Gamers know what it feels like to have daily wins, and lots and lots of them. As Jane McGonigal, a well-known game researcher and advocate, explains in her book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, these individuals know what it feels like to experience "blissful productivity" -- total immersion in pursuit of a goal.
They know the joy of small victories as well as the rare but amazing epic win, achieving success against long odds. Due to their experiences, gamers view the older generations' willingness to wait for a book to be published or a promotion to be granted before feeling the state of intense gratification as ludicrous. And hey, shouldn't it seem pretty ludicrous to us too?
I'm not a gamer, but I want daily wins. I want to feel blissfully productive. McGonigal saysthere are more than a half billion people who spend at least an hour a day in online game environments. It is clear that there is some deep human need here that those games tap into.
So herein lies the grand, unmet promise of gamification.
Today, gamification is about setting up systems that make routine work more game-like. The hidden sin here is that these programs approach gamification as if one game type fits all players. We add some points and a reward system to some crappy task-oriented job (e.g., submitting receipts, updating Salesforce, finding the sock bin in a large warehouse) and consider ourselves done. That badge should make those young whippersnappers happy!
From my vantage point, the deep value of gamification has gotten lost in the quick implementation of slap-on "how" tactics. What gamification is ultimately about is making reality suck a whole lot less. Modern immersive games provide an emotional pay-off that life today just doesn't offer often. Gamification promises us the ability to attain a particular feeling state -- blissful productivity -- in the context of work.
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E. Kelly Fitzsimmons is a well-known serial entrepreneur who has founded, led, and sold several technology startups. Currently, she is the co-founder and director of HarQen, named one of Gartner's 2013 Cool Vendors in Unified Communications and Network Systems and Services, ... View Full Bio