Gamification at work

by binhtruong

Gamification is the application of game design principles and mechanics to non-game environments

Cover of gamification at work

Cover of gamification at work

I have a chance to join the preview reading of this book when I received an inform last week from Interaction Design community.  Gamification is the buzzword these days over the internet, software application design, and even in user experience field study. Therefore, I was so impressed by the title of the book. It implies that not only the theory book but also the application of game design theory in daily life.

I spent nearly a week, most of my spare time after work or during the relax minutes in the office, night shift break-time to read and review the whole book. It’s because the preview reading need to be focused and quickly before it’s published to everybody. It’s not a long book, just 11 chapters, but almost concepts are demonstrated in the first 9 chapters, and it’s just 100 pages for preview version. (It might a little bit longer in publish version with printed format, I guess).

Like every other book, Gamificaiton at work has some advantages and disadvantages.

Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger bring a very clean and clear concept of Gamification through out this book, with the distinguish from Game design theory to the application of its concepts to business software. This book could be a good reference material for anyone who has first attempt to Gamification.

The book starts carefully with the concept of game in the daily life. Afterwards, it covers the new frame work which is called “player centered design”. It could be based on the “user centered design” concept, where the user is placed in the epicenter of the product as well as services. Around the player, there are several aspects which support to the design progress such as Mission, Motivation and one of the most important part of game theory, the Game mechanicsMission refers to the goal of gamification project activities, and what it need to achieve. Besides, the Motivation aspect is focus deeply on human behavior or social psychology. Motivation is also the core concept in every human interaction design activities. From usability engineering, to user experience, and web design, product design as well. It’s also applied in social media and marketing either. Human psychology is a big area, but the book authors try to collect some effective ideas which could help to gamification designer/ or software product design to apply in product/service design, and reach the final target that engage end users.

On the other hand, Game mechanics is the most important part of this book. Chapter 6 demonstrate 9 mechanics of game design theory. From the very basic concepts like points, badges, leaderboards to the advance items such as relationship, journey, emotion and challenge, constraints. Those things are not full game mechanics but it collected items which are believed by the authors in term of suitable for business software design. The book also opens reference to full covering of game mechanics to some outside resource like Tech Crunch network. Anyway, in my opinion, it should be placed a full game mechanics, at least more than 50 aspects in the separate appendix of this book. It will be a good reference for anyone who wants to take a look deeply.

The rest of the book focus on measuring, management and ethic considerations when a corporate execute the gamification project. For me, it’s not quite important in the area the book covers.

There are something good, and there are somethings need to be improved. The first half of this book is like a tasteful dish, but the second half make me feel confuse. It might be the first 6 chapters cover a lot of new things, bring the audience from the very basic concept to the detail deeper and deeper. But when I was enjoying the game theory and mechanics, I was expecting the book could show me how to applied in the real life, I mean the business software design, the rest chapters bring me away, to another fields like ethics, monitoring and leveling up reference resources.

With many new concepts, the book just raise a preliminary ideas and then show some example which are the screenshots of several online apps. It might make the readers a little bit skeptic of how it could be applied?  How gamification could be compare with traditional business software design? what are the key points and how are they can adapt together in the real life? Chapter 9 give us some example, or actually the screen shot of vampire app but it still not an concrete adoption with the title “Gamification at work“.

The readers may confuse with title “at work” because of many other related books like “coder at work”, “founder at work” and so forth. For me, I like this book, but I expect more than its current content. For example, I’m looking forward to apply gamification in business operation, software product design (ex: billing software, CRM, or something like that), and especially the retrospective we have to face when apply gamification concept in our project, with our team member and our customer.

This book is a good start for anyone who want to jump into gamification, read it, understand it before you wanna deep dive into this theory and techniques.

P.s: You can read the preview online version of this book here, or check it out in Amazon book store.