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October 29, 2020
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Gamifying Production Dashboards

by Timothy Ryan on 03/23/17 06:15:00 pm   Expert 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.


It should be no surprise that at a game studio, that some of the production processes, reports and cultural rules become games unto themselves.

When I worked at Sony producing Frequency I encountered one such game called "The Ass Penny" - which fortunately I never earned as it was a QA process, but it effectively shamed testers for writing a bad bug or missing a bug by putting a palm-sweated, stinky penny on their TV. It was awarded by a lead, only to be removed when someone else won the dubious award. The end result was that a pile of pennies could end up on your screen, discouraging you from ever writing up a bad bug or skipping a test case. It is evidently still practiced, because just two years ago when I interviewed a test candidate who had worked there, he was surprised when I asked him if he had ever earned an Ass Penny, to which he was proud to say he had not.

At FASA Interactive, we played the electronic-blame game when stepping through code for a crash. We'd get summoned over to the lead Frank Savage's workstation and I'd sweat a bit as the code slipped into the game AI libraries I'd written, only to be relieved when it stepped out successfully. It was all in good fun, a way for the team to use peer pressure to enforce a very serious coding standard.

Not all such games are about shaming, but they do often serve the purpose of motivation. For instance, a dashboard on a wall-mounted monitor could list the open bug totals by group or individual, with a leaderboard that could look like a match results screen.  A code review status board could be portrayed as a horse-race, with the people who submit most of their code for reviews in the front. A precarious sprint burn-down chart that looks more like a cliff than the gradual slope could be gamified into a side-scroller with falling damage.

Unfortunately, not everyone has good humor about these games. Participation might very. Backlashes are likely, because no one wants a light shed on their work. But whatever the process of reporting, gamified or not, winners and losers will be identified. Gamifying is just an attempt to add some humor and garner attention to an otherwise drab report or boring process.

If you have any gamified processes at work, please share them in comments. Thanks!


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