In 2013 I wrote that work is already a game. Adding badges or other extrinsic motivators to professional learning only detracts from the real game. Gamification also creates incentives that, when removed, may result in going back to previous behaviours.

In a Twitter thread Ana Lorena Fabrega discusses gamification and suggests that it is often ‘pointsification’.

“Pointsification ties to external motivation—free time, tasty treats, or bragging rights. It’s taking the things that are least essential to games and making them the core of the experience.
The problem with pointsification is that it’s not sustainable.

While it may help tweak some behaviors in the short term, it doesn’t work for long enough to build actual skills.

Pointsification ‘solutions’ miss the heart of what makes a gameful experience effective for learning.”

Fabrega provides a solid definition of what makes a good game.

1. A GOAL or specific outcome that provides players with a sense of purpose.

2. RULES that place limitations on how players can achieve the goal—these are unnecessary obstacles that players *choose* to tackle.

3. A FEEDBACK SYSTEM that tells players how close they are to achieving the goal—this provides motivation to keep playing.

4. VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION all players must know and willingly accept the goal, the rules, and the feedback.

There is also a reference to a game designed by Jane McGonigal for the New York Public Library.

“The game is designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference. Like every game I make, it has one goal: to turn players into superempowered, hopeful individuals with real skills and ideas to help them change the world.”

Before we add gamification to workplace learning, let’s stop and ask if it’s merely ‘pointsification’. Is participation voluntary? Is there a sense of purpose? We should ask first if any gamification of workplace learning is helping to develop autonomous workers in learning organizations.

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