Why Gamification Fails!

Why Gamification Fails

Why Gamification fails… Just a few quick thought on this topic before I go to bed tonight. I think about this a lot because as a sales manager I see “games” put out by senior management all the time that are not well thought out and poorly implemented. They push these to the field and then no one engages with the “game” because it’s neither interesting or fun, then one of two things happens. Scenario 1: Mid management pretends it was successful inspiring additional time wasted on something no one cares about. Scenario 2: There is tremendous bellyaching from the field and the idea is chalked up as a loss and never done again.

So the question is: Why does gamification fail and what can we do about it? I think I can sum up the problem in one word. Engagement! The number one problem I see with “games” put out by management is there is a LOT of thought as to how to manage and measure the metrics the game is designed to improve. There is also a lot of thought and effort put into the collection of data and additional work placed on lower level managers to track and report results, but very little thought is given to why anyone would want to play the game in the first place. Herein lies the problem… games like this may inspire a few people but most employees will ignore them.

Why? Because we failed to engage them. When designing these games there are two key things that need to be thought about. First, what key metrics am I trying to improve (The more there are the harder this is to do), and second how can I ensure that the maximum number of people are actively engaged? Our problem is we talk a lot about the first issue and very little about the second.

I’ll talk about how to do this tomorrow, but for now I’d like to hear about your experience with games managers have made and what your experience is with them as a developer or player. Were you engaged? Why or why not?

-Brad

PS: If you are looking for a GREAT book on gamification and how to make it work I recommend Reality is Broken. It is truly fantastic and will change the way you think about gamification and what it can do for you and your business.

15 Responses to Why Gamification Fails!
  1. Oscar Gonzalez
    December 3, 2012 | 12:04 am

    Gamification fails a lot, and I think it’s because managers jump in the bandwagon without thinking about it first. Engagement as yo pointed out is the most important part of gamifying something. If you can’t get my attention then no matter how many points, rewards, rainbows and unicorns you offer me, I probably won’t play. Hopefully managers read your post and take notes!
    Oscar Gonzalez recently posted..Comments and Thoughts on The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of ZeroMy Profile

    • Brad
      December 3, 2012 | 3:44 pm

      Sometimes it gets an epic win and that’s what brings people back. Ideally these games would be designed by game developers and not marketers or corporate VP’s.

  2. [...] Why Gamification Fails! | The Uber Geek!. Share [...]

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  4. Mighty Casey
    December 3, 2012 | 2:31 pm

    HUGE issue in many industries that are starting to explore gamification as a business tool. Healthcare is particularly prone to #fail here, and it’s due to the exact problem you point out: if it’s not something people will want to PLAY, you can’t make a GAME out of it.

    Looking for mega-adoption across the planet isn’t the right starting point, either, but those are the stars in the eyes of VPs who rally the troops with “we’ll ROCK it with gamification!” If you don’t have a rock-solid persona that you’re writing for, the only rock-ing will be the rock falling from the sky on your head …
    Mighty Casey recently posted..Comedy writer way-back machine: That ****ing treeMy Profile

    • Brad
      December 3, 2012 | 3:41 pm

      Casey, you are absolutely right. It has to be FUN and engaging before anything else otherwise its a waste of money and effort. It has to offer something to the player besides an opportunity to provide you with revenue or data. :(

  5. Lisa Mason
    December 3, 2012 | 2:31 pm

    I was just talking about this recently with a friend when the topic came up of how to monetize your site/business by involving the community but without spamming or taking advantage of the community. Earlier today I wrote about F2P MMOs and the same process applies- how can the company profit from it without exploiting the gamer? Where do you find the balance between pleasing the customer and making a profit so that everyone wins? Your post just goes right along with all of that. You’re giving me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    • Brad
      December 3, 2012 | 3:39 pm

      Exploit, annoy, fail to engage… It all ends in the same place. Failure. Next post will be on the elements of a game.

  6. Janet Stephenson (@JanetLouise8)
    December 4, 2012 | 2:55 pm

    Silly question for you, Brad. How do you pronounce the word, “gamification”?
    Janet Stephenson (@JanetLouise8) recently posted..Honoring Self Does Not Equal SelfishnessMy Profile

    • Brad
      December 4, 2012 | 4:16 pm

      I had to go to the Oxford Dictionary online to figure out how to write it! :) gamification (gam·i·fi·ca·tion) Pronunciation: /ˌɡāmifəˈkāSHən/

      I hope that helps!

  7. What makes a game? | The Uber Geek!
    December 7, 2012 | 11:11 pm

    [...] 7, 2012 by Brad in Gamification, Gaming and Game Development Earlier this week I talked about Why Gamification fails. Today I’d like to talk about what makes a game. On the surface I think we all THINK we know [...]

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    January 1, 2013 | 9:50 pm

    [...] this week I talked about Why Gamification fails. Today I’d like to talk about what makes a game. On the surface I think we all THINK we know [...]

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  10. What makes a game? | The Uber Geek!
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  11. Razing_Zozo
    January 8, 2013 | 7:28 am

    Gamification requires passion on the part of those who make up the rules and those who need to play. Once upon a time I owned and operated a video game centre here in Hamilton, Ontario. At our peak, the system I utilized with my Players (staff) was the very notion of Gamification made manifest into a business model. The concept only works if it aligns with the business’ purpose and allows the participants to pursue it enthusiastically. Now in my case, I was running a “Game Centre” so it only made sense to me that going to work should in itself be a game, and the business ran pretty good while my system was in place. (The system was inspired by my love of D&D, and within it included “classes” representing business roles, a system for tracking advancement and rewards) It’s downfall was that I could not get my business partner on board with it, and if one person doesn’t play by the rules, it makes it difficult to continue.

    I still have the plan, and look forward to using it for future endevours. It can work and be really productive/fun, if everyone gets it and pursues it passionately.

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