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Is Gamification a Good Motivator? 290

Posted by samzenpus
from the winning-at-work dept.
CowboyRobot writes "Growing up, many of our teachers used gamification techniques such as a gold star sticker on a test (essentially a badge) or a public display of which students had completed a set of readings (leaderboard). These were intended to motivate students to strive to do better. Now, these techniques are increasingly common in the workplace where the parallel with computer games is more intentional. A report by Gartner predicts that 'by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.' One example would be assigning badges for submitting work on time, another would be having a leaderboard in an office to show who completed a training module first. The idea of using game mechanics in work or study environments is not new, but its ubiquity is. Educators can discuss how effective gamification is in classrooms, but how useful is it as a motivator in the workplace?"
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Is Gamification a Good Motivator?

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  • by solarissmoke (2470320) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:47AM (#39964503)

    "Accelerated feedback cycles, short-term but achievable goals, compelling narrative."

    So basically they're predicting that organizations will become even more focused on the short-term and immediate gain, and even step away from reality in order to make it more exciting. Because that's not what got us into this financial mess in the first place.

  • Nope. Not a good motivator. More precisely it's a motivator for the wrong type of behaviour. Once you "gamify" a system, you've just added one more layer of indirection, and several orders of magnitude more ways to game the system.

    Perfection in game design is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to cheat.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:07AM (#39964585) Homepage Journal
    This just seems like yet another step towards employers treating their employees like children(that unlike real children they can, and do fire) rather than adults. Monitoring internet, asking for social network passwords, and now this....if they wanted to run a kindergarten, they should have gone into that field.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:22AM (#39964645)

    With respect to programming, Tom DeMarco has written at some length about the hazards of software metrics, eg. in "Controlling Software Projects". Whatever it is you measure, you'll get more of it -- but that won't necessarily be the same thing as the sublime Quality you were hoping for.

    If you "gamify" (ugly word) a system, it will be gamed.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:47AM (#39964759)

    Yup. It's a bad system in schools as well. A kid with few to no stars may decide the system just doesn't really seem to apply to him or her, and it becomes a really effective demotivator.

    But in the workplace?

    Hell no, I am not a child. Maybe if you have an office full of recent grads that need to be corralled into behaving themselves, but not in an engineering lab with experience and self-imposed discipline.

  • by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:20AM (#39964903)

    Hell, even the Soviets had already done it [kmjn.org], and it didn't work very well. And then in the 1990s there was a whole wave of "make work like play" management books, which didn't do much either, except perhaps inspire the "flair" scene in Office Space. Not sure we need another go at it.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:27AM (#39965281)

    "Well, if you want me to solve your ticket NOW, maybe you should hand me a 5-star rating BEFORE I start on it..."

  • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Friday May 11, 2012 @08:31AM (#39965299) Homepage
    I don't think the customer ratings make a useful metric. A customer who receives a response they didn't like ("I'm sorry, but it's not our corporate policy to remove the Internet filter and let you browse porn at work") is liable to give it a poor rating regardless of how well the service rep handled the case.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:38AM (#39966005) Homepage Journal
    Badges at work? Seriously?

    Ok, here it is plain and simple, if I do good, and you want to reward me.....money.

    Plain and simple, THAT is my motivator at work.

    I mean, If I did not need to earn this amount of money to support the lifestyle I'm accustomed to and enjoy, then I'd certainly NOT be working.

    I mean, give me a lottery win that funds me for life, and you'll never see me work again a day in my life, I have way too many hobbies, interest, places I'd like to visit and women I'd like to bang to be stuck somewhere working if I didn't have to.

    So, if you want to reward me...keep your plaques, you're tiny plastic 'atta-boy' awards or gold stars. Hand me cash, and I'll feel appreciated and motivated.

  • by jimbolauski (882977) on Friday May 11, 2012 @11:04AM (#39967143) Journal
    Gold stickers, cash, pats on the back all do very little to motivate a worker, what it comes down to is the workers pride in what they do. Everything else is in the noise when compared to a person's own work ethic. No amount of external reward will ever be enough to motivate a lazy person to work hard, a manager's job is to enable his employees to do their job. We hired a group of folks recently because the company they were working for insisted that the control system that they were developing use windows because every computer had to have windows. The manager took his group and the contract over to us because he wasn't going to deal with converting 5 years of custom software that worked perfectly fine on Linux over to windows.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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