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Will McInnes

Take care: work is already gamified

I’ve recently written a couple of pieces on the gamification of work, firstly for Wired UK and then for HR Magazine.

It’s an interesting topic, riddled with risk and cliché, but also having a latent power that would be of benefit for those of us working in organisations. I think on balance I’m a sceptic, but I’m willing to see what’s possible.

Here’s how the Wired UK piece starts:

Let me tell you a story about gameification (ugh!). Not another nauseating buzzword bingo story — no, this is a story about how your parents and mine, your friends and mine, all play a massively multiplayer on- and offline role-playing game five days a week, 47 weeks of the year. You and I probably play it too. Maybe you are playing it right now?

We all toil away at this silly game, accumulating points, chasing that next upgrade way after bedtime, tirelessly working towards the level up that will impress the people around us. Sadly, for some of us this pernicious game takes over our lives. We are addicted. It affects our health, our happiness, our personal lives, everything. This game is called “Modern Work”.

And the HR Magazine piece is a bit more open-minded, and includes this discussion of the ‘gaming’ behaviour in StackOverflow:

On the popular Stack Overflow website, programmers from all around the world help one another solve tricky ‘bugs’ and software development challenges that they can’t fix themselves. If you post a tricky problem and I provide a helpful answer, you can vote up my answer. Over time, I develop a reputation, I accumulate badges, and all of this is stored on my profile page. As I write this article I’m looking at the profile page of a top user who appears on the ‘top users this week’ page – he’s a British guy working at Google who has accumulated 11,319 upvotes from other users in the time that he’s used the site, he has 5,774 badges including the ‘Nice answer’ badge a whopping 3,109 times and the ‘Enlightened’ badge 1,327 times.

Does this guy do it for votes and badges? I wouldn’t imagine that’s his primary motivation, a bit like my primary motivation in Facebook isn’t getting ‘Likes’ or my primary motivation at work every day isn’t collecting my pay cheque.

So yeah, see what you think. And let me know if you have any feedback :)

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