What is the Central Debate of Gamification?

The Sacred Heart


Posted by Kamran Hatami on 2019 Jan 10

Gamification is a new buzzword, and it is acceptable that many people get it wrong. But when you have a closer look at the field, you see that even different gamification experts have fundamentally different views to the gamification. In this article, we want to look closer to the central discussion of gamification. Millions of people get addicted to and play different kinds of games regularly. But the real question is that what makes these kinds of games obsessive? I believe that the answer to this question is the central debate of gamification. Well, If you have a shallow approach, you can create study groups, do interviews, and ask your study subjects to fill surveys and at the end, you'll have something like this: "there are some common elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards that makes this game appealing for players". But if we have a more in-depth look, there are more essential elements in games -- e.g., unpredictability and freedom of choice. In a game, you select many things, from your character in the game to your allies and strategies. And, to be honest, this is what most of the people cannot realize when they are examining or playing games -- and the main reason, I think, is the shallowness of their view on the game. This, the shallowness of most of the people's view on games is the claim of Ian Bogost in the famous article “Gamification is Bullshit.” He Stated that games are fun and addictive because of the decisions we make, not visual and shallow elements like points and badges. Thus, he created a game named Cow Clicker where the players objective is to click on cows to hear their voices and get points and badges. For doing these meaningless activities but, to his surprise, many people went playing the game. Somehow remembering me this poem from Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate to say that, for destruction, ice is also great and would suffice.

What do you think? What is the main thing that makes a game appealing for players? Will the world of gamification debate end in a choice of visual elements?

Gamification Examples