‘Gamification’ Effect

One of the things I’ve always been wary of is the idea of ‘gamifying’ work places as the video explains. I am an avid user of reddit and recently I’ve seen the decreasing quality of links and constant barrage of marketing links. This could be attributed to people chasing intangible and irredeemable points mainly for a sense of belonging. But I would go as far as claiming that it is a result of gamification of social media.

I remember back in one of my management classes, a class I prefer to forget, we had a game simulation as a class exercise. It was designed to teach us business running and decision making. It didn’t take long for the whole ordeal to turn into a contest on who could get the most points in a digital simulation. It stopped being about how to successfully circumnavigate the bureaucratic process and quickly became a race on who could click the right buttons. Mind you this was an exercise that winning ensured a straight A without the extra step of writing a report on the simulation. And win we did. Did I ever learn anything from it? Besides that it only takes 2 people to win a simulation, I’m not even sure what the lesson was. Oh, let’s not forget the friends who asked for help in the following semesters because it became clear the simulation just required someone to know the right time to press the right buttons. And they all won too (I’m still waiting for my payment guys).

One of the things the video mentions is the idea that gamification is a marketing tool. And as all marketing is concerned, it is a popularity contest. Whoever achieves the quickest results is the winner. Whoever sells the most wins. It automatically becomes an insecurity button. If you don’t have so&so you will definitely stagger behind which means you will fail. It overrides the whole concept of constant review on the goals a particular project is trying to achieve. Posting insightful links becomes a contest on who can quickly get 1000 points through whichever means. Learning how to make business decisions becomes who can quickly click the right buttons at the right time. It stops being about how and becomes a when question.

I’m very curious on how the marketing side of this will develop. It is only in its infancy stages after all. Its evolution will be very interesting. Will facebook start giving achievements like “The Hermit: You’ve successfully not added any friends in the last month”? Will twitter start having badges like “Social Awkward: You’ve twitted 20 celebrities without a reply”? Jokes aside, this could be pivotal in the next couple of years. Marketing gurus are catching up on this. Some websites like Huffington Post have already been using this (although to a limited extent) for a while now. Sharing links on social networks can be changed into a marketing game. A simple badge could be the difference.