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.

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.

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

Door Chain Maze!

When I moved into my house I found that they had put the door chain on the wrong was round so you had to pull the chain towards the opening to release the chain, I’ve always thought these things were  a little pointless, as they are held into the door frame with a tiny screw that will rip out of the wood if you put enough force on the door/kick it. I guess they are a deterrent allowing you to open the door and not have someone force themselves into your house, but if anyone really wants to force their way in they can.

Anyway… My feelings on door chains aside, this design featuring a labyrinthine path for you to get your door open will undoubtedly mean that you will die in a fire as you try to get out of your house… Aside from that it’s pretty funky…

Via DigsDigs.

Someone is Making A Bubblegum Crisis Movie!

Topless Robot may not be excited about this but I am, the original Bubblegum Crisis was on of my favourite Anime, and the refresh Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 was also awesome. Heck I even like AD Police (Both the original 3 OAVs and the newer series, and Parasite Dolls). The whole Bladerunner inspired setting is just awesome. I mean who can’t like 4 women kicking robot ass in battle suits! And they are making a live action version of this? Count me in!

The film will be directed by Anthony LaMolinara (Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Toy Story) and will be called Bubblegum Crisis: Knight Sabres, and begins shooting next spring.

Via Topless Robot More Info at Anime News Network

Land Of The Free

You would have to be living in a cave to miss the outrage that has been surrounding the American TSA’s adoption of “Backscatter” nude scanners, which may or may not pose a higher risk of cancer than just flying. Refuse a scan you get subjected to an “Enhanced Patdown” which by some accounts amounts to being groped and fondled by a TSA Agent.

People are protesting it be saying that they are going to refuse to fly. I wonder how long that will last…

There is the story of the Bladder cancer survivor who was subjected to an enhanced pat down which caused him to soil himself. The man with a prosthetic leg who was forced to remove his leg exposing his residual limb while his 4 year old son was made to sit across the room crying.

There have been some amusing stories like the professional sex worker who decided to strip down to her underpants and film it. On the basis that she would not be humiliated by the TSA but would turn the tabled on them. (Video below mostly SFW, also mostly just a film of the ceiling…) you can read about it on her blog though I’ve never managed to get it to load it’s supposedly NSFW, there is also an article about it on Boing boing.

My TSA Stripdown: Nov 21 at Seatac from Furry Girl's on Vimeo.

There is also the ridiculous story of the TSA confiscating nail clippers from a group of soldiers who were armed to the teeth with machine guns and worse.

I thought the 100ml of liquid rules were crazy, but the reaction to the backscatter, and the alternative extreme pat down are taking the piss.

This is bat shit crazy, do we actually benefit from this, to be honest I think we we are sacrificing freedom for the illusion of security. There are hundreds of other stories… Post your most amusing ones in the comments.

Image Via Pundit Kitchen


Recently I’ve seen an upsurge in the number of people who visit my site on a daily basis. I’m averaging about 50 or so people a week apparently. That’s not people who visit individual pages because it’s a hit on Google or Stumble Upon that is people who just visit the home page of

I was just wondering who you are? Are you people or are you Russian spam bots scraping my page for content which you can use to thinly veil the fact that your site is actually selling herbal Viagra?

Leave a comment if you are a real person, and heck if you really want to tell me why you come here, and who you are.

If this had come out 2-3 years ago I’d have an iPhone.

Seriously the only issue I had with the iPhone at launch was a lack of a physical keyboard, and while I’ve learned to cope in the interim I would still prefer the option of having one on my HTC Desire. It’s not just an issue of tactile feedback, it’s a screen real-estate issue, the on-screen keyboard takes up space on the screen obscuring what I am typing, which is especially noticeable when I’m writing lengthy blog posts and emails.

Via Engadget.