Gamification ist still a hot topic. For some it’s a way to finally engage their overly-saturated audience again. Others see it as the next marketing snake oil. However, the phenomenon broadly called Gamification presents itself in different forms. There is Gamification as a core concept of applying game mechanics to non-game situations, and extreme forms like the dreaded “Pointification” and “Ludification”, which in my opinion more closely resembles an actual game.
Gamification that qualifies as Pointification:
The concept of Gamification is experiencing it’s fair share of critique, in short: It’s not a game. The approach is more something along the lines of: “I want you to do this boring thing and I will use some feedback mechanisms that work in games to make you do it.” Tendentially this is closer to reinforcement patterns also found in slot machines or arcade games than it is to making a game out of something that actually involves play. Pointification is not really tring to make a point (pun intended) – it’s main point (pun²) is to make you do something and to ensure that you keep doing it.
Something to play around with – Ludification
Ludification on the other hand tries to make a point. This point is made by giving the player a system in which she can make choices. This system usually is a simplification of something found in real life. The player is granted control over some of the moving parts and can explore the possibilies within the system – a procedural rhetoric (paraphrasing Mr. Ian Bogost here). Here’s the catch:
While Pointification’s aim is to keep you occupied with otherwise even more boring tasks, Ludification on the other hand wants to see you go out into the real world.
Something that has been ludified gives the player insight into a system that resembles a simplified version of something in real life and tells a story that develops based on the player’s choices. It actually adds to the players understanding of things. The player is then sent back to ‘the real world’. Badges and points take a minor role here. As in actual games they are nice to have, but not more. The real value, the entertainment factor probably comes from the insight provided. The boundaries between serious games and ludified things are pretty thin, whereas something that has been gamified in the sense of Pointification has a very loose connection to an actual game.