feb 13

Gamification of the Web

Opposing visions of the gamification of the web from this morning:

Joseph Puopolo on Techcrunch:

Gamification has become one of the hottest buzz words in the industry and is probably in the process of taking over a website or user experience near you.

David Jacobs on his blog:

I surveyed the community services I frequent -- Metafilter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Mlkshk, Mixel. These services do present goals to their users and they have crafted a user experience that nudges them towards those goals -- but they do it without points, ranks and the other mechanisms and patterns advertised in the Techcrunch post above.... At some point people are going to wake up to the fact that the gamification industry is a scam.

For sure, "visualizing success" is a major component of social sites, but there are still scant examples of successful sites with more game-like components like leaderboards and badges, despite the rampant startup growth.


I'm a self-described gamer, so weigh my opinion in that context, but I would describe gamification as more of a fad than a scam. It's always been a tool for engagement, even in pre-digital incarnations (patch jackets, collectable toys in food, bar trivia, etc).

posted by Steve Morman at 2:49 PM on February 13, 2012

Hello Steve.

"(patch jackets, collectable toys in food, bar trivia, etc)."

Right - but are those things part of "gamification?" They're just marketing efforts. Also, what is engagement in a pre-digital context?

posted by David Jacobs at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2012

DJ: What do you think of things like FitBit? It seems like it qualifies as "gamification" and at least close to successful.

posted by Rex at 12:50 PM on February 14, 2012


It may be a stretch comparing some traditional marketing methods with gamification of digital media, but if we consider the biker at the rally or the metalhead at the concert, they are both measuring their progress in those communities by patches that attest to their participation it that societal circle: they are playing that role and they have the badges to prove it.

Also, the child who "collects them all" is playing for the complete set of toys, but the non-game activity is the "chore" of getting to the bottom of the box in the course of X breakfasts (where X = 1 if you cheat!)

Meanwhile, I consider the "engagement" akin to the loyalty to a particular community or brand, which is a similar fight for relevance with various online service offerings, be they a weight loss site like "LoseIt" or "FitBit" or a finances planning site like "Mint" -- these examples use badges and points as a way to present progress toward goals.

However, I do agree that a lot of gamification is useless crap: were a retailer to employ this strategy to promote my purchases, I'd say "no thanks" and opt out if at all possible.

Obviously this stuff is immature, but I was attempting to find antecedents in near-virtual property in a pre-digital economy. Maybe all of this stuff is the "wooden nickels" of our age?

posted by Steve Morman at 2:59 PM on February 14, 2012

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