Gamification, is it a load of bollocks?

I just read an article over on hide and seek, which was complaining about the recent spate of people trying to “gamify” mundane tasks. His main issue seems to be with nomenclature, he points out that because you are given point for doing stuff you aren’t really playing a game, you are collecting points, he coins the rather awkward term “pointsification” for this. He goes on to say that because there aren’t failure conditions, and there aren’t choices that you aren’t playing a game, you are just collecting points.

It occurred to me that one company/organization which has managed to “gamify” a mundane task is Weight Watchers, the funny thing is that in their game you don’t gain points you spend them, you are allocated a number of points a day, which you spend by eating food, you can replenish your supply by exercising, and you win by losing weight. There is even a lose condition, you don’t lose weight or you gain weight, there you have levels of failure and levels of success.

Why does this work better than gamifying exercise, or drinking cola, or heck even just visiting places ala 4square? I think its the fact that the points are detached from the win lose condition, sure they offer a guideline for how well you are doing, and you can correlate your points expenditure with your success, but losing weight can be arbitrary, you could spend your points correctly and not lose any weight, just like in a game, the game is slightly broken offering an element of randomness.

Also having a points balance to spend each day leads to you having to make decisions,such as do I skip lunch now so I can “afford” cake this evening, you actually have to sacrifice in the short term for future goals. In addition you can do something which RPG gamers are familiar with, you can grind points by exercising in the same way that you would grind for gold or xp in a final fantasy game so you can afford that shiny cake sword.

The two examples given in the article for failed Gamification are Nike+ and CokeZone. I’m not familiar with Nike+ but it sounds like you get achievements for doing things like running 50 miles in a month and so on, as for CokeZone its more of a “Buy our stuff and we’ll give you stuff” affair, neither of these as the author points out are games, in fact CokeZone is just an incentive to drink more Coke, its exactly like the various points cards that stores give you, so how could we make these more like games?

For the likes of coke zone you need to change the way the whole system works, as it exists currently you get a fixed number of points for buying certain items, the more expensive the item the higher its point value, while this is logical you could make it more “exciting” by offering point ranges, or even there being a small chance of a huge reward from a small purchase, for example 90% of coke cans are worth 1 point, but that remaining 10% can be worth anything from 2 to 100 points.

That way if someone is collecting points they get the, anticipation of getting a huge reward for a little effort, this could lead them buying more coke on the off chance that they “win big”. Another way to spice it up would be to add an element of risk to the point spend, sure you could spend 1,000 points on a baseball cap, but how about investing 500 on the chance to win something? I dunno like a car or gig tickets or something, you make a choice to gamble made up Coca-Cola monies for the chance to win something that is actually worth it. If you lose there might be a number of consolation prizes or something, like more coke or a 10% of your points back, things which are ostensibly free to the company but keep you from feeling like you’ve lost all your hard earned points for nowt.

I’m sure there are more ways that they could make it feel more game like, and in turn make people actually want to participate in the “Game”.

As for Nike+ that seems to work like an achievement system, you do things you get badges. Run 50 KM over the course of a month and you get a badge is the example given in the article, I’ve never looked into Nike+ but I assume that is uses GPS and a pedometer track your runs. If there is a GPS in there and the facility to somehow synchronise with the internet there is actually a huge scope for user generated content there, you could get badges for submitting routes in your area, people could download those routes, try them out and rate them, you could earn badges for people voting up your routes, for trying out a number of different routes, steal that concept from Little Big Planet.

How about having algorithms that merge user generated routes, and tells you when you get to an intersection that you can take the high road or the low road? Bam! choice and interactivity. I’m sure I can think up more ideas.

The real question here is do these things benefit from being made into a game? Personally I don’t think that anyone but Coca-Cola will benefit from Coke-Zone being properly Gamified, Nike+ well the users benefit I guess, it makes your run more interesting to have route suggestions, and challenges to overcome.

NaNoWriMo: The Final Mile

There are 3 days left in November and my word count is sitting at 30,083 words when it should be 45,000 I’ve had a few off days and a few days where I’ve not been able to write due to social commitments, but I’ve written more than 3 times what I’ve ever written for NaNoWriMo in the past.

It would be very easy at this point to just rest on my laurels and say I did my best, maybe next year I’ll finish. I’m not going to do that though, I’m going to keep at it as much as I can, unfortunately I’ve got a social commitment in the evening on the 30th but I’ve asked for the day off work, I’ve got all day tomorrow and Monday evening and I’ve got to average 6,666 words a day… Its doable but its not going to be easy.
I think I’m going to have to sit down and plan where my story is going because at the moment I’m a bit lost, then its write write write.

I’m unlikely to win but its not impossible so here is hoping.

VKGoesWild Covers Metal Songs On The Piano

Vk goes wild is a pianist who does covers of heavy metal tracks on the piano, kinda like Apocalyptica did on the cello, she has tons of you tube videos on her page as well as tons of free mp3s of her music, her logic being that she can’t justify charging for other peoples copyright. She does sell sheet music she’s transcribed though, and does requests for a fee.

Once I was a very big fan of heavy metal music, it was pretty much all I would listen to. Those times are now long gone, I still enjoy a bit of metal every now and then but my interests have diverged an awful lot.

Vika’s Home – Metal Music Covered On Piano – Sheet Music, MP3.

Dream Journal/Story Idea: The forgetful slumber

I don’t remember much about my dream last night apart from being in a situation where someone had cast a spell on me and a group of people where we would slowly lose our memories every time we went to sleep. So we had to stay awake at all costs less we forget who we were.

I think it would make an interesting premise for a short story.

I Want This Jacket, Or Something Like It.

A few years ago I read about a jacket from Scot-E Vest which had 49 pockets, so you cold have all your gadgets and gizmo’s in it. I thought hey that’s cool but at $400 it was a bit pricey. I subsequently forgot about it and forgot the name of the company who made it, so even when I thought about buying it on a whim, or even investigating I couldn’t find it.

Now all of a sudden it’s been popping up in Google ads, and the one above is only $200, that’s an acceptable price I think, it’s only got 29 pockets, but I don’t think I need many more than that…


100% of All Integers Contain At Least One “3”… Wait What?

Interesting mathematical proof that that 100% of all numbers contain at least one 3 and despite there being an infinite number of numbers that don’t…

How can this be? The solution is so surprising, it is difficult, if not impossible to believe that 100% of integers contain the digit three at least once. The simple fact that the number 8, for example, has exactly zero threes in it seems to dispute this.

Consider this: what percentage of the first ten numbers contains at least one three? That’s easy- ten percent; three and only three. What percentage of the first one hundred number contains at least one three? A slightly inflated nineteen percent. What percentage of the thousand numbers contains at least one three? Twenty-seven point one (27.1) percent.

The percentage of numbers with threes in them rises can be expressed as 1 – (.9)^n, where n is the number of digits. It reaches 99% at about the point where n has 42 digits.

The ratio of “threed” to “three-less” numbers at infinity would be 1 – (.9)^(Infinity), or 1.

It is interesting to note that there are also an infinite number of integers which do not contain the digit three. The simple progression “1, 11, 111, … ” illustrates this fact.

The Grey Labyrinth