And Math Blaster Was Dumb

Atop an undeniable heap of anecdotal evidence, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang nails a few ways in which games are infiltrating our daily lives. Or really, how the culture and language of gaming is influencing the way we go about our otherwise game-free business. He writes:

“…while we are going to see the growth of feedback and incentive systems around everyday activities, they’re not going to really be games. They may borrow some bits and pieces from games — familiar visual tropes, rewards, and the like — but they won’t turn housework into a game, any more than my offering my son a quarter to clean his room turns my family into a labor market.”

Semantic quibbles aside, I think Alex exposes a sweet spot for applied gaming: the crucial point at which those familiar visual tropes and rewards offset the pain and tedium of labor. To be an efficient solution for business, we must first identify when an overlay is juuust gamey enough, and when players are first able to reconsider their opinion of effort. (It’s the same principle that has gotten the garbage taken out by sprinting children everywhere: “I’ll time you.”)

We might then look at the unprompted infiltration of game language and culture — within organizations and among players — as evidence that we, too, have nailed it.

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