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Is Gamification a Good Motivator? 290

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 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.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:48AM (#39964763) Homepage Journal

    The difference is that most military decorations are for bravery, valour and honour. For helping others rather than putting yourself first.

    Actually, most US military decorations these days are for, um, showing up. When I was stationed in England, the RAF guys (who really have to earn their decorations; it's not unusual in the British military to go an entire career without earning more than a couple of ribbons) used to laugh their asses off at the amount of crap decorating our dress uniforms. And lest anyone think this is just an Air Force problem, I have a green uniform hanging in my closet too, and it's even gaudier than the blue one.

    Personally I'd have been a lot happier with a lot fewer decorations, and the sense of having had to really earn the ones I had; most of the people I served with felt the same way. There's probably a lesson here for the corporate "gamifiers," but I can practically guarantee you they won't learn it.

  • 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.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.