Friday, February 3, 2012

Stop the bus!

Stop the bus! I metaphorically need to get off the bus called, “GAMIFICATION”…..I am getting nauseous and frankly…..a little bored.

Now….before you go all “Oh no she didn’t” on me….let me clarify.

I love integrating games and play into our events and I also love that we are engaging our attendees through the use of gaming but…….. it’s the damn word I object to….I am beginning to despise the word, “Gamification”.

When we, as event professionals, use the word gamification it conjures up something in my mind which does not remotely connect to what I believe to be true about playing games. It becomes so…..clinical and isn’t that the antithesis to gaming?

I can imagine using the word during a visit to the Doctor, “Miss, we are going to attempt an exterior gamification of the interior globules….this may hurt”.

This is where I put my foot down! Event professionals are creative and innovative individuals!!!! Why can’t we come up with a better word than “gamification”? How the hell did that word get sticky enough to stick? It has 5 syllables…..FIVE! (my voice raised progressively during this paragraph).

The bus labeled “GAMIFICATION” is not cool. It is a drab orange, and smells funky. The seats are hard plastic and the bus driver never smiles. Elevator music plays in the background and everyone riding sits quietly, staring directly ahead. Any conversation is conducted in whispers and no one ever laughs. I want to get on the bright red bus with shiney chrome rims and loudspeakers that play U2 music and perhaps the song, “Rainbow Connection”. The seats inside are bean bag chairs and there is non stop popcorn. The air is scented with jelly beans and you can barely hear yourself over the noisy conversation. This is the bus I want to be on!

I have a theory. If we (collective we…..I am speaking to all event professionals), don’t come up with a better way to describe whatever it is that we are creating through the use of game play, it will begin to lose its luster. “Gamification” is just not cutting it.

So….let’s stop the bus. Let’s put on our thinking caps and come up with a better word to embody what this game/play/interaction/educate/social media/event app integration thing is that we are doing and doing so well. We are smart, savvy, event professionals with boundless imaginations and a love of acronyms…….let’s come up with something amazing….something that belongs on the side of the bright red bus with shiney chrome rims and loudspeakers that play U2 music…where we sit on bean bag chairs and eat non stop popcorn. Where the air is scented with jelly beans and it is so noisy with conversation that you can barely hear yourself.

I challenge you.

So....let's brainstorm - do you have a better word that you have come up with?


Traci Browne said...

I'm with you sounds so manipulative and dirty. Why do we even need a word when there are already so many out there...why can't we just integrating games into our events?

Trevor Roald said...

We need words to describe, communicate and educate Meeting Professionals on new concepts of design and delivery - that's excepted.

I agree with you Judy, the challenge with 'Gamification' as a descriptive word is that it focuses to heavily on the method (feature and functions) rather than the value.

Paul Salinger said...

Two words actually - "attendee experience".

What game methodology or gamification or game tools bring to events is a new level of attendee experience thinking.

In it's best sense it is putting the attendee/customer/consumer directly at the center of the experience and using tools, technology and human interactions to create a consistent, connected, personalized, easy to use and rewarding event/conference experience.

This is really what game people like Byron Reeves and Jane McGonigal are talking about.

I'd agree that gamification is a clunky, technical term that could easily go away and that we should think far more broadly across the entire pre/during/post event experience to a more holistic attendee experience.

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks for the comments Traci, Trevor and Paul - I appreciate it and judging by the number of comments that I received on twitter, there are many of us who feel the same way about the clunky term "Gamification".

So....knowing how many of us feel about the word and how it doesn't capture what we are trying to provide in terms of an attendee experience...what do we do? Where do we go from here?

Will it be the "strategy formerly known as gamification"? or will we abandon the need for a label (like Traci suggests) and just have it become a part of the planning process in the Social Media savvy world in which we live?


Sanne Jolles said...

Thanks for this post! I hate the word Gamification and use it reluctantly (because I know people will understand what I mean).
Agree with Traci and Paul, it should be an integrated part of the whole meeting architecture, intended to enhance the "attendee experience".
When you design a meeting there are many dynamics to think of, and the use of game elements is one of them. But I agree, we need a description for use of game tech at events.
Suggestions: game tools, game design.

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

You are welcome! Thanks for commenting. It is a hot button topic these days as we are more and more often finding ourselves including games and play in our events and are experiencing difficulty articulating what we mean.


Elizabeth Henderson said...

I agree that "gamification" stinks, but it is used in both popular and academic literature (yes, academia does research into this!). I have started to use the term "game mechanics", but during some research on this for my MBA -- it is a HUGE business trend -- I came across two other terms I like: 1. gamefulness and 2. "social experience design".

Tahira Endean CMP said...

I do love consensus - look how many of those doing great events that offer enhanced attendee experiences hate this word! I recently had a chat with AssociCom ( where we tried to get rid of this word too - I like "adding a social gaming layer" as one option - also really like Elizabeth's "social experience design" - because before we can add it, we have to sell it to the organizations in terms that will get them excited about the possibilities for improving the guest experience! Thanks Judy!

The Green-Eyed Event Planner said...

Thanks Elizabeth and Tahira! I agree that it is a huge business is the fastest moving "bus" out there these days. I like Social Experience Design... "SED" for short.

I agree completely Tahira! "...before we can add it, we have to sell it to the organizations in terms that will get them excited....".

I know that my irritation with a word is a #firstworldproblem but it was a fun post to write and came from the heart and I am pleased to see so many agree with me :)

Elizabeth Henderson said...

More more term I really like. Gamespace! (courtesy McKenzie Wark and his book Gamer Theory)