The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted June 6, 2013


Gamification …
By Gall


Now I don’t know about the organization that ya’ll are with … but mine has always been pretty straight up!  No funny business!  Dad explains what we need to get done and we just … well, you know … DO IT!!  No hooping or fanfare – guess we’re little Larry the Cable Guys and just “Git R Done”!  As far as compensation, we all get at least three squares and a place to lay our little ol’ pea pickin’ heads (well, really it’s just one round meal – we prefer eating in the evenings and our food bowls ARE round!)  Now fairly regularly we get some extra treats (evidently not as many as dear Ms. Maggie – she must be EXTRA GOOD and gets A LOT of extra treats!) from dad, and when mom-D goes to PetSmart (or through Fredericksburg – we love that DoggieOpoly place!) – she always comes back with some extra special treats.  And often dad will select one or more of us for special treats based on our recent performance at various times.  Other times, he does a terrific job in praising our individual actions and performances which is always cool because he always does this in front of all the others pups – and sometimes even in front of Ronny too!!


That’s why dad’s recent announcement struck me as odd – I mean, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” (I’ve heard a lot of folks say that one – I don’t know who actually gets the credit!)  Anyway, dad came home muttering about getting a two year extension on his “secret award” that really only helps his boss – and I knew that some stuff was about to go down!!  Anyway, while he was visiting with Adolph and checking his email, he let out a laugh – so naturally I went over to visit with him and to check out what was so funny.  You know what he said to me?? … No?  Well, I’ll let you know – he said, “Well Ms. Gall – I reckon if it’s good enough for all us “g” people, it’s good enough for the BC’s!  From now on, we’re gonna be a Gamification Organization!!” 


My confused look probably spoke volumes, since he then began explaining that Gamification was a technique which leverages people's natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure.  A core strategy for gamifying is to provide rewards to “players” for accomplishing desired tasks.  Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, and providing the user with virtual currency.  Competition is another element of games that can be used in gamification.  Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players or providing leader boards are ways of encouraging players to compete. 


He kept on explaining:  Although the term "gamification" was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, it did not gain popularity until 2010.  Even prior to the term coming into use, other fields borrowing elements from videogames was common.  A Forbes blogger also retroactively labelled Charles Coonradt, who in 1973 founded the consultancy The Game of Work and in 1984 wrote a book by the same name, as the "Grandfather of Gamification".


Well, I pondered on this whole philosophy for a little while – dad sure seemed to know a whole lot about gami … nah, let’s call it what it is … garbage!  I mean, there is no functional, economic or emotional value (thanks for the help on that one, Pointy Haired Guy!) in this sort of stuff.  It’s hype!  Maybe this sorta deal appeals to those Millennium’s … but it doesn’t excite me one bit at all!  Don’t give me a ribbon or some other trinket … give me a treat, something that I can sink my teeth into!  Don’t have any treats handy – that’s ok too – how about good ol’ public acknowledgement among my peers?  That doesn’t cost anything!  In the old days, thy used to refer to it as a “Pat On The Back”!  To an old fashioned girl like me – that’ll get you a lot more mileage than your ribbon will!  The “Garbage Theory” includes reference to scoreboards and leaderboards (like we are in competition with one another) – and then they tell us all that we are a team!!??  Wait a minute … I’m confused.  If we are all on one team, we really shouldn’t be competing against one another should we?  I mean – what does the quote “Take one for the team[i]” mean, after all?  I mean, do we hug or fight?!  Our “score” depends on it!  I’m just not real sure I’m buying into this garbage!  Who is the opposing team, and are they keeping score like we are??!!  If not, what’s the point?


So, I did some research and I discovered that gamification is not as accepted by everyone, as dad might think.  I found that the enthusiasm for gamification among its proponents has met with some critical responses.  University of Hamburg researcher Sebastain Deterding has characterized the current popular strategies for gamification as not being fun and creating an artificial sense of achievement.  He says that gamification can also encourage unintended behaviors.  MIT Professor Kevin Slavin has described business research into gamification as flawed and misleading.


Maybe dad will reconsider and we can all go back to something that has at least some kind of meaning (or at least isn’t insulting to the top producers) … we’ll see!




Maybe these folks can express it better than I just did:


It is a sign of a creeping inner death when we no longer can praise the living.

Eric Hoffer



There's no praise to beat the sort you can put in your pocket.




Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit: we cannot flower and grow without it.

Jess Lair



If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people.

Oriental Proverb





Now this last one kind of goes against what I’ve been saying, but I thought that it was so good that it deserved a spot here:


My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that 'achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.'

Helen Hayes


And I reckon that there is a whole lot of truth to that – even in this context – maybe we shouldn’t give a hoot whether dad praises us or gives us “points” – as long as we know – in our heart of hearts – that we are the best that we can be … that’s our reward!  And that’s what matters!!  (But treats are still WAY COOL!!)


Peace Out – Ya’ll Take Care!!

[i] Verb:  take one for the team

(idiomatic, informal) To accept some chore or hardship for the sake of one's friends or colleagues.





I have to give a lot of credit to the technical knowledge shared with you in this article to the knowledge

that I have gained from Dilbert and also to Wikipedia .  Thanks!









Gamification Cartoon








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