Gamification is not only a buzz word, but more and more services and activities are incorporating some sort of gamification.
Recently I was talking with someone who designs and executes projects for companies involving their employees more in making the company better in terms of increasing revenue, lowering company costs, improving customer satisfaction, increase individual participation and so on. They figure when applying game techniques, people will participate more in these projects. After running a multitude of projects in as many companies, they believe their way of motivating employees resulted in more participation and better results. However - they stated - it is really difficult to proof those effects. No company is the same; Same experiment cannot be executed with the same company and people with the same starting conditions; Resulting effects are extremely difficult to record; Net effects on short term may not be sustained, hence long term effects may not exist. Therefor gamification is a believe to them, and they seek customers who also believe gamification can have a net positive effect. Reality may be different though.
Wikipedia definition of Gamification
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.
Games, Attention and Interest Cycles
In last few years, our blockchain "Steem" is enriched with many apps, amongst them a few games. I jumped onboard when one of them "Drugwars" saw its first daylight a year or so ago. Since this is a game, it definitely has many game elements.
Somehow I like games, but quite quickly I can loose interest as well. Somehow the game needs to be interesting enough to play continously. Most of them are not; Or reaching the top or finishing the game is too unrealistic. With games in general I can spend 10s of hours a week for some relative short period of time, and then become inactive for a much longer period of time. It turns out, with Drugwars it's not different at well.
Throughout the last year or so, I was attacked and robbed all the time leaving me almost no room to grow in the game. I lost interest for quite a long time. Tried a few times still, but didn't get anywhere. Then I decided to do something about this situation: I wanted to grow such that I would not be attacked anymore. I concluded I needed to grow my defence power to enormous amounts, maybe 100 fold to what I ever reached. A challenge I embarked on late last year. It took me about 6 weeks and about 4 hours per day playtime to reach a level even the biggest accounts leave me alone; It'll cost them too much of their own resources while the gain is relatively limited; Better for them to attack the weaker players for which the gain/cost ratio is better. 200 hours playtime to get to this 'save' position. Pffffff.
Interestingly, now I feel my defence power is enough, I'm loosing interest in playing Drugwars. Guess I reached my goal. Maybe I need to set a new goal? Something like: Lets become part of the top 100? Or top 300? Probably not, these are unrealistic goals for me, since I'll have to either start using bots of some sort, or spend even more hours a day to keep up with the top players who seems to spend gazillion hours a day playing the game. I think, I'm loosing interest in the game completely, or I need to find some target that is realistic.
Back in my Uni years when running - with a few fellow students - a student association, we had one of the first generation PC's in our office. Tetris was installed on it; This game with the shaped bricks falling down while the player had to create as quickly as possible and as many as possible solid rows to stay in the game. I believe because of its simplicity, this game was played a lot by many people. Even I played this game; However only at the PC in our student office. I noticed I would play this game very intensively until I reached number one position. Others would try to overtake me whenever I reach the top. Whenever that happend, I was fuelled with energy to spend time playing Tetris to try to reach number 1 position again. This circle happened a number of times. After a year or so, others stopped playing while I was at top position. Since then I never played that game anymore. Highest possible target reached; No incentive anymore to continue. Why the others stopped playing? Maybe because they felt they couldn't keep top position, or simply the game became to boring to them.
Gamification and Steem(it)
The rules applied to our own blockchain also has game elements build into it. As a matter of fact, the founders of the Steem blockchain (Steemit Inc), believe gamification of the crypto world is the only way to success.
But is this true?
I think it can have unwanted side effects that devaluate the services and its associated cryptocurrency value. When digging into our community, playing around with whatever is going around, posting about our thoughts, ideas and hobbies, entering challenges, engaging with others, voting, you'll probably notice what pays of and what not. Based on rewards you get for specific activities, or specific content, you may adjust your behaviour; You'll start doing those things that receives higher rewards and leave whatever behind that does not get noticed and rewards. In it self this is not an issue, however I can't stop thinking about the impact to our community; It drives the content published in our community away from everything towards niches.
image published by Red Bull (source)
Challenges and Contests: Too Many?
We see many challenges and contests being created, and many more users participating in them. Challenges and contest are based on game elements. In essence nothing wrong with that, but when taking a 360 degree view, we run the risk to stay a niche service; A blogging network of challenges and contest; Of interest to those who like challenges and contest (a small group); Not of interest to the mass. To stay niche, is in itself not wrong, but this will not support driving the underlying currency to values we are all hoping for.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all against challenges and contests; I enter some of them myself; But many of the challenges not necessarily get the best out of us and don't do our community much good.
I strongly believe that we see less valuable content due to focus on challenges and contests. Also, I strongly believe many users who bring valuable content, gets overshadowed by the community focus on challenges and contests with the net result users spending quality time to create valuable content become inactive and leave our platform.
As a community - I think - we shall try to limit the number of challenges and contests, while we use our time to try to create a home for anybody who has something of value to add to our community.
When continuing our focus on challenges and contests, will we not run the risk many of us get bored at some point in time?
Needless to say: Don't set goals for Steemit based on monetary values. Steemit is much more than that; A place where we can interact; Where we can express ourselves freely; Where we can be more ourselves then we may be able to be on other social media, or in real life itself.
My advice is to set no goal at all for Steemit. Just be the one you want to be; Hopefully your true self.