Tech Tuesday: Rewards Palooza

August 3, 2010

I’m extremely concerned that one day in the near future – possibly a day this year – I will be rewarded for everything I do. Yes, I know that sounds funny, but I don’t look forward to being rewarded for the things I eat, the places I visit, the TV shows I watch, items I like, the people I meet, the things I learn, the things I teach others, and even the things I’m already being rewarded for.

Maybe I should rephrase: I don’t want to be rewarded in the exact same way. I feel very steep diminishing marginal returns to leaderboards, badge albums, and points. These rudimentary game mechanics are polluting my apps, blogs and life. Everything is all too familiar, all too commoditized, all too unbranded and all too useless. Gameplay is an incredible human experience. But its crudest form is being shoehorned into everything that I do in ways that aren’t related or unique to the very things that I’m doing.

I’m confident positing, but can’t guarantee, that the intoxication we’re witnessing in the internet business since the explosion of game mechanics in web applications is also clouding our understanding of the true value propositions and product-market fit for the things we’re building. If it’s a game it must be fun. Right?

I’m not sure I can offer any earth-shattering advice to those reading this. But I suppose I can say that if you’re contemplating introducing game mechanics into your non-game application, ask yourself if you’re using it as a crutch for the deficiencies in the real thing you’re asking users to do or enjoy with your product. Make sure that the act of playing the game closely aligns with common human behaviors. I still need to be convinced that everything needs to be a competition and that I need a barometer for my progression in everything that I do.

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2 Responses to “Tech Tuesday: Rewards Palooza”

  1. Verna Allee Says:

    I really appreciate your blog posting. Back in the early days of KM there were a lot of experiments for rewarding knowledge sharing and contributions to databases. They actually proved to be counter productive as the most frequent or “rewarded” contributions were not actually the kind of high quality contributions people were hoping for. In fact most efforts showed that the best incentive for people to participate was simple recognition. And in blogging and replies you already have that – the game is already set up. Thanks.

    • Miles Says:


      Thanks for dropping the note! Recognition and being conspicuous is a powerful motivator. Agreed.

      Stop by again anytime with those insightful comments.



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