Because it’s a workshop, it’s not meant to be huge as we want everyone to receive enough attention and really be able to come out as a person competent in the fields of Gamification Design. As a result, it’s priced accordingly for those who really believe that this can make a huge impact in their professional lives (as they did on myself and many people I know.
About the Gamification Speakers
If you guys are not familiar with Mario Herger, he has been championing gamification for many years as a Senior Strategist in SAP. Whereas I am more about hardcore gamification experience design and startups (we’re all pretty well-rounded though), he has deep knowledge in the implementation of gamification in the enterprise space – working with compliance, legal, budgeting, reporting. He is also one of the biggest experts I know regarding enterprise motivation and competition.
Both Mario and I consistently have been ranked Top 3 in the Gamification Gurus list on UK Based Leaderboarded.com, which isn’t to say that it’s the most legitimate way to measure gamification knowledge and ability (since it is more of a measure of influence and focus), but it’s always a nice reference.
And if you are unfamiliar with me…look around the site. Click on my About page. Watch my videos (but be prepared to watch really goofy stuff).
When immersed in a great game experience, learning, doing and solving problems feels completely effortless- the hours fly by. The non-game enthusiast may see this as an idle past-time and some may even regard the compulsion to keep playing as a kind of addiction. But the people behind the Internet-Response League view this as an untapped social potential that can drive the accomplishment of enormous feats, the solving of tough problems, and the saving of lives in times of crisis and disaster.
The initiative is headed by Peter Mosur, Patrick Meier and Ahmed Meheina. Peter is a graduate student at the Metropolitan College of New York who studies emergency management. Patrick is an expert on next generation human technology and has co-directed a Harvard program on Crisis Mapping. Ahmed is an undergraduate at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alexandra who is studying communications and electronics. So what do these three have to do with this untapped potential?
The Internet Response League focuses on mobilizing and leveraging MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) communities. These groups have high numbers of players engaged with online game play where a healthy dose of enthusiasm is needed to solve difficult mission-driven challenges. With the right strategy, this problem-solving energy can be harnessed to produce socially conscious actions.
Along with this, IDF introduced many game mechanics and gamification techniques on their website in the form of IDF Ranks. This is a game that is meant to stir up patriotism and get Israelites (and other nations) to stand up and support their efforts.
Users get points by reading, commenting, watching, and sharing information and updates they post on the websites and level up into different ranks, as well as earn badges. This will also allow regular civillians to feel like they are contributing to the war effort and helping their country.
Unsurprisingly, the social media world pounced on that with strong criticism. It is covered by publications like Time, Gamespot, and more. Jon Mitchell at ReadwriteWeb wrote, “Innocent people are dying on all sides, and the IDF wants to reward people for tweeting about it…It makes me sick.”
This post is about why I think, as controversial as it may be, IDF has the RIGHT to gamify their war efforts.
What this post is NOT about
Before anything, I want to say that this post is NOT about:
Promoting war, or saying war is fun. Just like Jon Mitchell said, war itself is horrible, with innocent people dying on all sides. I do NOT like war. I abhor it, and feel sad about all the killed/injured people and their family members in any war.
Who is right or wrong. I’m not going to make a moral judgement on which side is right. People fight wars for various reasons (In fact, weren’t we the United States just in a “war” recently?), and as a Gamification Professional, I’m going to leave my political opinons on this aside. This post is merely on whether gamifying war efforts, GIVEN that a nation is in a war, violates codes of basic morality or “taste.”
Evaluating how GOOD the gamification actually is from the IDF. Even though the gamification efforts from IDF isn’t very well designed and implemented from a professional opinon, this post is about whether they should do it or not in the first place instead of how well they do it.
Now with that aside…
It’s the other way around: most games were created to MIMIC war
War has been around for as long as there are people. Operations and practices of war have long been around before games appeared, and they’re basically all about defending/invading nations, staying alive, and keeping soldiers motivated.
Soldiers have naturally been keeping score or “points” based on how many enemies they have killed. Some warriors in various cultures hang their enemies’ skulls on themselves as trophies, while others “capture enemy flags” to keep score and showoff their victories and inspire their entire armies.
These practices are accepted in their respective cultures because war is serious, gruesome, and has devastating consequences if lost. There must be ways to motivate soldiers who are going through dreadful lifestyles, missing their families, and risking their lives everyday. And the way to do it is to have them focus on their enemies as well as their own progress and accomplishments in a battle.
These things are very necessary to win a war (again, losing has devastating consequences), so instead of feeling distaste because of wars that use game mechanics, shouldn’t it be more valid to say that it is sick and distasteful that games are modeled after wars?
What’s the most popular win-state to gain points, experience, or trophies in games? Enemies destroyed.
Pretending to be in a war when we’re actually not is arguably the sick part of our psych, as opposed to pretending we’re in a game during war to keep morale up and make things more bearable.
Oh, and where do games get the concept of “badges” from in the first place? The military of course. When a soldier has accomplished many missions, he gains a badge that represents recognition and honor.
Is it sickening that we are recognizing and honoring people who likely have taken lives away from people?
How To Maintain Your Online Privacy In A Gamified World
One of the few unwanted side effects of gamification is the fact that it often involves putting a lot of personal information out there. Even if you choose to keep your name anonymous, by logging your activity, you are giving potential identity thieves some very useful data.
Of course, this is true of everything in today’s online world. We’re so used to our data being all out there that we often don’t think twice about it. We agree to all T&C’s; we give every retailer our credit card details; we confess important personal information all the time.
Much of the reason we’re so willing to give up our personal information is that it no longer seems like we have a choice. Sooner or later, Apple, Google, Facebook, and all their affiliated advertisers will know everything there is to know about us. And sooner or later, there’ll be a big breach that gives criminals access to the identities of everyone online.
But that does not have to be the case. It is still possible to keep a handle on our identities, but to do this we have to take the necessary steps.
Be sparing with your personal details
It may feel like everything’s out there already, but it doesn’t have to be so easy to access. We’re not advocating that you live like a survivalist, expecting the end of the world just around the corner. But make sure that when you sign up for something, the service is reputable and trustworthy.
Even with reputable services, be careful. Do not reuse passwords – if you do, hackers will be able to access all your accounts with what they glean from just one attack. Ideally, have a billing address that is not your home address, and don’t share your home address with anyone unless absolutely necessary.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is touted by many as a solution to everything, from FBI surveillance to the gaze of your neighborhood hacker. Well, it’s definitely not a panacea, but it does do a lot to keep you safer than most.
The best VPN service will hide your location and encrypt your data without keeping any logs of their own. This last point is important. If they keep user logs, stay away from them. They may have innocent reasons behind it, but if they get hacked then you’re back at square one again.
Also, remember that you’re going to have to pay for a VPN actually worth its salt. While there are free versions available, you usually get what you pay for. Most of the free ones expire and you end up needing to pay anyway.
Still be Vigilant – don’t be the sucker
A VPN will not solve everything, and is no help if you are willfully handing out your information to everyone that asks. It goes hand in hand with secure web practices. It may be considered irresponsible, however, to use the internet without one. These days, our data can put us at risk of identity theft. Don’t make it any easier.