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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 Theophany (2519296) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:43AM (#39964477)
    We have something similar already where I work, I can goomba colleagues.
    • by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> 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 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 SuperKendall (25149) on Friday May 11, 2012 @10:04AM (#39966309)

          money...Plain and simple, THAT is my motivator at work.

          Lots of studies have shown money is not a great motivator.

          From my own personal experience, bonuses for projects are not really a lasting motivator, they feel nice for a day perhaps but they do not make you happier or really alter how you work.

          Trinkets do not help either. One of the few things I do think can be a motivator is control - as a reward instead of cash or gifts, give the employes some more control over their life at work. Let them choose the next project to work on. Give them extra time (like Google does) to improve any old thing in the company they feel is messed up. That's a lot more permanently empowering and enjoyable than money.

          • 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.
          • by Americano (920576)

            "Give me enough medals, and I’ll win you any war."
            Napoleon Bonaparte

            In general, I agree - autonomy, interesting work, genuine appreciation, and easing administrative hassles are all things I value far more than "here's an extra 50 bucks, thanks." But the social value of those trinkets shouldn't be overlooked.

            Think about it - how often do you walk around your workplace and see co-workers with various trinket-y awards, memos, plaques, etc. on display in their cubicles? The reason they're doing it is t

        • Actually, there have been studies done. If you pay people less than market rate, their performance sucks. But if you pay them above market rate, their performance does not improve. The way to get people to work more efficiently and with more creativity is to give them respect, as much autonomy as possible, and as much interesting work as possible. Look up "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DigiTechGuy (1747636)

            This is similar to studies I've read abotu money buying happiness. Money does most certainly buy happiness. Well, up to about $88k/yr it does. After that, it does not buy a significant amount of additional happiness. I'm sure the number varies a bit depending on cost of living in your area, but I live ina very expensive part of the country to live, and government takes well over half my pay in taxes. As I get closer to $88k a year I find myself less disgruntled at work and generally happier aboth at work a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:44AM (#39964485)

    It's really a shame system. If you don't have enough gold stars or silver turds or whatever, you look bad and might get fired.

    That's an entirely different thing to being motivated, unless you consider jumping through stupid manager-invented hoops just to keep your job motivation.

    • by Iskender (1040286) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:59AM (#39964555)

      Apart from it being a shame system there are also other problems.

      This is a form of measurement system, and sociological studies have shown that those are growing increasingly common in schools. The problems is the same as with most such systems: the thing being measured isn't necessarily anywhere close to what is thought.

      In the case of a list of who completed things first, the probability is high that it measures who took the most shortcuts and did the least amount of work possible relative to their own capabilities.

      Instead of focusing on measurement and rivalry studies have shown that focusing on equality and everyone in class doing a good job lifts the entire group. I do not know if this carries over to work environments, but I'm sceptical about using rivalry when there could be co-operation instead.

      (Further reading: sociologists who have written about the culture of measurement in schools include David Hargreaves and Risto Rinne.)

      • 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 gomoX (618462) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:58AM (#39965107) Homepage

          The trick is in closing the feedback loop. Not all projects are software projects, where quality is highly subjective and unmeasurable. At InvGate [invgate.com] we introduced earlier this year a set of tools to bring gamification to the helpdesk [invgate.com].

          If your system can measure the actual quality of the work (which is possible in IT/customer support environments by gathering feedback from requesters) then you can actually have an incentive system that works.

          Bad system:
          * 10 points for solving a ticket
          * 1 point por replying to a ticket
          * 4 points for chipping into another tech's tickets (allegedly to help out)
          * -20 points for reopened ticket
          * -100 points for SLA missed

          If you ever worked in this type of environment, you can already see the incentives pushing for quick, bad replies to customers in your tickets and everyone else's, and new requests filed instead of reopening old ones.

          But what about this?

          * 1 point for solving a ticket
          * 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those tickets
          * -100 points for SLA missed
          * 200 points bonus for doing 10 5-star tickets in a row
          * 1000 points bonus for doing those 10 5-star tickets in a row in less than one hour

          It even starts to become fun! And if you plug gamification throughout the whole system, even this (taken from a "Knowledge Week" quest that lasted through a specific week in an InvGate Service Desk instance):
          * 10 points for creating a Knowledge Base article
          * 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those articles
          * 20 points for having the article you created used by other techs to solve a ticket
          * 50 points for having the article you created used by customers to figure out the ticket themselves

          There other significant side effects to a gamification setup in this situation:

          * You get a performance metric in the amount of points an agent gathered during a period of X
          * Non-geek helpdesk or customer support admins can tune incentives themselves (an earlier approach with a "black box" combined metric resulted in questions about how it's calculated, and why it's doing things that you don't expect)
          * Unlike the case mentioned above, gamification-based metrics are transparent. Everyone can understand what's going on with a score counter that pops up when you perform actions.
          * It even has a "ka-ching" sound effect when you get points!

          • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:20AM (#39965779)
              This all reminds me of the tale I once heard of a Soviet-era nail factory.

              The Workers had a quota of nails they had to fill, the output was some certain mass of nails, and once they filled that, they could pretty much take the rest of the month off. So, the manager being a clever sort, set his workers on the task of producing lots and lots of railroad spikes. Within a week they produced the quota, took the month off, and the manager was awarded the Medal of Lenin for filling his quota. The politburo, realizing what had happened, changed his quota for the next week. No longer was the gross indicator mass of nails produced, but rather the number of nails produced. The manager, still being the clever sort, switched the factory to producing thumb tacks... again, within a week, the factory had filled its quota, the workers got to go home, and the manager was awarded the Medal of Lenin.

              The moral of the story, of course, being that you want to make sure what you're asking for and what you're motivating for, is actually what you want.
            • by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:26AM (#39965865)

              That is absolutely a problem. Or what about the very charismatic and friendly person that the customers absolutely love, but who is completely incompetent? They may be great at getting customers to like them but absolutely horrible at actually helping customers with their real problems.

              I use Sprint for my cell service, and literally every time I speak to anyone with that company they let me know I'll be getting a customer service survey in a day or two and that they want me to give them the best scores. They specifically ask, "Will you do that for me?" because that kind of "pressure" will often work, and customers will feel like liars if they say yes then don't.

              I have told the people asking me that kind of question that despite their performance being excellent, I will simply refuse to take the survey because that kind of "pressure" will wind up skewing the results and lead to real problems being hidden. I've told managers at stores the same thing, and did my little stick-it-to-the-man thing by emailing the Sprint CEO directly (since he has an allegedly public email address that he claims to read). It's a shame, actually, because by and large my interactions with their customer service have been really great, but there's no way for them to distinguish between someone who actually performs well and someone who guilts customers into saying they did.

              The only metrics that are useful are ones where social engineering, sandbagging, and other kinds of artificial manipulation are removed from the equation. Unfortunately, for pretty much any job these days, those kinds of foolproof metrics are completely worthless since they don't measure anything worthwhile.

              One way I've seen the problem addressed is a zero tolerance policy. A friend of mine works in the customer service group for a largish firm and they have stated that they will terminate, immediately, any employee found to be requesting good ratings or even mentioning that there will be a customer evaluation contact. Evaluations are handled by an entirely separate group so there isn't an opportunity for friends to fudge the numbers for other people, etc.

              But even so, performance metrics are REALLY hard to create - much better to have managers who are actually good managers and good at evaluating performance than to have arbitrary systems.

              • While everyone does the survey thing now, and I agree that they are of little value; I don't recall ever having a rep try to suggest I give them a good score. In fact that would be one way to guarantee I give them a low score and a comment of "cares more about getting a good score on the survey than providing good customer service."

                Normally it is "Would you like to take a survey?", or "If you take this survey you will be entered to win $something." I normally tell the rep up front if I liked their service

          • 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.
            • That doesn't sound like a customer, that sounds like a colleague. People ringing a help desk from inside a company are not customers. Customers are people who pay and can choose who to buy from. A customers opinion should be very important. A colleague, less so, as it's the company that's paying not the colleague.

              A customer should have that porn block removed if he asks. A colleague, probably not.

          • Are your support folk allowed to answer queries, or do they read from a script? Reading from a script gets you 1 star and a swift loss of the support contract.

            Nice plug for your company, by the way.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            1000 points bonus for doing those 10 5-star tickets in a row in less than one hour

            Oh God please no.

            Your people are already in too much of a hurry. Motivate for quality, motivate for level of difficulty, hell, you can motivate for cheeriness and cleanliness (if these are programmers, that last is key).

            But for chrissake, everybody is plenty productive enough. Productivity is through the roof. People are producing themselves to heart attacks and strokes and cancer for a miserable gold star.

            You want to motiv

            • You're right. Demand for a product or service is out of the workers hands - it comes from decisions of management and salesmen and the economy etc. So increasing productivity actually means reducing the number of people or reducing the money they are paid. It's not something to be welcomed by workers.

              However, gamification is far more than just increasing productivity. A good game is a process of constant learning and increasing skills, whilst having fun doing it. That is also a recipe for job satisfaction.

      • by azalin (67640) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:24AM (#39964659)
        It probably boils down to this: Are you sure by introducing rewards for certain things, you are really encouraging the kind of behavior you want for your team and company?
        This is a already a serious problem with sales based bonuses. Measuring performance is difficult if you want to do it right.
        • by tbannist (230135)

          That's pretty much it. According to Daniel H. Pink, (author of Drive [danpink.com]) these types of systems can actually make work less fulfilling in the long run and can actually interfere with the proper performance of any job involving thought. They're pretty good at motivating repetitious tasks (like factory work), however, for work that involves creativity, the rewards can actually reduce quality and productivity by focus the employees on earning the points instead of doing the work. The book mostly deals with mon

        • It can also be a disincentive. I worked at a software company where pride in the product, a meritocracy in seniority and pay levels, and many social events encouraging bonding were all highly successful motivators. Morale was high.

          Then a new manager was hired for our department, and he decided getting everyone in a stand up meeting once a month and giving a few individuals a cash bonus or movie tickets would be a good motivator. Actually the people selected just felt patronised and embarrassed. And those th

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We need to talk about your flair. 15 is the minimum. Now it's up to you if you want to do the minimum... but Brian over there, for example, has 37 pieces of flair.

      And a terrific smile.

    • 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.

      • But in the workplace?

        In the workplace it pits employees against each other. Not exactly a "team building" option. I also didn't see any indication of research by Gartner on this one. Are they just making predictions based on how they feel things should be done? Or did they actually ask company leaders about their "gamification" strategies?

      • Seems like one of those things that's going to motivate some people and not others.

        I had a teacher who would call people to the front of the classroom to pick up their papers. "There were 3 C's. Joey, Rachel, Janet. There were 5 B's..." and so forth.

        As an A-student and proud of it, it felt really, really good to be the last one called up, especially on an assignment where I'd really had to work for it.

        I imagine that the kids who consistently received F's felt very differently about it.

      • It's worse in a school system - there, you have people at various levels of development and who have very differing levels of support at home. Yet, because it is a school and because they are children, you have to take into account those differences and handle each child on an individual basis. Is it fair to give Jimmy gold stars because he does his homework every day (with help from his caring and dedicated mom), but give Johnny only one or two silver stars because he wasn't able to bring in his homework (

    • It's really a shame system. If you don't have enough gold stars or silver turds or whatever, you look bad

      I remember from my stint in the telecoms sector, where there was constant whining that we didn't fill in our time report cards. "Very important, that's how we get paid!". (Yeah right, it all got lumped into one account statement when sent up the ladder anyway).

      So, they decided it was time for some automated shaming. Every month an automatic email got sent that listed how much unreported time you had. And our boss would follow up with the inevitable; "We need to do this, please, pretty please". However, sinc

  • Not everybody has a RPG (or other game type) mindset. I'd feel weird if being given a "badge" at work. As in "Wtf is a badge anyway? And why should I care about it?".

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      It depends; does the each badge allow me to leave from work a few minutes earlier? Does a badge allow me to get some free candy from the vending machine? Does it mean I get paid $5 more each month? Does it mean I get to yell at the PHB next meeting? Most likely it's just "This cartboard crap is a lot cheaper than actually rewarding employees".

      • by delinear (991444)
        Except they probably paid a consultancy firm enough to buy everyone in the business free beer/pizza for a year for them to come up with this cardboard crap. I know which I'd prefer.
  • 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.

    • by azalin (67640)
      This "this quarter" mentality needs to stop as soon as possible and has to be replaced by a more long term oriented approach. Paying management according to performance is not a bad idea per se, but this short term goals bullshit has cost a lot of companies dearly.
  • I think it's not a motivator by itself. It's a tool that helps you keep track of your achievements. It's useful for those that are already motivated to do well.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Somebody who needs badges to keep track of his own achievements probably likely won't have any achievements to keep track of.

  • 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 Chrisq (894406)

      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.

      I have actually seen that happen. A bonus scheme based on the number of incidents fixed meant that teams quickly found out that rather than "try something, test, try something, test" until it worked, if they instead would "try something, send back to user as done" it would not only mean that they could move on to the next problem quicker, but also have the added bonus that the user would probably have to raise another problem report on the same incident. Quality went down, incidents went up, bonuses went up

  • Flair (Score:4, Funny)

    by jimshatt (1002452) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:52AM (#39964529)
    The nazi's used to hand out stars to the jews, just for being so awesome!
    • by jimshatt (1002452)
      Flamebait? Really? It was a joke, come on! It even had an Office Space reference. I guess not a joke to everyone's taste, but certainly not meant as flamebait. Oh well..
  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:54AM (#39964531)

    Microrewards a great, but they only do part of the job. Engagement also relies on the feeling that your skills are improving (mastery). Autonomy and purpose are also fairly important.

    I've worked in a number of workforces that use gamification techniques. Typically it's adopted brute force (leaderboards, backed by monetary incentives) that convince you to work against others. They basically turn a group of people who should be working together into fifteen year olds playing co-op Modern Warfare 3 - smack talk included.

    This isn't to say they're bad, just typically poorly adopted.

  • Hell yeah! (Score:4, Funny)

    by karolgajewski (515082) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:55AM (#39964535) Journal

    As a bureaucrat in a dead-end job, I can say "Hell yeah!"

    There's nothing I look forward to more than a little gold star that I can put on my cubicle to rub in the face of Jenkins because I submitted more dreary TPS reports than anyone else in our unit.

  • by rikkards (98006) on Friday May 11, 2012 @05:59AM (#39964553) Journal

    Money
    Otherwise why are we truly there?

    • Re:Best Motivator (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:49AM (#39964767) Homepage Journal

      Money
      Otherwise why are we truly there?

      Was discussing this with my boss yesterday. we agreed that money was very effective for motivating salesmen, very poor for motivating engineers. Good challenges and good toys to play with seem to me the best way to motivate engineers (by which I mean they're the best way to motivate me).

      • Money
        Otherwise why are we truly there?

        Good challenges and good toys to play with seem to me the best way to motivate engineers (by which I mean they're the best way to motivate me).

        ...If you already have the money, or enough to live comfortably.
        I personally hate those fucking badges. Just got two of them this quarter (they were handed less than a week ago) so the rage is still fresh. One was a team-based award (some project I was part of) and the other was a recognition award (some people considered me being awesome and shit).
        Strings attached: no cash reward. No cash reward, these "database entries" are worthless to me. Those "badges" mean "We, the Company, think you are worthy, but n

        • Seconding the motion.
          If I'm good enough to draw special note, then I'm damn well worth an actual award of value, not some freaking 2-cent "Badge".

      • by delinear (991444)
        A handful of people would actually choose to be at work if they never had to be, therefore to me the answer to how to motivate is to either give people the opportunity to not be at work (flexi-time works great if people have to do killer overtime but they know they get friday off, or as someone else suggested, earn X reward badges, get a day off, etc) or to make being at work more fun (free drinks/snacks, a break out area with some comfy seats and a few games, all incredibly cheap stuff that makes people fe
  • 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.
    • ...if they wanted to run a kindergarten, they should have gone into that field.

      Case in point: moderation, karma points, meta-moderation, friends, fans, freaks and foes. Gamification of an otherwise dry forum.

      • Actually, the Slashdot moderation system is a good counterexample. In the old days, your karma was a score value that was public. People used to brag about how good their karma was and post a lot of karma whoring things to make it bigger. When they made it private and capped, The discussions improved.
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      Nah, this pays far, far better than being a school teacher.
  • Not at all. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:07AM (#39964587) Homepage

    Competition in games works because competition is added to something that would be less interesting without competition. Same about classroom -- students don't perceive their achievement as significant or a part of some greater picture, public display (not necessarily competitive one) affirms the significance.

    At workplace, environment usually is already competitive. Worse yet, the most "important" competition's results, salaries, are never disclosed, what already causes some uncertainty in the minds of employees (do people who clearly do worse job, actually earn more than me because they were hired this year?) Adding another "competition" seems like company trying to avoid raising salary for its best employees instead opting for cheap "badges". It sends a message -- yes, we have meritocracy here, we give worthless things to people who contributed the most, however don't expect us to actually return your loyalty with anything of value, we have salaries and bonuses determined by haggling, nepotism, management hierarchies, and $deity knows what.

    There is also another aspect to this -- a person who underperforming in a "game" would live in fear that he is going to be fired, even if his work is entirely adequate for the company's purposes.

    It's also an interesting detail that it was very common in USSR to have competition in a workplace, however first and foremost, it was based on originally non-competitive environment (no unemployment or "working poor", narrow ranges of salaries), and created "bigger picture" not unlikely one in the classroom. Second, competition was mostly between groups, not just individuals. "You suck because your construction project goes two times slower than neighbor's" hurts someone's sense of pride for his work and ability, especially when it is known that all other conditions, results and consequences are supposed to be more or less the same for his and neighbor's group. I have a strong suspicion that this is what is being imitated here. Nope. Doesn't work under Capitalism. You can't enroll the same people in three competitions at once -- one for money, one for not being thrown out, one for shiny stickers.

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:31AM (#39964689)

    There was a quality bonus.

    Every day without a return was a dollar. After the first month, it was 2 dollars. After the second month, it was 3 dollars/day.

    The owner of the company would come around and give cash out of his pocket at the end of each month.

    It wasn't a lot of money. It was gas money. But it was goal oriented and people liked it.

    When I was apprenticing there, we got almost to the end of the third month and we got a return. A company had a new receiver and rejected a batch of hobbed gears because he didn't like the finish, because hobbing a gear leaves a scalloped effect that is apparent under decent lighting. It has nothing to do with the overall quality of the gear. He just didn't like the shine.

    Some of us were... unhappy. We were literally 3 business days from the end of the month.

    We glass beaded the gears (in our opinion, ruining the finish) and sent them back and they got accepted.

    Making a game out of the quality of the product changed people's attitudes.

    --
    BMO

  • Call me a communist, but these, along with respect for the dignity of employees, seem the best motivators.
  • by fantomas (94850) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:43AM (#39964727)

    The idea of stimulating competition between employees is not new, nor is giving out "badges" such as plaques, trophies, other ritual and non-monetary icons that can be displayed to demonstrate one's prowess in front of other members of staff (e.g. "salesman of the year" "long service award").

    I am not a researcher of workplace environments (IANAROWE?) but I should imagine there is a lot of written research on employee motivation, competition, and so forth.

  • Are they going to have milk and cookies, nap time. and craft hour?

    Grow up, you thumb sucking, diaper wearing 20 year old over-privileged snots. It's a fucking business, not a social networking site or a video game. Your motivation is to do the job and get paid.

    This is the result of helicopter parents. College grads are showing up for job interviews with their parents, or having their mom call and chew out the boss when they don't get a big enough raise. This crap happens at big New York financial firms, f

    • by bmo (77928)

      Grow up, you thumb sucking, diaper wearing 20 year old over-privileged snots. It's a fucking business, not a social networking site or a video game. Your motivation is to do the job and get paid.

      This is nothing but whining BS on your part.

      See my post further up the thread for *one* example of how it can work.

      --
      BMO

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      This isn't the twentysomethings. This is their forty, fifty year old bosses, fresh from the change of life, desperate to look 'with it' and feel young again, trying to adopt their kids' lingo like the dads in a bad sitcom. You know, the people who have had the time and opportunity to rise to their level of incompetence in management.
    • by delinear (991444)
      I'd be more motivated by milk, cookies and nap time (especially nap time) than pointless gold stars.
  • My friend works for Achievers (www.achievers.com). Basically, their business is providing gamification to other businesses. You give points and stuff to coworkers for doing good things, which they can then turn in for prizes. It's all kinda creepy and false IMO.
  • by deoxyribonucleose (993319) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:55AM (#39964795)

    I used to think gamification was an interesting idea which might lead somewhere: especially when dealt with as kudos, since monetary rewards so easily can lead to really counterproductive behaviours. Then I realized it had already been tried: in Soviet Russia, no less, under names such as 'socialist competition'. http://www.kmjn.org/notes/soviet_gamification.html [kmjn.org]

    Now, the fact that the idea is not new is not an automatic rejection of the idea; but its history should be carefully considered to avoid replicating failure. Can gamification be managed so as to 1) reward both short and long term objectives, 2) avoid acting at cross purposes to monetary rewards 3) make it serious enough to affect sufficient numbers of employees, and 4) still be fun? I don't think I'm smart enough to setup such a system. Good luck to those who try: it'll be interesting to see any results.

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      See my comment above for description of this very thing (and why it is not applicable to workplace under Capitslism).

  • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:03AM (#39964821)

    You know how to make me feel encouraged or valued? Just acknowledge what I'm doing from time to time. Say "thank you" or even just comment on the fact that I did some work over the weekend.

    Where I work this actually happens, and it sure as hell means more to me than some fucking gold star or my name on a board. I hate attention being drawn to me publicly, I much prefer private acknowledgement. The letter I got from HR noting my contributions to a specific project along with telling me I had a £2k pay rise effective immediately? Also nice.

    • by HBI (604924)

      But wait, acknowledging you would be actual work...how about this automated game instead?

    • This is true. People are happier doing the same job where they are recognized, far more than they are satisfied by the same job where they are paid more and ignored. But this also disproves the concept in the article about "gamification". Current monetary policy is already a form of "gamification".

      "Encouragement" and "motivation" means giving appreciation, whether it's money or tokens. "Gamification" seems to mean that someone gets to "play banker" or company Dungeon master, creating an alternative bure

  • [sarc]
    All of this competition smacks of watered down capitalism.
    Capitalism, of course, is that failed source of all human misery.
    We must reject all comparisons of right/wrong, better/worse, vaguely homosexual/slightly Canadian, in order to regain the idyllic, Edenic, stress-free, Utopian existence which is our natural right.
    [/sarc]
  • These techniques abuse and promote competition rather than cooperation. They train people to view their peers as somewhat benign threats rather than colleagues. I suspect that it's techniques like this that prevent societies from being able to effectively transition to collectivism.

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      They work if the original environment is "too" co-operative, and a person may lose a reference point for how the effect of his work changes anything.

      They don't work when original environment was competitive, or co-operation was insufficient to begin with.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well to promote co-operation you would have to have actual rewards given to whole team for team effort. just giving a sticker to one guy and shaming the others indirectly that way is cheap, doesn't offend anyone on paper and ultimately meaningless for the guy receiving the sticker too.

  • Badges? (Score:4, Funny)

    by kwark (512736) on Friday May 11, 2012 @07:24AM (#39964921)

    Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

  • Not only was giving gold stars and showing leaders publicly not intentionally "gamification", this summary has the relationship backwards. It's the games that copied real life practices like those. Games are increasingly realistic. Of course, that's because all of life is adopting practices used in other ways in the past in new situations. Since real life came first, games copied RL, and then RL repeated the compliment by copying the updated practice from games.

  • by l3v1 (787564)
    One example would be assigning badges

    Well, that would be the day when I'd stick such badges up in the originator's behind and leave for greaner pastures.

    This is not gamification, it's introduction of idiotic, ignorant and almost always unncessary extra race factors, with the negative aspect over all others that this type only motivates the idiots at your company and the rest will feel as being considered a child.

    Some managers just need to be kicked out when they are stupid, not all their ideas are gr
  • My company is a major international company. What they do is this: they have a points reward system where you can exchange the points for anything from American Express giftcards, to hotel rooms, to jewelry, even a few boats(if you get millions of points). You can get points in several ways: the main, regular way is by your department reaching certain monthly goals; the other way is by supervisors/other people recommending you for points awards, which are then approved by your supervisor. So the reward s
  • I'm a gamer and gamification annoys me, mainly because I'll treat the task as a game and not a learning experience. BUT I can see it as a way to motivate others.

  • From my days in the "large blue multinational computer company" sales force:
    "How do you find out you're in a sales competition?"
    "They announce in a team meeting that you won a prize".
    No kidding, this happened so often there was a joke about it.
  • I use a form of it when I use a time tracker at work (personal choice, not company mandated). My tracker has a prominent bar chart with my percentage of productive time vs the average of everyone else using the tool. I make a game out of it and try to keep my bar higher than the average. Personally, I am not motivated at all by the more public forms of gamification; I could care less about a gold star. I feel like if it is used as an actual performance metric that the PHBs can get their greasy hands all ove
  • being condescended to at home wasn't *enough*

  • Considering that /. has a gamification system in place for posts, and that it works...at least in some cases.

    Every post here has a score. Post something positive (Funny, member of the 3 I's, etc) and you gain points. If you post something stupid, try to flamebait, etc, lose points.

    Points affect karma score, and also affects (I believe) getting points to give to others.

    Now do I want to see gamification at my hospital... going into to surgery and seeing a score board for "10 pts for organ removed, 1

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