Wow. +Sebastian Deterding just delivered a devastating review of +Gabe Zichermann's new book from O'Reilly, Gamification by Design. The issues Sebastian raises are serious enough that I thought I'd try to get more input on the book from those with more expertise on the subject than I have.

A quick personal response: I believe strongly that intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic motivation every time, that the real beauty of games isn't to play them for points, but for the joy of them, and that marketers pasting on superficial game mechanics to encourage people to accept inferior products is a terrible idea. Like any other marketing technique, "gamification" done badly is a disaster. Any attempt to manipulate people, to use game mechanics to do things that are against their own self-interest, is terrible marketing. It won't work out well in the end, for anyone.

That being said, I also have experienced the power of "game mechanics" to make applications more engaging - for instance, since FourSquare added leaderboards, I have found myself using it (and enjoying it) more. I also have new affordances that make it more likely that I will check in and see what my friends are doing. So there's definitely "some there there."

In the end, I'm a bit puzzled by the amount of vitriol aimed at Gabe's book. I haven't read it cover to cover, but what I have read doesn't seem to justify the scorn heaped on it by this review.

I do wonder sometimes if those whose work is popularized (and bastardized) by others take it too personally. I think of my own experience trying to make the case for "Web 2.0" - I was thinking of what distinguished the failures of the dot com bust from the companies that survived (Web "1.0" vs "2.0") -- deep trends in applications like "harnessing collective intelligence" and "data as the intel inside of the next generation of applications" - trends that have been well validated by ensuing events.

And yes, I was disappointed to have the term I intended for one meaning be hijacked by marketers to mean something far more shallow, far less interesting. But in the end, I came to accept that it was all part of the hype cycle, and that as Tevye said in Fiddler on the Roof, "Good news will stay, and bad news will refuse to leave." It's always a mixture of good and bad.

I wonder if there's something like that going on here - folks who've been working to find deep insights about what we can learn from games to other applications feeling that their work is being hijacked in some way.

But if the critiques of the book made here are accurate, I'd love to see our team work hard to make it better in future editions.
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