The Game’s Always On: The Gamification of Everything

by Doug McCord
July 09, 2024
Gamification of Everything Overview

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”  

This quote’s attributed to Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain), and, you could argue, one goal of gamification. When you love something, when it’s your passion, it doesn’t feel like work.

But then, this one is also true: 

“When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.” 

-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States 

And also this one: 

“All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill and Jack dull, it kills the potential of discovery, mastery, and openness to change and flexibility and it hinders innovation and invention.” 

-Joline Godfrey, former Polaroid executive and CEO of The Unexpected Table 

There’s wisdom in all three, and they’re not mutually exclusive. But these different takes can all be applied to gamification: as a practice it can be exciting, lame, the way to shake up work, and also a contentious, hot mess. 

With impacts that are highly difficult to quantify, gamification ranges from generating more stickiness in your products and motivation for people completing routine tasks over and over, to doing the exact opposite: turning people away, wearing them out, making them frustrated, or even angry.  

In this week’s The PTP Report, we look at gamification: how (and why) gaming and its mechanics (like leveling up, badges, points, winning, new tiers, unlockable content, avatar customization) are becoming ubiquitous, ways it works across industries (and sometimes fails miserably), and consider gamification with AI, which may soon impact the future of work.