Gamification and media: Thoughts from this week’s iMedia Sampler

A relative of mine is a protein folder. He’s not a scientist, but he does spend his own money on computer upgrades and electricity to donate space processing cycles to a protein folding initiative at Stanford. Aside from the intrinsic good feeling about helping research, participants are rewarded with points and rankings to help keep them engaged.

This week on our iMedia Sampler course, my colleague Derek Lackaff* did the lesson on issues in gamification. Course readings are here and here. Our alumni had various experiences with trying games and rewards in their media industries and here are some of their thoughts.

Gamification positives

  • Alumni have seen gamification used in a variety of ways from traditional contests to quizzes, and see it driving their own behavior, whether that is purchasing at a particular store to earn rewards eventually or participating in our course (which offers a badge at the end)
  • Gamification is also effectively used internally to encourage employee behaviors within organizations. This is one we use in higher education sometimes, as well.
  • Gamification is tricky ethically, but a good practice is being sure that you are forthright about what will happen with data you are collecting.
  • Gamification may work better for some generations than for other. Millennials and Plurals have shown a high need for public validation, which makes it a good technique for them.

Gamification cautions

  • Gamification isn’t a universally good idea. For example, if you are a charity using donor money to buy participation from others, that can be a bad strategic move, because it can upset your donors.
  • Gamification can create its own kind of content shock
  • You can train your users to expect rewards, which quickly becomes a losing proposition.
  • Gamification can lose its impact if you have a small number who avidly play the game and win all of the opportunities.

*Find Derek on Twitter at @lackaff

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