Gamification talk at Google

Gamification talk at Google.

The speaker makes a few very interesting points in this talk that I’d like to react to.  Perhaps he makes them somewhere else that it’d be easier to quote, but I need to get my thoughts written while they’re fresh in my mind.

One point was that introducing rewards to an existing behavior will “always” link that behavior to the rewards such that if the rewards are removed, the behavior will end or diminish to significantly less than it was before the gaming began.  One example given is that of United Airline’s 1 million miles frequent flyer club, at the time the highest rewards level.  When people got there, they started flying with different carriers because there was no incentive to continue with United.  United then added higher levels, to keep the “game” going.

My reaction is that maybe there’s another factor at work having to do with some reciprocal value the flyer is getting, along the lines of provenance … or history … but then again, above 1 million miles they would still have had the record of more miles, but were not interested in continuing to acquire them because there was no secondary “status bonus” to get more.

Another point was that in gamification, the biggest winner is the “house,” i.e. the casino.  One example was the X Prize given to the first private space mission.  The X Prize foundation got more free press than anyone else benefitted in the actual prize, and the winner was funded by a billionaire and would have achieved the goal without any contest.

A question this sparked for me is: what happens in a scenario where a game is actually multi-user generated and interwoven such that every player is potentially also a house?  In this situation, then, the winners are not only those who acquire the most bonuses, but also those whose bonuses are acquired most?  This is the closest analogy I can think of to the idea of the kind of inter-trading system that I’m developing.

This is also related to another concept like an internet protocol, and the users of the protocol.  The more people use it, the more successful the protocol is and the more likely people will use it for new projects.  This underscores the benefit in this case of the protocol being open source and public domain, so that the “house” is not siphoning away value from the users.

The second point about the biggest winner being the house relates to another question I have about gamification, which is the effect that the observer or house has on the flows that it’s gaming.  This is akin to the idea of the observer affecting the observed.  It’s not possible to measure a flow without to some degree affecting the flow.  It’ not possible to filter a flow without running the flow through the filter, which at the very least slows down the flow.

And here’s another speaker from a different perspective, talking about how much more effective intrinsic motivation is for a different kind of task,  such as right-brain thinking.  He labels the main drivers as Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.  He’s speaking mainly of the white collar skilled work force.

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