Gamification and Punishment – Episode 4 Follow-up

‘Your father said GET OUTSIDE!!’

20161021_173826The concept of ‘play’ is most often associated with enjoyment, while the notion of ‘being punished’ is frequent associated with this only in the context of play being disallowed or in some way no longer possible. Yet encountering obstacles – and stumbling at various points – is not only a key facet of playing games, but also of gamification.

In Episode 4, we focused on how the Pact app gamifies health and fitness, gesturing to the ongoing need for its users to raise the stakes of their involvement to keep themselves motivated. Following on from that discussion, we decided to ponder further the role of punishment in the gamification of everyday life. Do we need to be penalised in order to effectively drive ourselves to achieve our best? What role does failure play in ongoing success? Is it true that (to quote Hulk Hogan in the 1991 non-classic Suburban Commando) ‘sometimes you have to lose to win…?’

A 2013 video by Extra Credits, which maps out the evolution of video games from the notoriously difficult to the significantly less challenging, partly concludes by emphasising that, ‘As a designer, when the player fails you want them to always feel as though they could have done better.’ While our use of the term ‘punishment’ in the Periscope broadcast below is different from its conceptualisation by Extra Credits, the need to find a balance in gamified environments between the user being lifted up by reward and needing to pick themselves up after failure strikes a similar chord…

There might be a fine line between inspiring and demotivating at times, but there is merit in being (and feeling) punished at times. You may have noticed that Adam mistakenly labelled the above broadcast #5 rather than #4, and will be punishing himself shortly so that he remembers to do it correctly in future…

Sometimes you have to lose to win.

Failure can be valuable.

And really, Hulk Hogan would know…

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WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan by Kristin Fitzsimmons (CC0 1.0)

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