Related: Gamepocalypse or Gametopia : What Can Gamification Offer Theme Parks And Attractions? / Holograms and “Gamification” Raising the Bar for Theme Parks / Total Immersion – The Goal of Interactive Gaming
Chorewars.com offers to make housework fun for all the family. You choose an avatar, allocate tasks and then log completion to receive online gold, adventures and status upgrades from peasant to sorcerer.
Our experience was not entirely successful and the hiccups we encountered point to pitfalls to be avoided when gamifying:
1. Games should be free to play and easy to join to get you hooked quickly. Although chorewars is free to enter at a basic level, you’re required to choose avatars, invent names, usernames and passwords before you can start. This was all too much creativity for us. It took nearly a week for everyone to decide on names and to settle fights over which avatar we wanted from a limited selection. My son (5) never got past this stage as he wanted to be SpiderMan 2 (well it is the best of the 3 films) and the choice of avatars was more Dungeons and Dragons.
2. Rewards follow Zichermann’s SAPS rule – Status, Access, Power and Stuff which should be applied in that order. However, if your prizes are status, access and power, ie without real world value, then they have to actually have value in the context of the virtual community the game operates in. We moved onto the tasks. As dungeon mistress I allocated chores. My 10 year old daughter, lets call her Aurora, was very keen to compete with her sister, finished her chores quickly and then asked for more. However, when she came to log the chores online the rewards were disappointing: gold and a pretty lame adventure. In the end I was forced to convert the currency into Amazon and iTunes £s.
3. If you’re offering something of value some people will cheat Finally it turned out that my eldest daughter, shall we call her Maleficent (nemesis of Aurora and mistress of ALL evil), had logged chores that she hadn’t actually completed. I delivered a sobering lecture about how cheaters only cheat themselves in the long run. I then logged onto my online diet site to record a fictional weight loss of 2lbs, receiving a star, virtual hugs from my group and heartwarming congratulations from my mentor. I guess it runs in the family!
In conclusion it’s a great idea to gamify but to get my family to do housework we need it to be a LOT more fun.
Secondly, I was interested to see that not all advances in social networking are good. On The Gamification Blog at www.gamification.co there was an article calling for young American adults who have forgotten how to socialise IRL (in real life) to attend networking parties with a view to making valuable contacts in the jobs market. The parties are gamified in order to encourage that most horrific of situations: face to face social interaction. You get 1 point for talking to someone but 5 points for starting a conversation and a further 10 points for everyone you contact after the party who then responds!