Wednesday, 4 May 2011


A friend, the lovely and talented Adrian Tchaikovsky, writer of fantasy, recently posted this link to me, because he knows I'm really interested in gaming and the way that it affects our lives, particularly because I'm a writer and many games are providing lots of experience and narrative that books and stories have to compete with.  Check it out.

The Escapist Gamification Video

At first I would have completely gone along with all of this - when I first encountered World of Warcraft years ago it seemed a really obvious trend.  But now, having played a lot more games and stuck with that one (with a few breaks) I'm not so sure. 

One thing  I have noticed is that Warcraft, just for example, is now as boring as a secretarial job, but for me as a has-no-time no-raid casual player, it also feels like being the secretary to a bunch of people higher up the ladder who are getting all the bonuses and dishing out all the crap.  Yes, you Leet people, I mean you.  Partly that's the grind mechanics of the game and partly the element of the player base who reacted most powerfully to the gamification tactics outlined in the above video.  It's Skinner evolution.  Well, ouchie.  This is borification.  I’m down now to RP as my only escape fun (am now pretty immune to reward systems of any kind) and that relies on other people turning up and having enough energy to think of a storyline - and if we had that we'd probably be doing something else anyway.  

So, by contrast, writing is now looking like an ultimate game pastime, just like it used to years ago when there was no telly worth watching except for the odd programme.  I can't even muster the enthusiasm to open the boxes on really great games that I already bought.  I'd rather read.  The rewards are so much better.

On the other hand if I did have to go back to work as a secretary I wouldn't mind game rewards for the filing etc.  I realise this is what a wage and bonuses are supposed to represent but perhaps they were never administered at a level you could see in operation in real time with a little progress bar and an achievement chart with lolcats on it.

I wait for the real world rewards of genuine social pleasure, or at least benign self interest, to reach out and eat gamification.  But then, I am getting old and cranky and have been inured by years of service to the machine.  What do y'all think?


  1. I think I'm on the same page as you as regards down time from "being on the game" (I think of it). And consequently, I'm generally speaking being much more productive writing-wise, and as a bonus have learned to love reading books again. But I know what you mean about the game style reward triggers employed in MMOs and other games. They do work, even if it's in a pretty mechanistic way when it comes down to it. In a gaming environment you find yourself continuing to grind, for hours on end, because of the rewards offered (usually being able to last more than one second in a high level raiding zone).

    I'm not really sure though if the same sort of reward can ever be applied to the real daily grind. Possibly certain aspects could be gamified - for instance to help students stick to their books, or as a bonus scheme to encourage employees to go that extra mile - but not only do I agree that most employees will see through any reward system pretty quickly but I also think that many will consider that it infantalises the work environment. Most people recognise that you get paid by your employer for putting on your work face and getting on with it , however engaged you happen to be feeling.

  2. I've just come from your drive-by at Angela Slatter's blog, Justine. We met, you and I, at Perth. Once or twice. And frankly, I thought you a wholly decent person.

    But now?

    I don't know. I. Just. Don't. Know.

    You opted for danishes. DANISHES!

    Aren't you aware that the true, yeast-raised doughnut is the God-Emperor of all pastries?

  3. I would be very happy to receive game rewards at a workplace - office politics are usually pretty infantile, and having it made overt with achievement charts (individual ones, not just the 'team quotas' on bar graphs), and visibly gaining or losing power in the game/workplace, would actually be quite reassuring. especially if I could use game weapons to attack or defend, instead of using memos and meetings.