To start I want to acknowledge that the term “gamification” is not the subject of this post even though it is the buzz term these days. So before going further let me explain why I think the term is misleading.
When used as a noun, gamification implies a standardized design process and I don’t think one exists for implementing game design that enables relationships in social business. I prefer to follow Jane McGonical’s use of the term gameful to reinforce the point that the spirit of games rather than the mechanics is most important in designing for what makes experience playful, especially in collaboration. I do use gamification in the context of other people’s discussions though. In additon, I use the verb gamify to imply an activity.
Don’t Gamify Wild Bill discussed the importance of designing for voluntary play in serious games. Playfulness is the baseline requirement for any game designed to provide useful indicators for gauging individual and organizational successes over time.
The qualifier over time is the key point to keep in mind. Specifically, those interested in gamifying employee engagement in social business, and who also aim to effectively use collaboration, must optimally design for emergence not just competition and cooperation as guiding principles.
To echo the position taken by many game designers on the subject of gamification, you can’t simply add game mechanics to employee participation in business processes and expect voluntary engagement by players over time.