Getting gamification right through psychology and gameful design

(This post was originally published in Drum Magazine on 21 Aug 2012)

Depending on who you ask, gamification is either revolutionizing marketing, triggering an apocalypse, the key to saving the world or just another buzzword. For the time being, however, some of the UK’s strongest brands including Coca-Cola, Nike and Tesco are producing painfully ill-conceived gamification initiatives. In fact, “gamification” is accruing negative baggage so quickly that academics are already shying from the term.

Why Gamification Fails 

The logic of gamification may be stated: “games are fun and motivating; therefore, making our system more game-like will make it more fun and motivating”. Based on this apparently reasonable assertion, Gamification consultants consequently apply a fairly simple formula: Continue reading “Getting gamification right through psychology and gameful design”

Becoming a public intellectual

Few computer science academics have become public intellectuals. What is a public intellectual (PI)? Alan Lightman and Stephen Pinker explained it pretty well:

Such a person is often a trained in a particular discipline, such as linguistics, biology, history, economics, literary criticism, and who is on the faculty of a college or university. When such a person decides to write and speak to a larger audience than their professional colleagues, he or she becomes a “public intellectual.”

They went on to describe three levels of PI. At level 1, the PI speaks and writes for the public about his own discipline. At level 2, the PI speaks and writes about how his discipline “relates to the social, cultural, and political world around it.” At the level 3, the PI becomes a symbol for intellectualism and is invited to speak and write about diverse topics. Level 3’s include Noam Chompsky, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrass Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Paul Krugman and – of course – Albert Einstein.

Becoming a level 3 PI is tall order. However, like aspiring to win a Nobel Prize, pursuing it makes for a great career even if you never quite make it. And besides, there’s no Nobel Prize for information systems or software engineering. Consequently, I’m starting this blog to record and promote my attempts at bringing design thinking and systems thinking into the popular lexicon.