There’s been a bit of back and forth about my best-selling book, Gamification by Design in recent days. After reading the book itself, you can check out the opening review from PhD student Sebastian Deterding here, my measured response here, and his latest (not unexpected reply) here.
Now that we’re all caught up, at the very end of Sebastian’s latest piece, he ends with this fascinating question about my book:
“Why not inform readers about the complications and caveats involved? Why not be more careful in presenting what knowledge and experience is already out there? Why leave so much value for readers on the table?”
Setting aside for a moment that we absolutely point out a number of limitations and concerns about design patterns both in the book and in my live talks, he makes a great point. I present the opportunity for doers interested in gamification the way I see it – from my work with brands, the case studies, and the research.
Alternate approaches, viewpoints, design concepts and opinions are welcome in our community. That’s why I offer the op-eds, videos and conference speaking slots – unedited and unfettered – to anyone who wants to present their opinion and speaks with the credibility of experience – including Sebastian. That’s also why we spend the money, time and personal capital necessary to create an industry association, advocate for an ethical code, and more.
My responsibilities and perspectives are manifold, including pieces critical of gamification and my perspective on it (which I have written) and lots of analysis and self-reflection. I see dozens of case studies a week, and between my team and I, we try to understand their stats/dynamics, play the apps themselves and distill insight from them wherever possible. Most of the time however, my job is to champion the industry, the concepts of gamification, and most importantly – its potential to be a force for positive change in industry, government, education, and society. This includes creating an ethical code, and training future business leaders in the need to understand this trend and its effect on business.
But the conversation has to start getting constructive and focused on creating better outcomes, or it’s really less a conversation and more a rant.
To that end, I want to suggest that we get Sebastian’s thoughts together and put them where they’ll be most useful – as supplemental material to Gamification by Design. What I think readers would love to see is a thoughtful chapter on the limitations of gamification, the biggest pitfalls and key areas they should be concerned with. Though we’ve tried to cover this material throughout the book, a concentrated dose of that with Sebastian’s research skills behind them should be awesome. Obviously, we’ll need to get approvals and content will be subject to editing, but I’m sure readers will be stoked to see these thoughts in a focused, concise and constructive form.
I know I will.