Right And Wrong Gamification 

Posted by: Ekin Türkü Onatça Comments: 0

Right And Wrong Gamification 

In March, we left behind this year’s Gamification Europe Conference. In this five-day adventure full of gamification, we had the opportunity to listen to both informative and inspiring speeches from valuable people and see various examples of the work done in the industry. In this article, I would like to tell you about the “Discover the New Approach to Flow” speech that delivered by Bruno Setola on the last day of the event, the “Employee Experience Day”, and opened another horizon for me. 


The main topic of Bruno’s speech was Intristic Motivation. Bruno started his speech by first talking about why we need it and then what methods we can use to achieve it. However, the thing that caught my attention in Bruno’s speech was a part that he briefly mentioned while he was talking about this subject. 


This was the part where Bruno showed how gamification can be used wrong and in an evil way, with an example from a short video shared by an Amazon employee. This part gave rise to many new questions in my mind. What is right gamification and how should it be? Why and how can the gamification we design have a bad effect on employees? And more importantly, what can we do to avoid it? For those of us who design gamification and experience, I think these are the questions that need to be answered with great care. 


Today, gamification is frequently used by companies to improve employee performance, increase sales and productivity, and increase motivation. As a result, published reports and data are mostly looked at to measure the success of gamifications designed for large audiences. However, although these reports and data can show increasing sales, they are insufficient to show the main topic that should be the focus of gamification: the experience of people. 


We design the experience of gamification primarily for people. There is a journey that emerges in gamification, and although this journey may change towards the goals of the companies, it is actually the journey of the employees. If this situation is overlooked while designing the gamification, the resulting experience actually means nothing. Even though, the data and reports claim that gamification is successful, it is not a real success as the success that achieved is not permanent. 


Wrong examples of gamification simply focus on achieving the goals the company wants, without considering this journey. It aims to achieve these goals by forcing, without considering the current level of the employees. In fact, although it is almost completely devoid of the main elements of gamification, it uses concepts such as leaderboards, badges and awards used in gamification just as a show. However, what emerges is not actually gamification. In this, the players never go into the flow state, they do not enjoy what they are doing, and therefore the success achieved is not a real and permanent success. 


The right gamification examples, on the other hand, consider the goals that the company wants and the purpose that is planned to be achieved, but it does not force those goals and instead of it, its main focus is the people that will experience the journey of gamification. During this journey, employees are guided to goals that are logical and that they can achieve according to their current level and experience. They use what they learned during the journey in the tasks assigned to them and practice it. As they gain experience, their missions become more challenging to match their level, and they are faced with challenges that are decisive and enjoyable to overcome. At the end of the journey, as they learn and progress step by step, the success achieved becomes permanent and this is a real success for both them and the company. 


In short, a true gamification journey, takes its productivity from creating the idea of “How do I reach the potential I hide inside me by improving myself?” thought in employees minds not from the fear of “What will happen if I fall behind in the game?”.  This idea can only be created by considering people and the experience of the journey as the focus when designing gamification. 


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