Gamification isn’t a term you want to use in polite society. Serious game designers will laugh you out of the room. Appropriating the serious science of game design for use as a business buzz word is an affront to their work.
It doesn’t sit all that well with non-gamers either.
I had one of the most heated conversations of the decade a couple of weeks ago. My conversation partner was a well established training expert who paid his early dues with deep study of Psychology and time in an assessment company. He’s the real deal.
The subject of gamification lit him up It was something to do with the way that games generate flow states. He was particularly concerned about the fact that games might create the expectation of a constant flow of positive feedback. He painted a dark picture of workers failing because they’d become dependent on their work for stimulation and self-concept.
It made me stand back and think. I love it when that happens.
Gamificaton, the new emphasis on analytics and all of the forms of Big Data are symptoms of an underlying shift in the way we work and the way we think about the world. We are understanding more about the world and it’s beginning to learn about us.
The change is being driven by data.
Each of the strategies for dealing with data is an attempt to deal with a new reality that is very hard to describe. It frustrates our best efforts to put it in a box and to try to contain it. But it is already changing everything that’s in its path.
Part of what’s happening is that data is becoming omnipresent. Where it was once expensive to get data about things in the world, everything is monitored. The very essence of the mobile revolution is that sensors are everywhere all of the time. Harnessed properly, this means that feedback can be instantaneous.
It’s a serious threat to old school management with its dependence on routine and administration.
Games have four key pieces:
- Feedback Loops
- Voluntary Participation
Abundant data makes it possible to have real time feedback loops in workplaces that used to deliver worker feedback annually. That, in turn, makes the accelerated learning and participation of the game world available on the job.
Gamification is just a way of talking about the fact that fast transparent feedback enables workers to become deeply engaged in goal achievement.