How to ‘gamify’ an industry?

e4 / podcast & show notes, wherein I plunge deep into the dubiousness


A little while ago I received this question from a subscriber:

How would you suggest using Gamification on the health industry to assist clients (patients) in making positive and progressive health and lifestyle change?
—The High Dragon of Provolution Health

Oh my, I wouldn’t. That’s the short answer.

I’m not sure if this was a trick question—but I treated it in earnest (for I appreciate and love the hidden complexity behind it).

Listen to this episode if you want to be slightly more wise, deft, perplexed and astute in relation to gamification. Also listen if you’re curious about motivation amidst complexity in general.

I have a bit of a ‘history’ with gamification,* and so in this episode I take the opportunity to ‘get my academic on’, so to speak (just a little).

* I’ve written about this previously: Gamification & The Opposite of Hack

I worry this episode might be a bit dense and dry—but then so is Rye Bread sometimes, and I occasionally like that.

(Btw, I wish I had made some sort of shrewd observation about the ‘big brother’ gamification in China—but I forgot to. Such is the nature of these free flow podcasts. Next time!)

Here are the references that emerged from the noösphere as I rambled away.

Note: I’m still finding my groove, and am rather intending to not ramble so much in future episodes—but thanks for tuning in. And thank you again High Dragon for the question.

» Clementine Ford’s new book: Boys Will Be Boys.
» Feminist Frequency with Anita Sarkeesian
» Tropes vs Women in Video Games
» Let’s make this fun (and other terrible ideas)—a now quite old video from a day in which I had a bit of a cold. You’ll gain a fair insight into my stance on gamification from this one.
» The Game Changer by Dr Jason Fox
Gamification in Management: Between Choice Architecture and Humanistic Design (Journal of Management Inquiry). Abstract: “Gamification in management is currently informed by two contradicting framings or rhetorics: the rhetoric of choice architecture casts humans as rational actors and games as perfect information and incentive dispensers, giving managers fine-grained control over people’s behavior. It aligns with basic tenets of neoclassical economics, scientific management, operations research/management science, and current big data-driven decision making. In contrast, the rhetoric of humanistic design casts humans as growth-oriented and games as environments optimally designed to afford positive, meaningful experiences. This view, fitting humanistic management ideas and the rise of design and customer experience, casts managers as “second order” designers. While both rhetorics highlight important aspects of games and management, the former is more likely to be adopted and absorbed into business as usual, whereas the latter holds more uncertainty, but also transformative potential.”
Sebastian Deterding’s website (see some of his original slide decks to get a sense of the early gamification debates—there’s depth and sophistication here)
» Rohan Gunatillake’s Mindfulness Design Manifesto
Buddhify mindfulness meditation app
» Bonini's paradox: “Models or simulations that explain the workings of complex systems are seemingly impossible to construct. As a model of a complex system becomes more complete, it becomes less understandable, for it to be more understandable it must be less complete and therefore less accurate. When the model becomes accurate, it is just as difficult to understand as the real-world processes it represents.” (from wikipedia)
» The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell
» Considerations: Closed or open system? Extrinsic and/or Intrinsic? Short or long-term? Simple or complex actions? Finite or Infinite (playing to win or playing to play?) The Sawyer Effect, and so on.
» “No one can play who is forced to play. It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely. Whoever must play, cannot play.” – James Carse, Finite & Infinite Games
Fun Theory staircase and speed camera lottery
» “Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.” – James Carse, Finite & Infinite Games
Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink
» Jane McGonigal’s wonderful ted talks and books: Reality is Broken and SuperBetter
The Gamifyus conference
» How to Lead a Quest by Dr Jason Fox
» The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
» A useful heuristic: our motivation, focus, attention and behaviour will naturally gravitate to the things that provide the richest sense of progress.
Homo Deus & 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Harari
Self Determination Theory (wikipedia)
Quest to Learn (school)—and the New York Times article about it
» Zombies, Run!

We’ve barely scratched the surface here, but here we are.

Have a question you’d like for me to muse upon in auditory fashion? Subscribe to my museletter and keep your eye out for my next Call for Questions.

PodcastJason FoxComment