Golf has famously been described as "a good walk, spoiled." Similarly, most of the existing definitions, tools, examples, and implementations of "gamification" embody how a potentially promising concept is being shredded in actual practice. The reason is simple: We are confusing a goal for a tactic. Games are not a magic bullet, nor should they even be the central point of "gamification" projects. Game mechanics are merely a means to achieve goals of greater gravitas - such as deeper learning, more sustained engagement, or enhanced customer value that can achieve non-entertainment outcomes.
Drawing on behavioral science research both in and out of games, this talk will give practical advice on how to refocus on the promise of gamification, while avoiding its perils, using the lens of actionable "rules of engagement". Research on the motivational and emotional dynamics of games will be reviewed to illustrate game mechanics and concepts that can achieve the fundamental goals of sustained value, deeper learning and lasting behavior change. Examples will also be drawn from the "dark side" of gamification, highlighting the tragedy of spending money to manipulate players using badges, baubles, contests and external rewards that ultimately fail time and time again. If you want to understand the promise of gamification while avoiding its perils, this is the talk for you.