There's been a lot of talk about Gamification lately, and while I'm no expert, I'd like to take some time to explain why I just don't get it, why I don't think I ever will, and why I think the current treatment of the subject is overblown and heading into "trendy fad" territory.
So the first thing I did was hit the Wikipedia page for Gamification to reconfirm my understanding of the term Gamification itself, and confirm that it does mean what I think it does. To directly quote the great democratic source of information:
Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems."
Hmmm ... game thinking and game mechanics. OK, I get this bit, it's the use of theory of game playing, and the mechanics of such play in a non-game context. In other words, at its most simple level, we should be able to take the elements that make playing games fun, and apply them to work situations.
So far so good, this makes sense to me in that we would try to apply such thinking and mechanics to certain types of jobs and functions.
Now having done a Strategic Human Resources module in my MBA (long before Gamification became a popular buzz word) I understand the application of Maslow's Hierarchy to the workplace: our need to belong, our need to be recognized for the work we do, etc. So I can develop this train of thought by considering that far more intelligent people than I have gone along this path and applied game thinking and mechanics into a century plus of occupational psychology and HR theory and practice, and so all must be good! Yes? Well, maybe.
However what is missing for me is direct experience. One of the best presentations I have ever seen on Gamification was at an OpenText Content Day event in Toronto last year by Corrine Schmid (@itzcorrine) and her excellent presentation is available on SlideShare.net here. If, like me, you're not an expert in this field, Corrine's presentation is a great introduction, and she has great examples of how gamification has been used in real world scenarios within OpenText.
Also during many evaluations of the SalesForces product portfolio last year, I saw numerous demos of its Work.com platform, and how it uses elements of gamification to engage, encourage, reward and even provide formal assessment and feedback.
And yet, I remain unconvinced ...
Applying Gamification to My World
I guess my problem is that while I can understand the theoretical benefits of gamification to salespeople by adding features to their CRM or other specific scenarios, I just don't see benefits in the wholesale adoption of gamification to the Intranet, collaboration and Information Management spaces.