- June
Posted By : Adrian Chan
Gamifying work. Seriously?

Gamification of the workplace. I would really like to know how it’s working out for those who have tried it.

The claims are substantial:

“the highest use of games will be to redesign work so that it is more like a game and to allow work to be conducted within games…” — For CIO’s, the games are just beginning.

I’ve always thought that game mechanics alone are unfit for use in the workplace. What’s the point of layering on game elements if there’s no game — worse, if there’s work being done? The use of game-like incentives would threaten to cheapen employee pursuits and discredit their efforts and achievements.

Work is serious. Games can be serious, too. But should we take gamification of work seriously?



  • I have posted a piece that starts to get to answer of this in my Mistaking the Edges for the Norm. The front side of gamification causes a decent uptick, but the backend of that same curve can be not so advantageous. 

    Gamification builds to a default set of assumptions about gaming, but game developers know there are many game player archetypes that don’t overlap nor intersect. What works for one archetype may completely alienate others, which is what is happening in most services. Keep in mind game players opt in to the game genre and archetypes they enjoy and not everybody is a fan of games. Some personality types fall into nice mapping of game focussed uses to roles and interactions, but it doesn’t work for the whole. Making the mis-assumptions has problems for the whole in many, if not most, cases where systems have had elements of gamification implemented. 

    What is missing is longitudinal data measuring the whole before and after. The fallout and problem areas arise with gamified  systems after 3 to 6 months it seems with some parts of the community that were active, no longer feeling comfortable or like the system is for them. People who have been highly valued contributors may no longer contribute and often point to the gamification as what alienated them.

    The place to look in organizations that have been running systems is often the UX folks or others whom are tasked with fixing the problems. Once you find them and ask about issues and disruptions in the use (positive and negative) the stories and concerns arise. Rarely do the managers of the services discuss the problems (some protecting their own interests and consider this just something to work through or other needed fix). I’m really hoping somebody does serious research on this as there is a real trend and knowing it and documenting it will really help the whole.

Leave a Reply