Nick, your wish is granted. Gamification!
What is it? The effort to remold standard practices, mostly in business and learning, as games. Earlier, I was a supporter. Now I am not sure at all.There's a lot of strength in the concept but there will be major misunderstandings too.
My gamified syllabi in classes, for exampled, have bombed. Students *really* don't want their grades determined by MMORPG mechanicsms. That's because one of the essential conditions of XP acquisition - that you can try and try again indefinitely - are missing in a classroom. In teaching, time is limited. So are mob pulls; you can't have as many shots at challenges as you want. In a classroom, you have a few challenges, time runs out, and somebody - me - has to judge how you did. Also, there are not enough opportunities for loose, flowing grouping; every teamwork exercise in a class is forced-grouping which, we've learned, people hate. Add to that the fact that ultimately the class is serious and not play. This means no one can say "settle down, it's just a game." And therefore, they DON'T settle down. They get almost homicidal when another team-mate screws up their grade.
I am not sure this means that the classroom cannot be gamified. To the contrary, I've argued to myself that the classroom already IS gamified. The standard syllabus has survived endless threats and adaptations, and there it is. Do projects, take tests, participate in class, receive an individual score relative to an absolute standard. Maybe that's just the best possible game under the circumstances.
If true, the perception that the classroom is already the best of all possible games implies problems for the Gamification Movement.
I digress. If game design is a human cultural practice, just as subject to evolution as anything else, then the scope of the revolution gamification will bring is all the more circumscribed. It's not like game mechanisms are always going to be the obvious best replacements for whatever is there already. The systems in place already have a lot going for them. Like Second Life, gamification will get a lot more hype than it deserves, and will not live up to that hype, leaving us, in 2014, sitting here reminding everyone that while we were psyched about games, we never said all this would happen overnight or that they could solve every problem. We will also be saying, "just wait, games will indeed remake lots of stuff," and then by 2018 they will.
That was the pattern with virtual worlds. Virtual worlds were noticed, then hyped, then debunked. But look: It is 2011 and yes, it is now quite common for someone to have a quasi-avatar (the Facebook page), and to maneuver around in some sort of quasi-virtual world (Xbox Live). It happened. Some sort of gamification is next.