There have been quite a few interesting stories on gamification from around the web this week. Highlights include a serious game on poverty that motivates participants to turn around and give back to the less fortunate, specifics by Michael Wu on how gaming the system can be overcome, an insightful Q&A on health games, and a terrifying story of a “boss from hell” gamifying the firing process. Check out the full stories below.
The Gamification of Poverty, Christopher Mims, MIT Technology Review
Spent is a new serious game that is on the verge of gamification in education. It allows the player to live a life of adverse poverty, through an immersive experience of tough decisions. Do you pay off an overdue bill or pay for food for your child? Do you give your mother money for medicine, or maintain your car so you can keep going to work? “Spent isn’t just a game that illustrates the power of the interactive medium to help activists get their message across. In a larger sense, and in a way that perhaps no other medium can match, it illustrates that what games can accomplish is empathy.” To get out of jam you can ask your friends for money on Facebook, and at the end of the game, you have the option of donating your time or money to helping those who are “spent”.
Gamification: 75% Psychology, 25% Technology, David F. Carr, The Brainyard
In an interview with InformationWeek, Gabe Zichermann talked about how to make business applications as “addictive” as angry birds, “if you can make something more fun, and include notions of play, you can get people to do things they otherwise might not want to do.” This may seem like the dark side of gamification, but as David Carr puts it, “it’s part of the science of how to manipulate people, something advertisers and politicians have been playing with for a long time–for good and for ill”. Technology platforms such as Badgeville, Big Door, and Bunchball have helped with the process of making the technical aspects of gamification easier, Zichermann maintains that gamification is “75% technology and 25% psychology”. You must concentrate both on the tech of the application and the motivation of your users.
(Relatively) Cheat Resistant Rewards and Metrics for Gamification, Michael Wu, Lithium Lithosphere
In the sequel to his post on Gaming Gamification, Michael Wu outlines some methods for overcoming cheating by making your project hard enough to game, to discourage cheaters from gaming the system. Again the methods are encompassed by two broad categories, decreasing the perceived value of the reward and increasing the effort required to game the system. Some tactics are to make rewards purely intrinsic without any transferable values in the real world, rewards with greater intangible value (a T-shirt vs. high fashion), or rewards that have a perceived value differential (of value to a particular community rather to the general public). Secondly, some methods for making the system more difficult to game are to design the metrics so that they focus on unique users or community reputation, or to make data extremely transparent. “Total transparency is helpful because not only does it make good behavior visible, it also makes any cheating behavior discoverable and sometimes blatantly obvious.”
Q&A about Health Games, Co Health Twitter Chat Recap, Trapper Markelz, MeYouHealth Blog
CoHealth recently held a tweetchat on the ever-changing landscape of health games. Some interesting info popped up, so be sure to check out the full chat. Through health games, users can achieve mastery of their own wellness, and “this mastery, often in the form of knowledge and mindfulness, beats back the powerlessness that many people face. Through game experiences we are empowered to succeed.” MeYouHealth has made some headway by concentrating on not what “gamification” means but how it can change people’s attitudes towards being more healthy. Also check out the gamified app, Daily Challenge.
Firing contest by boss leads employees to quit, Clark Kaufman, DesMoines Register
Someone missed the memo that gamification must be positive to be successful. Specifically, William Ernst, 57, owner of an Iowa-based chain stores called QC Mart, sent out a memo in March. The memo outlined a contest and encouraged employees to participate. Sounds fun right? Well the contest was “Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!” The memo outlined that “secret shoppers” would be visiting each of the chain’s stores looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, etc, and told employees to guess who would be fired next. The reward was $10 “CASH”. Well we still aren’t sure who the winner was, but Ernst sure was the looser. Employees sued, citing a hostile work environment and Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman sided with the workers, calling the contest ‘”gregious and deplorable.”
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Games for Brands Conference, London, Oct 27
Gamification is best for ‘influencing and impacting behaviors:’ Wharton panel event