Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too Much Motivation?

Why does "gamification" generate so much hate from some people? I've heard game designers say they'd like to punch Jesse Schell in the face, just because they've watched a video of his talk at DICE 2010. Nothing like taking a well balanced view of something - no, it's not.

Gamification is simply a term for describing the process of adding game-like incentives to something that you might do anyway. What's wrong with adding game elements to a mundane task? It could be argued that modern (lawn) tennis was simply the gamification of the rubber ball, which had no purpose except as a toy until that time. Adding enemies that can kill you and lives so you can evade total reset turns a free roaming platform environment into a game, it certainly doesn't start out as a game.

If you're happy to turn any scenario into a game in the context of a screen and controller then surely there's nothing wrong with it in real life?

Or am I looking at this all wrong? Perhaps it's not the idea that's the problem, perhaps it's the consequences of its implementation that strikes fear into the hearts of game designers. Anyone who has grown up believing themselves to be the wily Generation X or Y is comfortable in the notion, however mistaken, that they are impervious to the ad man's powers of persuasion. The girl draped over car/razor/cellphone/watch/sandy beach/monkey/sandwich - get the object, get the girl? Too obvious Mr Adman, you're busted. Collect a hundred shiny things from retailers A, B and C to get the arbitrary trophy in reward for my grind... must... use... all... my... powers... to... resist...

Clearly game designers are a fairly self-aware bunch: If you have a penchant for drink, you might like the idea of being handed a shot of vodka on every street corner, but you'd still know it could screw up your life.

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