OK, before I start blogging about Jane McGonigal’s ideas, I want to put a definition or two on the table. Not because I am all about semantics, but because it is important that we are talking about the same thing.
A game is something you do for fun. A gamified process is something that you are doing for another reason, but because you have applied gaming principles to its design, it happens to be fun also. This may seem like a small nuance, but it is really important. A gamified process is a lot harder to design because you need to make sure that the precision and accuracy of performance meets the requirements of the process. A game where you fly a plane is a lot different than a gamified plane simulator where you learn how to fly a plane. In the game, you can fake accuracy and precision as much as necessary to keep the game fun (Guitar Hero does this liberally). In the simulator, the trainee’s ability to take off and land accurately is pretty important. The fun has to be secondary.
This makes gamification a much harder objective than game design. Even though McGonigal’s book pastes over this key difference, I think she realized it was there but just didn’t want to muddy the clarity of her message.