lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

When NOT to use Gamification?

Why use Gamification

In our latest post we established that Gamification is a very powerful tool that allows us to generate/build happiness while increasing people´s motivation to achieve a goal. 

This is due to two main conclusions:

- There is a strong connection between game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics (MDA) that gamification is based on, with the well-being PERMA factors of Dr. Martin Seligman

- A link between the happiness (well-being) PERMA elements and the main factors of motivation can be identified, according to the extended Self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan

When "joining dots", we realise that the formula of Gamification is: 

Gamification = Goal = Happiness (PERMA) + Motivation (extended SDT)

If you feel like knowing more about it check my post "Why use Gamification" here: 

Many other resources can be found in that post, as well as the official links for some more expert insights!

The NOT to use factors

Up until now, we have established that gamification is used to increase people's happiness while boosting their motivation towards a goal. In consequence, we have discovered which are the most important factors that drive it so, if we know why we use it, can we identify the situations when not to apply it?  

And the answer is: YES!!!!

Going through the reasons why it is used again, we can see that happiness, motivation and goals are the main keys points

So, if we are thinking about applying gamification and:

-  A start-end task or activity cannot be clearly identified or there's no motivation for it

- The motivation for the target task or activity is more than enough to accomplish it

- Or we are clearly not creating or increasing the happiness of the people involved

We should not use gamification!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No goal: start-end activities

One of the main factors to apply gamification is the existance of a certain purpose, an activity that is started because of a reason and its finish line is a clear goal. This means that if no clear goal to accomplish this task is involved, there is not that much gamification can do.

This is the case when we are doing things just for the sake of it, without a meaningful reason. Playing football for fun with some friends, having a picnic on a sunny day or checking out stuff on the internet to get some information are good examples for it. As we can imagine, it is not that recommendable to gamify this activities since no long term goal is involved and they dont start because of a stated reason. We do them just because we want.

On the other hand, it has to be said that this kind of tasks are not the common thing, and a start-end pattern can be identified in the majority of activities that we do day by day. In some cases it's clearer that in others, but if we think about it, almost all of them are started by a reason and done in order to accomplish a meaningful goal. (Think about "Chore Wars" and how "chores" also have a reason to start and of course a purpose can be identified in time)

When applying gamification, there must be a start-end pattern underlying or it will not be as effective or powerful as usual, especially in the long term.  

Enough motivation: Time/Speed/Seriousness

Another one of the reasons not to apply gamification is the "enough motivation" factor. By this, I am thinking about those kind of activities that we don't need a motivational boost in order to perform them in an optimus way.

This is the case when extreme time or speed constrains appear and the activity is a matter of "life or death". In addition, there are some cases when the seriousness of the task itself is more than enough to do it.

In example, taking a relative to the hospital, doing an exam or explaining the business current situation to our stakeholders are things that need to be done, and due to their seriousness they need to be quick and effective without any delaying steps in the middle.

When applying gamification, we have to be aware of the time, speed and seriousness constrains involved. Sometimes gamifying is not advisable.

Unethical or Amoral behaviours

Our last factor is a very clear one. Gamification must always be a tool to promote ethical behaviours and it musn't be used in any other way.

When gamification is causing great harm, as some recent studies have shown with "gamblification", or it is not promoting happiness or motivation in a good way, it should not be used.

For more information about this topic i suggest you to read Andrzej's (@daverage) Code of Ethics (

Victor Manrique

8 comentarios:

  1. Victor...

    No goal: start-end activities - you explained this horribly unclearly, plus exmaples given are very odd. You are mentioning gamifying playing football. I would like to remind you the basic definition - "gamification is an application of game elements and game design techniques in non-game context". So basicly you can gamify game itself. And this is the case. But, you can make it more social by gamyifing the idea of playing some team games (but not one game, rather whole set of matches.

    Secondly Enough motivation: Time/Speed/Seriousness - again I completely disagree with some of your exmaples. Of course, gamification is not about showing stakeholders that by displaying things properly you are earning some points or badges. But it is about results. So still having a big picture you will be able to gamify even this kind of stuff. You are too focused on very detailed pieces.
    Even, I will make a sfe assumption, even participating in emergancy situations including life threat might be somehow gamyfied, but you would need to consider the importance of the moment. Feedbakc loop should be activated after the whole situation, not when you are doing something of life-importance.

    Unethical or Amoral behaviours - gamification =/= gamblification. I will present my own framework that clearly separates those two. If you are putting them into one bag, that is not good.

    I was the one who started the main discussion about what should not be gamified recently and I have some thoughts about it, will try to present them as well, however what is in the blog entry is absolutely not about my point of view and most of the exmaples given by you are in my opinion very inaccurate.

  2. Radoslaw, thank you for your insights, if something was not clear, i ll explain it again, sometimes we dont understand things the way that the writer tries to explain them. Let me explain myself better about this topics, and again im open to any other comments, critics or whatever you or other might like to say :)

    - First of all, i think you misunderstood the concept of non start-end activities. I dont say i want to gamify football, i say it all the way around. You shouldn´t gamify an activity that people are doing for the sake of it. Also, if it was the case that i wanted to gamify a game (which is not, as you well say in your definition) it would be called metagamification, you can learn more about it here:

    - About your second point, i think you are not focusing in the right examples Radoslaw and again sorry for not making my points clear. What i mean with the skateholders is that you shouldn´t gamify meetings or important reunions, just see it in that way, dont focus that much on the examples. See the whole message.
    Life or death issues or other tasks that require that upmost speed are not advisable to gamify. Another example: think is ok to gamify the urgencies of a hospital? well, might not be the best thing :P

    - About the last part of it, i signed in with Andrzecj Marzcewski the Code of Ethics of Gamification and im very aware of the issues that unethical gamification could mean. Again, i think you misunderstood a bit my point. I state that gamblification is a risk, i dont state that they are the same, which they clearly are not, thank god! hahaha it would all be a casino if not! :)

    im looking forward to your post and glad to discuss with you about this interesting topics! Good luck with your blog!! I ll be following! ; )

  3. Nah Victor - as I said, you can gamify even those things that are done for the sake of it (btw. just to be clear, there is no such thing like activities done for the sake, even breathing, done automatically is not being something for it own sake, think about it).
    Only question is, is there anything to won by doing so. Obviously this will not be the case if an activity is generating a lot of fun already. This will be potentially waste of time and resources. And this is one of the case when IMO gamification should not be applied, when there is already sufficient amount of motivation.

    Then, one clear note - if you are giving inadequete examples, dont give them to avoid someone responding to them. This is just general note. Ang I will repeat - your level of understanding is far too detailed. I saw it already dozen of times before the course when I spoke with other people somehow involved in this topic. You should not influence people work on very detailed level by introducing game system, you aim to raise their engagement and motivation, not changing the activity itself. So all the game elements can be there after something is done, as well as loops.

    I am aware that there are people such as Andrzej on the web and I did visited his site couple times even but he is no guru in this topic for me unfortunatelly so I am treating this kind of frameworks only as a proposals obviously.

    Gamblification is in fact also a type of system, in fact could be called a game. The difference is that player is requested to place his own assets as a part of the game, and there is real risk of loosing something during the process. This makes those two different.

  4. And in response to the medical care I will give an exmaple that will correspond somehow.

    think about gamified system that would be encouraging us somehow to use stairs instead of lifts. I am not going to say how this could be turned into fun, but lets focus on activity loop. You can do two options:

    - ask person to count stairs steps, and log them separately somewhere, so you will be able to track down how many stairs steps you have passed

    - you can ask people to provide you with some specifics - how many steps there are in general, then you can create a data base containing buildings and number of steps between floors. In the end of the day, the player will only have to remember how many floors did he go on foot by stairs.

    First option means - waste of time, frustration, possible mistakes and logging things when doing activity. very bad idea.

    second option means - give players a baseline, some information about buildings and ask them only to count floors passed on foot by stairs, by the end of the day. Much more friendly, possible to achieve, not time consuming. If fun - will succeed.

    Try to apply same approach to hospitals, doctors and medical care and supprisingly you will discover that those things also can be gamified quite well

  5. And one last thing, this time regarding so called metagamification. This term is completely artifical and not necessary for gamification topic. It says that it is about blurring boundries, bringing games outside the game world.

    As it happens, I was game designer and especially level designer for almost 6 years. And I know quite a lot about establishing game enviroment in fact. When you are setting your world, boundries, this is it. If this is affecting somehow real world, it is NOT metagamification, it is still just a gamified system.

    Using my experiance I can only say that this pseudo-definitions has no purpose and can only confuse others (there is a strong need to invent something that was already invented - here you have a brilliant example of such situation).

  6. Hi again Radoslaw! Im glad that we can have this interesting discussion about this important topics when the time to apply gamification comes :)

    First of all, im glad that we both agree in the fact that when motivation is enough gamification is not going to as powerful or effective as usual, we can call it in different ways but the underlying factor is the same :D

    Secondly, im a very details person, i love taking care of the detail that in the end, is all that matters, there are many PBL sites, but only some stand out, in my opinion life is made by details, but, of course, and as i said previousluy, this is my personal opinion and "my truth", but every person has its "own truth" and i respect that, and like chatting about different points of view

    About gamblification im glad we also agree in the fact that is different and should be treated in a different way.

    Obviousy, we all have different influencers, and there are many "schools" for gamification. As for me, i love andrzej´s work but others might not, its just a matter of personal opinions. Just as a reminder of his knowledge, he has work with closely with Richard Bartle, written a book and invited to many conferences, the last one coming, the Gamification World Congress 2013. But again, we are all free to follow the knowledge of whoever we like the most, as it happens in football, we all have different teams, but love the same thing :)

    Last but not least, i appreciate your hospital example, and i think its quite good. Have a look to this: to see that it has done before (done by Jane Mcgonigal, as i know you like her, so do i! :P). My example is about the urgency, seeing someone that needs help right now, because its in a very serious condition. A matter of life and death, just that, i didnt mean any other examples :)

    AS always, glad to talk to you, and your comments are more than welcome here, as usual!

  7. I am glad that you like the discussion. I am sitting in the topic since late 2010, early 2011, so around the time when it really become hot topic. I heard quite a lot of stories about gamification, theories about it and such. On the other hand I am treating carefully all web sources as not everything that is placed on Internet is a good resource. In fact, this metagamification seems like a very poor concept, which is hardly documented at all. plus it was invented by marketing sector, which is not new to me, and I know how some models or theories are built there.

    In particullar, I like the academic approach which is systematic, and I do prefer reading people that are practicioners, not just theory guys.

    I see your point of view, very detailed. One thing I learnt about games and gamifing is that there are different levels on which you can work on. And obviously it is scallable. I prefer seeing firstly big picture, then reaching deeper if necessary.

    Getting back to metagamification once again - to be absolutely correct and referring to meta- prefix, the correct understanding will be gamified gamification. And this is, again, possible (getting points, levels achievement to motivate people to take part in other gamification projects such as foursquare or chromaroma). This will be more or less agglomeration.

  8. It is always good to create a good discussion about gamification Radoslaw, i enjoy analysing different points of view ; )

    Im looking forward to seeing your comments on my new blog: an extended version of the player´s types based on Bartle and Andrzej, sure we can have a good chat

    About metagamification, or other topics, you are right in the fact that not everything that is found on the internet is correct, there is a need to "filter" all the info, of course. And yes, gamified gamification is possible, but still not that much analysed.