The Game, The Play and the Volunteer

Humor Behavior Factor in Gamification. People volunteered to play? If not, why?

I was thinking to keep up with a more different topic until I realised that I’m missing to tell the obvious after I read the critique below:

http://jergames.blogspot.com/2014/06/save-or-enslave-world-takeaways-from.html

Let’s take gamification from a customer-player perspective: What game shall I play? Well, my company gives me badges for my sale successes, I see my name in leader boards among my colleagues. So? Let’s check out how the site looks like, let’s see screenshots that multiple people connect and view their progress, shall we? No! The first answer we have to take for this question: Do you want to play this game?

You all forgot one thing, a game is “Voluntarily overcoming obstacles when you don’t need to.” (Kevin Werbach Gamification Education on Coursera) You prepare the greatest game or best gamification application, it doesn’t work when no people volunteer to play it. Why can’t they volunteer? Simple, unless he/she has ever had a chance for fun-thinking about the job. This is like buying a website building service and expecting the programmer to create the content. Or more simply, putting a spoon of dried tea leaves into boiled water and expect to drink a tea by pouring down the boiled water to a glass immediately. Yes, you may advertise your game to people, people that haven’t tried your gamification platform may talk about it a lot and help the news spread around. Then what, we expected people to be more engaged and motivated. But when you started the project, the only unmeasured variable would probably be the change in motivation and engagement of people.

So, sad and unfortunate as it’s unseen, human factor and behavioral approach seems mostly exiled in the Gamification Industry. Surely, it does not seem right to write this several times rather than present some information to support this thought. Let’s make one factor clear: A gamificafion tool is successful only if it’s used frequently.  I’ve recently come across an application called “The Game of Your Life” in Android platform. It actually has all tools to make my life noted as though it was a game.  But I can’t manage to keep up with using the program. Why, well because thing notes has nothing to do with gamification and it’s nearly useless to take notes via an application when I can do the same with a notebook and a pencil.
On the other hand, a Turkish radio application, Jelli Radyo, allows the users to define the playlists of stations with a voting system just like MTV and other channels have used in concept programs. You open a radio channel, there’s a list waiting for you. You may like a song or dislike a song. While songs with more dislikes move downwards, songs with more likes move upwards. You also have “weaponry” to create stronger effects like immediately removing a song from the list or adding the song as the next song. I used weaponry to define it because you “rocket” a song to the top as you “blast” a song to the bottom. In this example, you may see an engaging effect relying on playing a simple game. If you keep up with the game, you get to listen more, you get to know more about songs with the genre of your choice and you listen to music.

In fact, I was preparing about this application such that it would be the example of good gamification. However, the number of followers did probably not support this case as much as necessary, so Jelli application came to an end. So, while I had to change the plan of how I’d write this blog, Jelli still provides a proof of what I’m trying to tell. It’s a proof that gamification is not a solution to any kind of problems. It may not always be the ideal approach to go on with. Thinking on the perspective of music, as an old digital music professional, I have some estimations about what went on. First, people listen to music by focusing on any other activity. We lived a period of time where music sites tried to give full control to listeners. While this was interesting at the beginning, it became obvious later that people prefer to listen to prepared lists. When this property is mixed with social media, people started following the ists of specific people. But one thing they certainly did was that most of them preferred pre-ordered lists to manually preparing a list. Even radio-station-like applications, which had very strict limitations compared to full interactive listings, overran the other applications due to that factor, in my oppinion. So, Jelli was a very good experience for listeners, but in the end not a really succesful one for most people. Well, the base site of Jelli, Karnaval.com, still goes on as a popular music portal with more radio stations than before.

So, it turns out that lack of voluntariness was not one of my personal weakness about persuasion of people to gamification, but it is a factor that shakes the concept of gamification and we are getting close to answering the question of “Is gamification really necessary?” I don’t personally believe that lack of motivation can be erased by a set of points, badges and leaderboards; so I believe that asking the question will carry us to a place where gamification will earn its true value.

Advertisements