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Serious Play in HBR May 16, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in entrepreneurship, gamification, social computing.
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The Harvard Business Review had last month an article on gamification or „Serious Play“ as they call it. They write about Badgeville, a concept very similar to what my students are going to present this week at the un-conference “sustainable lifestyles and entrepreneurship”. Furthermore the author, David Armano, who is Executive Vice President at Edelman, talks about the “social reward economy” and four points, which he considers important in this context:

Competition: Here he reminds us that “friendly competition” is the way to go – however he fails in decribing this concept in a detailed way. I agree with Armano that “not everyone enjoys competition” and therefore I also understand his idea/wish for friendly competition. However, I am not so sure how a solution for this can look like – especially in times of economic downturns. Friendly competition can easily turn unfriendly – once a company has to let go employees…

Play: Armano example for play is the Twitter slot machine, which they displayed when they were acquiring another company. Might have been fun, and I am sure that ‘play’ can often be fun. However, I am not sure that this very literally implementation of play in the business world is what we talk about when we talk about gamification: In my point of view, play means that a serious task is turned into play through certain strategies as e.g. breaking the tasks down to small subtasks which are easily accomplished.

Revard: That’s good and important.


(image source)

Status: I guess this is closely linked to competition and the leaderboard, also mentioned in his description of “competion”. Armano is quite interested in algorithms that allow to measure one’s status in online reach. He mentions two companies, which do so: “Klout-The Standart of Influence“, which “uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.” (company’s description). The other company Armano mentions is one he is affiliated with and is called SocMetrics, which develops a ranking of “top influencers” based on topics. Another system in this direction is the way the influence of researchers are measured (please dont check me…), through the G-Index and H-Index, as implemented in Microsoft’s academic search engine.

I need to investigate these kind of topic-centered, but global leaderboards a little more to see whether they work or not and to see whether they are motivating or not. One argument agains them is already mentioned in the article: people might cheat…!

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