« The What Games Are Digest #4 [Weekend] | Main | Game Dynamics and Loops [Game Design] »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Pete Morrish

You cynical old shit.

I don't think I agree with all this, tell you the truth (much as I don't agree with the slideshow - and didn't agree with it when I saw it live – that games are fun *because* of the mastery).

To me, games are in no sense about 'mastery'; they're entertainment with rules. A fluffy definition, I'll grant you, but it works for me. To restrict to mastery is taking a huge possibility space (my definitions) and replacing them with something very traditional and limiting (your / his definitions). I also like to think of games as 'just' a nicer way of passing time; utterly not about the old-fashioned concept of mastery at all.

Whilst I agree that if *everyone* comes up with their own gamification solution, that necessarily takes effort to engage with, it probably won't go that far, I certainly don't believe that that'll be the death knell for gamification.

To me, automation is key. If gamification takes effort, people (the majority of them, not the hardcore 'cultural' users clustered around an offering) won't bother. Should it happen as a 'layer' that monitors and updates automatically, I think it'll have legs. If the results of your behaviour in whatever field we're interested in are *automatically* logged, analysed, updated, compared with friends, and spread socially, then I think we're starting something interesting.

And, perversely, if gamification is automatic, I think it has a better chance of affecting your behaviour. You don't have to think about it; you just 'do'. Got no real examples, but what I know about behavioural heuristics, choice architecture, psychology, ethology and more points towards my viewpoint probably having some element of truth in it.

You're right in money / deals likely being a driver for non-Pete-like gamification, mind.


Don't know if cynical is the right word I'd use. Like I say, I've run more than few back in the day and they were all great fun.

Are games all about mastery? No. That way lies tetrism, and there's far more to games than just that. Not everyone plays for the same reason.

Automation smacks a lot of the game that plays itself for you though, which somewhat misses the point too. I'd be interested to hear more on how that might work.


I wouldn't say that automation "plays the game for you," so much as "while you do X, you are also automatically playing the game."

"Doing X" might be shopping/browsing on Amazon, driving your car, or doing your taxes, etc. The idea is that the broad activity automatically engages you in the game. The specifics of *how* you carry out that activity will affect your progress in the game.

This supports your statement that Amazon will benefit from gamification more than the IRS. But will people go to Amazon just to play the game? Probably not. But they might make different choices while at Amazon in order to affect their progress in the game.

Cyde Weys

"On the other hand, many occasional-use websites (like the IRS), or sites that have only utilitarian use (Google or Wikipedia) would be wasting their time if they engaged in gamification."

There is a HUGE amount of gamification on the Wikipedia editing/administrative side. If you look at it that way, it's easily the largest meta-game in existence. There are tens of thousands of active editors all essentially competing for standing amongst their peers, victories in editorial processes (e.g. if they waged a large battle to get an article rewritten in a certain way, and won), simple politicking (such as administrator or Arbitration Committee elections), or even just simple edit count.

Wikipedia is worth re-examining.


Wikipedia is certainly a tool, and has a community built around it which operates like any other community in that it reinforces and negates certain kinds of behavior. But these are not enough to really call it a game.

The difference between a game and real life is that games are empowering, simpler and fairer, so it's easier to see the paths to achieving wins. Sites such as Reddit or Wikipedia that award reputation Karma and the like are communities, but they're not really games in any sense.

Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Follow What Games Are

What Games Are is about game design, game development, games as art, craft, culture and industry and how you can make better games, written by Tadhg Kelly.

You can follow Tadhg on Twitter here:

Follow @tiedtiger

You can also subscribe via email:

Or RSS (Google Reader etc):


Search What Games Are

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...