When Virtual and Reality Get Confused

Game of Thrones

Which after six seasons and a steadily growing global audience, watching across all platforms, continues to break records and win awards…and is often viewed as a metaphor for politics everywhere…

No doubt beyond the great visuals, acting and scripts, the basic story talks to us in a visceral way…it’s all a game…

My bet is that no one relates it to Angry Birds, Pokemon Go or Candy Crush in terms of GAMIFICATION.

Yet, just a few years ago, the DIGIBABBLE crowd was betting on GAMIFICATION as being the future, all-encompassing platform for all that we would do…from education to finding our significant others to our elections for public office.

And although we do use the phrase “playing games” across most life situations, again I’m ready to bet, not in that context.

One crystal ball view in 2011 was very clear:

Gartner Predicts Over 70 Percent of Global 2000 Organisations Will Have at Least One Gamified Application by 2014

And only a year later their crystal ball hedged its bet:

Gartner Says by 2014, 80 Percent of Current Gamified Applications Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design

Many others jumped on the bandwagon and GAMIFICATION first was quickly becoming a mantra as the future seemed so clear.

Game of Management was going to impact the executive class:

By 2020, however many points you have at work will help determine the kind of raise you get or which office you sit in. – IEEE member Tom Coughlin

Game of Work would affect all labor:

The gamification of labor has begun – and its pioneers are borrowing heavily from everything from World of Warcraft to Twitter. – MIT Review

And some suggested that Game of Thrones was a mere blip:

Gamification may be the most important social and commercial development of the next fifty years. Commercially, we may be seeing the end of the marketing orientation, possibly marking the beginning of the “Game Orientation.” This will touch all aspects of the organization as it is applied to sales, production, management, and other areas of commercial practice. Socially, gamified technology will evolve and humanize many of the artificial interactions we currently endure—check-in’s, like’s, shares, and their kin will all “just work” and drive new waves of innovation in our technology. – Ross Rader, general manager at Hover and board member of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority as reported by Pew Research Center

No wonder then that The Observer said about Pokemon Go only a couple of months ago:

‘Pokemon Go’ Is a Delightfully Disruptive Social Phenomenon…[it] has been in our lives for about a week now and has already disrupted everything we hold dear.

However, their crystal ball is way too cloudy…as the audience for Go continues to shrink…and worse, who remembers Zynga?

Lest you think that I am smartassing a day-after view of this all, I share my post on the subject from back then…Get Out Of Jail Free (September 2014)

…but more importantly, some of the other thoughts that influenced my thinking, starting with one that captures it all:

Gamification is Bullshit…More specifically, gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway. – Ian Bogost

One that is a little more circumspect:

I’m all for feedback loops in our complex world. Emergence is how everything works. But for some reason, I’m resisting their explicit disruptive role in education and health. There are too many entrenched reasons (some of them good reasons) not to run things this way. If everything was a game, no one would have a reason to invent; any metric corrupts, as people shape their behavior to ensure that they come out on top. There have to be other routes to excellence in work, health, and education; there have to be ways to explore, invent, create, and avoid—it can’t be that we’ll be adding up points for every salient element of our lives…. Excuse me, now, while I check whether I’ve been mentioned on Twitter. – Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay and former Obama White House technology policy expert

And one that should be true, but the rush to deify Pokemon Go makes me wonder:

By 2020, anyone who ever used the term “gamification” will be embarrassed to admit it. – Alex Halavais, associate professor, Quinnipiac University

The truth is, the ugly rhetoric of DIGIBABBLE raises its monstrous head whenever the money community smells quick profit and the market veers towards the scent lurching and staggering to a mythical marketing utopia, a Shangri-la of sales and profits driven by one single highway…DIGITAL FIRST; MOBILE FIRST, WEARABLE FIRST, GAMIFICATION FIRST and on and on…

All become short cuts for actual insight and understanding and none begin with People as in PEOPLE FIRST.

Let me end as I began, channeling Game of Thrones…listen:

Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king. – Tywin Lannister

So much for GAMIFICATION FIRST…or anything for that matter!

BTW…I am a gamer…and love them…

And one last thought  – let’s not confuse the issue…according to a recent article from VICE:

Sales of board games have been on the rise every year for the past decade; there are listicles of the best board game cafes and bars…even after classics like Magic: The Gathering and Monopoly have been digitized, physical sales continue to grow.

To what can we attribute this success? According to Nick Meenachan, founder of the YouTube channel Board Game Brawl:

“I do believe that many gamers have been missing the basic human necessity of human interaction.”

Once again, it’s People First.

What do you think?

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