Dirk Knemeyer

Gamification hype

Gamification hype, April 7, 2010

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

I’m feeling pedantic. It is with increasing annoyance that I keep running into the “games will be everywhere!” meme. The origin of a lot of this noise was Jesse Schell’s much-celebrated DICE 2010 presentation. He punctuated the concept of games being everywhere with examples about toothbrushes that track and reward how you brush your teeth, as well as Prius-style gas mileage efficiency trackers that recognize or reward driving to a particular standard of efficiency. The only issue is: [problem] none of these things are games.

[…] Companies of every possible product and service will look for ways to “hook” users and compel them to use their stuff and promote the experience to others. This basic practice has been in full force since the first Cro-Magnon tried to get more branches from the flathead down the way in exchange for his stones. In some real way that is the very essence of marketing. A toothbrush manufacturer may indeed attempt to capture the vision Schell outlined. Some people may indeed be interested in it and “play” the game. But how many of us want to make a game out of brushing our teeth? Once the novelty has worn off, is there a game there anymore?

[…] The problem with this is: users don’t want every damn thing in their life to be competing for their attention. Some things need to be important and essential. These might be things like a favourite chair, a computer, a pair of glasses. These are things that are used for hours every day, things that materially impact our happiness and well-being. Some things need to not. These are things that are supplementary to our lives, like vacuum cleaners. And toothbrushes.

Which brings us back to this horrible “games are everywhere” meme. They aren’t everywhere; they won’t be everywhere.