Gamification

What an ugly word. Gamification. But its uglyness suits the subject matter well.

It’s a booming practice in software and website making. Trying to transform a mundane application or advertisement into a game, with scores, badges, ‘quests’, unlockable things.

I absolutely hate it. Not just because there is absolutely no  fun involved, but because I can hear the designer thinking “here’s how we will herd them into line again”. Very soon, you’ll see that actual games will start dropping things like badges and scores, because they will remind us too much of advertisements or work. The world upside down.

I get the point behind it though. There was a time when I even wanted to make a full out dashboard of my own life, integrating my bookkeeping, workout schedules and music practice into one Zelda-like interface. How silly. It’s not about scoring points for every new scale learned, it’s about enjoying each note you play.

Keeping track of your progress is good (so you don’t end up at a jam session, realizing you don’t know the scale of A minor) but there is something seriously wrong when you need a game mechanic to keep you motivated to learn each scale. External motivation just doesn’t pay off.

It ties in nicely with another round of spring cleaning here. Many more books, comics, manga, cd’s, movies, gadgets etc are going out. It’s always a bit scary when you get rid of something, because it feels like part of you is going out of the door, never to return. But it’s the same mental mistake: it’s just books, not yourself. I always felt the need to keep lists, as if I wanted the world to know what I read, therefore, who I am. But having your book on the psychology of travel on your shelf doesn’t change you in the slightest bit. If you read it, and got the point, then pass on the book. And don’t be afraid to forget. It feels great to be reminded of something after many years.

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