Don’t Call This Gamification

Reality Ends Here was an environmental game at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) where students would secretly enter a hidden, optional, and unofficial game designed to serendipitous spark collaborative media-making. Don’t call this gamification.

Gamification is the application of points and badges and other representations onto real-world behaviors under the assumption that such application will motivate or “incentivize” said behaviors. We believe that gamification is a crude behavioral control system masquerading as innocent marketing. That is not what games are, or have been, or ever will be. We define a game as a set of rules and procedures that generates problems and situations that demand inventive solutions. A game is about play and creativity and surprise. Real play isn’t about motivating people to do things; it’s about channeling and challenging motivations that are already there in order to create new meanings and possibilities. Gamification is about “checking in” and ticking off boxes. Never confuse the two. At the very least, you will piss off any game designers within earshot (source).

A longer, more formal explanation exists in dissertation form. (Article)