Game Designers Still Don’t Get Gamification
Yesterday, Steve Bocska opined here on Gamification.co about what was to be – ostensibly – a discussion of designing gamification without using points and badges. Instead, what he wrote was a screed that questioned the ethics of many gamifiers, assailed social games (really? is this 2011 again?) and reached its climax with the oh-so-powerful suggestion that you “think very carefully about what you’re trying to accomplish.” In the process of trying to lecture this growing community on its ills, I think Steve has made the point of one of our most prolific experts, Rajat Paharia, very clear: game designers – in general – just don’t understand gamification.
Many of the points that Steve makes are obvious to be sure (e.g. points and badges aren’t enough), but he’s tilting against imaginary windmills. Certified Gamification Designers already know that depth and purpose matter, and through the courses we teach and workshops we hold through our burgeoning industry, none of us can be accused of missing that point. Game developers seem convinced that us simple business folk can’t possibly wrap our minds around the idea that systems need long-term meaning and value, that they must progress over time, or that users’ intelligence should not be underestimated. After all, hasn’t the games industry been the champion of collective intelligence and business acumen in the past 40 years?
Part of the reason why I continuously insist that gamification is its own discipline — separate from, but similar to, game design — is that we have a major cross to bear. Our designs must not only be entertaining (which is hard enough) but also help people change their lives for the better, grow businesses, improve civic engagement, change the world, and make work more productive. In short, our challenges are generally much more complex, economically significant and — dare I say — meaningful than the work that preoccupies most game designers.
It’s therefore more important than ever that we continue to refine our education and certification curricula. The case-based and practical approaches we’ve advocated work, and our industry continues to grow at a rate unmatched by most others in recent times. We are doing important and meaningful things, with generally high ethical standards. Certified gamification designers are among the best creators of experiences in the world, and with diligence this trend will continue. — check out the cases presented at GSummit 2013 for some examples. We have – in so many ways – transcended the surly bounds of “game design”, and there’s no reason to turn back now.
That, my friends, is the point.