My short essay Gamification is Bullshit was a very widely read provocation, but it was never meant to be a complex argument. I’ve finally written a longer, more detailed version of that argument in an article titled “Why Gamification Is Bullshit.” It will appear in Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian Deterding’s forthcoming collection The Gameful World: Approaches, Issues, Applications, to be published by MIT Press later this year.
But I have to admit, I’ve been anxious making all of you wait for it. So I thought I’d post occasional excerpts. Here’s one:
Given the long tradition of business intelligence in the enterprise, why might gamification proponents not connect their efforts to such historical examples in order to make their products and services more palatable and appealing? Partly because nobody wants to talk about OLAP and data mining, partly because selling IT solutions is far more complex than selling marketing, sales, and human resources solutions, and perhaps even partly because the gamification community just doesn’t know about that part of industrial history.
But most of all: the uncertainty and opportunity presented by a flood of young (and therefore inexpensive) millennials coming of age and looking for work, and the weird and incomprehensible appeal of games among that population (particularly in the minds of older managers and executives) combine to make a game-based solution seem both sexier and more relevant to today’s business goals. Among those goals: corporate middle- and upper-managers who have to make themselves and their divisions appear creative and winsome while also keeping up with competitors by ticking the latest trend boxes without giving in to the ennui of meaningless corporatism. No executive wants to attend a conference on “new approaches to business intelligence through smart dashboards.” By comparison, a conference on gamification sounds like a trip to Disneyland.