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Gamification's Failure: A Lack Of Real Life Wins
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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2014 | 7:24:22 AM
Re: Good analysis, but a little simplistic
I think components of gamification can work but I don't think every task needs to become a points based challenge.  I see the usefulness of smartly displayed data, ways to measure progress and making tasks more enjoyable but in the end it is work and it will never be the most fun thing ever.  
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 7:33:56 PM
Re: Good analysis, but a little simplistic
I believe gamificiation can be used effectively. But I suspect many of its failures can be traced back to non-gamers implementing game-like systems. If you're hiring an enterprise IT group to gamify some business process, make sure you have people play games and have actually developed games on the team. 
Joel Confino
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Joel Confino,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 6:37:09 PM
Re: Good analysis, but a little simplistic
Great questions.  Can you rely on people to be honest in their assessments? Basically can you game the gamification?

The way you ensure that people are rating answers accurately is through transparency.  Your name is attached to everything you do, and everyone in your organization can see it.  If you give a thumbs up to a blatantly incorrect answer, you own that.  This is in contrast to the anonymous public internet where such ratings systems can be more easily manipulated.

In practice I think it is more common for an incorrect answer to not receive thumbs up vs get a thumbs down, but thumbs downs do occur (I've given them myself :-)  To ensure someone doesn't just thumbs down everything for absolutely no reason, in Haydle's reputation system you actually sacrifice a small amount of your own reputuation in order to thumbs down someone else's answer.  In other words, the answer has to be so clearly wrong that you are willing to "take one for the team" and point it out.

It is also worth noting that merit-based reputation systems like the one Haydle uses (your peers rate your content) are much more reliable than task-based reptuation systems (you get points for each task you accomplish such as each post or comment).

I can say from the experience of our customers over the past year and a half that they trust the ratings and reputations of people in Haydle so much so that some groups actually include it as part of their employee review process.  We also have customers who feed the Haydle reputations into other enterprise social networks or display them on the person's intranet profile.

 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 6:06:51 PM
Re: Good analysis, but a little simplistic
Joel, how do you keep that kind of feedback honest in a work environment? Are you really going to trash a colleague's half-baked answer in a company Q&A system? On the other extreme, what's to keep employees from giving everyone an A+?

Appreciate the comment, glad you jumped into the discussion, and that you shared where you're coming at it from. 

  
Joel Confino
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Joel Confino,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 5:20:11 PM
Good analysis, but a little simplistic
Disclaimer: I'm the CEO of an enteprise Q&A company called Haydle, so I'm not a neutral observer.

I think the article is correct that a lot of vendors have slapped a poor implementation of badging into their products and assumed that most people would actually care if they get a collection of badges with funny names like "Grand Master of Adding Content to the Intranet".  It can seem too much like a fantasy role playing game instead of work.

But that's one subset of gamification.  I've seen badging done well, and in fact my product uses a very minimalistic approach to badging: you are an "expert" or you aren't.  Knowing who in your company is considering a "expert" has business value.

And there is much more to gamification.  Again, an example I'm familiar with: having someone give a thumbs up to your answer to a question.  If I ask a question using an enterprise Q&A system, and 5 people -- not just random people on the Internet but my co-workers -- give my answer a thumbs up, that is motivating.  It is about getting immediate positive feedback for good work which is sorely missing in most tasks you perform.

How much recognition do you get at work for a job well done?  Adding a document to SharePoint?  Sending a good email?  For most people, you get a semi-annual or annual review.  How about getting a mini-peer review every day or a couple times a week as people rate your answers positively in an enterprise Q&A system?  It is motivating.

Done correctly, gamification is about a positive feedback loop and giving recognition, and it works.  Done poorly, and it is an obvious mismatch for business and comes across as cheesy.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/18/2014 | 4:57:43 PM
Re: Gamification's Failure
Gamification is a topic that I see oft-discussed, but rarely implemented. Maybe that's just anecdotal (someone must be using it for there to be so much talk), but nevertheless I'm glad to see someone be open and honest about the overall lack of returns on this trend. People assume that a lot of the flack 'gamification' gets is from older folks talking bad about 'these confounded younguns', and maybe that is true, but the opposite is also true. Like commenter David, I'm a pretty entrenched gamer myself, and I've been skeptical of this idea from the beginning. There are the obvious problems (work =/= game no matter what you attach to it), and the more subtle ones - and I'm glad to see you tackle both.

As for getting it right... well, like I said, I'm a little skeptical of it being a good idea to begin with. For those that are absolutely determined to make it work, though, there are a few tips that come to mind. Chiefly, make it unobtrusive - if it takes me too long to go and log a task or claim my 'reward', then I'm not going to bother. I'd rather get ten tasks done and not log them then get six done and log them. Other than that, your tip about variety hits home. There are lots of different kinds of games, and social games like farmville are actually LEAST popular among hardcore gamers - it requires a little more thought.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/18/2014 | 3:26:32 PM
Re: Its about time...
Writing about healthcare and talking frequently with healh IT professionals about how they are working to help their organizations achieve goals like patient engagement, I agree with you 100% that there are some bad ideas out there. As Kelly said, these concepts often include a seemingly added-on gameification aspect that's like an extra step created solely to fit the gameification concept. In healthcare, it seems obvious people would enjoy the results of better health if they adhere to certain treatments or behaviors (exercise regularly, eat fruit and vegetables, cut back or stop drinking, don't smoke...), but it's never that simple is it? 

But it takes more than that to change behavior, despite the great goal of better health and a happier life. Just as we are moving toward personalized health, we have to personalize gameification because all people don't act in the same way or by the same motivators.
Patrick_Hale
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Patrick_Hale,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 2:06:00 PM
Its about time...
I really love seeing thoughtful articles like this that look past the "cool" factor and start to ask the tough questions about the real utility of trends and marketing concepts. 

Gamification fascinates me...I really feel this concept is the key to unlocking true patient behavior change in healthcare...but there are a ton of really bad ideas being implemented out there.  Its time for those of us that run real-world development teams to get some "points on the board" and prove these concepts out.
dawagoner
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dawagoner,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 12:56:09 PM
Getting to intrinsic motivation
I agree as far as you go. I struggle with the next step, which is figuring out how to trun extrinsic motivation (that external motivation goten from badges and leaderboards) to intrinsic motivation. Is intrinsic motivation able to be designed in in a simple way that resonates across an organization? Possibly, take Southwest Air as an example. Employees are hired from the start with an eye toward the type of employee that will fit in the corporate culture. In this case intrinsic gamificaiton can be designed (I believe it has at Southwest) to motivate employees.

I am not sure intrinsic gamificaiton alone can ever overcome the variations of a diverse workforce in most organizations.
David A.C304
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David A.C304,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/18/2014 | 12:46:17 PM
Comments on Gaming
I am an avid gamer and have been since the days of Doom and Myst on my PC. I do believe that the mind needs a break or as a friend of mine called it "chewing bubble gum" for your brain.

What is to me more key than anything else, and something I have not seen mentioned it what I believe is the number one quality gaming requires: PERSISTANCE!

Any decent gamer knows that in order to master the next level is an endless parade of hour after hour of getting slaughtered, crushed, and all the other ways of "loosing" that come with the game you are playing.

If we could transfer that obsessive "rebooting until I pass" mentality in our daily endevours we would be able to master our tasks and feel pretty darn good of our accomplishments.

Unfortunately as I see more and more, recently we only focus on the result and not really on how we get them.

Lather, rinse and repeat.
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