weight to saving Africa, from watching TV to matching DNA sequences: there’s nothing that couldn’t be made more fun by adding points, badges, and other elements from video games. At least that’s the selling proposition.

But a quick glance at current »gamified« applications shows that they drastically fall short of the promise of games and play. So it’s time to step up and ask some serious questions: Can life be a game? Should it? And if so, who is playing whom? This talk walks through some issues of gameful and playful design before delving into the ethics of design – and the lessons games may truly hold for us.

Broadly I agree with both, except that it depends what you mean by Gamification – I do think it can be done well, but yes, as a simple marketing trick, I don’t buy it…

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