I posted some Tweets lately that I would like to summarize into a more cohesive point here. Amidst the gamification craze of the past year or two, it has become common to add the suffix -ification to almost any word. I did so jokingly when I heinously morphed the classic computer game, Oregon Trail, into the hashtag #oregontrailificaton. However, this got me to thinking about what oregontrailification might be if applied to business, politics, and education the way that gamification is being applied to those fields today. Here are a few examples that I came up with.
Oregontrailification in Business
Provide the employees in your organization primitive riffles with which they may hunt buffalo.
Oregontrailification in Politics
Ensure that at least one member of every household suffers from dysentery or cholera at any given time.
Oregontrailification in Education
Solve your supply shortage problems by teaching students to steal from the other wagons in the middle of the night.
Indeed, blindly applying game components to the real world is the key to success in business, politics, and education.
As you can see, a surface application of Oregon Trail to the real world, while potentially hilarious on paper, would certainly lead to disaster. Frankly, these examples are not a far cry from how gamification is being approached by marketers, managers, policy makers, and educators today. It seems that the tendency is to just take a fast glance at a popular game, abduct some salient features from it, and apply them to a real-world system. Unfortunately, this is most often done with out any understanding of game design, sociology, or psychology, which results in shallow, empty, and ineffective gamification.