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Gamification — Valid Term or Marketing-Speak? 98

Trepidity writes "Controversy continues over the seemingly unstoppable trend of 'gamification' (something we've discussed previously). The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business held a Gamification Symposium entitled 'For The Win' this week, indicating apparent academic respectability. But in the opening panel debating definitions of 'gamification,' one participant, game scholar Ian Bogost, defined it as 'bulls***.' Elsewhere, Jon Radoff responds that it may not be BS, but is too focused on superficial behaviorism rather than deeper gameplay. For my part, I wonder if by claiming gamification is a completely new thing, rather than just a new word, we're missing out on important past lessons, like the very strange history of Soviet gamification."
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Gamification — Valid Term or Marketing-Speak?

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  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @10:26PM (#37039890) Homepage Journal
    Im all for gamification, how could you not want womens legs to get even more attractive?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by camperslo ( 704715 )

      It's a perfectly cromulent term.

      • It's a perfectly cromulent term.

        It embiggens the noblest spirit, too.

      • Many new words are added to the language by common use. If I want to look something up I often Google it. This verb is a recent example of this. Turning something into a game is another new word in developement.

        • by qwak23 ( 1862090 )

          Words aren't created, they are discovered.


        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Many new words are added to the language by common use. If I want to look something up I often Google it. This verb is a recent example of this. Turning something into a game is another new word in developement.

          As someone once said, "Verbing weirds language". 'nuff said.

        • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

          Common use can suck a nut. Language is too important to be left to the caprice of it's dumbest users. Just because people say it doesn't make it right. Just because people have been saying it for a long time does not make it right.

          Decimate means to kill/destroy one tenth. No matter how many ignorant people use it to mean 'totally destroy', they are wrong. 10,000 year from now, they'll still be wrong.

          There's nothing wrong with telling people they are wrong. It's a popular myth that correcting people is

    • It sounds nice, sure, but wait until Big Business begins the consumerization of that word.

      You'll beg for eyegougeification very soon.

    • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )
      in Edinburgh, Scotland "Gam" is a blowjob.... better yet!
  • Gammification, which made me think turd-speak word for increasing gamma.
  • The Word is Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @10:33PM (#37039924)

    That's the word, Trepidity, go ahead and say it.

    I'm not aware of any profanity filter on slashdot. There's no point to being so obsessively proper, so self-righteous, or so whatever it is you were trying to be that you should choose to bleep out a swear word in a direct quote. Just say the freaking word.
    • The stars symbolize the bulls assholes.

    • Bullshit. That's the word, Trepidity, go ahead and say it. I'm not aware of any profanity filter on slashdot. There's no point to being so obsessively proper, so self-righteous, or so whatever it is you were trying to be that you should choose to bleep out a swear word in a direct quote. Just say the freaking word.

      I have to agree. Let's stop being politically correct, especially with direct quotes.

    • by jdgeorge ( 18767 )

      Just say the freaking word.

      Dear RobinEggs, I agree. And you, also, are welcome not to self-censor.

    • And by 'freaking', of course, you mean 'fucking'. There's no point to being so obsessively proper, so self-righteous, or so whatever it is you were trying to be that you should choose to switch out a swear word while telling someone to fucking swear.

      • Well, technically "freak" is a word, as is "freaking". Contrary to what some may think, freaking isn't just a funny way to say fucking. had he typed "Just say the f**king word" then that would be considered self censoring, but it's perfectly reasonable to assume freaking is exactly the word he meant right there.


      • He may have meant fraking. Safe near a water bed but not a water table.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          He may have meant fraking. Safe near a water bed but not a water table.

          Yeah, but be careful when Admiral Adama starts laying in to you and using it, as he's probably REALLY pissed.

          You're safe around Colonel Tigh though, unless you're a Number 6, but if you're in to that sort of thing...

      • by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @12:20AM (#37040500)

        And by 'freaking', of course, you mean 'fucking'.

        Actually, I did mean freaking. Just because I criticize the sort of people who obsessively avoid swearing or even quoting curses doesn't mean I'm obligated to spout one off just to make a point. I just think it's stupid when people believe it somehow holy or dignified to never use or repeat curses under any circumstances.

        If I thought the situation warranted the word 'fucking' I'd have used it. I consider 'freaking' and 'fucking' to have different emotional textures and connotations, and I preferred the first.

        It was deliberate diction, not oblivious hypocrisy.

        • If they are going to bust your balls over that, they need to not use any euphemisms like gosh, jeez, or bear (yea.. bear [etymonline.com])

        • But likewise the submitter thought that 'bullshit' and 'bull***' have different emotional textures and connotations, and preferred the second.

          • The submitter doesn't have the privilege of choosing which connotation to use; it's a quote. Unless the man being quoted stood up at the podium and literally said "bull asterisk asterisk asterisk asterisk" your argument makes no sense. You can't just change a quote, especially with the intention of changing its meaning by fiddling with connotations and such.
            • He does have that privilege as long as he conveys the information correctly, which he did. By saying that the scholar in question defined something as 'bull****', he both makes his readers aware that the person literally said "bullshit," and spares them the offensive emotional connotation of a curse word spelled out letter for letter.

              Bottom line -- information properly transmitted, emotional impact of it dialed back to the taste of the submitter, and you think your emotional scale is better than his.

    • I think it's a nice service to bleep stuff that appears on the front page. For one thing, many people *are* browsing it at work where they may find it nice to be able to browse the summaries without triggering content filters or otherwise being bothered by NSFW content. If, after seeing the abbreviated summary, they wish to climb in the manhole, they can click on the article and enjoy all it has to offer.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      I did actually say it in my submission; Soulskill did some minor editing to the blurb, including adding the stars. I wonder if that's something each editor does independently, or if Slashdot has some sort of policy?

    • like he says below, the stories are edited before publishing. sooo you never know if every decision was made by submitter (sometimes thats good)

      but i mean, maybe they were using regex? bulls***


    • Sometimes, self-censorship can be funnier than spelling it out the normal way, you [expletive deleted].
  • Is this submission a late April Fools joke? If there's one thing worse than symposiums where they debate the meaning of the word 'gamification', it's an online discussion about such symposiums on Slashdot.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Yeah I'd stay and discuss, but instead I'ma go get some gamification and play Eve Online.
    • Is this submission a late April Fools joke? If there's one thing worse than symposiums where they debate the meaning of the word 'gamification', it's an online discussion about such symposiums on Slashdot.

      It is the Eponymous Maximus entry of the Procrastinator's Club.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let me give you a simple example of gamification: karma points on Slashdot.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Ah, but those ate actually have mild consequences because they get used for preratings and such.

      The last link in the article is worth reading, BTW, and pretty much sums up my feeling towards just about every "trend" that comes down the pipe with a new buzzword -- ignorant people think it's newly invented, then go about re-innovating it without learning from the history of the last nine times it was innovated.

      As far as "gamification" goes IMO the best way to deploy it in the workforce would be an industry-wi

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Let me give you a simple example of gamification: karma points on Slashdot.

      Well, they do matter for karma-whores. Not so much the one of us coming for "stuff that matters" and certainly not at all for trolls.

      (BTW: TFA-s are, in my opinion, an excellent food for thought. At least today I haven't wasted all the time I spent on /.. Thank you, Mark)

    • by geegel ( 1587009 )

      The achievement system is also a great part of it.

  • "gamification", rhyming with "ramification". That's how I'll hear it in my head when i read it, and that's how i'll be doomed to say it until I can teach myself to pronounce it the right way.

    FTR, I had to do the same for "linux". Even to this day (after 15 years), I still read it as "lye-nucks", and it took me nearly 3 years* to pronounce it correctly, even when I knew better and even while it's "lye-nucks" in my head.

    *plus or minus several months of only encountering the word in reading, never hearing an

    • by mburns ( 246458 )

      Your impulse to pronounce with the long sound is entirely legitimate; it would be especially so in west Michigan or Wisconsin. Remember that Linus himself when speaking his native language emits "LEENUKES" (the long sounds).

      • I am not a native, but I am a resident of Wisconsin.

        Actually, wouldn't the 'a' in "ramification" be the short sound, while the 'a' in "sway" be the long?

    • by jo42 ( 227475 )

      "gamification", rhyming with "ramification"

      "Game" rhymes with "Lame" and "Gamer" rhymes with "Lamer".

      'nuff said.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @11:04PM (#37040138)
    "Gamification" only works when there are appropriate rewards, something that won't happen in a stale corporate environment. For example, a typical reward is pride, but it has to be meaningful. For example, getting the high score on an arcade machine was a big reward because everyone would see your initials (or, your creative word such as ASS or SEX). Now, playing the same game that was addicting when the entire town was at the arcade on a deserted island is unlikely to have the same effect. Same thing with virtual rewards on MMOs, the bigger the MMO the more important the reward. For example, a one of a kind item in WoW is going to be a lot more rewarding than a one of a kind item in an MMO with only 100 users, or an MMO where no one can see your item. Another reward is getting to see the completion of a storyline, be it primitive in nature like Donkey Kong, or as fancy as the newest RPG, people want to see how it turns out. Other reasons are pure curiosity about what lies down the road and the fun of customizing and upgrading.

    Chances are slim that a non-gaming corporation can actually pull off what makes gaming meaningful and make a fun game.
    • It is however a worthy area to research and examine.

      People spend hours doing boring, monotonous tasks over and over in MMO's "for fun" and seem to honestly enjoy it in order to unwind after hours doing boring, monotonous tasks over and over in a job they hate.

    • If you make me work to get something out of your attempt at marketing/advertising, you've effectively made me ignore you.
  • Everybody enjoys fun things, and making dull things fun has been around since the beginning of recorded history. Ever heard the phrase "Life is a Game"?

    This term is as useful as a punch to the groin. See what I did there? I made writing, and I maybe reading, a bit more fun. I wonder how many I's I can use in a sentence? See, I did it again. Fun!

    This whole concept makes me afraid of business latching on to this stupid idea and causing a crap load of problems. Partly because of the work that is never fun, thu

    • I'd say it's more about making things addictive. How many times have you been doing something that has been "gamified" for hours, only to eventually realize that you are no longer having fun, but just waiting to hear that little DING that means you are getting some reward. Now fun can be the method of getting you addicted; fun things make great rewards. But as it is currently being used by companies, it's about the addiction.

      • Which makes it more horrible IMO

        And, how many times have you done that 'action' and felt like a smuck once you've realized how much of your life has just been wasted? If addiction and gamification is required to make you do something, I worry about important things being done that aren't gamified.

        I'm all for making things fun, musical stairs [youtube.com]

        But does my next pay day get determined by how many bugs I fix, or how many hours I stay at work in 'overtime'? I certainly hope not!

    • It sounds a bit like someone has picked one single aspect of Virtual Reality (VR) and chose to forgot the immense amount of research put into the subject.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

    Just what the hell is this, and why do I feel like I'm at marketers meeting?

  • The really clever bit about Ian Bogost calling it bullshit is that Ian Bogost is the creator of the Facebook game parody "Cow Clicker".

  • by trb ( 8509 )

    The title of this symposium shorthands these points for me: the slogan "For the Win," accompanied by a turgid budgetary arrow and a tumescent rocket, suggesting the inevitable priapism this powerful pill will bring about--a Viagra for engagement dysfunction, engorgement guaranteed for up to one fiscal quarter.

    Turgid? Tumescent? Priapism? Viagra? Engorgement? Sorry. You lose the right to call BS on anyone else.

  • I've been saying for 20 years that application software that doesn't feel like a videogame is a failure. I just never had a word for it. I'm glad there is one now.

    This is in contrast to the cheesy words "mashup" (replacing "integration") and "cloud" (replacing "server" and actually now meaning the opposite of its original "Internet connection" or "peer-to-peer" meaning from 90's PowerPoints).

  • I am surprised no one suggested the Extra Credits video on Gamifaction [escapistmagazine.com]

    They also did a followup on Gamifying education [escapistmagazine.com]
  • I'll be playing the nintendo version rather than the zynga one; ya gota watch out for these Skinner Boxes!

    But in all seriousness, there will be good and bad examples of gamification, the ones that are tied to "rewards programs" will probably be as numerous as the "entertainment based" title, and there will be people that take it to the point of neglect, it's human nature...

    Imagine what's going to happen when "Augmented Reality Glasses" become available and where all playing games 24/7...

    Perhaps we
    • I hate having to skim all the way to the bottom to find something intelligent.

      It's a legitimate term, of course those who don't understand it will probably throw rocks at it. Fuck 'em, who cares what stupid people think anyway?

      Gamification is yet another "people hack", dipping into some psychology to achieve some desired effect from them. So? Welcome to earth, it's been happening for quite a while. Yes, gamification is yet another "modern" term, and the English language in all of it's forms is full of evolv

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Imagine what's going to happen when "Augmented Reality Glasses" become available and where all playing games 24/7...

      I dunno, but I hope it involves making out with Ashley Judd.

  • Watch it, and understand the elements of psychology that game designers use to get you addicted and keep you that way.

    Jonathon Blow on Gamification [youtube.com]

    It's long, but it's worth it.

  • Isn't "gam" slang for a woman's leg?

    So that means they're going to look at legs! :) Turn the entire crowd into genuine gam-lovers. :)

  • I recently discovered the existence of 'penny auction' websites, which are a gamified version of eBay et al. In short, each bid raises the price by 1 cent, but placing a bid costs you 60 cents, which you can't get back. The person who places the last bid wins, and the timer resets to 15 seconds or so if someone places a bid when there's less than that amount of time left. Obviously, this leads to bidding wars, where people have sunk money (in the form of bids) and are unwilling to lose the auction. The valu

  • Why aren't they all like Achievement Unlocked [armorgames.com] or Upgrade Complete [armorgames.com]?

    They generally have actual gameplay, some sort of challenge or some kind of story.

    For sites like StackOverflow, yeah, the badges and such are a bit over done, but even then you have an actual community of people and the reason you're interested in earning them is because people can see you actually had to do something that other people found, if not useful in their paying job, at least informative.

    If you're "gamifying" something that is compl

  • ... the new snake-oil for slick marketers, hipster wannabe game developers and incompetent academics.

    What we're really talking about here is engagement. The word "gamification" is a misnomer. Games have tapped into some aspects of human mind and behavior that can make some subset of learning and perhaps other experiences more rewarding/engaging. But this is far cry from all the unrealistic over-the-top hype that 'gamification is going to change everything', which is just pure bullshit.

  • by metacell ( 523607 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @02:40AM (#37041026)

    The proper term is "motivation". There's a lot more to motivating people (for example, in the workplace) than providing game-style rewards. For example, feeling that you're part of the social group. Not having to worry about your state of employment from day to day. Feeling that your boss listens to you. Feeling that your work contributes something to society. Not being hindered in your work by beaureacracy or office politics. And so on. In fact, there are researchers who claim (very reasonably, IMHO) that setting up reward systems ruins the natural work satisfaction which is there to begin with.

    I think the term "gamification" does more to confuse than enlighten. It's an easy-to-understand buzzword which makes it sound like these ideas are specific to gaming and unexplored by psychology. By all means, get inspiration from gaming, but also read the psychological research which is available.

    I think the term can even do a lot of damage if it inspires people to construct reward systems, which IMHO are usually misguided.

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      Yeah, I agree. Part of my point with writing the "Soviet gamification" essay was to point out that constructing reward systems, even game-like reward systems, isn't a new idea, and we should learn from history about the various ways it can go spectacularly wrong.

      A lot of the current trend seems to think that putting "points" and "level-ups" into our classroom/workplace is a great new idea that nobody's tried, when in fact the history of education, for example, is littered with crazy "game-like" reward schem

      • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
        I worked for a while to build a 'weekly chores list' for my kids that was based on computer RPGs. There would be experience awarded for various chores, and some would be required to progress further. The kids could pick a class, or dual-class, and that would have effects on their chores (a ranger would get double experience for yardwork, for instance). When they leveled up, they would get rewards based on their class.

        I never quite got it working, but I still think it was a cool idea.
  • The reason for the problems with the term 'gamification' go a lot deeper than anyone probably realises.

    For this reason, most people, such as Mr Bogost or Jon Radoff, don't understand the nature of the problem itself, and instead concentrate on dealing it's symptoms, rather than understanding the cause.

    Here's my reply to Job Radoff's blog (corrected for spelling - oops):

    I'm sorry Mr Radoff, but in this particular case, you are wrong.

    This problem goes far deeper than it may at first appear...

    The problem with

  • by dzfoo ( 772245 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @07:54AM (#37042420)

    You shouldn't overdo it, or you may end up transmogrifying into a large green mutant with super-human strength, at the slightest annoyance.

    Then the military will be after you with tanks and helicopters, and--let's face--all hell breaks loose from there.


  • Like the .com bust, the thin-client bust, XML bust, and the yet-to-be cloud bust, the trend is not in any of these concepts being bullshit. The trend is in these concepts being taken away by men in gray suits and becoming the substance of what they do that is bullshit. It isn't bullshit to begin with. They take lemons and make bullshit, because it sells for more than the lemonade.

    Although there are extents to gamification, there definitely is a legitimate idea here that has practical uses. Success can be co

  • It's a marketing non-word, used over and over by only a handful of people (probably with a profit motive). Go look for blog posts or "articles" mentioning this word. It's always the same people pushing the use of the word.

  • full disclosure: i work for a marketing agency and my primary role is game programmer / designer.

    Why do people care so much if a razor has an online leaderboard showing who shaved the most square meters, or if a hotel gives people badges for checking in at 2 places 1000 miles apart in a day? Yes it's marketing. Yes it's leveraging people's competitive nature to incite them to purchase the product. Yes, most often it's a bastardization of the art of game design. It's probably possible to do it right, and
  • My first read of the headline made me think they came up with a way to make the average consumer into The Incredible Hulk. Then I realized it said Gamification and not Gammafication.

    My day is now thoroughly ruined. :-(
  • Else, how could Chore Wars [chorewars.com] exist?

    Gamification is what your dad said when you complained about picking up sticks in the backyard, and he replied "Let's make a game of it. See how many you can get done in a minute, and then try to beat your record for the next minute."

    Gamification is what makes people practice instruments on Rock Band that would bore them in real life.

    That someone who studies games could call it bullshit kinda puzzles me. It may be a silly word, and it may be misapplied to things lik

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye