In their respective reader posts, Greg and Adam take two different approaches to analyzing gamification through the Whitson article. Greg discusses the benefits of gamification, describing it as a powerful tool to encourage self-improvement. Adam, on the other hand, exhibits caution towards the idea of gamification and the “quantified-self”. He argues that gamification represents a means through which large companies can manipulate us into giving them important information. I don’t gravitate towards one opinion or the other, but rather I think both are equally significant.

In Whitson’s article, she seems to highlight both perspectives. She discusses how the quantification that users’ achieve through exposing their data to game-like systems cannot be “unconditionally categorized as ‘good’ or ‘evil’”. On one hand, gamification can make menial or unpleasant tasks bearable through integrated rewards systems. However, later in the article, Whitson discusses how corporations disguise their user-monitoring systems as participatory-surveillance applications in order to extract valuable information from individuals who use the “game”. Whitson seems to suggest that gamification is definitely a useful tool, but that users should be careful when using certain applications.

One aspect of the article that Greg and Adam didn’t really touch on was the point that Whitson made about the successes and failures of gamification. In both Greg and Adam’s examples about the uses of gamification, the game can only truly succeed if the user believes that they are voluntarily playing. Whitson uses the example of the pirate game call center to show that gamification does have limits. While gamification can be used to manipulate the user into performing a certain action, it is useless under certain circumstances. The fact that applications must be framed as a “game” limits the potential dangers of gamification.

gamify-good   EPSON scanner image

The images above represent positive and negative forms of gamification. In the article, Whitson discusses how gamification cannot be classified as “good” or “evil”, but rather it depends on the context in which it is used.

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