The promise of gamefication is to learn from games, to draw on what makes games so powerful and apply it in other contexts. So it's a fair question to ask whether gamifcation can or in fact does actually accomplish that. And there are many who argue that it doesn't. This criticism goes by the name of pointsification, a term that was coined by Margaret Robertson, a British Game Developer in her blog Hide and Seek. And in her original post back in 2010, what she argued and what many others have since developed in other ways, is that gamification is about taking the thing that is least essential from games and representing it as the core of the experience. In other words, gamification relies just on the surface aspects of games, the mechanics, the other game elements. And what she says is, that's not the important stuff. That's not the part of games that makes them wonderful. That gets people to play and that stimulates that powerful set of motivational aspects that we've talked about in the course. So what she says is, as she goes on in the post, effectively gamification is an inadvertent con. It's genuine. It's trying to take something valuable from games, but it's taking the wrong thing. And in so doing, it's inadvertently misleading people. It's suggesting to people that what's great about games is that they have things like point systems and leaderboards. When in fact, that's not what's central and important about games at all. And there's a great deal of bite to this criticism. As we talked about, many gamified rely principally on points, badges, leaderboard, and a few other surface level game mechanics. And, while that may have some valuable effect, and we can link them to other sorts of activities like loyalty programs, they don't necessarily produce the sense of true engagement, and the sense of intrinsic motivation. That's so important to really changing behavior, and to really producing sustained results in ways that are beneficial for people who are involved in the system. So, there is a legitimate criticism here around pointsification, but to my mind it's one that can be addressed by thinking about gamification more broadly. As I've talked about, there really are two streams of work that feed into gamification. The one that Robertson and the other critics are talking about when they bael it pointsification is entirely on the behavioral side. And it's the shallower aspects of applying those behavioral techniques through gamification. Again, predominantly using simple mechanics like points and leaderboards. And thinking that they can just be slapped onto processes, and produce results. I would certainly agree that that's limiting and that that doesn't produce the same kinds of powerful results that we can see from games. But gamification at least appropriately thought of is much more than that. So, part of the criticism of pointsification is focusing in on the limited set, but a very real set of gamification examples and practices. And I think that we can take it to heart without necessarily writing off the entire practice of gamification. But an important question this raises is whether gamification really is effective. Robertson, as a game designer, was concerned about gamification having the effect of belittling games. That if people started to think, oh wait, games are just about points and badges and stuff like that, and those really aren't that effective, so therefore games must not be that interesting or powerful either. As a game designer, that was her concern. She wasn't particularly concerned about gamification as a practice but those of us who are in the gamification field certainly are. And, so, it's worth asking whether if gamification reduces to pointsification, then that means that it won't produce the kind of sustained important deep engagement that's necessary to drive real business results and real behavior change. And the challenge here is we don't have a tremendous amount of research. In this course, I've given you many different examples, some anectodatal some involving data points, but we don't have yet significant empirical research systematically looking at different forms of gamification. And the results that it can provide in the enterprise, in external marketing context, in behavior change context. There are social scientists, people like my colleague Ethan Mollick here at the Wharton School, who've started to do research in this area. And I think that we'll see research start to come about that informs gamification practice. But up to this point, it's limited. I think there's enough examples, again, we've seen many of them in this course, that suggest that these techniques are valid and can work if designed and applied appropriately. But we dont yet know as much as we need to about what the data really show in large scale practical deployments. The second issue that this comes to, is that gamification if it does reduce to pointsification, if most of the time, or at least some of the time, it turns out to just be about using these shallow elements. There's a very real risk that engagement may spike initially, but will then decay. That people may feel that initial boost from the surprise or the activity and engagement loops of feedback. But ultimately, if they're just driven by those behavior risked rewards, or just driven by the surface level mechanics, they'll get bored, and that won't produce an enduring response. That's I think a fair criticism and something to be aware of in designing gamified systems, and yet another reason not to just stop by thinking about these simple points-based mechanics. The third aspect of this is one that we already talked about which is the potential for crowding out or over-justification. If, in fact, gamification becomes just pointsification, then it falls victim to all the dangers of extrinsic rewards that I described in some of the psychology sections. All of this together is what is led Kathy Sierra whose a noted author and speaker around interaction design, and programming and other areas. She has been a frequent critic of gamification and has labeled it I think very powerfully as the high fructose corn syrup of engagement. And what I think she's saying there is, first of all, that it takes the richness, the real organic value of games and of human engagement and reduces it down to something very simplistic and very shrill. And that it's something like corn syrup high fructose corn syrup that seems great because it's sweet and cheap but that, as we learn more, turns out to be potentially harmful for us. In the sense here that if we rely too much on these simplistic external reward-based systems, that it will push people away from the true intrinsic motivation, love of the activity, love of the task, love of the process that is what should ultimately should be driving them. And as with the pointification critique more broadly, this is something that's worth taking into account. Now, again, I tend to to think that it's not a fatal critique of all of gamification. For the reasons that I described in the course, but it's something that you should always have in mind when designing systems and always try to think about how to avoid sliding down that path. Where in fact, what you're doing is not gamifying, but just applying point systems. Or applying game mechanics and other game elements in situations where they're not truly appropriate. So let's turn back to the Foursquare example. Foursquare in many ways was a tremendous success story for gamification. The use of game elements, the badges, the points, and so forth, on top of the social location system that was pioneered by Dodgeball, helped power Foursquare to tremendous success and tremendous adoption. But along the way something interesting happened. Early in 2012, Foursquare did a redesign. They changed the interface of the system in a way that appeared to signficantly deemphasize the game elements. So here you see some screen shots of the Foursquare iPhone client, and you see here is one main screen that shows information about your friends and were they are, and information that you can post. And you notice, not a lot of game elements actually there. And here's the screen showing your friends, where they've checked in on the map. Again, the game elements aren't that prominent. It's only when you get to this third screen here that we see the stats with the crown. We see the badges that you've accompli, that you've achieved, and so forth. So, the game elements are still there,. But they appear to be much less prominent. So the question is what lesson to draw from this. And I think one can draw a couple of different lessons. One conclusion is gamification didn't work. The game elements either didn't actually produce business results, or maybe they did for a while, but then people got bored, people got tired of them. The badges just became something silly and not something that really motivated people to want to check in and participate in the service. Or maybe, another conclusion that one could draw, is that the game elements are still there and still important to the service. But it was much more important to make them prominent during the early days when Foursquare was trying to grow, trying to get out of that trap that I described early on. Where there was no reason for people to check in if their friends weren't checking in. And there were no real super users who had a motivation to go and check in all the time in certain locations, and post information. So perhaps the game elements were particularly important during that growth phase for the company. And now that it's reached a critical mass, where the key is monetization and building out off of the large number of users, to real rich informational and social value that people can extract out, and that gets people to put more, deep information into the system. Maybe at that point, the point badge and leaderboard type game elements are less central. So you can decide whichever of those stories you think persuades you, or maybe some other story. But again, in thinking about gamification in practice, it behooves everyone to try to keep questioning whether this is a technique that's worth using. I think it's one that can be extremely valuable in many different areas. Going from very light weight systems to much more sophisticated deployments. But, it's again not something that's useful for everyone. And not something that's useful in every single case. So, what are some implications to take away from this discussion? First, names are powerful. Much of the fire behind the criticism of gamification from game designers hinges on the word gamification, because it implies that this is about games. And I think if you think about it broadly as I've talked about, it is. It involves using many different aspects of games and many different aspects of game design practice. But it's true that if gamification is just pulling out points, and a few other mechanics, then it's something substantially less than the full panoply of richness that games entail. So names matter. The problem is, names are memes. And gamification is the meme that is stuck, maybe, eventually, it will go away, or change into something else. But for now it's the word that gets used for this practice. Second point is bad gamification is bad. So it's true that if gamification just uses points, badges, and leaderboards, especially if it does it in a very shallow way, and certainly there are many examples of that today. That it's going to be limited. It's not going to produce sustained engagement. And it may, in fact, be harmful. It may, in fact, produce the kind of backlash, the crowding out effect, that we described in the discussion of behaviorism and psychology. Third point is that there's more to games than gamification. So, games do involve many other aspects beyond the ones that we talked about in this class. And there's more to gamification than games. Gamification draws upon areas like psychology, and design, and business practice, and social media in many ways that go beyond or go in different directions than game design and that's fine. That's one reason it's important to keep straight whether we're talking about games, including for example, serious game design, or talking about gamification where the goal is to apply it to some non-game context. And final lesson here, caveat ludor. Let the gamifier beware. Make sure to always keep in mind the difference between gamification and pointsification, and to recognize the bite that bad criticism has.