The good, the bad, the gamified
I’ve been taking Kevin Werbach’s Gamification MOOC on Coursera, and while it hasn’t really provided any concepts or ideas that are new to me, it’s done a lot to pull in all the disparate bits of information I’ve read on the subject in recent months. In the learning and development community, there’s a rather ridiculous debate that’s been raging that looks more like a beef in the hip-hop community than any kind of real discussion on how we can apply it.
That said, I do understand that educators might be skeptical about a concept that is coming straight from the entertainment and marketing industries. The example that Werbach keeps bringing up is Samsung Nation, a gamified system that enables viewers of Samsung’s websites to earn badges and points and get their name on a leaderboard.
If this is your definition of gamification, I would understand that you might think the entire thing is meaningless garbage. I get a badge for tweeting about my favorite Samsung product! Oh, goody! The badge shows everyone else I have no purpose in life!
On the other hand, a site like Stack Overflow uses gamification (in the form of virtual medals) to solve programming problems. In this case, the medals mean you’re sharing your expertise with the community and the community appreciates you doing so.
If we’re going to use gamification, it’s got to be closer to the latter example. Yes, it’s fun, it’s cool, it’s trendy, but above all it must be meaningful.