Creepy Clowns or Gamification?

Creepy Clowns or Gamification?

Maybe the next iteration of email management will find you folding virtual paper airplanes and flinging them at filing locations.  Or, there might be little virtual hockey parents cheering from the one side of your desktop as you slapshot sent-items into the net.  The challenge really is to match game paradigm to task, so completion becomes enjoyable yet no more difficult.  Enjoyable? One person’s Euchre may be the next person’s Nascar…

Before you scoff, even behemoth SAP is pondering gamification: not merely incentives and leader boards, but an actual game interface. In one prototype, assigning a task becomes putting a golf ball. And elsewhere, using a video game, volunteer researchers have puzzled through an enzyme in an AIDS-like virus that had stumped traditional scientific analysis…

But, are incentives the creepy clown of the new workplace?  I have no desire to kareoke-submit an expense report. A game could easily be the next generation ‘Clippy’ – the saccharine Microsoft Office assistant -universally loathed.  Speaking of which, Clippy is back, and… in a game. <sigh>

Fold the Enzyme

“Video-game players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years, and those scientists say the accomplishment could point the way to crowdsourced cures for AIDS and other diseases.

“This is one small piece of the puzzle in being able to help with AIDS,” Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, told me. Khatib is the lead author of a research paper on the project, published today by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The feat, which was accomplished using a collaborative online game called Foldit, is also one giant leap for citizen science — a burgeoning field that enlists Internet users to look for alien planetsdecipher ancient texts and do other scientific tasks that sheer computer power can’t accomplish as easily.”  (via Cosmic Log, msnbc)

Golf with SAP

“One method that has worked is for SAP to create experimental applications designed to enhance everyday SAP functions. “Lead-in-One” (video below) is a good example of this. Since most Sales Managers dread the somewhat cumbersome task of assigning incoming sales leads to their account executives, Gorsht and his team put a golf-themed iPad application on top of the process. Golf balls are leads, and holes represent the sales reps.” (via The Gamification of SAP – Forbes)

Revenge of Clippy

“Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance…  is just something you download to get better at using Office, if you want to. Clippy takes people through challenges in this game, but he doesn’t show up automatically in Word, PowerPoint or Microsoft’s other Office apps.

Part of the reason Office users got so annoyed at the paper clip in the past was that he would appear unexpectedly when they were trying to work. (And, really, who can work when a paper clip with eyes is staring at them?)

Microsoft’s description of “Ribbon Hero 2” is stirring chatter online:

“Yes, we turned Office into a game! If you’re going to spend time immersed in the inner workings of Office, by golly it should be fun.

“In Ribbon Hero 2, you’ll hop on board Clippy’s stolen time machine and explore different time periods. With each time period, you get to explore a new game board with challenges you must complete to get to the next level.”” (via CNN – Microsoft’s Talking Paper Clip is back)

Are you game-averse?

“When we look at game mechanics this way, it also becomes clear that they are unlikely to affect everyone in the same way. Some people actively seek status in the eyes of others, for example; other people are actually status-averse. Offering one-size-fits-all rewards may motivate certain people while putting others off. We need to understand more about the types of people who are motivated by specific gamelike rewards.” (via Toy Psychology – Technology Review)

How absurd can it get?

“I can’t help thinking that “gamification” makes some intranet managers nervous. We may be some way away from the situation where you have to have a 74 percent rating on the “collaboration leader board” for you to unlock the functionality to be able to order sandwiches in advance from the staff restaurant.

To me the whole concept still sounds a little Machiavellian. It hints at a unique understanding of the psychology of user behaviour by those imposing it, but I wonder if anyone has actually asked the users for their thoughts?

Games, after all, are meant to be fun, so should team members start seeing game elements at work not as tools to help them be happier and more productive, but rather disguised directives from the higher-ups, they might lose some of their charm or even seem a bit sinister (a nasty mix of cheer and repression, like a creepy, aggressive clown).” (via Could using games in the digital workspace be Machiavellian? — Online Collaboration)

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