Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Designing Gamification in Paris

Tomor­row I’ll be off to Paris for the Design­ing Gam­i­fi­ca­tion work­shop at this year’s ACM SIGCHI event. I’m look­ing for­ward to con­tribut­ing our expe­ri­ence as prac­ti­tion­ers mak­ing games to the work­shop. We think that it would be fan­tas­tic if efforts at gam­i­fi­ca­tion were led by actu­al game designers.

I also hope that this (along with the Game­ful World book) will be some­thing of a step in lay­ing to rest the thing that is gam­i­fi­ca­tion. I have no illu­sions that this will be the final word. A quick twit­ter search shows how wide­spread the word has become. Read­ing through most inter­pre­ta­tions of that word as well as ‘seri­ous games’ shows a seri­ous mis­un­der­stand­ing of what games are and an immense hope as to what they can do. I think we should inter­pret that as a man­date. Games can be fun and do inter­est­ing things. It is up to us to show how.

New Games for Extant Contexts

Our sub­mis­sion to the work­shop is a paper called “New Games for Extant Con­texts”. It draws from our expe­ri­ence over the past years to cre­ate games that are sit­u­at­ed with­in a spe­cif­ic con­text, that take the affor­dances and prob­lems of those con­texts and use them to cre­ate new games.

In that paper we keep on ham­mer­ing on ‘play test­ing’, some­thing that is strange­ly miss­ing from almost all of the oth­ers. Play test­ing, we believe, is an essen­tial part of cre­at­ing games and a step that should not be skimped upon. Read all about it in the paper.

The Papers

In the stack of papers there are a bunch of exam­ples of gam­i­fi­ca­tion added to every­day tasks, some that try to add gam­i­fi­ca­tion or game­ful design to exist­ing user cen­tered design or busi­ness process­es and some that try to sal­vage the rhetoric in one way or anoth­er. If you want a more in depth impres­sion, you should jump straight into the extend­ed abstract.

I found some notable bits from a cou­ple of papers. Sebas­t­ian Deter­d­ing’s “Skill Atoms as Design Lens­es for User Cen­tered Game­ful Design” which iden­ti­fies issues with exist­ing approach­es to apply game­ful design:

  • Not sys­temic: They mere­ly add game design ele­ments, where­as game design approach­es games as sys­tems where expe­ri­ences emerge from the dynam­ic inter­ac­tion of users with all sys­tem com­po­nents [6,11].
  • Reward-ori­ent­ed: They focus on moti­vat­ing through rewards instead of the intrin­sic moti­va­tions char­ac­ter­is­tic for games, like com­pe­tence [6,14].
  • Not user-cen­tric: They empha­size the goals of the sys­tem own­er, often neglect­ing or even being detri­men­tal to the users’ goals [1,6,14].
  • Pat­tern-bound: They lim­it them­selves to a small set of feed­back inter­face design pat­terns (points, badges, leader boards), rather than afford­ing the struc­tur­al qual­i­ties of games that give rise to game­ful expe­ri­ences [6,14,17].

This is a good col­lec­tion of issues that should be addressed, though address­ing them is anoth­er issue alto­geth­er. I would rec­om­mend all of Sebas­tian’s writ­ing on this top­ic and his pre­sen­ta­tions for the much need­ed clar­i­ty of thought and prose they offer.

Anoth­er that caught my atten­tion is the “Gam­i­fi­ca­tion in Busi­ness: Design­ing Moti­vat­ing Solu­tions to Prob­lem Sit­u­a­tions” one by Deb­o­rah Gears and Karen Braun. As a goal this is very much in line with what we do and they also ref­er­ence Self-Deter­mi­na­tion The­o­ry, a mod­el that we employ as well.

The self-deter­mi­na­tion the­o­ry (SDT) [4] framed a moti­va­tion mod­el for under­stand­ing what and how human behav­ior is ini­ti­at­ed and reg­u­lat­ed [4,13,14]. The SDT rec­og­nizes social and envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions that affect per­son­al voli­tion and engage­ment in activ­i­ties. The SDT com­bines both con­tent (psy­cho­log­i­cal needs) and process (cog­ni­tion) moti­va­tion describ­ing needs for auton­o­my, com­pe­tence, and relat­ed­ness. An individual’s moti­va­tion for action is defined along a spec­trum of amo­ti­va­tion, extrin­sic moti­va­tion, and intrin­sic moti­va­tion mea­sured by per­ceived locus of causal­i­ty (exter­nal to inter­nal reg­u­la­tion) [6]. Needs for auton­o­my and com­pe­tence allow the “pre­dic­tion of the social cir­cum­stances and task char­ac­ter­is­tics that enhance ver­sus dimin­ish intrin­sic moti­va­tion.” [3 p. 233]

I’m look­ing for­ward to the work­shop and I hope for some fruit­ful dis­cus­sion. I hope to meet you, if you’re there.

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