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Gamification, Hypocrisy, Snoop Dogg and Words
by Andrzej Marczewski on 03/14/13 05:28:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


NOTE: This is a slightly tongue in cheek look at why people get so confused about what gamification actually is. Its aim is to make those in the industry stop and think about how they could help ease the confusion. For a more serious look at the differences between games, serious games, gamification etc. please follow the link below.

A couple of weeks ago I put out an article that tried to define the differences between serious games, games and gamification.  It was received very well, with a few people even asking for permission to use it in PhD course work. Since then it has gone on here and has sparked som amazing conversation, so thank you all for that! 

Gamification, Hypocrisy, Snoop Dogg and Words gaming gamification

The work I did was based on researching the “average” definitions of each term and then throwing a little of my own opinion in for good measure and I stand by them. I say this, because depending on how you look at them – I’m wrong, in fact most of us in gamification are … depending on how you look at it all….

When you look at the way I set out the definition of gamificaiton, I am essentially saying that it is the use game elements and thinking, devoid of gameplay. Most in the industry would agree with this. However, the same people are more than happy to claim that a venture such as FoldIt - a game that saw people solving protein folding “puzzles” to help find the cure for AIDS – is an example of gamification. However, according to the definition we have settled on, it is actually a serious game – it has gameplay!

Just recently a shockwave went through the world of gamification, a little bit of excitement in the form of comment made by Snoop Dogg (!). He was quoted as saying that his new game, Way of the Dogg, was the “the first true gamification of my music”. Cool, Snoop Dogg mentioned gamification. But wait. He is talking about making a video game, that isn’t gamification, That’s making a game. Damn, that sends out a confusing message and he is wrong.

Or is he?

If we look at the etymology of the word gamification, it tells us a slightly different tale. Gam, is obviously from Game. The Oxford Dictionaries site it tells us that -ification is the “forming nouns of action from verbs ending in -fy (such as simplification from simplify).” or gamify in out case. -fy is in turn is defined as

  • (added to nouns) forming verbs denoting making or producing: speechify
    • denoting transformation or the process of making into: deify, petrify

So, taking this literary, gamification is the process of making something into a game, taking its truest definition. Not taking bits of games and bolting them onto non game processes, but making an actual game. So saying that Way of the Dogg is the gamification of Snoop Dogg’s music is completely accurate.

Now then, the truth is that this doesn’t matter in the slightest. We have chosen a definition of gamificaiton and we have mostly agreed to stick to it. This is important for gamification as a field of activity, as I have said previously.  However, as we head to our high horses to tell people that it is not about making games (myself included), it is important to remember that in reality that is exactly what the word means. To people not in the world of gamification, that is what they will assume based on the word itself.

Personally, I would like to have Gamification be an umbrella term for everything. Serious games, games and gameful / playful design.  But, that will never officially happen Gamification, Hypocrisy, Snoop Dogg and Words gaming gamification

Take it as a sign that we need to broaden our minds a little and accept that sometimes the solutions to people’s problems are not as black and white as adding game elements and throwing psychology at them. Sometimes we just needs to play a little game or two. Also, be a little more understanding (this also goes for me!).

Way of the Dogg 
Originally posted on my blog  

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Andreas Ahlborn
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While I found your original article a worthwile read, this follow-up shows a lot of the lazyness I generally found repelling about the "Gamification"-community.
What you are making here is a wild and not even mildly entertaining "playing with words". You are using etymology, absurdity ("truest...."),a rainbow-press statement of a selfadvertising popstar and splitting of hairs to culminate in a sentence like :
"Personally, I would like to have Gamification be an umbrella term for everything" thus practically rendering your previous effort (limiting the realm which gamfication should explore) useless.

While I find TED-10 Minutes talks about Gamification interesting reading the actual literature (e.g. "Reality is broken" ) proved to be too tedious for me.

It is a "science" that rides on the wave of the current hypetsunami of social networking, monetarization strategies and other things. It docks like a Parasite on our human "gaming" disposition to profit the "Gamification"-Consultants that tell us how to restructure our Educational System, our daily live and how society will benefit if we only are willing to throw all our personal data on them for excessive mining.
They even want to change the field they originally sprung from by telling game developers how to design their Games around metrics, Monetarization, in-app buys and whaling.

Its basically NLP translated in 21st Century Marketinggaga that has the same weird conception that all personalities should better follow the same hedonistic rules to be easier exploitable.

No offense, I generally like it if people are enthusiastic about ideas, as long as they don`t want to convert me.

Andrzej Marczewski
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No offence taken. I don't write to make money, or get approval from others. I write about things that interest me or ideas I like. I thought some on gamasutra may find what I write interesting. I am trying to convert no one.

This article was basically trying to point out that we in the Gamification circles get far to tied up with the meaning of the word. My previous article also made that point, but I wrote it to try an help others who do need that definition to understand it all. This one is me just having fun with it all.

Darren Tomlyn
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The problem with 'gamification' is that what it represents is far too confusing, and even if it tries to act as a root for many other pieces of information, (in a taxonomic hierarchy), since we have so many problems with such information to begin with, 'gamification' in general AT THIS TIME, is almost meaningless.

Since much of the information people want it to cover is often about recognising, understanding and then labelling fundamental differences in things, behaviour (things that happen) and properties, trying to say that such differences no longer matter by throwing them all under one massive umbrella ('gamification') is the worst thing that can happen IMO, especially when we're trying to specifically create, recognise and understand such specific things that are represented in such a manner - (i.e. games, puzzles, competitions etc.).

Although, as Andrzej says, gamification should be about turning things into games, because game isn't fully recognised and understood, gamification, just like game itself, has been allowed to be pulled all over the place in a manner that is too confusing and almost certainly inconsistent.

Since gamification is a symptom of such a problem, however, trying to treat it in isolation isn't possible. Unfortunately, the true cause of all the problems we're having here, lies as deep as it gets, and so, without dealing with that first, (I'm working on a blog post (or two) about it atm), any discussions about any of such symptoms in isolation, won't get very far, or be very consistent, either, and so only make things worse.

Michael Joseph
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"They even want to change the field they originally sprung from by telling game developers how to design their Games around metrics, Monetarization, in-app buys and whaling.



Is gamification any different than co-option of other media by the commercializers, advertisers, mind\attitude shapers, PR managers, and vertical marketers? Are we better for any of it? They all want us to think so. Or at the very least, they'd like us to think we have to become like them to compete... that it's inevitable and we have no choice. And sadly it's not going away. The saving grace for games is it's a much more open field than any of the above as far as the ability of "real" game developers to make "real" games that have (near) equal access to mainstream distribution.

Long live the PC and open computing.