The Pros and Cons of Gamification

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02A11B2GIn your life, perhaps you could depend on your brother for corny jokes or your best friend to be there in a pinch. I knew that my father could clearly explain confusing mathematics concepts like asymptotic lines. In my family, we learned to play to win and play by the rules. No cheating was an absolute rule. I could count on that.

These days, playing by the rules can seem to others as being naïve.

To win some online games, players must find ways around the rules and obvious premises. In many movies, shrewd detectives find ways to surface evidence no matter what it takes. Search warrants are often portrayed as a nuisance. For a while, the public seemed to be accepting drug enhanced performance of top athletes. Corporations can beat out the competition by tying one another up in court fighting over patent and trademark infringement. Pirates of intellectual property (IP) win. Even if the court case doesn’t go their way, they can afford to pay the fine because they have sold so many products in the meantime…at a higher net profit because they didn’t have to invest in expensive R&D. This presents a huge challenge to organizations like the International Trade Council (ITC).

Gamification is now being touted as the primary way corporations can engage their millennial generation workforce. What was the highest score last month on the major game being played? How can you beat your highest score? On the surface that sounds exciting, competitive and motivating. But what are the rules, and do the rules matter?

I’ve seen more and more trusted vendors become frustrated by the gamification mentality over the past few years. If their customers expect that you must “beat your highest score” over and over again, how much is enough? Those customers are never satisfied. It can also be demotivating to millennial employees. They initially like the game, but they tend to withdraw if they don’t continue to get praise and appreciation or if it feels like the expectations keep going up and up and up with too little reward. We all know young adults who have opted out of the careers for which they earned higher education degrees. Instead of being a math teacher, one of my nephews has chosen to work at McDonalds.

If your company is considering gamification as a strategic direction…corporate culture, be prepared to look at the concepts of rules, beating your previous high score and the pros and cons of ever-increasing expectations. What will customers be able to count on from you if/when it becomes a game?

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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