Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gamification in UX

I participated in a debate this week on Gamification in UX at the NY Tech UX Forum.  Originally it was going to be a typical oppositional debate with me on one side and Ankit Shah on the other side.  But when we got to talking, it turned out that we agreed on more than we disagreed, so a debate seemed kind of artificial.  We shared two basic messages. 

First – gamification is not a solution to a problem.  It is a layer that you can put in between a process and a user to make the process’s motivating features more transparent and easier to access.  If you have a bad process, no amount of gamification is going to help.  And if the process’s features don’t match what motivates your users (and there are a lot of fundamental motivations that differ among users), then it still isn’t going to work. 

The second message is that gamification is a lot harder than it looks.  It is not about giving people points for doing more of what you want them to do and less of what you don’t want to do.  This is a poor motivator, only works short term when it works at all, and can ruin the intrinsic, deep motivation that your user might have for the process.  This is why we should NOT pay students to get good grades.  Or pay employees based purely on a piece rate (except in the unique situation where a short term burst of brute force is all you want). 

My slides are up on slideshare now and the video is up on YouTube.  I would love to talk to folks more about this.  I really think it is a powerful tool that we can use to level up our UX design.

I am going to submit something the HFES this year on it, but why wait.  Let’s talk right here, right now.  Comments await!!