Daniel Pink, author of “Drive” and other books, says that people have three basic wants. They are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. You might remember that a little better if you think that people like to be “AMPed”.
I wonder what he might have said about gamification. As far as I can tell, gamification also fulfills what people want in these three areas:
People like to feel that they are in charge, that they are self-directed, that they own their own “turf”. Games that allow people to master them, not too easily, but bending according to the fancies and abilities of each player, feed that desire. When absorbed in a game, people feel that they are in charge of their own time, their own interests, their own destiny.
People like to get better at things, so a game must have different levels of difficulty and allow people to choose which “league” they want to play in, for multi-player pursuits. Practice is available so people can get to higher and hgher levels of difficulty.
Games provide a sort of purpose, too. According to Bartle, there are four basic types of players, and different games, theoretically, cater to the four different types. I would, however, steer clear of placing players into any type. People are far more complex than that, and any one player can exhibit any of the four Bartle types over the course of a day. It depends on what the prevailing mood and predisposition is. Of course, people have major preferences, but we tend to stereotype too much.
Would Daniel Pink have said, As long as gamification provides a “child’s play” avenue for learning about how to deal with real-life situations, it’s fine? Perhaps. What does that mean? That a lot of adults haven’t grown up yet? I think so. What’s the implication? People are in great need of development and growth!
So, go ahead, game it! Just make sure that, as a result of playing the game, your players become better at real-world operations, not just what’s in the game.