In Defense of Gamification

Shamus Young

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Jul 7, 2008
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In Defense of Gamification

Shamus stands up for the concept of gamification.

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Formica Archonis

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Nov 13, 2009
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(Particularly if the badge features a letter. I collect letters. It's my goal to someday be able to arrange my badges to spell something rude.)
Bless your soul, good fellow.

I went badge hunting for the GlaDOS one I use in my "eyeball row". The other three fell out for free. Only badge I'm inordinately proud of (but only occasionally show off) is my Russ-Pitts-as-Lady-Gaga one. Because nothing sets off a pair of spark boobs like a smokin' goatee. (Hmmm. Today is a day to show it off!)

Big points for awesome badgeage goes to @Nasrin, though, even if no one usually sees it.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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I'm cool with what the Escapist has done. Badges, while relatively meaningless, have encouraged me to explore the site and found me a lot of things that interest me (and a few that don't).
 

JPH330

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Jan 31, 2010
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Does your book still classify as new, Shamus?

And yeah, I basically agree -- it's not our savior the way Extra Credits seems to perceive it, but it's pretty much harmless. I love nabbing badges off the Escapist, and I really love being able to present my four favorite badges in my side profile thingie. I love customization.
 

Hitchmeister

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I don't put any effort into acquiring Escapist badges (insert Treasure of the Sierra Madre quote). But I do arrange my top four with a certain amount of meaning. Including something I very much like promoting in some small way, the feature that first drew me to the site, and the top two are from features that I feel the Escapist should have never let get away. (Yeah, take that! I'm a rebel.)
 

Hollyday

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The point is, I don't think we really need to worry about anyone being exploited. A lot of the criticism of gamification comes in the form of people worrying about the poor, clueless sheeple of the internet and how they're being used. The argument goes like, "These game mechanics are simple, obvious, and I can't imagine anyone enjoys them. Therefore the people participating are hapless rubes in need of rescue!"
While I agree with much of the criticism of gamification, my main problem with the criticism is that it credits us with very little intelligence. I love the badges on the escapist, but I wouldn't spend hours doing something I didn't want to do in order to get a badge, in the same way that I wouldn't spend an inordinate amount of money on a car just because I saw the advert for it. Of course, I don't consider myself 'above' being manipulated by marketing tricks, and I'm sure I've been influenced by them as much as the next person; but I stick around on the escapist because I like the features. Any badges, forum titles, customisation etc. is a cheeky bonus that I can choose to enjoy/not enjoy in a way which I don't feel is as invasive as many other forms of marketing.
 

ResonanceSD

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1) Master Chief, easy.

2) Extra Credits brought on the surge of Gamification in everything ages ago XD

3) My badges, look upon them and despair.
 

weirdee

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plus this stuff's entirely optional, so it's not as if anybody's being forced at gunpoint to care
 

swimon

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Fair enough I guess but the most troubling critique from the errant signal video isn't that it could waste a little of your time here or there (or money when more traditional marketers get a hold of it) but rather that it might make things less enjoyable. It turns something voluntary into a tool to obtain something else. By doing something for a specific goal instead of on its own terms the inherent enjoyability of the action gets diminished since you mostly care about getting the reward, is the argument.

Now I don't know if that's true, as much as I like Chris I'm inherently sceptical of psychology especially when coming from someone who isn't a psychologist (poorly understood soft science is not very convincing). But if it's true then gameification isn't just something that gets you to waste a bit of time but something that makes our lives less fun or interesting.

I don't think the really rather minor way the escapist uses it is going to doom mankind or anything but maybe we should research this before we structure our schools around it is what I'm saying.
 

s_h_a_d_o

Mr Propellerhead
Jun 15, 2010
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@ShamusYoung
While we're on the subject of "gamification", do you think perhaps we might amend this ongoing linguistic transgression, and supplant the word "mechanism" for "mechanic". :|
 

ritchards

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Nov 20, 2009
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So, do you want to know about the free world wide course being taught (sometime) in gamification then?

https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification
 

BrotherRool

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You're no longer linking to Twenty Sided Tale or Spoiler Warning in your about the author thing? :( That's how I found it all.

On topic, badges have convinced me to give a few series a chance I wouldn't have otherwise. When I'm time wasting and ambivalent the smallest inventive either way would tip the barrel and some of those series I liked and continued watching and others I didn't. I'm grateful for them introducing me to the series' I did.

On the other hand I think we;re underestimating the effect these psychological techniques can have. The whole point of them isn't they aren't logically understandable (ie the badges aren't worth it but do it anyway) but effect our behaviour. It's like advertising, no-one believes adverts have an affect on them, and they're too clever to fall for marketing games, yet it's so effective, people have paid billion upon billion to do it and seen profit. Unless there's one guy in the corner writing Facebook-stock-worth cheques, this stuff has more effect on us than we imagine, and the same probably goes for skinner boxes
 

octafish

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Apr 23, 2010
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I'll say it now, I hate achievements in games. Hate them. They bug the hell out of me. I don't want to see that shit. I always want the option to turn off achievement notifications. Give me that option and your game goes way up in my estimation developers. I'm a huge sucker for skinner box mechanics but only if they mean something like incremental upgrades. (I have no idea why I dislike Diablo/Borderlands so much when I am such a skinner whore)

As for the Escapist badges, I never do anything to "get" a badge. Be proud that your content is strong enough to attract an audience of people who don't care about these things.

Oh and Cate Archer, none sexier.
 

Dastardly

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Apr 19, 2010
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Shamus Young said:
In Defense of Gamification

Shamus stands up for the concept of gamification.

Read Full Article
Particularly glad to finally hear some frank discussion about gamification-as-manipulation. Working in public education, it's been all the rage for years at the elementary school level (token economies, reward tiers, etc.) and it's seeing an upswing thanks to new verbage (gamification).

And not only does it not get the job done, it's counterproductive to engaging students in learning. It distracts them from learning, and creates the expectation that the Big Rich Someone will always be there to make everything fun for them. Neither of these is a good thing.
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Sep 6, 2009
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Shamus Young said:
Shamus stands up for the concept of gamification.
I noticed your badge order spells; EXET, not sure what you are aiming for there.

I don't mind the Gamification of websites, to a certain degree. It makes them more mentally engaging.
 

Shamus Young

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Jul 7, 2008
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The website is manipulating me? Do it more, a little to the left... higher... okay, right there.

Badges? We don't need no stinking Badges!

*shrugs
 

ResonanceSD

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1up does gamification really well. You get progress points just for reading articles.
 

The Random One

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May 29, 2008
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Bah! I knew you were nothing but an exet!

Srsly though, I think too many people are worrying about the haunting spectre of gamification before it even has had a chance to show what it's made of. A few months ago I read an article containing some mild complaints about gamification, and the example they gave was exact the same thing that we would ten years ago be calling a loyalty program.

That said, I don't care about the Escapist badges. The ones that you get for not being a bother to the mods are cool, and an example of gamification done right (rewarding behaviour that benefits the community). The rest? eh. (Also, I miss getting six cool feature articles a week, even if they all dropped on Tuesday. Can I get a badge for that?)
 

aattss

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It's the other way around. I think of my level on Kongregate or Newgrounds as a way to measure progress, but I do not interact with them for those thingamajigs. It's more of a way to measure yourself and other people than as a goal you want to reach. It's sort of like the feel of having over 1k posts on Minecraft Forums. I brag about it, and I'm proud of it, but I didn't spam posts to get to it. I only posted because I wanted to.
 

WaysideMaze

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Apr 25, 2010
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Shamus Young said:
while Franklin is a personal friend of mine I didn't write this because I wanted to promote his work.
I wouldn't have a problem if you did.

I discovered errant signal after you mentioned it on twenty sided, and I'm glad that you did. It's a great series and I really would like to see Chris get more exposure for it.