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Oct. 6, 2011 10:08 am

Gamification is best for ‘influencing and impacting behaviors:’ Wharton panel event

The following is a report done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism. Gamification has become a topic of much discussion when it comes to the meaning of the word and its existence outside of video games. So much that it commanded the attention of […]

Frank Lee (Drexel Game Program), Margaret Wallace (Playmatics), Ethan Mollick (Wharton Management Department), Jesper Juul (NYU) and Eric Goldberg (Crossover Technologies) made up the discussion panel at the first Gamification event at UPenn's Wharton School on October 3. The panel talked about the issue of gamification and what it means for the future of businesses. Photo by Theresa Regan

The following is a report done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism.

Gamification has become a topic of much discussion when it comes to the meaning of the word and its existence outside of video games. So much that it commanded the attention of an engaged audience at the Wharton School Monday.

“[Gamification is] basically the idea of adding gameplay elements, including badges, levels and points, to business websites, marketing and other initiatives that aren’t really about games,” said Nathan Solomon, the founder of Philadelphia Game Lab, a nonprofit group in the works that is aimed at creating a collaborative space for local creative minds.

This Gamification event, co-organized by Solomon and celebrated Wharton Professor Kevin Werbach, welcomed students, game developers and those who are interested in gamification to discuss the issue with talks led by a panel of five who gave some insight to whether or not gamification will work, or if it will hinder the productivity of businesses.

“The whole point of this event is to get game developers and people with game experience talking, not about whether gamification is good, evil or stupid, but about what aspects can come from games and be effectively used in other areas,” Solomon said.

There were many mixed feelings about gamification among the panel, and Eric Goldberg of Crossover Technologies said the only way a business can successfully implement gamification is to know how to cater to their targeted audience, and to attach some actual value to a system of points. Professor Werbach gave a brief introduction as to what gamification means, and why it may or may not work.

Under the model of gamification, businesses would reward employees for their productivity and allow them to ‘level up’ and collect points, such as one would while playing a video game.

“What is gamification good for? At it’s most basic level, influencing and impacting behaviors and behavior change, extending brands, exposing systems of thinking and understanding, and also solving certain real-world business problems,” said panelist Margaret Wallace, the co-founder and CEO of Playmatics.

While gamification seems like a great motivational aspect to a business community, it could potentially have its downfalls.

“Things could go horribly wrong,” said Jesper Juul, a professor at New York University and a panelist at the event. Juul said while gamification is a great way to motivate people, it could take a turn for the worse if those people decide to take the wrong measures to optimize their companies.

Whether or not gamification could obstruct or promote productivity in the workplace, it has definitely become a prominent idea in the world of technology, and will continue to be developed.

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