Critical reactions to a points-based world

The recent turn towards “gameifying” user experiences has engendered more of a backlash than just my “points are stupid” rant of last week. Here’s a quick round-up of people pointing out what should be obvious but will probably be ignored.

Russell Davies suggests we need to steal other things from games than leaderboards:

…we’re going to encounter a bunch of crappy sorta-games foisted on us. Those rudimentary game schemes are going to be rolled out by everyone with a rewards card, CRM system, loyalty scheme or something that can be plotted on a graph. And they’re going to be no fun. They’re going to drive us all mad

Caroline McCarthy on “Social-media games: Badges or badgering?”

“Game mechanics,” as this sort of points-and-achievements gimmick is called, is tough to get right: Turning everything into a contest may grab some extra attention at first, but it can easily veer into the annoying

David Hayward at Gamasutra: “System Fatigue

Mechanics and meta-game systems applied to everyday life are at risk of being so repetitive they never achieve any kind of worthwhile structure, let alone a peak.

Brad Hargreaves on “Cargo Cult Game Design“:

Ultimately, you’re better served by building something from the ground up. Start with the basic principles of psychology and game design and build them into your product at a fundamental level. Otherwise, it’s just an elaborate cargo cult ritual that mimics the process but fails to understand the underlying truths.

And there’s a really comprehensive round-up of critical responses to Jesse Schell’s talk (the one that set me off in the first place) from David Carlton here: “Critical Compilation: Jesse Schell, ‘Design outside the Box’“.

Really cheers me up to see so many people taking the time to respond thoughtfully: makes it easier to make the case that games are interesting not because of the technology or number-crunching, but because they let you play.

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