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Are you being played?

Gamification has become a widespread phenomenon that still continues to grow. According to Duggan, “In simple terms, Gamification means to use game theory or game mechanics in non-game situations to manipulate and reward behavior” and that “Social businesses have long caught on to the psychological mechanics that drive behavior… [since] recognition and feeling accepted within a community go a long way in getting us to act one way versus another”. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all make use of gamification to influence their users behaviors. For example, the “like button” on Facebook has become a way for people to feel recognized for their creative posts and thus helps increase Facebook’s use as people begin to crave this reward. In other words, Facebook users begin updating their status, posting on others’ walls, and uploading pictures more in order to increase their amount of “Likes”. Similarly, Twitter has retweeting and Pinterest has repining.

Now, not only are website using this technique, but business companies are also utilizing gamification as a means to get their employees to partake in certain behaviors. “Today, in our increasingly connected culture, we have new opportunities to be rewarded for behaviors, which, in many cases, help a business reach its objectives”. There is a Deloitte campaign that rewards employees for checking in and saying where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with. This is meant to increase collaboration within its workforce. Therefore, by people acting out of their own self interest (because they receive benefits from partaking in these check ins), the company as a whole is bettered.

The “like button”, retweeting, and repining, give users an incentive for continuing to use the site as well as attracting others to it. Since incentives are major components of social networking and gaming, gamification allows larger institutions to implement their personal desires by having people act on their own. As we’ve discussed, it is natural for people to act out of their own self interest and therefore companies that have these rewards, which somewhat secretly promote their own agendas, are likely to achieve their goal.




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